Best fishing kayaks for 2023: Reel in the big one with these top-rated kayaks

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10:51 AM, Mar 06, 2023
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Fishing kayaks are light and easy to handle while also giving you access to fishing areas that big boats can’t handle — so it’s no surprise that more and more fishermen are looking to get one of their own.

But if you’re in the market for a fishing kayak, which one should you buy? 

There are a few of things to consider when figuring out the right fishing kayak for you:

  • Do you need a tandem fishing kayak or a sit-on? 
  • Do you need a kayak with special features?
  • Are inflatable fishing kayaks a good option for you? 

While it can be hard to research all of the different options available, our team has spent the time researching which fishing kayaks are the best for different fishing trips. 

Our primary goal was to create an unbiased set of criteria to assess this, which we have painstakingly done in order to assist you in your fishing kayak journey. 

Want to learn more about the best fishing kayaks? Read on.

5 Best Fishing Kayaks for 2023

  1. Best Fishing Kayak Overall - Bonafide SS127 Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
  2. Best Fishing Kayak with Premium Features - Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Pedal Fishing Kayak
  3. Easiest to Use Fishing Kayak - Old Town Sportsman PDL 120 Pedal Sit-on-Top Kayak
  4. Most Affordable Fishing Kayak - Ascend D10 Sit-In Kayak
  5. Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak - Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 Sit-on-Top Inflatable Kayak

What Are the Most Common Types of Fishing Kayaks?

Since kayak fishing is a versatile sport, versatile fishing kayaks are needed. 

In this review, we’ve looked at sit-on-top and sit-in fishing kayaks as well as inflatable fishing kayaks. 

Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayaks

A sit-on-top kayak means you do just that: sit on top of the kayak. These are considered to be a very user-friendly and stable fishing kayak, with fishermen being able to get in and out of them as they need to.

Sit-on-top fishing kayaks don’t confine the user to the kayak, so they’re perfect for people who may feel a little nervous being confined inside of one.

Additionally, these are a great option for those fishing in warmer weather.  

The only downside is that you’re very likely to get wet with a sit-on-top kayak, so keep that in mind. 

Sit-Inside Fishing Kayaks

A sit-inside kayak means exactly that: you sit inside of the kayak in an open or closed cockpit. This is a  stable kayak that is perfect for keeping the wind off of most of your body, making it ideal for those fishing in cooler weather.

Sit-inside kayaks also weigh less than a sit-on-top, so they’re easier to get on and off of your car. 

A few kayaks that we haven’t looked at are the tandem fishing kayak, which is a kayak that allows two people inside instead of one, and a motorized kayak, which may save you the strain of paddling or pedaling, but lose a bit of the stealthy qualities that fisherman love. 

After all, if your goal is to catch fish, scaring them off with a motor isn’t exactly helpful. 

Top 5 Best Fishing Kayaks for 2023, Reviewed

Now, let’s take a look at five of the best fishing kayaks that we think you’ll love.

1. Bonafide SS127 Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak - Best Fishing Kayak Overall

What we like about the Bonafide SS127

Stability is one of the primary objectives of the Bonafide SS127 Fishing Kayak. This kayak is incredibly stable, and it is easy and comfortable to stand up and fish in. Despite being 33.75" wide and 12'7" long, it tracks smoothly and turns exceptionally well.

Furthermore, it offers a wide range of storage options and a comprehensive rod management system.

The ultra-high HiRise seat is one of the most noticeable features of the Bonafide SS127. This seat is incredibly comfortable and allows you to sit with your knees bent. Moreover, it is positioned higher than other fishing kayaks, providing fishermen with a better vantage point. The seat and frame are both foldable and can be quickly changed to a lower position. 

Additional accessories for the Bonafide SS127 include multiple rod and paddle management points, a Junk Drawer under the seat, traction pads, DryPod, and much more, all of which are designed to enhance the overall kayak fishing experience.


  • The Bonafide SS127 Fishing Kayak is one of the most stable fishing kayaks on the market
  • The ultra-high HiRise seat makes the Bonafide an incredibly comfortable fishing kayak
  • Plenty of storage
  • The rod management system is one of the best of any fishing kayak


  • Expedited shipping is not available

What customers are saying

Customers have pointed out that the Tri-Cat Hull helps make the Bonafide SS127 incredibly stable. Other customers also talk about the stability, specifically bringing up that this fishing kayak is far more stable and easy to steer than other fishing kayaks they have purchased. 

Customers also praise the comfort level, claiming that they can fish for hours without experiencing back pain from an uncomfortable seat or leg pain from being too cramped. 

Customers also note that the storage is satisfactory, providing plenty of room for fishing equipment, snacks, and other essentials.


  • Length: 12’7”
  • Width: 33.75"
  • Fitted Hull Weight: 69 lbs
  • Fully Rigged Weight: 94 lbs
  • Deck Height: 15.5"
  • Capacity: 475 lbs
  • Color: Top Gun Grey, Camo, Steel

Check out the Bonafide SS127  

2. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Pedal Fishing Kayak - Best Fishing Kayak with Premium Features

What we like about the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Pedal Fishing Kayak

The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Pedal Fishing Kayak is a versatile kayak that provides all the big-boat fishing premium features in a size that fits snugly in most pickup trucks. 

With the Vantage seating, you get adjustability and comfort that can be moved to provide more standing room. The grip pads on the deck offer confidence while standing.

This fishing kayak is powered by the MirageDrive 180 forward-reverse propulsion system that gives you maneuverability in both directions that is unparalleled when compared with other fishing kayaks. 

It features a built-in transducer mount and the Guardian Retractable Transducer Shield that protects your transducer while looking for your next catch. With the four horizontal and two molded-in rod holders, you can keep six fishing rods armed and ready for your kayak fishing adventures. 

The retractable skeg enhances course-keeping, and the H-Rail provides a custom accessory set-up.

The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 pedal kayak also has a rotomolded polyethylene hull construction and a retractable rudder system with left/right auxiliary control. This fishing kayak also comes with a two-piece paddle with on-hull storage and a large eight-inch Twist and Seal Hatch. 

The optional Mirage Sail Kit's mast steps securely onto a deck-mounted fitting for added power. mo

The kayak also features an anchor trolley system, a mesh stowage pocket, and front and rear carrying handles. 

The Livewell-ready cargo area, under-seat tackle storage, and molded-in vertical rod holders provide ultimate convenience.


  • The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 comes with the premium features of large boats but in a compact, easy-to-transport fishing kayak
  • This fishing kayak will provide you with some of the smoothest maneuverability around
  • Plenty of storage and six rod holders makes this one of the best fishing kayaks
  • Comes with a sail kit for added power and versatility


  • Premium features come at premium prices, so this fishing kayak is one of the more expensive options

What customers are saying

Many anglers note that the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 is one of the best fishing kayaks for ocean and bay fishing. They praise the comfort and maneuverability while not skimping on the extra features. 

Customers have also pointed out that larger anglers won’t have to worry about not having enough space, and customers love how many rod holders and storage nooks this fishing kayak has.


  • Length: 12’
  • Width: 36”
  • Height: 20”
  • Fitted Hull Weight: 105 lbs
  • Fully Rigged Weight: 128.5 lbs
  • Capacity: 500 lbs
  • Color: Camo, Ivory Dune

Learn more about the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 here  

3. Old Town Sportsman PDL 120 Pedal Sit-on-Top Kayak - Easiest to Use Fishing Kayak

What we like about the Old Town Sportsman PDL 120

The Old Town Sportsman PDL 120 Pedal Sit-on-Top Kayak is a high-performance fishing kayak that continues the legacy of pioneering innovation. It is lightweight enough to transport on a car top and maneuverable enough to provide hands-free fishing.

The PDL Drive offers easy forward and reverse pedaling and is the most reliable and user-friendly pedal drive available. 

The drive is low-maintenance and features a patented easy-docking system for effortless launch and landing. The DoubleU Hull design ensures stability and comfort, making it a great platform for stand-up fishing, especially with the adjustable foot braces that improve paddling performance and stability. 

The hull-mounted paddle clip keeps the paddle secure and out of the way during fishing.

The Old Town Sportsman PDL 120 comes with an adjustable seat with a shuttle track that provides excellent lumbar support and leg-length accommodation. There is a mesh cover that provides ventilation and drainage to keep you dry. 

The forward hull has dual tracks, offering endless possibilities for accessories, while the flush mount rod holders (1 front-facing and 2 rear-facing) increase angling options. 

The EVA foam deck pads provide traction and comfort when standing while the open cockpit and oversized tank well offer ample space to organize gear and store fish. 

The sealed bow hatch provides dry storage for essential items, while the under-seat storage includes a custom Old Town tackle box. The universal transducer mounting system allows quick fish finder installation.


  • The Old Town Sportsman PDL 120 is an easy-to-use, user-friendly fishing kayak that will get you on the water fast
  • Incredibly comfortable adjustable seating that provides lumbar support and provides plenty of length for legs
  • The PDL Drive makes pedal driving easy and great for beginners while also being incredibly reliable
  • Easy to transport and dock
  • Plenty of flush mount rod holders, dual tracks for accessorizing, and a universal transducer system for easy fish finder installation


  • The Old Town Sportsman PDL 120 is not the cheapest fishing kayak on the market

What customers are saying

Several reviews talk about how the speed and stability are top-notch, with many reviews noting that they are able to stand up fish without having to do a ‘balancing act’. 

Anglers note that they do not suffer back pain after fishing for many hours, which means the adjustable seat is comfortable and effective. 

Customers also love the simplicity and customizability of the Old Town Sportsman, loving that it helps them get on the water quickly.


  • Length: 12’
  • Width: 36"
  • Weight: 87 lbs
  • Capacity: 500 lbs
  • Color: Photic, Ember

Learn more about the Old Town Sportsmans PDL 120  

4. Ascend D10 Sit-In Kayak - Most Affordable Fishing Kayak

What we like about the Ascend D10 Sit-In Kayak

If you’re looking for fishing kayaks for 2023, an unavoidable fact is that budget has to be considered. If you are looking for an affordable fishing kayak, the Ascend D10 Sit-In Fishing Kayak is the option for you.

The Ascend D10 Sit-In Fishing Kayak boasts a plethora of features found in more expensive models, offering exceptional performance on the water at an even better value. 

Designed to cater to all kayakers, this is one of the superior fishing kayaks because it comes equipped with an advanced tunnel hull design that ensures maximum stability and easier paddling. 

The luxurious, detachable seating system can be used both on land and water, ensuring day-long comfort. 

The spacious cockpit allows greater flexibility in cargo management and facilitates easy entry and exit, with minimal movement restriction when paddling. The adjustable foot braces let you customize your fitting for maximum comfort in various water conditions.

The stern cockpit comes with a cooler hold-down system that allows quick access and proper storage of a cooler of up to thirty-six quarts. The quick-rest paddle holders offer the convenience of setting your paddle down temporarily without securing it away in the paddle keeper. 

For in-cockpit storage, there's a deep-molded cup holder and two large catch-all trays. The bungee located at the bow of the kayak ensures a firm hold on your gear during transportation, while also allowing for effortless access. 

The molded-over rubber grip handles at the front and rear make carrying the D10 Ascend fishing kayak an effortless task, and when you're done for the day, the threaded, sealed drain plug ensures quick drainage of excess water.

Lightweight, stable, and easy to use, the Ascend Fishing Kayak provides some of the best value of any fishing kayak.


  • Provides the comfort and stability of higher-end fishing kayaks but at a significantly cheaper price
  • Is lightweight and easy to carry while still having plenty of storage space
  • Plenty of features that make paddling easy
  • Adjustable foot braces make the Ascend D10 great for almost any angler


  • The Ascend D10 Sit-In Fishing Kayak is a paddle-based kayak

What customers are saying

Customers praise how stable the Ascend D10 Sit-In Kayak is despite it being a tunnel model. They note that kayak fishing is a breeze because of how stable and comfortable the fishing kayak is. 

Customers also love the size and space in the kayak while also being incredibly affordable. We also appreciate how sturdy the kayak is, noting that it’s able to handle rougher waters effectively.


  • Length: 9’10”
  • Width: 29"
  • Weight: 55 lbs
  • Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Color: Red/Black

Learn more about the Ascend D10 Sit-In Kayak here  

5. Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 Sit-on-Top Inflatable Kayak - Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak

What we like about the Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130

You may want a fishing kayak but lack the space to store it. An inflatable kayak can be a great way to own a kayak without having to take up a lot of space in your house and vehicle. 

The Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 is a great option for inflatable kayaks if storage is an issue for you.

The Aquaglide Blackfoot 130 is one of the best inflatable sit-on-top fishing kayaks for 2023, with plenty of room for gear or an additional seat if necessary. Constructed with a high-pressure drop-stitch floor and DuraTex, the 130 inflatable kayak offers excellent durability and performance in a package that's adaptable to almost any body of water. 

DuraTex reinforced PVC provides lightweight, stiff, and remarkably robust performance for reliable kayaking every time. The MOLLE plates with mesh bags ensure dependable rigidity. 

Universal accessory mounts allow for customization with a cup holder, POV camera, rod holder, and more. 

The cockpit splash guard effectively keeps water out and the paddler dry. The integrated fishing cooler comes equipped with built-in rod holders and a map case. Adjustable footrests provide custom comfort, while hook-and-loop adjustment strips let you personalize seat positions. The EVA traction pad provides secure footing when standing or angling. 

The lightweight, compact design features a backpack-style storage bag for effortless transportation and storage. Deck cargo bungees on the bow and stern provide secure storage for your gear.

The Aquaglide Blackfoot 130 Inflatable Kayak comes with five scupper drains that open quickly for fast water drainage and include Halkey-Roberts valves that allow for quick, easy inflation and deflation. 

The webbing tie-downs along the cockpit let you secure a cooler, dry bag, or other fishing gear, while the stainless steel D-rings provide a sturdy connection point for a seat, throw bag, and more. The molded plastic carry handles on both sides ensure comfortable carrying.


  • The Aquaglide Blackfoot 130 is equal parts lightweight and sturdy, as it is constructed with powerful DuraTex
  • The Aquaglide 130 makes inflating and deflating simple and fast with the Halkey-Roberts Valves
  • Storage and transportation are easy and manageable
  • This inflatable kayak is a versatile vehicle that can be used on almost any body of water


  • Not a lot of options for rod holders

What customers are saying

Words like ‘durable’ and ‘easy to use’ seem to come up a lot in reviews of the Aquaglide Blackfoot 130. Versatility is also a common factor, as various reviews talk about using the Blackfoot 130 on whitewater, stealth fishing, and on both salt and freshwater. 

Customers have noted that set up only takes five to ten minutes, allowing anglers to get on the water quickly and spend their time fishing, not setting up and breaking down.


  • Length: 13’
  • Width: 38"
  • Height: 13.5”
  • Weight: 45 lbs
  • Capacity: 600 lbs
  • Color: Navy, Grey, and Black

Learn more about the Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130  

How We Picked Our Favorite Fishing Kayaks

We want to be open with you about the various fishing kayaks for 2023, as we want to help make your shopping much easier. 

Spending extensive time on the internet doing research, we uncovered a four-step method that helped us be as unbiased as we could possibly be. 

We may have our own opinions about what makes a great fishing kayak, but we seek to provide you with reviews that are as close to objective as they possibly can be. 

1. Extensive Review of Product Websites

We conducted an extensive search across various websites to create a complete list of all the services offered. In order to conduct a comprehensive assessment of fishing kayaks, it was crucial for us to have a complete understanding of their attributes and characteristics. 

We juxtaposed these features with those of other fishing kayaks to identify the prevailing industry standards.

2. Credible Media Sources

We strive to only use the most reputable sources in the industry, so we conducted thorough investigations into outlets that sell fishing kayaks and sought recommendations from our peers in the industry.

3. Real Consumer Reports

We assessed the input from real customers by referring to reviews and several social media sites. It's important to bear in mind that certain websites can selectively present reviews on their own pages, underscoring the significance of cross-referencing third-party sources.

4. Speaking to Actual Kayak Fishers

Some of our team members were fishers themselves, so we asked them about the various features that fishing kayaks tend to have. We also contacted amateur and expert anglers outside of our offices.

What to Consider When Buying a Fishing Kayak

These are some of the most crucial things to consider when shopping for a fishing kayak.


You want to think about the stability of the fishing kayak. The more stable a fishing kayak is, the easier it is to maneuver.

This is going to be especially important for beginners who aren’t as accustomed to fishing on the water. 


The material a fishing kayak is made of is also going to affect the type of fishing you are doing. 

For example, polyethylene rotomolded kayaks like the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 are fairly durable and may be great for fishing or launching in rockier terrain, while inflatable kayaks like the Aquaglide Blackfoot are ideal for storage and easy movement.


Your comfort should be taken into account as well. You could be on the water for hours at a time, and as our customer reviews showed, this can sometimes lead to leg and back pain if your kayak doesn’t provide you with adequate space and lumbar support. 


Space is also a consideration, as you are going to want not only room for your fishing gear but for water and snacks. 

While we didn’t look into a tandem kayak, you would want more space when shopping for one, being that there will be two people (and two sets of fishing gear) needing to be stored.


Price has to be a factor, very few of us are on an unlimited budget, but don’t think that an expensive kayak is necessarily the best. 

The Hobie Mirage is definitely worth the price tag for all its premium features, but the Ascend Paddle Kayak is also a great find at a reasonable price.

How to Set Up a Kayak for Fishing

If you are going to go kayak fishing, there are a few variables to consider when it comes to both customizing your kayak and for general safety. 

While the fishing kayaks we’ve reviewed are great options, you may be looking to create your own, which we can provide some helpful tips for. 

Remember the essentials

The essentials of a fishing kayak are a comfortable seat, rod holders, and an anchor system. You should also consider a waterproof GPS or, at the very least, make sure your smartphone is waterproof (which can be as simple as putting it in a plastic baggy). 

Optional but useful tools for kayak fishing may include some kind of fish finder and additional storage for tools, gear, food, and drinking water.

Check the weather forecast 

Before you go out, you should check the weather. 

You likely don’t want to get stuck in a surprise thunderstorm while out on a large body of water. In case anything goes wrong, you should consider establishing a float plan and leaving it with someone you can rely on. This way, if the worst were to happen, people will know that you are missing and will have the information to find you. 

If you are going on the water with more than one person, like in a tandem fishing kayak, the owner of the boat tends to be the one responsible for the float plan.

Finally, if you’re building a fishing kayak of your own, you should probably test on calm, smaller bodies of water before going out and putting it to a real test. Better to have the boat flip in safe, swimmable water than out in the ocean.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between kayaks and fishing kayaks?

The most obvious difference is going to be that a fishing kayak is designed specifically for on the water fishing, so it is going to possibly have added options like rod holders and fish finders. However, this is not the only thing that makes them different. 

Fishing kayaks are generally wider and a bit shorter, which makes them more stable than a regular kayak, as the fishing kayak is going to require more movement as the angler moves around the vessel and fights with fish.

The widening of fishing kayaks is also what creates more space, allowing the user to have more storage, which is necessary when you consider that fishers are likely to be out on the water longer, so the need to bring more stuff is essential.

Fishing kayaks do sacrifice speed and tracking when compared to normal kayaks, due to them being shorter and wider, but these are not features that fishermen really need.

Is kayak fishing worth it?

What makes something worthwhile? The value? Kayak fishing can be a lot of fun and can be really exciting but without the high price of an actual fishing boat, which makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

What about comfortably providing people with a unique experience? Fishing kayaks are able to provide many of the features that a fishing boat would have, such as rod holders and space for storage, but they are able to get into harder to maneuver bodies of water, providing anglers with the opportunity to fish in relatively untouched areas. 

There are so many fishing kayaks out there that are great for beginners and veterans, so just about anyone can jump into kayak fishing.

Best Fishing Kayaks for 2023

Fishing kayaks can be a better option than fishing boats because they are lightweight and cheaper while providing improved maneuverability and the ability to reach tight crevices and narrow waterways that larger boats can’t get to. 

There are so many options out there for fishing kayaks, so it really does come down to customer preference as to which kayak is the best for your next fishing trip.

Based on our extensive research and customer feedback, the five fishing kayaks we have discussed today are of excellent quality and are among the best fishing kayaks available on the market. 

If any of these kayaks align with your specific kayak fishing needs, we highly recommend giving them a try.

 5 Best Fishing Kayaks for 2023

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