So you’re looking to get a fishing kayak?

As one of the fastest growing recreational kayak activities, kayak fishing has been enticing anglers with its ease and low cost of entry. The sport has become a lifestyle for many.

The process of selecting a kayak for fishing can be extremely overwhelming. There are so many kayaks designed for fishing but always keep in mind, any kayak can be a fishing kayak if you’re fishing from it.

We asked our customers what they consider to be the most important aspect when purchasing a fishing kayak and these 6 features were the most popular.

1. Stability

For most of our kayak fishing customers, stability is everything when selecting a kayak. The more comfortable you are on the water, the more enjoyable your experience will be. Not only will a stable kayak allow you to stand up and sight cast, it will also allow you to maneuver around the deck of the kayak to grab and organize gear.

Stability is usually positively correlated with the width of the kayak. While wider kayaks are more stable, it often comes at the cost of speed and tracking performance. This can be countered by using a rudder/skeg system to keep the kayak on line and moving efficiently.

2. Pedal vs Paddle

This is one of the most popular debates among kayak fisherman as each side has its pros and cons.

In a previous blog, “Kayak Fishing – Pedal vs Paddle,” we broke down the debate.
Here’s an excerpt from the article.


To Pedal…

Pros

Speed & Efficiency – For many anglers, speed is not of major concern when fishing. But getting to one’s honey hole is another story! With a pedal device, you’ll be able to cut across larger bodies of water quicker than traditional paddling.

Hands Free Control – If you’ve spent any time kayak fishing, you will quickly find that one of the most difficult tasks is managing the position of your kayak. With a pedal system, you’ll be able to maintain control with your legs and the occasional rudder adjustment.

Cons

With all good things, there are always some drawbacks. Most notable is the fact that in order to use a pedal drive, you’ll need additional underwater clearance. Yes, you can easily flip your fins up against your kayak or pull your drive up, but it’s something you’ll need to cope with.

If you are on a budget, you may end up spending more than you want and sacrifice cargo space on the center deck of your kayak. There’s also some additional maintenance you need to consider.

To Paddle…

Pros

Simplicity – Getting into the water requires less steps, there is minimal maintenance, and for some, there is just something about sticking to the roots of paddling.

Affordability – Put simply, traditional kayaks are less expensive. This is usually the deal breaker for many. Pedal kayaks start at about $2,000, while a traditional kayak with a paddle can cost you less than $500!

Less Disruptive – Some may argue this, but you will find that your paddle (with care) is quieter and will cause less commotion under water than a propeller or fin. This is because you have full visibility and control of how deep and hard to paddle vs a prop or fin where you won’t always know if you are disturbing branches, mud or sand and other underwater debris.

Cons

One of the major pitfalls of using a paddle instead a pedal drive that you’ll need to juggle your paddle with your fishing gear in windy conditions or a current. Your arms are being used to hold your rod and reel, leaving you with minimal control of your paddle and thus a lack of full kayak control.

In addition, you’ll get more endurance out of your legs than you will your arms tiring sooner in a traditional kayak if you were to go the same exact distance.


3. Features

Kayaks these days can come loaded with features or come stripped to bare bones, giving you the option for full customization.

Features to consider when purchasing a kayak include:

There are specific kayaks designed for anglers which feature some if not all of these accessories. These kayaks are a great place to get started if you know you’re going to be an avid kayak angler.

If you’re looking for a full set up including a paddle and PFD, we at ACK have angler-specific packages for a wide variety of kayaks, including Wilderness Systems, Ocean Kayak, and Feelfree. These bundles also include a paddle leash. The last thing you want to happen when you’re setting the hook is to lose both the fish and your paddle.

4. Storage

Lets face it. Most of us anglers are gear junkies.

If you can relate, you’re going to want a kayak with plenty of storage. The rear tank well is one of the most important storage options as this will likely be the place you carry your rods and tackle. The tank well should have enough room to hold a crate for your fishing gear and a personal cooler.

Another important storage option is the center console. Though not featured on all kayaks, the center console will be the best place to hold your lures and accessories that you need quick and easy access to. This is also a great place to mount and store a fish finder set up if you decide to go that route. Keep a look out for water tight consoles, those can make for a much more versatile storage option.

Then there’s the front hatch and hull storage. This is for gear you likely won’t need during your day of fishing. You can store a hand paddle, an extra PFD, and also a bilge pump. You never know what situation you may be faced with out on the water, but you’ll want to stay prepared for anything. Hull storage will allow you to bring along the appropriate gear without crowing the deck of your kayak.

Not sure of all the accessories kayak fishing can include? Check out our Ultimate Kayak Fishing Checklist!

5. Transportation

You may have found the perfect fishing kayak for you, but one thing you may have not considered is the weight of the kayak. Are you going to be able to load and unload the kayak on your own? Are you going to need a kayak trailer, or will a roof rack get the job done?

More often than not, a roof rack will suffice as your means for kayak transportation. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy load and launch process, you’ll want to consider a trailer.

For a more in depth analysis of the options check out our blog “Kayak Racks vs Kayak Trailers.”

Another transportation option to think about is how you’re going to get your kayak down to the shore. If you’re at a spot where you can’t park close to the water, you should consider a kayak cart or wheel option. There are carts designed to fit in the scupper plugs of the kayak, as well as strap options that simply hug the kayak to the cart. Once at the water, you can remove the cart and store it in the rear tank well.

6. The Seat

That’s right, the seat.

The seat is the most important accessory for our customers and for those that don’t consider it, it’s the first feature they decide to upgrade.

Your kayak seat can make or break your day out on the water. You want to look for a seat with enough cushion to keep you comfortable all day but also enough support to make sure you’re not going to be sore the next morning. Fishing-specific kayaks tend to come with high-end seats designed to meet these needs.

The seat height is also an important feature that will have an impact on your fishing and paddling performance. A seat that sits higher from the deck of the kayak will make the transition between sitting and standing easier. While a lower seat will put you closer to the water where you’ll find it easier to land fish.

Whichever you decide, you should make note that each can effect which length paddle you need. With the higher seat, you want to grab a paddle that’s slightly longer to make up for the added distance between you and the water.


Selecting a fishing kayak is all about preference. With the vast selection of kayaks designed for the angler, you want to start with a model that meets your basic needs.

The most important thing is to make sure the kayak you select is going to allow you to be comfortable out on the water. Just because your fishing buddy has a specific kayak that he loves, doesn’t mean that kayak is going to be right for you. Every angler has their own style of fishing and will customize their kayak to fit their needs.