Best Fishing Kayaks for All Budgets – 2023 Buyer’s Guide

// By Leonard Schoenberger
// Updated: July 4, 2023.

Last updated on December 21st, 2023.

Leonard Schoenberger
Latest posts by Leonard Schoenberger (see all)

In the fishing industry, one of the most in-demand things is a great fishing kayak.

There are plenty of different types of fishing kayaks available on the market – and for various different types of fishing environments. However, it’s also important to understand that navigating through an exhaustive list of products can be a bit too overwhelming. There are just so many specifications, features, and performance-based aspects of a kayak that you must consider.

So, getting one that’s right for you can be a tough nut to crack. Fortunately for you, we’ve made a list of the best fishing kayaks at different price points that you can consider. 

Table of Contents:

Best Kayaks for Fishing Quick Answer List

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Fishing Kayak

Best Fishing Kayak 2023 Reviewed


Fisherman in a Fishing Kayak on a Lake
A fishing kayak can get you to remote places

Best Kayaks for Fishing Quick Answer List

1. Ascend 12T Sit-On-Top Kayak

2. Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Sit-on-Top

3. Lifetime Tamarack Angler Fishing Kayak

4. Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak Sentinel Kayak

5. Perception Pescador Pro 12

6. Old Town Topwater 120 Kayak

7. BKC UH-RA220 Fishing Kayak

8. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

9. Ascend 128X Fishing Kayak

10. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

11. Elkton Outdoors Hard Shell Tandem Fishing Kayak

12. Perception Flash 9.5

Review of the best fishing kayaks of 2023
Review of the best fishing kayaks of 2023

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Fishing Kayak

The Kayak Must Provide Adequate Stability

When it comes to a great single-person fishing boat and a great experience, you should never compromise on the stability of the boat. The boat needs to be stable enough and comfortable to stand on and cast a line. The best way to understand what boat provides more stability is to stand in one to see if it wobbles too much. You can also check out videos and images of anglers standing in their boats and fishing. 

The Comfortability Factor

The boat must be comfortable as well. You see, you want a kayak that is comfortable to fish in for extended periods of time. And that means that the kayak must feature a comfortable and ergonomic seat with a raised back rest. Also, ensure that the seat is also adjustable, which is important when you have to cast a line in different directions or reel the catch in securely. The best way to ensure a kayak has comfortable seating is to sit in one for a longer period. Plus, it has to be well-designed so that you can stand and sit with  minimal complications. 


This is another important factor. Customizability or “rig-ability” refers to the boat’s capability to offer fishers the chance to easily mount different fishing electronics such as fish finders, GPS navigation, and much more. You must be able to attach a depth finder or rig the boat with additional rod holders and other fishing accessories. 

Best Fishing Kayaks at Different Price Points

Notice: The Wading List is reader-supported. We take part in various affiliate programs such as amazon associates or avantlink. If you click on one of the links in this article and end up purchasing a product we earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you!

Ascend 12T Sit-On-Top Kayak

When it comes to streamlined comfort, versatility, and functionality, the Ascend 12T Sit-On-Top Kayak can be an excellent choice for both veteran and avid anglers. The 12T series has been completely redesigned with newer features and a brand new hull design – boosting stability as well as delivering excellent tracking. It’s so stable that you can easily stand up and catch a big fish while maintaining balance. 

The Ascend 12T Sit-On-Top Kayak is 12 feet long with a total weight of 77-lbs. With a 31 inch width, the kayak has a total weight load capacity of 350-lbs. Moreover, the kayak is designed to be self-bailing and features 6 scupper holes as well as plugs and you can buy it in different colors. The boat also has excellent storage capacity and also features a bungee rope system at the rear. The legroom on the boat is great and is suitable for paddlers of different sizes. It also features two sturdy fishing rod holders and ergonomic rubber grips. 


Comfortable and adjustable seats

New hull design 

Excellent stability

Great storage capacity


A bit expensive

Could have had more weight capacity



Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Sit-on-Top Kayak

The Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Sit-on-Top Kayak is one the most expensive products on the list. However, the features and design of the boat may quite amicably justify the hefty price tag. The kayak comes with the new AutoPilot 120 series leverages that are motorized. Plus, the boat features Minn Kota’s cutting-edge Spot-Lock system, making the boat faster. Moreover, the boat comes with a state-of-the-art i-Pilot system, designed to help you control the boat from just your thumb – it’s Bluetooth connected.

The Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 Sit-on-Top Kayak weighs 45-lbs and is installed with a 12-volt motor. The spot-lock technology helps steady your boat, ensuring it remains in position no matter how strong the wind current is. The kayak also comes with foot steering functionalities, which means you can focus on targeting a big fish while steering the boat with your feet. The kayak features a very comfortable and ergonomic seat. The seat is made from durable, UV-resistant textilene. You can also adjust the seat as per your liking.  


AutoPilot 2.0 leverages

Minn Kota motor 

Hand-free boat steering 

Spot-lock tech for supreme balance

Adjustable seat

Great storage


Very pricey



Lifetime Tamarack Angler Fishing Kayak

When it comes to flexibility and comfort at an affordable price tag, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler Fishing Kayak can be a great option – especially for beginners. The boat is a sit-on top and is 10 feet long with a comfortable, fully padded seat. Rest assured you can go on long fishing trips without feeling tired or having an aching back. The Tamarack was designed to provide streamlined balance and stability and features a flat bottom. The kayak is also integrated with deep-level tracking channels with durable chine rails for added stability. 

Moreover, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler Fishing Kayak is also built with HDPE (high-density polyethylene), which means it has a strong and durable design – significantly boosting its impact resistance. The boat weighs 52-lbs and also features rear carry rails, making it quicker for you to transport it. The boat is also built-in with fishing rod holders, footrest positions, front and back storage compartments, shock cord straps, and much more. 


Padded seat

Flat bottom design 

Durable chine rails 

Multiple accessories

Decent storage


Not recommended for veteran anglers



Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak Sentinel Kayak

Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak Sentinel Kayak - Best Fishing Kayak for Beginners
Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak Sentinel KayakBest Fishing Kayak for Beginners

The Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak Sentinel Kayak is a durable and lightweight boat. Designed for single-person action, it is often recommended for beginners and avid fishers and anglers. The kayak can also be used as a recreational paddling boat and is great for paddling on calm waters. The Pelican Sentinel is also designed for speed, flexibility, and tracking.

However, the Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak Sentinel Kayak isn’t designed to handle rough currents. Plus, the kayak also features sturdy rod holders for an ergonomic and comfortable fishing experience. The boat weighs 40-lbs and is 10 feet in length. The Sentinel is also equipped with ExoShell storage, the 13 liter compartments are removable so that you can store everything at home. 



Easy to transport

ExoShell removable storage


Only for beginners



Perception Pescador Pro 12

When it comes to functionality and stability, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 will not disappoint fishing enthusiasts. The kayak is built-in with some great features and a solid tracking system with optimized stability. Moreover, the fishing boat also features a stadium-style, comfortable seat that fishers can easily adjust to their liking. You can sit upright or recline the seat as needed.

The adjustability also helps move easily in the direction of the catch. Plus, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 also has a sturdy, molded accessory for smooth track recess. The boat also has excellent storage compartments with a well-designed bow tanwell. The tanwell features a mesh cover and is fitted with a tackle compartment and a rigging system to attach electronic fish locators. 


Fast and stable 

Great customization options

Excellent for calm water fishing


Doesn’t come with a rudder

No waterproof storage

Not good for rough waters 



Old Town Topwater 120 Kayak

The Old Town Topwater 120 Kayak has a lot of great accessories, fitted just right. The kayak features two mounts for fishing rods, designed at the back of the seat. It’s built with a gear track on both sides of the hull and checks all the boxes when it comes to the bare minimum requirements of sit-on top kayaks.

Fishermen should rejoice that they won’t feel any snag on the fishing line and the cockpit features a well-designed track and camera mounting accessory. You can also attach an extra rod holder. The Old Town Topwater 120 Kayak also has a UTM (universal transducer mount), which means fishermen can easily attach different fishing electronics and locators.


Great boat stability

Universal Transducer Mount

Great accessories



The seating isn’t that ergonomic



BKC UH-RA220 Fishing Kayak

While there are a plethora of great fishing kayaks out there, avid anglers and veteran fishers should opt for the BKC UH-RA220. It’s a multipurpose boat designed for stability and comes with some great accessories and features to make your fishing experience all the more fun and effective. The storage capacity on the BKC is impressive with waterproof storage compartments.

The BKC UH-RA220 is 11 feet in length with a 34 inch width. The maximum weight capacity of the boat is 440-lbs and allows fishers to easily stand up and cast their lines without compromising on stability. The boat is built with high-density polyethylene, making it impact resistant. The weight of the boat is 70-lbs. 


Waterproof storage compartments

Great stability

Sturdy and durable design 

Well-designed rudder system allows for optimized maneuverability

Good weight capacity


It’s a bit too heavy for single-person fishing

Seats aren’t comfortable




Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

While a majority of products on this list of best tandem fishing kayaks range from expensive to moderately expensive, the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is by far the most affordable. The kayak is designed for fishing on gentle river streams and lakes and is delivered with the company’s very own carrying case. The boat is made with durable polyester with a blend of PVC on either side. While the boat is prone to damage, you can easily mend any damage thanks to the repair kit the boat comes with. 

The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak also comes with its very own inflating device – but because the device is rather small, you’d have to wait quite a while for the boat to fully inflate. The kayak comes with adjustable seats and footrests, and you can also strap the seat to the surface of the boat using a Velcro strip. All in all, not a bad investment if you’re a non-frequent fisher and are on a budget. 


Great portability

Adjustable seats

Highly affordable 

Comes with several accessories


Unsatisfactory built quality

Not load bearing

Not recommended for avid fishers



Ascend 128X Fishing Kayak

A powerful fishing kayak, the Ascend 128X is integrated with the company’s patented Yak-power system that features a streamlined wiring harness. Plus, the boat comes with a master control as well three different power plugs. This means you can equip the boat with different fishing electronics such as locators, GPS system, and other important accessories. Moreover, the boat also comes in a molded landing design that helps fishers mount all their accessories quickly and with ease.

The foot braces are comfortable and can be quickly adjusted – so no matter how tall or short you are, you will always be comfortable fishing in the Ascend 128X. The casting platform is sturdy and stable allowing for smoother and accurate line casting. The boat is also designed with cushioned flooring with non-skid capabilities. 


Comfortable seat with cushioned and raised feature

Drink holders

Eight scupper drains

Multiple plugs

Waterproof hatch storage compartments 





Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

When it comes to kayak fishing, it’s acceptable for anglers to compromise on the more elaborate features of a high-end fishing boat. At a very affordable price point, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler comes with some decent accessories and features to make your fishing experience all the more enjoyable.

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler is manufactured with durable, UV-resistant, HDPE (high-density polyethylene). This means the boat is impact resistant while being lightweight and stable. The boat also features two water-resistant round storage compartments you can use to put away smaller tools and equipment. 


Lightweight and easy to transport

Built with three fishing rod mounts 

Two built-in hatches to store your equipment and tackle gear

Stable with great performance 


Seats aren’t comfortable

Your equipment and tools will slide around in the hatches

Doesn’t come with a skid plate



Elkton Outdoors Hard Shell Fishing Tandem Kayak

When it comes to durability, class, and comfort, the Elkton Outdoors Hard Shell Fishing Tandem Kayak can be a great investment for your fishing adventures. Coming at a four-figure price, the Elkton is more of a luxury fishing boat than your average product. Weighing in at 72-lbs, the kayak is 12.3 feet in length and 3 feet wide. 

The Elkton Outdoors Hard Shell Fishing Tandem Kayak is designed for novice, recreational, and veteran fishers. The boat can use used on rivers, calm streams, the ocean, lakes, and mild-current rivers. In addition, the kayak comes with two seats that are designed for a comfortable fishing experience. Plus, the seats are built with cupholders so that you can enjoy your morning coffee while waiting for a big catch. 

But perhaps one of the best thing about the Elkton Outdoors Hard Shell Fishing Tandem Kayak is that you can pack it with a lot of equipment. You see, the boat comes with a two independent storage units, one on each end of the boat. The boat has a total load-bearing capacity of 650-lbs! 

You can also bring your valuables such as smartphones and wallets on-board and have no worries that they’ll get wet. The Elkton Outdoors Hard Shell Fishing Tandem Kayak boasts waterproof storage for your valuables. The boat also comes with adjustable holders for your fishing rod and is built with rotationally molded and highly durable materials. 


Smooth handling and well-balanced

Excellent storage space

Waterproof and air-tight storage compartments

Durable materials





Perception Flash 9.5

The Perception Flash 9.5 is an all-round boat that’s designed for both veteran angles as well as beginner fishers. Fishers can also use the kayak for recreational paddling. However, the boat is only designed to be used on calm waters with slow moving currents. With a simple and minimal design, the boat is designed for easy maintenance and features two tracking channels to keep the boat well-balanced and stable. The boat is 9 feet in length and weighs 41-lbs and is designed with bow and stern handles for easy transport. 

Moreover, the Perception Flash 9.5 is very easy to get in and out of and because it is designed with a larger cockpit area, you’ll always be comfortable fishing for long periods of time. The total weight capacity of the boat is 325-lbs, which is impressive for this price point. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the boat doesn’t have a lot of storage capacity. There is a small storage dashboard, but you’ll be able to store smaller items and equipment. The fishing kayak also has a bungee cord system to help keep your paddles stable and secure. 


Cup holders

Lightweight and easy to transport 

Bungee cord system

Large cockpit design


Less than desired storage space 

The storage compartment is not waterproof

Seating is not comfortable



Bottom Line on the Best Fishing Kayaks

So there you have it, a list of some of the best kayaks for fishing you can invest in for a great experience. However, what you buy depends on your budget and fishing requirements. So, if you’re a veteran and aren’t really on a budget, go for something that’s more long-term and offers more accessories and mounting capability without compromising on stability and performance.

The Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 series is perhaps the best product for veteran anglers. For beginners and those on a budget, the best thing to invest in is the Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak Sentinel Kayak.

Notice: The Wading List is reader-supported. We take part in various affiliate programs such as amazon associates or avantlink. If you click on one of the links in this article and end up purchasing a product we earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you!

Our Expertise

Leonard Schoenberger and his team spend plenty of days out fishing. Their goal is to test and review products for you so you can make a solid purchase decision and improve your fly fishing game. We always express our honest opinions, never get paid for reviews and are proud of our editorial independence.

Best Fishing Kayaks FAQ

What are some key features to consider when buying a fishing kayak?

When buying a fishing kayak, consider its stability, storage space, seating comfort, weight capacity, and whether it’s a sit-on-top or sit-in model. Also, consider the type of water you’ll be fishing on, such as calm lakes or faster rivers, and the size and weight of the kayak for transportation purposes.

What’s the difference between a sit-on-top and a sit-in kayak?

Sit-on-top kayaks are generally more stable and are easier to get on and off. They often have self-draining scupper holes and are better for warmer climates. Sit-in kayaks offer a lower center of gravity, better protection from the elements, and typically have more storage space, making them suitable for longer trips or colder weather.

Can I use any kayak for fishing?

While you can fish from any kayak, certain features make a kayak more suitable for fishing, such as rod holders, gear tracks, ample storage, and stability to handle the movements of casting and reeling.

What makes a fishing kayak stable?

The stability of a kayak is largely determined by its width and hull design. Wider kayaks and those with a flat bottom or pontoon-style hull tend to be more stable, which is especially important for fishing as it allows you to move around without capsizing.

Is it worth investing in a pedal-powered fishing kayak?

Pedal-powered kayaks can be a great investment if you plan to cover large distances or fish in currents, as they allow you to move while keeping your hands free for fishing. However, they are typically more expensive and heavier than paddle kayaks, so it’s a balance between budget, convenience, and the type of fishing you plan to do.

How do I maintain my fishing kayak?

After each use, rinse your kayak with freshwater, especially if it’s been used in saltwater. Regularly check for any damage and repair as necessary. When storing, keep it out of direct sunlight and in a way that prevents deformation of the hull, such as on its side or upside down.