Bass fishing is great however and wherever you do it. Doing it from a kayak though gets you closer to the action, and connects you to the fish in a way that’s unique.
But there are kayaks and kayaks. There are simple pleasure kayaks and there are fishing kayaks. There are general fishing kayaks and there are kayaks that will give you an edge when fishing for bass.
There are stand-on, sit-down, inflatable, and rigid kayaks, kayaks for one and kayaks for two. Which one do you want?
Well, since you’re here, you want a kayak that will give you an edge when fishing for bass, right?
Great. That still leaves a heck of a lot of kayaks to choose from. Do you have time to go virtual kayak shopping?
We do. In fact, we have. Save yourself the bewilderment. We have the five best bass fishing kayaks currently on sale – and we can tell you why they’re the best for particular types of bass fisher. Now all you have to do is identify yourself and pick the kayak that’s right for you.
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.
OUR TOP PICK
You can spend $500 on a bass fishing kayak. You can spend more.
If you’re new or new-adjacent to bass fishing, you’re not going to want to do that, though. In that case, you’re going to want to check out the Intex Challenger.
There are several reasons why this is a great buy for relatively new kayaking bass fishers. One we’ve touched on – the moolah.
But also, if you’re relatively new to the idea of bass fishing in a kayak, you may not yet have picked up any prejudices against inflatable kayaks.
People who have grown to be long-term kayaking bass fishers in years gone by have every right to be suspicious of inflatable kayaks.
They used to be a kayak of last resort, prone to punctures, tears and acting like Scooby Doo seeing a ghost whenever they encountered anything even mildly troubling, like a sharp twig.
This is not that kind of inflatable kayak.
This is an inflatable kayak made of vinyl for a rugged construction, with durable welded material over top to give you an inflatable kayak that can go where previous generations of inflatable wouldn’t have dared.
Along with its rugged construction, it’s a lightweight kayak, coming in at just 27 pounds and change – easy enough for one person to carry.
It comes with an inflation pump, but it’s worth noting that that pump is manual, so there’ll be a bit of a workout to go through before you get out on the water.
The cockpit of the Intex Challenger is built for comfort, with inflatable seating, and has I beam floors to add to the stability of what is quite a narrow – and therefore quite a nimble kayak.
There’s another reason why this is a kayak for beginners to kayak-aided bass fishing. Probably, towards the start of your bass fishing career, you’ll have less equipment to haul each time you go out.
That’s important with this kayak, as it has a maximum capacity of just 220 pounds. Sounds like a lot in bald figures, but take your own bodyweight out of the equation, and you’re looking at some fairly basic numbers.
Beyond that, while there’s a cargo net to store gear, it’s a lot less effective than dedicated storage spaces would be, so the lighter you go in terms of extra equipment, the less likely you are to spend time maneuvering the kayak around, trying to fish your gear out of the water.
As a first bass fishing kayak – one to let you learn the ropes, find out what you like, and find out what you’ll pay extra for next time (and what you won’t), the Intex Challenger is like a great first car.
Inexpensive, not enormously sophisticated, but great for getting the job done, and a real learning experience.
- A lightweight kayak, this is easy to transport
- The price is right for beginners taking their first paddle into kayak-aided bass fishing
- Rugged construction means this kayak will go where you want without giving you unnecessary worry
- Inflatable seating and a comfortable deck means it encourages you to keep fishing
- Inflation pump included
- Pump included is manual, rather than mechanical, so you have to personally inflate the kayak before use
- Weight restrictions and storage limits mean you can’t take a lot of equipment with you
After a very popular entry-level model, let’s go up-market, shall we? The Intex Excursion has almost everything you could think of in a two-person kayak, and more besides.
If the Intex Challenger didn’t convince you about the merits of inflatable kayaks, don’t panic – it’s fairly certain the Intex Excursion Pro will.
Ruggedly built from super-tough laminate PVC with a polyester core, it gives you the best of both worlds – it’s both durable and lightweight.
Despite being an inflatable, the Excursion Pro will shake off abrasions, impacts with most river debris, and the perishing effects of sunlight.
The high-pressure inflation of this kayak gives you more rigidity and stability – which means you can be more confident about its robustness on the water.
Added to that, it comes with high-pressure spring-loaded valves which make it easier to inflate – and faster to deflate.
Less hard work at the start and end of every fishing trip? We’ll take that, and you probably would too.
You have plenty of storage, mounting brackets for your accessories, adjustable seating, stability, and wide flooring for standing, and everything you need to go along with it.
Adjustable (or removable) bucket seats with added booster seating and adjustable floor-mounted footrests mean you’re never too cramped or building up aches and pains, and two removable skews help make you feel at home in both shallow or deep water.
There’s storage space in both the bow and the stern in this two-seater, including d-rings for tying down bags of kit you need to keep dry.
And in preparation for all the equipment you could need, it also comes with a removable, adjustable mounting bracket for the likes of GPS, fish finders.
It even includes two integrated, recessed rod holders that help you go properly equipped into the kingdom of the bass.
Interestingly, while the beginner model has a total capacity of over 200 pounds for one occupant and equipment, the Intex Excursion Pro less does less than double that capacity for a two-seater, coming in with a capacity of 400 pounds.
But that aside, it’s hard not to think of the Intex Excursion Pro as the bass fishing kayak to which you graduate when you want to give yourself a treat, and when you’re committing to a life spent on the water in your spare time.
- Super-tough laminate PCV means this is a kayak you can trust in rougher waters
- High-pressure inflation and handy valves mean less work at the start and end of any fishing trip
- Lots of storage space in the bow and stern mean you can take more equipment with you
- Comfortable seating and adjustable footrests mean you’re never driven ashore by discomfort before you’re ready to quit fishing
- Mounting brackets for high-tech equipment mean your GPS is very unlikely to end up in the water.
- Doubles the crew of the entry-level model, but less than doubles the maximum capacity, which means you still have to be selective in the equipment you take along
It is a truth universally acknowledged among anglers that flat-bottomed kayaks make the fishing world go round.
Meet the Pelican Sentinel – it’ll rock your world, rather than your boat.
Its multi-chine flat-bottom hull is the secret of its ultimate stability, and it quickly reassures you of your safety and security once you step onboard.
But having a flat bottom doesn’t equate to a lumbering heavyweight – the Pelican only weighs 44 pounds, which is easy for one person to transport without straining anything important.
At just 9 feet 6 inches in length, it’s also not about to announce your presence like a steam launch, and the combination of a flat bottom and a compact length means what you get here is a stable, highly maneuverable kayak which is just immensely competent from start to finish.
Adjustable footrests mean you can pilot the Sentinel irrespective of your leg length, and it also comes with carrying handles, because nobody wants to physically manhandle a kayak at the end of a long fishing session, lightweight as it might be.
Clever storage? Oh yes, it has that too. Specifically, it uses the ExoPack removable storage compartment, fitted into the tank well, along with flush-mounted rod-mounts and eyelets for accessories and a smartphone holder.
What’s more, the Sentinel comes with a maximum capacity of 275 pounds, meaning you can afford to take more equipment with you.
Though of course, you will still have to haul it all home at the end of any fishing trip.
The Pelican Sentinel is a one-person kayak that offers a lot and doesn’t charge you the earth for the privilege.
One thing to note though – buy a paddle separately, as it’s a thing not supplied as standard with the Sentinel.
- Impressible stability through the flat-bottomed hull means you’ll feel very confident in this kayak
- Clever storage solutions mean you can be sure your essential equipment is safe and sound
- A higher maximum capacity means you can take more equipment with you to increase your chances of a great day’s fishing
- A rugged but lightweight build means it’s both easily portable and strong in the water
- No paddle supplied, which means an additional cost
There’s less that’s stand-out special about the Perception Sound 10.5 than there is about some other kayaks on our list.
But what it does, it does efficiently, fuss-free and well.
The headline here is that it’s a one-person kayak with a maximum capacity of 335 pounds. That makes it ideal for larger anglers.
This is not by any means a speed demon. But its tri-keel hull gives you trustworthy stability and smooth steering.
That makes it an easy choice for lakes, ponds, and the more sedate rivers and coastlines. Need a kayak that’s slow but steady? This is your best option.
Emphasizing comfort and stability, the Perception Sound comes with an ergonomic Zone Seat with an adjustable backrest.
That means you can stay out for hours fishing for bass in relative comfort. A set of quick-adjusting footrests adds to this comfort – irrespective of how short or tall the anger is.
Storage? There’s a large space at the back of the kayak, within easy reach of the cockpit. And it also comes with carrying handles for that extra helping hand when you have to transport your kayak to and from the water.
If there’s one failing on the Perception Sound it’s that it doesn’t have anywhere to clip your paddle.
That’s easily remedied, but it is an extra expense which bass fishers could do without.
- An impressive maximum capacity makes this a favorite for heavier anglers
- An extremely stable kayak makes for higher confidence and better fishing
- Lightweight and easy to transport, this is a minimum-hassle kayak
- No paddle-clip, which means searching for the right part to add on
Part of the decision of which kayak to buy for bass fishing is understanding the prey fish and its habitat.
If you’re fishing for backwater largemouth bass, for instance, you’re going to need a kayak that can thrive in shallow waters, and tackle longer distances.
If that sounds like you, you’re looking for the ATAK 120.
Stable as a brick wall thanks to Wilderness’ ‘Smarter Stability’ keel engineering and a wind-shedding deck, but angled for speed and maneuverability, the ATAK 120 is the best of both worlds in shallow waters.
Is it comfortable, though? Definitely. It comes with an adjustable, removable AirPro Max seat and adjustable foot braces.
In terms of storage, you have a huge covered cargo area in the bow, and a hatch gives you access to hull storage for rods and other fear.
Bottom line, it may be the last of our bass fishing kayaks, but if you need something that’s both stable, maneuverable, and comfortable, with lots of storage space, the ATAK 120 has you covered.
Oh, and did we mention? This is a one-person kayak with a maximum capacity of 400 pounds. Sure, we buried the lead, but give us a break here – the ATAK 120 comes with a lot of leads.
- A maximum capacity of 400 pounds in a one-seater kayak lets you take lots of gear on your bass fishing trip
- A Smarter Stability keel means you can stand up in the ATAK 120 with no fear at all
- The kayak is angled for speed and responsiveness, making it ideal for shallow water bass fishing
- There’s an enormous amount of storage space for all the equipment you need
- Ergonomic seating and adjustable foot braces give you a comfortable ride – there and back again
- The price, which is many times more than some on our list, may put some bass fishers off
Best Bass Fishing Kayak Buying Guide
When looking for a kayak for bass fishing, keep a few handy things in mind.
All bass anglers are not the same
Bass anglers is a broad grouping for a lot of people with very different needs. We’ve shown here how particular kayaks are of more use to some bass anglers than others.
Decide what sort of bass angler you are right now and buy the kayak that will give you the most benefit.
Never underestimate the value of stability
Stability is key when fishing for bass from a kayak.
Always go for a kayak that delivers that stability, but judge whether you can afford to sacrifice speed or maneuverability, or whether you need to pay more for a combination of all these factors.
Think about the trip as a whole
It’s all very well choosing the kayak with the largest capacity, but always remember, at the end of the day, you have to haul everything home, not just the weight of the kayak itself and the fish that you’ve caught.
Balance your needs between lightweight convenience and equipment capacity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the most important feature of a bass fishing kayak?
Probably, on balance (ahem) stability, because that will underline everything else you do.
Look for wider, flatter-bottomed hulls where possible or some technological solution that gives you enhanced stability.
How important is capacity in a bass fishing kayak?
Pretty important if you want to take any high-tech equipment along with you. But it’s only an element in the equation of your bass fishing.
Lightweight construction and ruggedness are also equations that come into the equation.
How much should I pay for a decent bass fishing kayak?
That depends on your circumstances. If you’re just starting out, pay less and learn more. As you go further into bass angling, you’ll feel the need for more equipment and more specific requirements.
As with any other hobby, start small and learn what works for you. Then upgrade along those lines.