Nothing gets you to new and better fishing spots that you couldn’t reach before, than a kayak. Whether casting for bass or trout,or in pursuit of trophy salmon or tarpon, a kayakcan give you access to more fishing than you’ve ever had. Since different kayaks are designed with a huge range of features, some great some not so great, you’ll want to read our guide before making a smart choice.
Even though a kayak can open a world of new fishing spots, at lower cost than many other watercraft, be sure to make your decision with care.
While many makes and models have flooded the booming fishing kayak market, different types of fishing have their own unique requirements. For example, do you need extra stability for a stand up fishing kayak, for spotting and casting to fish?
The simply awesome thing is, the extra stability that comes with a stand up kayak, also makes them great for beginners, large lakes and ocean fishing.
At the same time, even those tailored for fishing have a wide variety of capabilities for different situations. Read this guide to avoid the mistake of buying one without first knowing for sure it’ll work well for you.
Buying a kayak brings with it not only great fishing possibilities, but also great responsibility for the safety of you and others. No matter
how well designed, all kayaks can – and do – capsize. Be sure to do the following, before your first voyage, and be sure to read more on safety in our
FAQs at the end:
Purchase a high quality, well-fitting life vest
Ensure your seat and paddle are high quality and good fit, resulting in a smooth comfortable paddle
Know your skill level, in relation to the water you’ll fish
Use safety accessories including paddling gloves, paddle leash, throw / tow rope, portable anchor, etc.
Learn to keep your deck organized and free of clutter
Take a skills course that teaches efficient paddling and skills such as T-rescues, and bailing a capsized craft, dealing with hypothermia, etc.
Do you swim? If you haven’t been swimming in a while, do some strokes at your local pool to strengthen your swimming muscles. If you don’t swim, take several lessons to build confidence for an emergency situation.
2. Kayaks Versus Other Craft
This article covers hard shell, sit-on-top kayaks. When well designed, these fishing kayaks are comfortable, track well over long distances, have ample storage space, and are stable while you fight even large fish. While fishing kayak designs are terrific, they aren’t necessarily always the best craft for the job. In fact, there are many other boat types that may be better for the conditions you fish. Here’s a summary list, then fine detail on each craft type (including why and when you’d choose them instead) in our FAQs at the end of the article:
Float tube – good for smaller, still waters such as ponds and small lakes, can be portable and lightweight (such as for hiking to alpine lakes)
White water raft or kayak – advantageous if some of the fishing water you are going to is reachable only via class 3-4 water
Sea kayak – good for long paddles that require covered gear with strong tracking ability.
Canoe – a traditional craft especially suited for portaging through chains of lakes.
Drift boat or dory – very stable and preferred for 3-4 person float trips on large rivers, storage for gear, room for dog too!
Photo Credit: Eastern Mountain Sports
3. Key Specifications – What’s Important
Not all kayaks are built equally, in fact there’s a huge range of quality, features, and strengths / weaknesses. Put another way, different kayaks were designed for a wide variety of conditions and types of water. In fact, fishing kayaks differ from each other in their:
Ability to turn vs. track straight,
Take on waves vs. calm water,
Profile height (lower profile helps in wind),
Stability (ability to stand and fight large fish),
Tie downs, fishing rod holders, etc.,
Storage capacity, and
Many other design specs.
Here’s what we think are the most important specs, that you’ll want to ensure meet your needs before you take the plunge as a kayak angler. As always, you can find additional detail in our FAQ section below:
Match your kayak to the type of water – will you be navigating down a large or swift river, or powering across large lakes or in the open sea using an ocean fishing kayak, or fishing primarily on small and still lakes and ponds?
Handling surf or waves? will you be punching through waves – which happen on large inland lakes not just ocean fishing?
Seat comfort & height – is the seat tall enough for all-day fishing support and comfort, but not so tall as to obstruct casting?
Decks organization – is the deck designed to avoid snags and tangles?
Stability is everything – do you plan on casting standing up, or fighting large fish, or carrying a lot of gear?
Comfort makes the day – in addition to the seat and paddle, do the foot pedals, leg room, width fit well so you can kayak long distances?
Color choice – do you need lighter colors to deflect light and stay cooler, vs. darker colors (which can heat up on a hot day), or camo to conceal your movement (especially if you also use it for waterfowl hunting for example)?
Sit-in versus sit-on-top – do you prefer sit-ins, which paddle more efficiently, or sit-on-tops, which are easier to cast and play fish from?
Profile height – do you need a low profile for windy situations, or not an issue?
Portage weight – will you be transporting, lifting, or carrying the kayak much, even portaging?
Storage for stocking up – how long will your trips be, and how much cargo space do you need in compartments and platforms fore and aft, cockpit storage, overall volume, and deck features that secure gear, coolers, etc?
4. Summary of Best Fly Fishing Kayaks For 2019
We recommend that you thoroughly read our detailed review in full, below. For an outline of what’s to follow, we’ve organized our recommendations as follows:
a. Best Fishing Kayaks – our Top 5 picks from dozens:
C. Runner Ups – these quality boats are also well suited for fishing, such that if we published the Top 10 they’d be included! While we present as much detail, we’ve noted them here in case their specifications make sense for you to check out:
Here you go! While we give you our #1 pick in section 6, be sure to read each review, as the best features for one person may be different than another angler!
5a. Top 5 Best Fishing Kayaks – Our Picks
Be sure to read the reviews carefully as these kayaks each have unique characteristics that may make them right for you. For that reason, we have NOT listed them in priority order – rather detailed what we feel is important so you have great information to make a great decision and will be confident in your purchase.
This ‘yak was designed specifically with fly fishing in mind. As such it is very well thought-out, as are all Jackson fishing kayaks. Jackson’s focus on fly fishing has paid off for all anglers, as the Jackson Kayaks Mayfly has become a universally excellent fishing kayak, for all types of spin, bait casting, and fly fishing.
Designed to be a larger and more stable kayak, what it may lack in long distance speed or tracking is in turn made up for in its excellent stability. Many users report this ‘yak as the most stable kayak they’ve ever tried. If you’re relatively new to kayaking, that stability can be very helpful, as it can if you plan on standing. Even better for stability and casting placement, the Mayfly’s low gunnels reduce wind shear and keep you in place better to cast and play fish.
Where this design really pays off is when you fish in salt flats, slow moving water, and stagnant ponds. The Mayfly also boasts generous capacity for storage, in both the front and rear – which both have hatches, not something many kayaks can tout. Moreover, the rear platform can fit coolers as large as the Orion 25 or JKooler. Back to the front, a very nice feature is a removable gear tray in the forward bow area – now that’s a fishing feature!
The Mayfly has not only a relatively clear deck area, but also foot pegs designed to avoid tangling your gear and line – a must to avoid break-offs when fishing for trophies or fly casting. It boasts numerous rod holders (designed for fly rods but convertible for any type of fishing rod). More fishing specific features come with the scuppers which are designed to mount fish finder transponders conveniently.
This boat can be paddled all day in comfort, purchased as-is without accessories. There really aren’t many boats that we would say that about. This is a result of the high backed seat made with a high quality, comfortable Thermarest brand pad (yes, the same company that makes sleeping pads for camping).
All of this does come with a tradeoff, which is the weight and length, which can make portaging or transport more difficult. [Note that the weight shown in our diagram specs section is without the seat installed]. Even if it is more difficult to transport or lift than many other ‘yaks, if it is stability that you want, here it is. This could be a relatively small tradeoff for a fishing craft that you can practically do backflips on because it has so much stability. That said, backflips are not recommended (at least until after you land the lunker)!
Meet the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler, which is a universally solid, all-purpose fishing kayak. It meets most of the key specifications we laid out above as important. It transports easily, has a clean deck including built-in foot rests that avoid tangles, tracks well, and has ample storage. Like the Mayfly above, the scuppers are designed to easily mount your electronic fish finder. This ‘yak is available in brown, green, and blue variant camo colors.
Anglers report this kayak maintains a good balance between stability and tracking (most kayaks that track well aren’t very stable because they are narrower, and visa versa). The tracking comes with a tradeoff though – this kayak isn’t so stable as to be a “stand-up” kayak like the Mayfly. Of course, this perspective depends on your height and size, and may be less of a consideration if you don’t plan on standing while fishing.
The Prowler 13 Angler also has ample storage capacity, in the form of a large hatch in the bow combined with a large platform in the stern. Add to that a smallish cockpit hatch with a gear tray, however, some report it’s not always waterproof, if convenient. Ocean Kayak placed two rod holders located behind the seat, which works for some ‘yakers, but because of the angle it’s an awkward placement for others.
Overall, the Prowler 13 Angler is relatively lightweight for its length, is a solid design and comes with universally quality performance at a reasonable investment.
Like both the Mayfly above and the A.T.A.K. below, the Sea Ghost 130 is also “very stable.” When you compare the capacity of 550 pounds load to the weight of the vessel, this ‘yak has one of the best ratios we’ve seen.
[So much so we wondered if the max weight is overstated, but nevertheless give the benefit of the doubt to Vibe. We were just trying to figure out what we’d load on the kayak to test it’s 550 claim – that’s a lot of gear even if you’re a large person!]
In any case, the Sea Ghost 130 achieves its strong stability from its width, which is 6-7 inches wider than the average kayak.
As a high stable but not-as-strong-a-tracker design, this kayak also does well in salt flats, slow water (e.g. large, slowly moving rivers), small lakes, and ponds. Of course, by now you get the idea that stability trades-off with tracking and speed. Bottom line, if you are planning on pursing fish that require kayaking for long distances, this one may not be your best choice.
The Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 has plenty of storage in both the spacious stern and a bow hatch. Those are complimented by a small, well-sealed hatch you can access that is located immediately behind the seat. Like the Mayfly and Wilderness Systems kayaks, it is designed to have a clean deck, however, in this case the adjustable foot rests do present a risk to snagging you line or gear.
The layout accommodates two rod holders, also behind the seat, matched with a fish finder mount. Finally on features, perhaps the hallmark of comfort, it has a comfortable, high seat that anglers like because of the degree higher support and comfort you get compared to most kayaks – without needing to buy a supplementary seat.
The Sea Ghost 130 is “mid-range” when it comes to length and width – meaning ability to portage and transport. It is really neither lightweight nor cumbersome – rather these specs come in right smack dab in the middle of the range of kayaks.
The camo color patterns include a lighter smoke camo, which we like as more sun reflective of most color options from any manufacturer.
Put it all together, and you have another solid choice kayak, that enables stand-up-level stability combined with universal fishing features and design that make this a strong contender.
Like the Mayfly, the Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120 was also designed with fly-fishing in mind, resulting in an overall great craft for any type of fishing. By now you’re an expert – assuming you read the reviews above you know what’s important. If you focus on the cockpit and deck areas, is where you’ll see the many angler-friendly features.
Also having a 35 inch mid-width, like the Jackson Mayfly, this kayak boasts super stability. At the same time, it has low gunnels to prevent getting pushed by the wind. Stability is defined by the
A.T.A.K. 120 – if your #1 criteria is stability, this very well may be your best choice. And get this – the hallmark design feature of this kayak is, even with great stability, it doesn’t give up much at all in speed or tracking! This is where this kayak stands out in its feedback and reviews from users – stabile while standing or casting all together with other fishing performance features.
The A.T.A.K.’s distinguishing feature for it’s storage, is its large stern well combined with a (smallish) hatch with access to the hull. This is in direct contrast to most kayaks that don’t allow access under the rear deck.
The front hatch can be readily accessed directly from the cockpit – though of course how far in it you can reach, depends entirely on how flexible you are while sitting.
Like the Sea Ghost, the clear deck design does come with adjustable foot pegs that can mess with your gear or line.
If you are big into electronics, take note – it has not only two transducer-mountable scuppers, but it can also mount a side-scanning style fish finder. This makes its fish finder mounting two degrees more flexible than most kayaks. The ‘yak makers at Wilderness Systems have been at the forefront of technology design, also including a removable pod which holds your fish finder, transducer, cables, and battery.
Just when we thought seating couldn’t get any better than the reviews above, this is the most comfortable – and flexible – we’ve seen. The A.T.A.K 120 comes with an adjustable AirPro Max seat, allowing three positions. Better yet, even when set at the highest level, it allows for comfortable casting and paddling.
Here we go again – with the hard-to-conquer tradeoff between stability and weight. Weighing in at a hefty 86 pounds, this ‘yak provides a very stable platform for casting. Like the Sea Ghost 130, desert camo is the lightest option for color that will reflect the most heat.
We’ll say right up front, there’s a reason we are reviewing two kayaks from Wilderness systems. To save you a little reading time, you can transfer most of the same features we described above (for the ATAK 120), right onto the Tarpon 130X. Coming in at a little lower price, yet still in the med-high cost range when you compare to most other brands, we feel this kayak is worth its quality.
It is our assessment that despite what it’s name might imply, the Tarpon 130X is in actuality a bit narrower and lighter than its counterpart the A.T.A.K. 120. And yet, it still has outstanding stability. So, you could also do well choosing the A.T.A.K. 120 for Tarpon fishing. But that’s your choice, and is besides the point because either will perform well for you!
The 130X does tracks very well, notably even when it is buffeted by heavy winds. If a degree less sleek as the Tarpon 120 (its predecessor, not to be confused with the A.T.A.K. 120), it is nevertheless also very stable and so well suited to playing trophy fish and casting, even while standing.
As we alluded to above, the Tarpon 130X is an updated, modified version of its already respected series Tarpon 120-130.
For color choices, on the one hand we like the broader variety available than most kayaks offer, yet at the same time we’d still choose desert camo for sun deflection. Are you getting bored of hearing that one?
The Tarpon 130X comes with pretty much the same storage and features as the A.T.A.K.120. When you compare to other brands that have frequent complaints about hatches not sealing well enough, this ‘yak comes is standout in that respect – the hatches seal well enough to keep your gear dry. On a multi-day trip with inclement weather, that would make the decision for us.
In addition, there’s a pair of mini compartments that are covered by webbing, which keep your small gear handy just to either side of the cockpit.
The deck is clean, albeit resulting in with the same drawback as the A.T.A.K. 120 (the foot pedals can tangle your gear or line). Not to mention the same technology-friendly layout and design, that allows for multiple-mount points for your electronics plus a removable pod for electronics storage.
And yes, you guessed it already, the Tarpon 130 comes with the same super-comfortable AirPro Max seat, readily adjustable to 3 different positions. It comes in slightly heavier lighter the A.T.A.K. 120 at 72 pounds, making this relatively long kayak reasonably manageable in terms of weight, for most people.
5b. Special PurposeFishing Kayaks
For particular fishing conditions or design and feature preferences you may have, consider these ‘yaks which we recommend for their dominant features including:
These are quality boats also well suited for fly fishing, that almost made the cut for the Top 5. Close enough that if we wrote this article as a Top 10 they’d be included! Notice that we didn’t include a “best beginner kayak” category, as all of these are highly stable and suitable for beginners. While we haven’t reviewed these in detail, at least for this edition (stay tuned!) we’ve listed them here in the event you want to check them out or their specifications are preferable to you:
Ok – you (our readers) asked, and we deliver. We hesitate to do this, because the “best” kayak is really a function of your needs and preferences. These differ by type of water, type of fish, type of fishing, even weather conditions.
With that in mind, every one of these kayaks will serve you well. We have no doubt that you will make a solid choice, based on your evaluation of the factors we’ve outlined.
So here it is – based on our overall review, all factors considered, our #1 choice is the Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120. This a result of its overall features, stability, and ability to handle big fish.
Our pick just edges out the other kayaks reviewed, by virtue of its unbeatable stability, combined with storage, features, and ability to handle a full range of situations.
With in our view its only drawback really being its weight, if you prefer a somewhat less heavy craft, we’ve reviewed plenty of options and you can’t go wrong with any of these. Very simply put, we didn’t include any kayak in this review that we wouldn’t put our own kid in.
Without a doubt, you can rely on not only the A.T.A.K. 120 – as any of these makes and models – to get you to new fishing locations and deliver excellent fishing – and fish!
7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Additional Detailed Considerations About Your Purchase
FAQ 1. What safety precautions should I take?
Buying a kayak not only opens up huge fishing opportunities, it is also a huge safety. No matter how stable they may be, all kayaks can – and do – capsize. Be certain to firstget and dothe following, before getting a kayak:
• Be aware of your skill level for the water you’ll be on. Especially if you are a beginner, but also if you haven’t been out in a while, start out on calm waters such as ponds, small lakes, and very slow moving rivers. Don’t make the mistake of diving into the pool (so to speak, though pools are a great • Be aware of your skill level for the water you’ll be on. Especially if you are a beginner, but also if you haven’t been out in a while, start out on calm waters such as ponds, small lakes, and very slow moving rivers. Don’t make the mistake of diving into the pool (so to speak, though pools are a great
• Make certain you can paddle at ease and comfortably, and that the kayak you purchase either has a quality seat and good paddle, or you purchase them separately. Because these don’t always come with the kayak, (most often the paddle), then research them get one that is well suited for the water conditions you’ll frequent.
• Invest in (or replace your old one with) a really good life vest – a personal flotation device (or PFD), not only required on public waters, but will save your life – or that of someone else’s, in the event are in a position to assist.
• Take the right kayak fishing and safety gear.These small things make all the difference: paddling gloves for blister prevention, a throw rope (accessible in a throw-bag that easily uncoils), a separate rope for securing your craft, an extra paddle if extended trip, a paddle leash to avoid losing your paddle(s), an extra plug for drain hole, full rain gear, walkie talkies with a long range, etc.
• Enroll in a kayaking skills & safety course. Not only learn how to prevent hazardous situations, but also learn exactly what to do if you capsize. Or if someone else capsizes –which is a very different situation than a self-rescue, using for example a bow or T-rescue. These courses won’t just increase your confidence on the water, they may very well save your life.
FAQ 2 - Should I buy something different than a fishing kayak?
This articlecovered hard-shell, sit-on-top kayaks that were designed for fishing. They are comfortable, work track well during long fishing days, in some cases over long distances, and come with a good amount of storage capacity. While they are awesome, they aren’t always the best choice. Other types of fishing vessels, some even more traditional, may actually work out better for you in the following circumstances:
Canoe – a traditional craft, used early on by native Indians and French explorers, canoe’s have the most cargo capacity and are well suited to river, open water, and trips requiring a lot of portaging.
Drift boat – designed for larger rivers, holds several people, and useful for extreme stability is desired for both standing and casting. Today these boats go well beyond the original dory design. For example, The McKenzie river drift boat design, is an excellent design used predominantly all over the Northest (originating out of Oregon, named after the McKenzie river). Drift boats are also good for overnight trips, and will keep you more dry than a draft. If taken on a white water river, you must be certain the chutes will allow you to navigate without impacting rocks, as a wooden or even heavy aluminum craft will survive the rocks but can get damage compared to a river raft. These boats are known in particular for sliding over shallow riffles (their draft is only several inches despite their size), for moving slowly through large pools, and holding in place for dead-on casting accuracy. These boats are the choice of guides when the river is large enough.
Float tube–best for smaller, still-water ponds and lakes, especially where lightweight portability is important such as for a hike in or even for use backpacking.
Pontoon boat – for navigating large rivers with strong flow, where extreme stability combined with maneuverability is required, rock fields are encountered, and / or you wish to be higher up off the water.
Rubber raft – for white water where lots of gear is required (e.g. overnight trips, sometimes a raft is used to support other craft such as kayaks), and where rock gardens and boulders will be encountered that would be too much for a pontoon or drift boat. A rubber raft is the mostimpact-forgivingboat you can get, yet at the same time can be challenging to eddy out or beach to fish a promising looking spot.
White water kayak–used to reach remote stretches of river, exclusively for serious and skilled white water kayakers. Note that class 3-4 waters are generally not navigable with hard shell kayak (not is it advisable to try). These kayaks are great to access parts of river canyons you couldn’t get to otherwise. Whitewater kayaking should only be undertaken with serious skill building and up-to-date knowledge of river conditions. We have used them on raft- and drift-boat supported trips, so that camping and other bulky gear doesn’t bog down the performance of the white water kayak.
FAQ 3–What specifications should I look at to help choose a fishing kayak?
Simply put, different kayaks are designed for different situations. In fact, kayaks have a wide range of abilities to pivot and turn vs. track straight, handlecalm water versus waves, degree of stability, weight (important for transport, portaging, and storage), in-boat storage capacity, and features. Here are what we put forward as the most important factors you’ll want to ensure are included in your kayak:
First and foremost, match your kayak to the type of wateryou’ll be fishing –will it be calm water, punching through waves in the surf, or running white water to get to a river stretch with minimal fishing pressure? How far will you you need to paddle – short or long distances? If the latter, you need a boat that tracks very well and is more narrowly streamlined for efficiency and speed. If instead you spend most of your time on smaller lakes and ponds,or in rivers with current, then the ability to make turns and pivot may be more important.
Will you be handling surf or waves?Waves aren’t only for the ocean. In fact, if you’ve kayaked on large lakes such as in the Minnesota boundary waters, or other large freshwater lakes that get whitecaps in the wind, in addition to or instead of ocean kayaking, then you’ll definitely want a sit-on-top with the ability to strap down your gear as well as large drain holes.
What degree of seat height and comfort do you need – here’s the tradeoff –getting a boat with a higher seat will help casting, but at the same time can make it harder to paddle or access your gear in the back, and can even hurt stability. You may want to look for a kayak with an adjustable seat height for casting, or opt for a well-designedelevated seat,integrated with a very verystable hull.
Make sure the decks are always clear – to avoid snarls, be sure to get a kayak that has designed in a wide-open, spaciousdeck without any extraneous knobs or foot pedals or other protrusions that would catch your line on a cast – or worse yet spoil your epic fight with a big one by causing a break-off. This is also a safety issue, because a cluttered deck can result in hook getting jammed into your skin, and other bumps and bruises. Also, be leery of rod holders and their positions and angles, so for example you don’t inadvertently break your rod while beaching or docking.One thing that can be deceptive is that adjustable foot petals may seem convenient, but instead be a tangle hassle. Instead, buy a kayak with a serrated, snag-free design with multiple foot grips – which also reduces the hardware subject to failure and repair.
Know how much stability you need – especially if you plan on scouting the flats, or want to cast standing up. This is helpful for casting distance, spotting fish, but rarely playing fish which should be done sitting down due to the sudden changes in direction that can throw you off your balance. Most kayaks have a degree of stability, but be very alert – what feels fine sitting down may not at all be the same standing up. Casting while sitting is preferable, but at the same time can be clumsy so be certain that BOTH the seat height, ANDthe design of the backrest works well for you.
Know that comfort saves the day, every time you are out–even if you aren’t tall with a touchy back like I am, you’ll want to purchase a kayak that makes all day trips enjoyable not literally a pain –for your back, rear end, and legs. If at all possible, try out a friends or demo before purchasing. At a minimum, sit in the kayak on the show room floor, and try out a paddling motion. Don’t care what others think…you want this to work for you! Does the seat back give you enough support, and does the seat bottom cushion your tush enough? Is there sufficient space for your legs, especially if you’re tall like I am?
Low profilereduces wind push –If you’ve ever paddled out or back in a stiff wind, or had to adjust your course because waves were rocking you too much, or couldn’t control your cast accuracy because of the wind, you know what we are talking about. Wind can not only cost you a lot of energy and time, but it can totally mess up a certain fishing spot. This can be a bummer particularly if the fish are biting! Anchor’s aren’t the only solution – it can be super bothersome if the wind knocks you out of position right before a good cast to a rising fish. For this reason, be certain to buy a kayak with a low gunnel profile to minimize the side surface that wind will push on.
Sit-in versus sit-on-top design – sit-ins are the original kayak design, and get you closer to the water. They are actually more efficient, which makes sense if you think about a sea kayak – you can more efficiently impart power fromt he paddle to the water if you are sitting down closer to the water. For this reason, sitting on top isnow widely the most popular design, but is still not always the best decision. Sit-on-tops tend are more open, and have with scuppers to drain and prevent flooding. And, they’re easier to cast from in a seated position, because you are high up. But therein lies some of the disadvantages as well. The main one being, they expose you more to the elements, whereas a sit-in can easily be covered with a “skirt” that is entire waterproof (and even allows rolling like a white water kayak). Most of our reviews are for sit-on-tops,given their larger deck space, easier casting, and other built in fishing features.However, sit-insoffer more protection from waves and spray, especially with the skirt as we mentioned. However, keep in mind they don’t have natural drain holes, so when water does get in, then can get swamped and even flood from heavy rain, or if a wavebreaks over the bow (if you haven’t installed a skirt).Sit-ins also have a lower profile, which on the one hand helps reduce wind push, and on the other hand restrictsyour ability to cast due. Bear in mind though, depending on your needs, they considerably faster than sit-on-tops (especially a well-designed sea kayak), not only because of how sleek they are, but because you more efficiently transmit paddle energy to the water. That is one factor that can make a huge difference during a long fishing trip.
Watch the weight for transporting & portaging – weight can be widely different between kayaks, and ultimately makes a big difference lifting or handling a kayak during portage or transport or storage. Think about it this way as well, lighter kayaks are usually shorter – so probably don’t track as well. Also, are you carrying it on a camping van rooftop or putting it up and down on a trailer? Will more than you be available to carry and lift it? How many times will you be portaging (such as several times per day in the Boundary Waters lakes between Minnesota and Canada)?
Get enough storage–as you know you need plenty of gear to go fishing, and so need a boat that can hold it well, and keep it organized. A common complaint to overcome, is to make sure the front is tightly water-proof – not only to keep your hooks from rusting, but also to avoid taking on weight from water. The cockpit storage cell right in front of you should be a design that is not only waterproof, but is also easily opened while on the water, for access to key immediate necessities such as first air, water bottle, sunscreen, tacklebox, rescue rope, GPS, etc. When you are evaluating the rear deck and/or hatch,look at the shape and capacity – will it hold a large cooler or crate with fishing gear? Are there multiple anchors for anchor ropes and tie-downs?Is there a mesh cover to contain your gear?
Even the colorsmatter too – depending on what you are fishing for (and whether the ‘yak doubles as a waterfowl hunting kayak, for placing decoys etc.), camouflage could, or might not be that important to you. If you do use the same kayak as a crossover for waterfowl hunting, or you are fishing in flats where sneaking up on fish is important, then camo becomes all the more important. Consider that a darker color boat can absorb a lot of heat from the sun, to the point where it is uncomfortable, even hot to the touch. Lighter colored kayaks are therefore usually a better choice.