Kayak fishing is an awesome outdoor activity. If you are just getting started, this article will walk you through the best beginner fishing kayaks. Stay tuned for our top recommendations to help you get on the water and hopefully catch some fish.
Kayaks are a great way to reach remote fishing holes that you may not be able to access from shore or with a larger boat. You can paddle your way in and find out where the fish are hiding. But, fishing from a kayak is different than fishing from a bigger, traditional boat.
You have limitations on the amount of gear you can take with you on a kayak. Space is at a premium, so you have to use it efficiently. There are many things to consider before you buy a fishing kayak. We will get into all of that in this article. Let’s get right to it.
- 1 Best beginner fishing kayak
- 2 #1 Lifetime Hydros Angler 85 Fishing Kayak
- 3 #2 Pelican Sentinel 100X – Sit-on-top kayak
- 4 #3 Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot
- 5 #4 Pelican Basecreek 100xp Angler – Sit-on-top kayak
- 6 #5 Intex Challenger K1 Series Inflatable Kayak
- 7 #6 Lifetime Triton Angler 100
- 8 How choose the best beginner fishing kayak?
- 9 Other things to consider when buying a fishing kayak
- 10 Conclusion
Best beginner fishing kayak
If you are in a hurry, check out the top picks.
#1 Lifetime Hydros Angler 85 Fishing Kayak
- Combination Tunnel hull design provides great stability and tracking
- Multiple Footrest positions for different size paddlers
- Molded-in swim-up deck with bungee lacing for storage
- Adjustable quick release seat back for comfort; Front T-handle for easy transport
- Kayak Dimensions: 101 in. L x 29.5 in. W x 10.5 in. H | Weight: 38 lbs. | Weight...
- Made from durable High-Density Polyethylene
- Includes a paddle
- Adjustable quick-release seat
- Tunnel hull design
The Lifetime Hydros Angler 85 is excellent for a beginner. It’s an 8.5 inches x 29.5 inches kayak that can accommodate one paddler. Though it’s a bit small, its weight capacity of 225 lbs can hold all your fishing gear and other kayaking essentials.
The design is pretty simple for the price. You get a blow-molded kayak made from high-density polyethylene. It is durable and UV resistant, so this kayak won’t be likely to peel, crack, or fade.
Inside this fishing kayak, you’ll find decent features for a beginner. You will find the flush-mounted rod holders and one adjustable rod holder. There’s also tankwell storage and a set of two bungee cord lacing to secure your fishing gear. Also, there are rear and front shock cord straps. The T-handles on the rear and front make it easy to transport.
Multiple footrests positions for different size paddlers
Stable and flat bottom provides excellent stability
Easy to maneuver
Great accessories for a beginner
It is not compatible with rudders
You may need to upgrade the seat
If it’s your first time paddling, you don’t need to spend a lot on a fishing kayak. This kayak is budget-friendly and would definitely help you get accustomed to the water. For me, it’s one of the best because it has all the necessary features that you will need.
#2 Pelican Sentinel 100X – Sit-on-top kayak
- A multi chine flat bottom hull ensures the stability needed when casting lines and...
- Measuring 9'6"" and weighing only 44 lb, the SENTINEL 100X ANGLER is incredibly easy...
- Made using our patented Ram-X materials, the SENTINEL 100X ANGLER will be around for...
- Comes equipped with the ExoPak, a removable storage compartment that fits perfectly...
- Our unique manufacturing process allows us to include additional flotation inside the...
- Innovative seating system
- Removable storage compartment
- Flat-bottom hull design
Here’s another beginner fishing kayak designed for calm water. If you love fishing, you’ll appreciate all the great features it has.
Let’s start with its design, Pelican is known for its RAM-X material. This actually ensures you have a durable kayak. It is impact-resistant, and it can actually get back to its original shape after a hard impact. The exterior of the kayak is also UV-protected.
This is a 9.6inches x kayak, but it is crafted to perform like the longer kayaks with improved tracking and agility. It comes with a paddle, so you don’t need to buy one.
Thanks to its multi-chine flat bottom hull design, it provides extra stability, excellent tracking, and is easy to maneuver. You are also guaranteed to have a smooth ride because it sports an adjustable Ergoform padded backrest with seat cushion, another trademark from Pelican. There’s also enough legroom for your comfort and multiple adjustable footrests.
Surprisingly, it has features that most kayaks don’t have. It has angling accessories like two flush-mount rod holders, rod tie-downs, two accessory eyelets, and center console with compartment. There are also easy to access extra storage for your phone, cup, and other essentials. It has added vertical rod holders with multiple sections and extra bungee cords.
Solid and buoyant
It features enough storage
Fast and stable
The hooks can rub when paddling
Storage is not watertight
Here’s another beginner fishing kayak from Pelican that I highly recommend. This is a good purchase because it’s inexpensive and packed with great features. It’s rarer to find a kayak that has these features in one boat.
#3 Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot
- Tracks and paddles with ease while offering maximum stability
- P.A.C. (Portable Accessory Carrier) can be used as extra storage
- Dry storage compartment with shock cord deck rigging
- Open cockpit allows the easiest of entry
- Large, comfortable seating area with protective thigh pads, adjustable foot braces...
- Portable accessory carrier
- Dry storage
- Built from high-density polyethylene
The Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 is an entry-level kayak with decent features. It is one of the top choices for beginner fishing kayaks. It is made from high-density polyethylene and reinforced with Fortiflex material. The Fortiflex material is exclusive to Sun Dolphin kayaks and helps strengthen the hull. It also protects the kayak from harsh elements in the water like saltwater and debris.
Its Fortiflex material also provides flexibility that adds more stability. Thus, makes the kayak easier to maneuver and tracks straight in calm water.
In terms of comfort, I am a bit disappointed with its seating system. The bottom of the seat is not padded. However, its back has an adjustable pad that keeps you in an upright position while paddling.
The thigh pad is a feature I like about this kayak as not all kayaks have this. The smooth pads can be easily adjusted with side straps. This can support paddlers in different sizes and shapes. Its adjustable foot braces make it an ideal kayak for different heights too.
Though it’s a small kayak, it has enough storage for your essentials. It also sports a portable accessory carrier that you can use for extra storage.
Multiple storage areas are handy
Padded thigh brace provides comfort
Easy to transport
Front and rear handle are not great
You may want to upgrade the seat
Your budget should not hold you back from getting a decent fishing kayak. The Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 has excellent features that are just right for your budget.
It may lack some essential features of a fishing kayak, but you can always personalize it the way you want it. There are different accessories sold separately that match this kayak.
#4 Pelican Basecreek 100xp Angler – Sit-on-top kayak
- Lightweight and easy to carry with two retractable carrying handles this sit-on-top...
- The Multi-Chine flat bottom hull design provides ultra stability and great tracking...
- Storage All your gear for your trip with a quick lock hatch in the front plus a 4"...
- Fishing accessories: gear with a swivel rod holder and two flush mount rod holders, a...
- The ERGOFIT G2 seating system includes a padded seat cushion and an adjustable...
- Multi-chine flat bottom
- Paddle tie-down
- Bottle holder
- Hatch storage
Pelican kayaks are designed to last. They are made from durable high molecular weight polyethylene (HMWPE) or the RAM-X Premium material. They undergo a highly precise process called twin sheet thermoforming, which makes Pelican kayaks lighter, stiffer, and durable. Because of this, they are easier to transport, paddle, and maneuver.
The Pelican Bass creek 100xp weighs in at 50 pounds. There are exciting features you’ll find inside this kayak. The Ergofit G2 seating system sports a padded seat cushion and adjustable backrest. The seat is perfect for long excursions.
As for the storage, there is 4inches dry hatch with a storage bag and quick lock hatch. If this is not enough, there’s another open storage on the rear with bungee cords. You’ll find all the essential fishing accessories such as a swivel rod holder, flush mount rod holders, six accessory eyelets, and angler ruler.
Can accommodate paddlers of different heights
Ergofit G2 seating provides comfort for all-day paddling
Intended for calm water only
Slower than its competitors
The Pelican Basscreek 100xp is an ideal fishing kayak for beginners because it is loaded with accessories. If you value stability, then this is the perfect kayak for you. You can use this as a recreational kayak or a fishing kayak. With all the features it has, you get the most out of your money.
#5 Intex Challenger K1 Series Inflatable Kayak
- Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye catching graphics...
- Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add...
- Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; Inflatable seat...
- Comes with 84 inch aluminum oar, repair patch and Hi output manual hand pump; Rugged...
- Measures 30 by 15 by 108 inches (W x H x D), with 27.2 pound weight and 220 pound...
- Removable skeg
- A cargo net for storage
- Rugged design
The Intex Challenger K1is a well-priced inflatable fishing kayak. Understandably, this kayak comes with average features, design, and durability. Everything you need is included in the package. It has a pump, a repair kit, and a pair of paddles. This inflatable kayak is designed for calm waters.
It would take you approximately 10 minutes to inflate the kayak. I am surprised that this kayak can hold up to 220lbs. If you’d like to bring heavy items, I’m sure you won’t have issues as long as you don’t exceed its weight capacity. But keep in mind, there’s only one storage area, and it’s not waterproof.
The significant advantage of this inflatable kayak, it’s so easy to inflate and deflate. Also, the paddles are collapsible. And that makes it easy to transport and store the kayak.
The most significant disadvantage of this kayak is the lack of fishing accessories, like rod holders. Fishing from this kayak is a bit of a juggling act, but it’s an inexpensive option for beginners.
Easy to transport and store
The price is reasonable
Paddles are collapsible
The kayak is not as durable as other models
There are no fishing accessories
For a beginner, this inflatable fishing kayak is an excellent option, especially if your budget is limited. It’s not as durable as the hard shell kayaks. The features may be limited, but what’s important is you can still get to your favorite fishing hole.
#6 Lifetime Triton Angler 100
- Stable hull design and integrated skeg for tracking performance
- Multiple Footrest positions for different size paddlers - 275 lb. Weight capacity
- Self-bailing scupper holes to drain water from the cockpit and tankwell
- Tankwell storage with bungee cord lacing to secure loose items
- Adjustable quick release seat back and seat pad for comfort
- Front and rear handles
- Multiple footrest positions
- Scupper holes in the cockpit and its tankwell
This is an alternative fishing kayak for beginners. The Lifetime Triton Angler 100 is a 10-foot kayak and weighs 48 lbs. It has a maximum capacity of 275lbs. There’s only one available color – olive green. For me, this is not an issue because the color is less critical. I would like to focus on performance and features.
It is made from durable material and UV protection coating. This guarantees that the kayak can endure prolonged exposure to the sun. It has adjustable footrests. So, paddlers with different heights are comfortable to ride. The adjustable quick-release seatback and padded seat are also comfortable.
The kayak is surprisingly roomy. It can definitely hold your fishing essentials. There’s a tankwell compartment on the rear with a bungee cord to keep your things secure.
Performance-wise, it has excellent stability, which makes it a good fishing kayak. There’s also an integrated skeg that improves its tracking. The Triton doesn’t come with a paddle, but this allows you to get a suitable paddle that is right for you.
It tracks well
Easy to transport
No paddles included
You should put the Lifetime Triton Angler 100 into consideration. At this price, it’s hard to find a beginner fishing kayak that all of its features and design work together. It’s an entry-level fishing kayak but gives you convenience and comfort in the water.
How choose the best beginner fishing kayak?
Type of kayak
There are different types of kayaks (read more); sit-on-top, sit-inside, and inflatables. Before you explore the market, you should know the difference between these three. The different types share some similarities but are made for specific purposes. So, being familiar with the types of kayaks will help you decide which type fits your needs.
Sit-on-top is the most popular type among anglers. Aside from being user-friendly, it’s perfect for recreational water activity or fishing. This can be used in calm waters like lakes, canals, and smooth flowing rivers.
There are a lot of advantages of sit-on-top kayaks. Because of its open deck style, it’s so easy to get on and get off. As the name suggests, you’re basically sitting on top of the kayak. The padded seats and ample legroom provide a comfortable ride.
Some SOT kayaks are explicitly built for anglers and fishermen. This type of kayak is well-suited for beginners. Sit-on-tops are more stable, which supports the rider when casting or standing up on the watercraft. There are also built-in accessories and mounts for your fishing gear.
Sit-in kayaks are the traditional type. They are more preferred in cold weather, for the reason that they provide a drier ride. Most sit-in kayaks have a spray skirt, a waterproof accessory that covers your leg up to your waist. It also prevents water from entering the cockpit.
It’s a misconception that sit-in kayaks tend to restrict movement. They are actually roomy and have comfortable legroom. Also, they provide ample storage for your fishing essentials. But it can be a little more restrictive to cast and reel in your fish.
In terms of performance, they are agile and easy to maneuver. Thanks to its design, they have a lower center of gravity.
Inflatable kayaks are similar to sit-on-top kayaks. They have open cockpits and works just like a SOT kayak. Your kayaking accessories have room for storage too. They are more convenient to transport than the two kayaks I’ve previously mentioned. Since they are inflatable, they can fit anywhere in your car.
Inflatables will often have room behind the seat for fishing gear, and you can always keep a tackle box between your legs.
If you are in the market for a beginner fishing kayak, you want something durable. You may end up banging into rocks, tree stumps, or other obstacles.
You must understand that kayaks are made from different materials, so durability varies as well. It is important to find a kayak that can protect itself from natural elements, crack, peeling, and UV damage.
Most kayaks are made from polyethylene plastic. So most likely, this would be one of your options. The material is less expensive and is abrasion-resistant. However, it makes the kayak heavier and prone to UV damage.
As the production of kayaks is evolving, there are different innovations and processes that kayaks undergo. Some manufacturers mix some elements to polyethylene plastic to make kayaks more durable.
For example, kayaks made from single-layer polyethylene are more durable. While triple-layered polyethylene kayaks are lighter and buoyant because it features a foam in between.
There are also other choices, but they can be expensive. ABS plastic offers similar durability, UV resistance, and lighter weight. Kayaks made from ABS have a distinct two-tone design. The deck and hull are manufactured separately, and then they were bonded together.
Another choice would be composite kayaks, these are considered special kayaks. They’re on the higher-end of the price range too.
Choose the fishing kayak that will best fit your needs when it comes to durability.
This isn’t necessarily a lesson in kayak stability, but I think it’s important to understand when choosing a fishing kayak. Like I’ve mentioned, kayaks are designed for different purposes. This means kayaks differ in their stability on the water.
When you are fishing from a kayak, stability is critical. You will be casting, reeling in fish (hopefully), and possibly standing up in your kayak.
There are actually two types of stability. Primary stability means how the kayak maintains its balance when you step into your kayak. Secondary stability refers to how the kayak keeps steady while it’s moving.
Sit-on-top kayaks are more stable than sit-inside kayaks, most are stable enough that they can support standing up on the kayak. This helps when you reel in your big catch!
Kayak hulls are also important; this is the design of the bottom of the kayak. The hull influences the stability and performance of a kayak too. It is essential to familiarize yourself with them, as well.
Flat hulls are more stable, easy to maneuver and offer better primary stability. Remember this, the flatter the hull means excellent stability. A rounded hull encourages more speed and provides secondary stability.
V-shaped hull design helps the kayak track straight. Kayaks with this hull type are mostly for recreational activities like fishing. It can be unstable when you get in, but it has better secondary stability. Thus, makes the kayak runs smoother in the water.
Pontoon is a combination of the flat and rounded hull, which provides excellent primary and secondary stability. However, they tend to be slow. Slow can be okay when you are sitting on top of a great fishing spot, but not so great if you are in a hurry to get to the next one.
Storage on the boat
Storage is essential, especially if you’re fishing or you want to spend an all-day trip. Kayak fishing requires you to bring more stuff. Make sure there’s enough storage to accommodate all your gear.
If you have equipment that needs to be dry, storage hatches are also handy. For bigger stuff, there are also open storage areas that come with bungee cords. Fishing kayaks have built-in deck mounts like rod holders. This is useful for people who change bait often and keeps the rods in place.
Most of the time, we disregard the presence of a paddle holder. I consider one near the cockpit very convenient.
Some kayaks have integrated mounts that you can attach to your fishfinder or rod holders. If you have accessories that you need to mount, make sure they have a place in your kayak.
When you are fishing, you need to be able to get to the right spot, and maneuverability is essential. Length, width, and the kayak’s rocker are essential factors that influence your kayak’s maneuverability.
Here are some examples; kayaks with higher rockers have better turning but not excellent tracking. The lower rockers have the opposite effect. Sit-on-top kayaks are easier to control. They have better tracking abilities than its counterpart.
As for the length and width, long and narrow kayaks are agile and track well as they move through the water. Simply, longer kayaks equate to more speed but less maneuverability. On the other hand, short and wide kayaks offer excellent stability and good turning.
For a beginner fishing kayak, a wide and short kayak is a better choice. It may look easy to paddle in the water, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get accustomed to it.
Does it come with accessories?
If you are looking for a beginner fishing kayak, you will need some accessories. Some kayaks have integrated accessories. It is important to determine whether you’ll need them or else they will just be distractions.
In choosing a fishing kayak, make sure all the essentials are already included in the boat. This way, you can actually save more money from buying accessories separately. Look for things like built-in tracks, rod holders, and a tankwell or an anchor.
Some kayaks come with a paddle, but they are usually not the best. This makes paddling a little bit tiring. If you want to find a suitable paddle, this post is just right for you.
There are also other inclusions like a skeg. It prevents a kayak move in a different direction and keeps the kayak track straight so you can get to the next fishing hole in a hurry. A tracking fin works like a skeg and is mostly found in an inflatable kayak. Also, a rudder helps the kayak move in a straight line. It can be removed and adjusted using foot pedals.
Space is important. A roomy kayak is a good choice, but it doesn’t mean you can bring all the gear you want. When choosing a kayak, you have to be very mindful of the weight limit.
Therefore, you should choose the kayak that can support your weight and the weight you put in your kayak. Don’t try to overload your kayak as this may cause problems while you’re in the water.
You may want to add a trolling motor down the road. That means you need a battery to power the motor. All of these things add up, so you need to make sure the kayak can support the weight.
Price is an important factor to consider, especially if this is your first kayak. Check out what features and accessories you are looking for and figure out what budget is best for you. You can always add accessories down the road.
Pay attention to what comes with your kayak, like a paddle, seat, or other things that you have to spend extra money on.
Where will you be fishing?
Water condition is definitely another element to consider. There are different types of fishing kayaks designed with anglers in mind. They are designed to support different conditions. So, make sure you’re paddling in the right water.
Recreational Fishing Kayak – This is a common type that beginners usually use. They are affordable and convenient to use in gentle rivers, lakes, and calm situations.
Touring Kayaks For Fishing -These kayaks are built for all-day paddling. They are perfect for fishing in the open water. They are capable of handling larger waves.
Does it have an anchor?
When you’re fishing, keeping your kayak steady is important. But sometimes, the direction of the wind and other natural elements can cause unwanted mobility in your kayak.
A folding anchor that weighs around 1.5- 3.0 pounds is the most popular type used in fishing. This is useful in rough water or windy weather. If you’re planning to fish in this situation, you might want to consider an anchor. There are also different anchor types that you need to mount. Just make sure they are compatible with your kayak.
Does it have a place to mount a motor?
Using a motor to move through the water is an excellent option if you’re exhausted paddling. You can also move from one fishing spot to the next with ease. If you’re considering this, make sure that there’s room for a motor in your fishing kayak. There are also customized mounts that you can purchase, but they cost more.
How much does the kayak weigh?
When you put weight into consideration, I suggest lightweight and durable kayaks. This is actually a good combination because it makes transporting the fishing kayak easier.
Most hard-shell kayaks are heavy, especially fishing kayaks. Keep in mind that hard shell kayaks require a rack in your truck or a cart. If you’re determined to get a fishing kayak, you might want to get a kayak cart.
Other things to consider when buying a fishing kayak
Transporting the kayak
We’re not all fortunate to live near the water. A common issue that paddlers share is how to get their kayaks on the water. An inflatable kayak is easy to transport, you can just put it in the trunk of your car and away you go. That is one of the benefits of an inflatable fishing kayak.
A hardshell kayak is a different story. Most likely, you’ll be carrying your kayak on top of your vehicle. A roof rack will help you secure your kayak onto your vehicle. It also prevents damage to your kayak or your car.
If you’re not familiar with roof racks, you can read this post. It will also give you options for the best roof racks. Without a roof rack, you can still transport your kayak. But it will consume more time and requires effort. Unsure how to do it? Here’s a step-by-step guide that will surely help you.
Storing the kayak
Inflatable fishing kayaks do not require a large space for storage. This is perfect if transporting and storing the kayak is an issue. You just need to deflate it to move it around. You can store an inflatable fishing kayak in a closet, or on a shelf in your garage. This is one of the major benefits of an inflatable kayak.
As for hard shell kayaks, they need a large space for storage. They should be stored indoors, whether in your garage or basement. To protect your fishing kayak from outside elements, and dust, you can get a kayak cover or a tarp. Also, keep it away from the moist area in your house. This can promote mold and cause external damage to your kayak.
You should also know how to properly store your kayak. Do not place your kayak on its side. It can deform or cause dents on the sides. Avoid hanging your kayak through its handles or by the scupper holes. This will distort the kayak hull and deform the kayak’s shape.
If you’re storing your fishing kayak outside, try to find a shaded area. Remember to keep the kayak away from UV rays, moisture, and extreme temperatures. These elements can degrade or deform your kayak‘s hull in the long run.
The best beginner fishing kayak will fit your needs. Be sure to look for the accessories you want and keep a budget in mind. There are different fishing kayaks, so you have a lot of options available.
I hope this guide has been helpful and you can get on the water soon. When you find the perfect fishing kayak, I’m sure you will enjoy the water as much as we do. Remember to always wear a life jacket.
Let me know if you have any questions.