I am a river-dude, regularly hitting up different spots around the Texas Hill Country for overnight kayak-fishing trips. This has been a blast to do and gets you to some of the coolest spots in the state, but you need to make sure you have the right equipment. You want to bring a kayak that can ride in really shallow water to avoid having to hop in & out of your kayak all day.
The Texas summers can be brutal with temps regularly in the triple digits which makes those spring-fed rivers in the hill country feel so refreshing. Many of these rivers will retain some water throughout the year, but in times of drought, they can get pretty shallow. If you want to be able to hit these rivers more often than just after the rain, I would suggest getting a boat that is wide with the pontoon-style hull design to help distribute your weight. This will make the boat wider and a little bit slower, but the added benefits of moving through skinny water, weight capacity & additional stability can make up for that.
My top three kayaks for skinny water fishing trips would be the NuCanoe Frontier 12, the Diablo Amigo & the Crescent Lite Tackle. I have had the pleasure of running all these boats on different multi-day trips across Texas and they all performed great.
The NuCanoe Frontier 12 is a 12’ boat at 41” wide with a weight capacity of 650lbs. This makes a big difference when you start getting into the overnight trips and need to pack more gear. I come nowhere close to that weight capacity so the kayak is not overloaded and glides over the rocks with only a few inches of depth. The F12 has a large open deck layout with tracks that run almost the entire length of the kayak. This allows you to fully customize it how you would like. With the wide open deck, you can also easily stand to paddle or fish.
There are three versions of seats; a bench seat, fixed seat and 360 degree swivel seat. The seat also attaches to these tracks so you can adjust it forward or back depending on your weight distribution. The high weight capacity also allows you to slide the seat back and have someone sit on the front, running it tandem. One feature that makes this kayak really appealing is the flat-back to allow for a small gas or trolling motor for when you are hitting the lake or coast.
The Diablo Paddlesports Amigo has been a go-to of mine for a long time. I have been using these boats for over a decade now and they are perfect for skinny water. The Diablo will float in less than three inches of water and has a weight capacity of 600lbs. These boats were designed to run the Devils River in West Texas & I had the pleasure of taking one out there just for that. The boat performed amazing. At 12’ 6” and plenty of hull capacity, I was able to stuff a lot of my gear inside the hull to keep from having to strap down on top.
Because of the high weight capacity, I was nowhere near maxing it out and ending up throwing a buddies cooler on my kayak to help him make it down the river more easily. Like the NuCanoe, you are able to stand and paddle or sight cast from this kayak. Both of these boats also make for great kayaks you would like to use with your oversized doggos! We run them a lot in San Marcos on river clean ups and can walk out to the end of the bow to grab trash on the bank with no problem.
The last kayak I want to talk about is the Crescent Lite Tackle. This was a new brand we picked up last year and could not be more satisfied with their products. The Crescent LT has quickly climbed the list as one of my favorite kayaks at 12’ 4” with a weight capacity of 450lbs.
The seat on the LT sits lower than the Diablo and Frontier, but Crescent has just come out with a seat riser to allow for a higher seating position. I prefer to run it low on the rivers we take it on to help lower my center of gravity and keep the kayak more stable. This kayak comes with tracks and mighty mounts to allow for mounting accessories, a large hatch for the front hull and large storage area behind the seat.
After paddling this kayak for some time, I have noticed it maneuvers very well and is fast in the water. Not to mention we have run this boat alongside the Diablo and NuCanoe and seems to be able to handle the shallow water just as well as those boats. I can also speak to the durability and construction of these kayaks after smashing one, fully-loaded, head-on into a boulder over a 2-3’ drop. I thought the kayak should have been totaled, but there was not even a crack. All parts are made right here in America.
There are plenty of other kayaks out there that are great for multi-day trips or bass hunting in the Texas Hill Country and these are just a few of the ones I have really come to enjoy. If you ever have any questions or need recommendations based on the type of water you will be in, please feel free to reach out to us on social media via Facebook or Instagram.