Kayak fishing is an awesome outdoor activity. This article will walk you through the best beginner fishing kayaks for new kayak anglers. 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 where the fish are hiding.
But fishing from a kayak differs from a bigger, traditional boat. You have limitations on how much gear you can take with you on a kayak. Space is at a premium, so you have to use it efficiently.
If you are in a hurry, check out the top picks.
Best Beginner Fishing Kayak
There are many things to consider before you buy a fishing kayak. When you are just getting started kayak fishing, you might not want to spend a ton of money. You also need a stable kayak with plenty of storage capacity for all your fishing gear. We will get into all of that in this article.
#1 Lifetime Tamarack Pro Sit-On-Top Kayak
- Equipped for Fishing: Built in rod holders (1 Adjustable, 2 Flush Mounted), accessory...
- Maximum Comfort: The adjustable framed seat and adjustable footrests let you optimize...
- Deep Hull Channels for Tracking Performance and Chine Rails for Stability
- Center Storage Hatch with Bucket Included; Deeper Tank Well for Greater Storage...
- Front and Rear Bungee Cords to Secure Loose Items; Paddle Keeper to Secure Your...
- Made from durable High-Density Polyethylene
- Loaded with accessories
- Adjustable quick-release seat
- Stable hull design
The Lifetime Tamarack Pro is an excellent beginner fishing kayak. It’s 10’3″ feet long x 31 inches wide, weighs 57.5 pounds, and has a weight limit of 300 pounds.
This fishing kayak packs a lot of value at this price point. First, the kayak has gear tracks you don’t often find on an entry-level fishing kayak. You can add whatever accessories you want to the gear tracks.
In addition, there are two flush-mount fishing rod holders behind the seat and tackle box storage underneath the seat.
The kayak has bungee storage on the front and rear, and there is a storage hatch with a bucket conveniently located between the legs of the paddler. You can use the storage hatch to keep your valuable or even live bait if you want to.
Carry handles on the front, rear and sides make it easy to transport the Tamarack Pro. With the help of a kayak cart, this kayak is easy to transport to and from the water.
The kayak has multiple footrest positions, which is great for different sizes of paddlers. Multiple foot positions also help you stretch your legs on those long paddling and fishing days.
As for paddling, the Tamarack Pro has a built-in tracking skep, a flat bottom, and a sharp bow. All of this makes it a very stable and easy-to-paddle kayak. The kayak is not designed to stand up so try that at your own risk.
Overall, the kayak performs pretty darn well in choppy/windy conditions and does excellent on flat water.
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
Does not come with a paddle
If it’s your first time paddling, you don’t need to spend much 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 fishing kayaks for beginners because it’s packed with features and is stable.
#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 its great features.
Let’s start with its design. Pelican is known for its RAM-X material. This ensures you have a durable kayak. It is impact-resistant and can return to its original shape after a hard impact. The exterior of the kayak is also UV-protected.
This is a 9’6″ Pelican fishing 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 excellent primary stability and excellent tracking and is easy to maneuver. The adjustable Ergoform padded backrest with seat cushion gives you a smooth and comfy ride as you paddle. There’s plenty of legroom (even for a shorter kayak) with multiple adjustable foot braces.
Surprisingly, it has features that many higher-priced kayaks don’t have. It has angling accessories like two flush-mount fishing rod holders behind the seat, two accessory eyelets, and a center console with a compartment.
It is also easy to access extra storage for your phone, cup, and other essentials. The Pelican fishing kayak weighs 45 pounds, so it’s pretty lightweight.
The Pelican Sentinel 100X tracks well for a smaller kayak and is easy to maneuver.
Solid and buoyant
It features enough storage
Fast and stable
The hooks can rub when paddling
Storage is not watertight
Honestly, the Pelican Sentinel is an excellent value for this price point. It’s a beginner fishing kayak with enough features, so you won’t be in a hurry to upgrade immediately. Meaning you won’t outgrow it too fast.
#3 Perception Pescador Pro 10 Sit on Top Fishing Kayak
- Your perfect first fishing kayak
- Lawn chair style mesh seat with 2-level seat adjustment and breathable mesh for...
- Leak-proof one-piece construction with built-in buoyancy for added safety
- Large front and rear open storage for cooler, tackle, and other gear
- Seat can be lowered for relaxed paddling or raised for optimum casting
- Two-level adjustable seat
- Ample front and rear storage
- Built-in fishing rod holders
Perception is a leader in the kayak industry, and for good reason. They have been building and designing high-quality yaks for a long time. This beginner fishing kayak is a good example.
The Perception Pescador Pro 10 is 10’6″ long, weighs 57 pounds, and has a 325-pound weight capacity. It’s a heavier kayak than others on the list, which has some pros and cons, depending on what you are looking for.
A heavier kayak is more difficult to put on and take off a roof rack but gives you more stability in choppy water.
What makes the Pescador Pro the fishing kayak for beginners? First, it’s stable, which is necessary for folks new to kayak fishing. With casting and leaning over the side of the kayak to pull in your catch, stability is super important for people starting with kayak fishing.
The kayak is not designed for standing up, which many kayak fishermen like to do. A lot of times, that kind of stability comes with kayaks at a much higher price point. If you trust your balance, you can give it a go. Just be warned, you may end up in the drink.
The Pescador Pro has front and rear storage and gear tracks, so you can customize the yak as you like. Supper holes help drain any water that makes its way into the kayak.
The price point is higher than other kayaks on this list, but you also get a solid kayak with built-in features to grow into this yak. If you are looking for a less expensive model, I highly recommend the feature-rich Lifetime Tamarack Pro.
Multiple storage areas are handy
Padded thigh brace provides comfort
Easy to transport
Front and rear handles are not great
You may want to upgrade the seat
The Pescador Pro 10 is the best beginner kayak for fishing because it has a great seat and built-in features, like gear tracks and rod holders. With this kayak, you shouldn’t need to upgrade immediately.
#4 Pelican Basecreek 100xp Angler – Sit-on-top kayak
- Stable: The multi-chine flat bottom hull offers excellent stability giving you a...
- Comfortable: The adjustable ERGOFIT G2 seating system is specially designed with...
- Fishing Features: Includes a front quick lock hatch, a 4 in. day hatch with storage...
- Safe: Our unique manufacturing process allows us to include additional flotation...
- Lightweight: Our kayaks being made with exceptionally durable high molecular density...
- Multi-chine flat bottom
- Paddle tie-down
- Bottle holder
- Hatch storage
The Pelican Basecreek 100xp Angler is designed to last. Pelican fishing kayaks 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 fishing kayaks lighter, stiffer, and more durable. Because of this, they are easier to transport, paddle, and maneuver.
The Pelican Bass creek 100xp weighs 50 pounds, so it’s about the same as many other beginner fishing kayaks. The kayak is 10 feet long and has a max weight capacity of 325 pounds.
This Pelican fishing kayak is stable with a multichine flat bottom hull. Stability is important not just for paddling but also when you are casting and reeling in the “big one.”
Two flush-mount fishing rod holders are behind the seat, and an adjustable rod holder is built into the front middle, between your legs.
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 days of paddling and catching fish.
As for storage, there is a 4-inch dry hatch with a storage bag and a quick lock hatch. I can tell you from experience that this is not a water-tight hatch. You will need to protect anything you put in there that you don’t want to get wet.
There is also a quick lock hatch on the front (not 100% watertight) and rear bungee storage. You can easily stow a kayak crate (or milk crate) with a lot of fishing gear. Adjustable foot braces are a great addition.
You’ll find all the essential fishing accessories, such as a swivel rod holder, flush mount rod holders, six accessory eyelets, and an angler ruler.
One thing that is missing from this kayak that could make it awesome is gear tracks. That seems like an easy addition to putting this kayak in a little higher category.
Can accommodate paddlers of different heights
Ergofit G2 seating provides comfort for all-day paddling
Intended for calm water only
Slower than its competitors
Why is the Pelican Basscreek 100xp the best fishing kayak for beginners? Because it is affordable, stable has plenty of rod holders. You can use this as a recreational kayak or a fishing kayak. With all the features, you get the most out of your money.
#5 Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- ✔ SUPER-TOUGH – 3-ply laminate construction combined with SuperStrong enhanced...
- ✔ STABILITY and MANEUVERABILITY – High-pressure inflation provides extra rigidity...
- ✔ STORAGE – Extra space in the bow and stern allows for storing any necessities...
- ✔ 2-PERSON CAPACITY – Inflated size is 12.7 feet x 3.1 feet x 1.6 feet with a...
- ✔ ADVENTURE ACCESSORIES – Includes two 86 inch aluminum oars, two detachable...
- Removable skegs
- Foot braces
- Rugged design
I am excited to share the Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Fishing Kayak with you. It has some awesome features for a starter fishing kayak. I wanted to include a very inexpensive inflatable fishing kayak because I think this is a great option for many people.
The Excursion Pro is durable and comes with features that other inflatables don’t have. First, the kayak, as with many inflatables, is extremely stable. The flat bottom hull ensures a stable ride.
Excellent primary stability is important when looking for the best beginner kayak for fishing. You are casting, moving, and hopefully hauling in fish. You need a stable kayak.
The Intex fishing kayak comes with footrests, which many inflatable kayaks don’t have, especially at this price point.
You also get an adjustable mounting bracket for fishing accessories, like a GPS, fish finder, extra fishing rod holders, etc. Again, this is a feature that even more expensive inflatables don’t have.
Next are the integrated rod holders. Although they are shallow, it’s still a great spot to keep your fishing rod while paddling.
The kayak has two removable skegs, one for deep water and one for shallow water. The skegs on this kayak work well and keep you paddling straight.
Portability and storage are other features that make this inflatable fishing kayak a hit. It’s easy to toss in your back seat or trunk or take camping or RV’ing.
The Excursion Pro comes with everything you need, including paddles and an air pump.
The one feature the Excursion Pro lacks is storage capacity. You have a small covered area on the bow and stern, but that’s it. There is no space to keep gear from getting wet. This is certainly not a deal-breaker, especially at this price point.
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
What makes the Excursion Pro the best fishing kayak for beginners? The price and features included with this entry-level kayak make it a winner. You don’t have to spend much money to enjoy kayak fishing.
#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 275 lbs. There’s only one available color – olive green. This is not an issue for me because the color is less critical. I want to focus on performance and features.
It is made from durable material and a UV protective coating. This guarantees that the kayak can endure prolonged exposure to the sun. It has adjustable footrests. So, paddlers with different heights are comfortable riding. The adjustable quick-release seatback and padded seat are also comfortable.
The kayak is surprisingly roomy. It can hold your fishing essentials. There’s a tankwell compartment on the rear with a shock 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 that gives you convenience and comfort in the water.
How to 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.
You can read our complete guide to choosing the best fishing kayak for beginners here.
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 easy to get on and off. As the name suggests, you’re 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 and support 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 preferred in cold weather because 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 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 their design, they have a lower center of gravity.
For a full guide on sit-on vs. sit-in fishing kayaks, check out this article.
Inflatable kayaks are similar to sit-on-top kayaks. They have open cockpits and work 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 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 bump into rocks, tree stumps, or other obstacles.
You must understand that kayaks are made from different materials, so durability also varies. It is important to find a kayak that can protect itself from natural elements, cracking, 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 kayak manufacturers mix elements with polyethylene plastic to make kayaks more durable.
For example, kayaks made from single-layer polyethylene are more durable. In comparison, triple-layered polyethylene kayaks are lighter and buoyant because it features 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 are 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. As 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 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.
The 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. This makes the kayak runs smoother in the water.
A pontoon combines a flat and rounded hull, providing excellent primary and secondary stability. However, they tend to be slow. Slow can be okay when 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 Capacity 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. There are also open storage areas with bungee cords for bigger stuff. Fishing kayaks have built-in deck mounts like rod holders. This is useful for people who change bait often and keep 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 need to mount accessories, make sure they have a place in your kayak.
When fishing, you need to get to the right spot, and maneuverability is essential. Length, width, and the kayak’s rocker are essential factors influencing 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.
A wide and short kayak is a better choice for a beginner fishing kayak. 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 be distractions.
When choosing a fishing kayak, ensure all the essentials are already included in the boat. This way, you can save more money by buying accessories separately. Look for built-in tracks, rod holders, and a tankwell or an anchor.
Some kayaks come with a paddle but 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 from moving in different directions and keeps tracking straight so you can quickly get to the next fishing hole. 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 must be 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 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 these things add up, so you need to ensure 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 determine 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 you must spend extra money on.
Where will you be fishing?
Water condition is 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 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 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. Paddlers share a common issue: 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. You’ll most likely 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.
You can read this post if you’re unfamiliar with roof racks. 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 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 store your kayak properly. 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 many 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.