Hooked on Kayak Fishing: A Beginner’s Guide to Catching the Big One
How to Pick the Best Fishing Kayak?
In today’s day and age, technology brought about a plethora of options when it comes to fishing kayaks. In fact, those of us who follow these water-based advances in equipment we can safely say we had never had so many options, features, and customization.
You can pick a fishing kayak with a paddle or pedals or with the combo of the two. You can also get track mounts and rod holders more than you can count, all for the best kayak fishing experience.
Now, with such a vast range of fishing kayaks, how do you pick one that truly has it all, and it worth the money?
Well, easily! You just follow this fishing kayak buying guide, and by the end of it, you will have a better idea of what’s available on the market and which fishing kayak is the right one for your specific needs.
You being here means that you are interested in taking fishing as a sport or you have already started, but you want to upgrade your fishing gear and skills. And that’s fantastic.
Now, if you already have some gear but you now want to buy a kayak and fish from it instead of a bigger boat, then the good news is that almost all fishing gear you have can be somehow adapted to work from a kayak.
However, if you are fishing from a powerboat at the moment, the good news is that fishing from a kayak will be much cheaper and more accessible as there are no insurance premiums, maintenance bills, storage and launch fees, and even boat loan payments. Kayaks make it all the easier.
With that said, let’s start with the basics so that we can determine which fishing kayak will be the right one for you.
The Perception Outlaw 11.5 is a high-performance sit-on-top fishing kayak designed for anglers who demand comfort, stability, and versatility on the water. Measuring 11.5 feet long, this kayak features a spacious and open design that makes it easy to move around and cast your line. It also has a comfortable padded seat and adjustable footrests to ensure a comfortable fishing experience.
The Pelican Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak is a high-quality, durable kayak designed for fishing enthusiasts. Its sit-on-top design allows for easy access to the water, making it ideal for casting your line and reeling in your catch. This kayak is highly maneuverable, providing excellent stability on the water. It features a comfortable padded seat with adjustable footrests, making it ideal for long days on the water.
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak is a compact and durable kayak designed for the avid fisherman. Measuring 10 feet in length, it is highly maneuverable and provides excellent stability on the water. The Tamarack Angler 100 is made from high-density polyethylene, making it a reliable choice for anglers of all skill levels. Whether you’re fishing in a lake, river, or ocean, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak is the perfect vessel to help you make the most of your time on the water.
The BKC PK12 Angler 12-Foot Sit-On-Top Solo Fishing Kayak is the ultimate fishing vessel for the serious angler. With its 12-foot length, this kayak provides ample stability and maneuverability on the water. The sit-on-top design makes it easy to cast your line and reel in your catch, while the comfortable padded seat and adjustable footrests allow for a comfortable fishing experience. The BKC PK12 Angler also comes equipped with a motorized kayak, providing effortless movement through the water. The kayak is made from high-density polyethylene, making it a durable and reliable choice for anglers of all skill levels.
The Reel Yaks Pedal Fishing Kayak Anglers 11’ is a versatile and high-performance fishing vessel designed for anglers of all skill levels. This 11-foot kayak features a pedal-driven propulsion system, allowing you to effortlessly move through the water while keeping your hands free fishing to focus on fishing. The sit-on-top design and pedal powered kayaks provides easy access to the water and the comfortable padded seat and adjustable footrests allow for a comfortable fishing experience.
The Old Town Fishing Kayaks Sportsman PDL 106 Pedal is a versatile and durable kayak designed for serious anglers. With its pedal drive system, this kayak provides smooth and efficient propulsion, allowing you to effortlessly navigate to your sight fishing and favorite fishing spots. The adjustable PDL Drive is easy to remove for storage and transportation, making this kayak a convenient choice for those who want to travel light.
This is to determine whether you will be fishing in freshwater, saltwater, farm ponds, huge lakes, slow-moving rivers, offshore, warm water, or cold water, launching through the surf, from a dock, or a tiny opening in the shoreline, or maybe even a combination of all of these.
Also, determine whether you are someone who fishes with minimal gear or you want to take everything you have with you.
Basically, by starting with the end in mind, you will have a much easier time narrowing the list of choices. With that in mind, let’s begin with the narrowing.
Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak vs. Sit-Inside Fishing Kayak
Many experienced kayakers like sit-on-top fishing kayaks because of their convenience. They can easily add accessories whenever they need something and can get out and wade faster.
While these types of kayaks may be convenient, they are tricky because the ride can wet sometimes, and this may not be such a problem in the summer, but late autumn or winter fishing trips are not the time you want to get wet and stay like that for the whole day.
This is why a sit-in kayak may be a better option overall. These are cockpit-style kayaks, with the only difference being that fishing kayaks have a much larger opening.
Another upside of the sit-on-top kayaks is that they are much stabler since you are down inside the boat. This makes the center of gravity lower, so for those who are inexperienced or are fishing in water that they need better stability, a sit-on-top fishing kayak would be an optimal choice.
Just one last note, the downside of the sit-on-top kayaks is that they are somewhat tricky to get out of if you decide to wade.
Speed vs. Stability and Length vs. Width
There are some tradeoffs when it comes to different kayak constructions. It’s like you are getting stability but losing speed and vice versa, but that’s not really up to the manufacturers, but the laws of physics instead.
For instance, you have longer fishing kayaks that offer increased speed when compared to shorter ones. Also, wide kayaks are more stable than narrower ones, but they will be slower, and you build your skills and get better.
Some kayaks are designed with a “rocker” also known as the upswept bow, and they are great for wavy waters and in currents but are not recommended for flat water fishing.
As time goes by and you have been fishing off of the same kayak now, you may realize how the kayak that seemed stable is now too slow for you. This is because you got better at balancing and kayaking in general, so now you need more speed to get a good experience.
Don’t buy off the bat!
Rushing things when buying something as permanent as a kayak is not a good decision. You need to try before you buy, and even though you are educating yourself here, you still need to talk to an expert and consult on which fishing kayak will truly satisfy your needs.
Many kayak dealers will give you a trial with the kayak before you buy, so don’t be shy and try out as many as you can so that you get a hold of what’s right for you.
After all, it’s tough to pick the right fishing kayak if you only read reviews online, or you try one kayak for a short paddle. You may think that fishing isn’t such a big deal and that you can do it from anywhere, but kayak fishing is something that you need to be as practical with as you can.
Transportation and Storage
One thing to think about parallel to which kayak characteristics will satisfy your needs is the transportation and storage of the fishing kayak you buy.
Namely, there are many trailers, roof racks, carts, and straps available on the market, and you can even make a rack for a truck yourself, but that’s only if you are handy with tools. If not, buying one is a perfectly acceptable choice.
Once you get your kayak home, you need to prepare a place where you can store it.
Ideally, you would have thought about this earlier before buying so that you are sure you can safely store your kayak without the risk of it being damaged or even stolen.
When buying it, you can also buy racks, stands, or covers for any kayak out there. However, depending on where you store your new kayak, remember that plastic doesn’t like prolonged direct sunlight and heat. So, keep it away from those elements.
The garage is usually the ideal place for a kayak of any type.
If you like tools and are handy, then you will live a life of rigging. Why?
Well, stock kayaks are much cheaper than rigged “angler” kayaks, so buying a stock boat instead of the rigged ones will save you quite a lot. Then, with the rigging, you can add a personal touch to your kayak. However, remember the saying:
Measure twice, drill/cut once!
Hmm, I don’t know if they drill or just cut in the saying, but when rigging your kayak, it’s important to be extra sure when doing either of those.
Also, don’t just cut or drill immediately after buying your kayak. Go for a sail first and get a feel for it before you make permanent installations and changes to your new kayak.
The Right Sit
Since fishing takes a whole day, chances are you will be sitting on your butt for quite a long time, which brings up the topic of buying a good quality high-back adjustable seat. Some of the sites on the market that I’ve stumbled upon even have rod holders and storage pouches for your utmost convenience.
Remember, do not disregard the sit as if it’s unimportant. In the beginning, it may seem like that, but fishing is all about sitting still and enjoying while waiting for your big catch, so investing in an excellent comfortable padded seat will be a smart move.
What About the Motor?
While you can put a motor on your kayak, for many people, the paddle is the motor of the fishing kayak. Now, I have written a whole piece about how to choose a kayaking paddle here, so it’s worth checking it out because paddles are no joke.
They are an essential part of your performance and your whole experience with the kayak generally.
Now, some cost quite a lot, and they are lightweight and great to handle, but if those are over your budget, just get the lightest one you can afford.
Also, don’t forget to invest in a paddle leash because accidents happen, and you don’t want to see your paddle floating down on the bottom of the lake at one point.
The Weight Capacity
While each person has to find the kayak they genuinely like, one thing that’s sure for everyone is that having the weight capacity of your kayak to be able to store both the angler and the gear is super important. I mean, you don’t want to end up having a kayak that isn’t able to support all your preferred assortment of rods, lures, and tackle along with the catch of the day.
Just imagine how inconvenient it would be if your fishing kayak has the capacity for only 300 lbs, and the angler accounts for 295 of them. This leaves you with nothing to carry with you.
Now that you know a little bit more about fishing kayaks and how to pick the one that’s right for you let’s talk about the first steps as you are getting started in kayak fishing.
Understand the Limits of Your Kayak, Empty First
Well, this is my favorite part of buying a fishing kayak.
You need to know where your kayak stands in terms of stability and limits in general before you load it with gear and take it for a sail.
So, go into your empty kayak and push it to the limit of how far you can tilt it and get used to the stability of it. This is best done in warm weather when you can actually try to flip it and get in and out of it while you are in the water. Always carry your personal flotation device (PFD) at all times!
Once you learn the limits of your kayak, you will feel much more comfortable in it with all your gear tagging along.
There is nothing wrong with taking everything you have fishing-related and catching fish like that, but in the beginning, fish only with the basics, as you build balance up.
So, one rod, one small bag, or one small tackle box and stay fishing for a few hours at first.
This will teach you to balance even more because now you have some equipment, but not everything and you are starting to get a hold of what it would be like.
This way, you also get a sense of where you want to set stuff up. As you see, kayak fishing is a DIY project no matter the gear you possess. You build it yourself to your personal needs.
This is why it’s important to learn all about it but then listen to your needs when it comes to actually starting. Everyone has a different method, and getting comfortable is the first step toward successful kayak fishing.
Continue Building Your Kayak Routine
Now that you have created your minimal fishing routine and have gotten used to the balance that comes with it, it’s time you start building it up.
First, start by getting a crate to store your tackle boxes in. Then, as you learned to use one rod, bring one or two more with you. This will depend on whether you are putting a few new rod holders on your crate, or you have several pre-installed rod holders on your kayak already.
After a while, you may even want to add a measuring board for the fish you feel immensely proud of.
So simply get used to adding a little bit more gear each time until you get fully comfortable with carrying everything you need onboard and staying like that the whole day.
Fishing Kayak – FAQ
What are the different types of fishing kayaks and what are they best used for?
• Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak. These sit on top kayak are the most popular type of fishing kayaks, offering stable fishing kayaks and ease of access to the water. They are best for calm waters such as lakes and slow-moving rivers. • Sit-in Fishing Kayak. These traditional sit in kayaks offer more protection from the elements but are harder to get in and out of. They are best for colder climates or fishing in choppy waters. • Pedal-driven Fishing Kayaks. These kayaks use a pedal system instead of a paddle to propel the kayak, allowing anglers to keep their hands free to focus on fishing. They are best for larger bodies of water. • Tandem Fishing Kayaks. These are two-person kayaks that are great for fishing with a partner. • Inflatable Fishing Kayaks. These inflatable fishing kayak are portable fishing kayaks and easy to store. Inflatable kayak is a popular choice for anglers who have limited space.
What features should I look for in a fishing kayak?
All the features that you should look for in a fishing kayak are Stability, storage capacity, fishing accessories such as rod holders and bait wells, comfort, and ease of transport.
How do I choose the right size and weight for my fishing kayak?
The size and weight of the kayak will depend on factors such as the angler’s weight, height, and intended use. A kayak that is too small will be unstable and difficult to maneuver, while a kayak that is too large will be difficult to transport and store. In terms of weight, lighter kayaks are easier to transport but may be less stable in choppy waters. Heavier kayaks offer greater stability but may be more difficult to transport.
Can I stand up and fish from a kayak?
Stand Up Fishing depends on the stability of the kayak. Some kayaks are designed to be stable enough to allow anglers to stand up and fish, while others are not. Before standing up and fishing from a kayak, it is important to make sure that it is safe and stable enough to do so. Additionally, it is important to wear a personal flotation device and take any necessary safety precautions.
How do I transport a fishing kayak?
• Car roof racks. This is a popular option for transporting a kayak short distances. Make sure the kayak is properly secured to the roof racks to prevent damage during transport. • Trailer. For longer distances or multiple kayaks, a trailer may be more convenient. Kayak trailers are specifically designed to carry one or more kayaks. • Pickup truck bed. If you have a pickup truck, you can also transport a kayak in the bed of the truck. Again, make sure the kayak is properly secured to prevent damage during transport.
What gear and accessories should I bring with me on a fishing trip in a kayak?
• Personal flotation device (PFD) • Fishing gear such as rods, reels, bait, and tackle • Cooler for storing food and drinks • Dry storage bags to keep your gear dry • Anchor or stakeout pole • First-aid kit • Sunscreen • Hat and sunglasses • Waterproof clothing • Navigation tools such as a compass or GPS
How do I stay safe while fishing in a kayak?
• Wear a personal flotation device at all times • Make sure to check the weather conditions before heading out and adjust your plans if necessary • Take along a first-aid kit and know how to use it • Make sure someone knows your plans and when to expect you back • Keep your cell phone in a waterproof case or bag • Be aware of other boats and water traffic • Always be prepared for the possibility of capsizing, and know what to do if it happens
What are the best fishing spots for kayaks and how do I find them?
There are several ways to find the best fishing spots for kayaks: • Consult fishing guides and maps • Ask local fishing shops and outfitters for recommendations • Search online for fishing reports and forums • Try different spots until you find the best ones for you. You may also consider seeking out quiet inlets, bays, and estuaries, as these areas often have abundant fish populations and calmer waters that are ideal for kayak fishing.
Can I fish in saltwater or ocean environments with a fishing kayak?
Yes, it is possible to fish in saltwater or ocean environments with a fishing kayak. However, it’s important to choose a kayak that is specifically designed for saltwater use, as salt water can be corrosive and damage kayaks made with certain materials. Look for kayaks made with marine-grade materials, such as polyethylene or composite materials, to ensure they will withstand saltwater conditions.
How do I properly store and maintain a fishing kayak?
To properly store a fishing kayak, make sure it is completely dry and clean before storing it in a cool, dry place. If possible, store it off the ground to prevent any damage from moisture. Regular maintenance, such as checking the hull for cracks or leaks, can help extend the life of your kayak.
What type of kayak is best for fishing?
The best type of kayak for fishing depends on the type of fishing you plan to do and your personal preferences. Sit-on-top kayaks are a popular choice for fishing, as they provide stability and ease of access to your gear. Sit-in kayaks are also a good choice, but they can be more challenging to enter and exit, and they may not provide as much storage space as sit-on-top kayaks. Inflatable kayaks are another option, but they may not be as durable as rigid kayaks.
Is fishing in a kayak worth it?
Fishing in a kayak is worth it if you enjoy being on the water and experiencing a more intimate connection with nature. Kayak fishing also offers the ability to access areas that are not easily accessible by boat, and it provides a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way to fish.
Is a pedal or paddle kayak better for fishing?
The choice between a pedal or paddle kayak for fishing depends on your personal preferences and the type of fishing you plan to do. Pedal kayaks are a good choice if you want to conserve your energy for fishing, as they allow you to move more efficiently with less effort. Paddle kayaks, on the other hand, provide a more traditional kayaking experience and allow you to enjoy precise boat control over your speed and direction.
Are fishing kayaks hard to flip?
Fishing kayaks are generally stable, but the stability of a particular kayak will depend on several factors, including the design, size, and weight of the kayak. Some fishing kayaks are designed to be extra stable, making them a good choice for anglers who want to stand up and fish.
Are angler kayaks good?
Angler kayaks are designed specifically for fishing and typically feature gear storage, rod holders, and other fishing-specific features. Angler kayaks are a good choice if you are serious about kayak fishing and want a kayak that is designed to meet your specific needs.
What length kayak is best for fishing?
The best length kayak for fishing will depend on the type of fishing you plan to do and your personal preferences. Generally, kayaks that are 10-12 feet long are a good choice for fishing, as they are easy to maneuver and provide enough stability for fishing. However, longer kayaks may provide more stability and speed, while shorter kayaks may be more maneuverable.
Never Stop Learning
And this brings us to the last step I want to give you for kayak fishing, and that is always to improve and optimize not only your skills but your kayak and fishing gear too.
At one point, you may feel super stable and comfortable when fishing, but that does not necessarily mean that you have perfected your fishing style.
You see, there are always new accessories and new methods to try out to learn something new and optimize your catch even further.
Now you can level up with some electronics and more rod holders and more tackle and other kayaks things you might see other people are using. How you approach kayak fishing will change how you feel about it all.
So, future fishers, I hope this article geared you up toward knowing more about the best fishing kayaks. If you have additional questions regarding buying your first fishing kayak or anything else related to the matter, do not hesitate to contact me!
Also, as always, I invite you to connect with me on my Facebook and Instagram account for additional tips and tricks on everything water-sport related.
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