If you’re currently on the hunt for your first ever fishing kayak— you’ve come to the right place!
Newcomers to the world of kayak fishing will need to opt for a boat that is easy small and light so that it’s easy to navigate without experience.
But as the kayak fishing industry is rapidly growing with more and more models specifically designed for anglers hitting the market, to the first-time buyer or those who don't follow the kayak fishing media, it can be a minefield.
The modern kayak has come a long way from its original Inuit design, heavy wood has been replaced with shaped plastic and some modern kayaks are even inflatable.
But which fishing kayak is the best for beginners?
In this article, we’ll guide you through the best beginner fishing kayaks on the market right now and what key features make them stand out from the rest.
OUR TOP PICK
The Intex Excursion Pro is an inflatable fishing kayak that comes equipped with an array of great features ideal for beginners.
The hull of the vessel is constructed from triple-ply PVC, which is capable of withstanding high-pressure inflation. This helps to ensure that the boat stays steady on the water, something beginners will appreciate.
The high molecular PVC is also 100% UV resistant and non-reactive with gasoline, oil, and saltwater. It’s specifically engineered to resist damage from abrasion and impact, allowing it to tolerate rookie mistakes.
The Excursion Pro also features a removable booster pad that allows the user to adjust the seating height. This is what makes this boat great for younger beginners who want to sit up high.
This fishing kayak also comes with both standard-sized and shallow water skegs that paddlers can switch out as needed. It’s even equipped with adjustable footrests for optimal leverage while paddling or casting. The added accessory bracket allows you to attach items such as swivel fishing rod holders, fish finders, or a GPS.
The Excursion Pro is pretty affordable compared to other similar models on the market. For an inflatable tandem kayak with an abundance of features designed for comfort and ease of use, we think it’s reasonable.
Not only does this kayak come with a generous amount of cargo space in bow and stern, but it’s also fitted with stainless steel tie-down D-rings for dry bags and other precious gear.
- Very easy to use - Perfect for beginners who may be less confident kayak fishing.
- Strong and durable - The PVC construction allows it to withstand abrasion and impact.
- Ample storage - The sheer volume of cargo space gives you the freedom to bring all of your gear, clothing, and even a friend.
- Not the best long-term durability if used often on rough waters
Just missing the top spot is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100. It’s a 10-foot, sit-on-top (SOT) fishing kayak designed for safety and stability in particular, which is what makes it a great choice for beginners.
The Angler 100 is a hard-shell, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) kayak with a flat bottom, tracking channels, and cockpit built with comfort and practicality in mind. Additionally, the unibody construction includes various footrest positions for anglers of every size or those who simply want to be able to adjust their position.
The Angler 100 kayak has a channeled flat-bottomed hull and chime stability rails which ensure smooth, stable cruising and casting.
The front and rear of the vessel are fitted with a six-inch hatch-covered storage compartment. This boat even has bungee cord webbing fore and aft for securing light gear such as clothing.
It’s even fitted with three fishing rod holders, one top-mounted and two flush-mounted. The front and back carry handles make it much easier to transport, especially when alone or just with one other person.
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is an affordable, sit-on-top fishing kayak with loads of unique features that make it great for a beginner. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need a vehicle capable of hauling a 10” hard-shell kayak.
- Comfortable - Comes with multiple footrest positions to accommodate every sized paddler.
- Easy to control - Fitted with chine rails for added balance and stability and the deep hull channels improve tracking performance.
- Lots of storage - 2 storage compartments at both the front and rear, great for multiple riders
- Due to its sturdy construction, this boat is heavy. This means that you’ll need a large vehicle and lots of elbow grease to lug it around.
- Storage hatches aren’t 100% waterproof.
Many beginners feel most confident fishing with a friend when they’re just starting out, which is where this tandem fishing kayak comes in.
There’s plenty of room inside the Sevylor kayak for you and a buddy, as well as some gear thanks to the handy storage compartment. For additional storage options, the boat is fitted with D-rings.
The 18-gauge PVC construction is stable and rugged, making it suitable for lake use. It’s also fitted with a 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover which provides protection from the elements, abrasion, and puncture. However, even if you do find yourself in a predicament and experience a puncture, thanks to Sevylor’s intelligent air-chamber system, this isn’t a problem.
The multiple chambers allow the others to stay inflated if one is punctured, this gives you plenty of time to get back to shore if you have to make a run for it.
Additionally, the boat’s airtight system is guaranteed not to leak. It’s fitted with Berkley Quick Set rod holders which are fully adjustable for added comfort and enhanced handsfree fishing.
- Convenient - The paddles and holders allow handsfree fishing
- Durable - Strong enough to withstand regular abrasion
- Air chamber system - Multiple air chambers help keep you afloat if you experience a puncture
- Some users found this kayak difficult to paddle without hitting their hands on the rod holders.
If you’re looking for a kayak with a comfortable seat, the Perception Outlaw 11.5 is an excellent choice. This hard-shell fishing kayak has a lawn chair-style seat that makes it easy to sit back, relax, and wait for the fish to start biting.
The seat can even be adjusted up or down for more stability or easier casting. The removable Pro Seat features a comfortable mesh seating area and is raised 5 inches above the deck height. Being able to store away the seat allows room for a 35-liter cooler to be added to the boat and used as a seat.
This vessel is fitted with 2 double barrel rod holders which allow for quick and easy access to your fishing rods while keeping them out of the way when paddling.
The skid plates are also easily replaceable which allows you to accidentally drag your kayak without fear of damage.
Additionally, the Perception Outlaw is fitted with self-draining scupper holes in the footwell to keep you, your gear, and your garments dry.
However, it’s important to note that the scupper plugs are not included with the kayak, but can be bought separately on Amazon.
We love how affordable this kayak is, too! It’s one of the cheapest of its kind on the market, making it ideal for beginners who are unsure about investing lots of money into the sport straight away.
- Comfortable design - Optimized and elevated seating console which can be folded and stored away
- Storage - Large bow and stern tank wells provide ample storage space for crates and fishing gear
- Practical - Built-in trays and cup holders keep important items and refreshments within easy reach at all times.
- This kayak doesn’t come with paddles.
BEST SIT ON TOP
If you’re a beginner on the hunt for a sit-on-top fishing kayak, then the Sun Dolphin Journey could be the best one for you.
It’s super versatile and suitable for all bodies of water including lakes, rivers, ponds, and oceans. It’s far more lightweight than similar models on the market which makes it easy to transport and store away when not in use.
It tracks and paddles with ease while offering maximum stability at all times, something that every beginner needs.
It’s constructed from rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene which makes it tolerant to impact and general wear and tear.
This kayak is fitted with everything you need to get started. It has 2 flush mount rod holders and one swivel rod holder.
The seat is padded and fully adjustable for your comfort and features a storage compartment that is large enough for small garments and gear. It’s fitted with shock cord deck rigging and adjustable foot braces. You’ll even find a handy water bottle holder on board along with protective thigh pads.
- Versatile - It’s suitable for use on lakes, rivers, oceans, and more
- Ample Storage - Large storage compartments allow for extra gear onboard
- Comfortable - Large ergonomic seating area is fitted with adjustable padded seat
- Anyone taller than 6 foot may find this kayak a little cramped
Best Beginner Fishing Kayak Buying Guide
- Tandem kayak - These are built for two paddlers. It could be a sit-on-top boat or have a separate place for each user.
- Inflatable/folding kayak - These are easy to fold and carry and are convenient for those always on the move. You can take it for camping trips or even drive to another city and carry this with you. These are mostly flat bottom designs that can be blown to full size for proper usage. Inflatable models are much lighter than non-inflatable models.
- Sit-on-top kayak - These are recreational kayaks used for easy flowing and calm lakes and rivers. People in warmer coastal areas use this type. Some of them have storage space for longer trips. There are some individuals who get claustrophobic inside a sit-in. In case you are one of those, consider getting yourself a sit-on.
- Sit-in kayak - These are recreational kayaks that are ideal for day touring. They are faster and have a covered and secure cargo compartment. If you are paddling to a specific destination, then this seems like the right fit. The sit-in kayaks may have a number of seats for additional passengers.
Kayaks are made of different materials, from wood, carbon fiber, hard plastic, inflatable plastic, fiberglass to Kevlar. The inexpensive models are the ones usually made of inflatable plastic.
You would need to choose the material on the basis of the purpose you are shopping for. For sea kayaking, the materials should withstand saltwater.
Make sure you tick that point before getting yourself an ocean kayak. The graphics and design play a major role. Choose your favorite color from a wide range of choices including, blue, green, white, red, pink, silver, and many more.
There are two types of stability – Primary and Secondary. The primary stability is for calm water situations while the secondary is for tense and fast waters.
Secondary stability is needed in cases of speedy activities such as white water rafting. The tipping of these boats depends a lot on the design too. Intro models usually come with no tip designs. However, every kayak is capable of sinking.
.It is wise to choose a kayak with enough space for you and your gear. Most kayaks sold specifically as "fishing kayaks" have plenty of space for you and your gear, but each model has slightly different dimensions that either give you room to stretch or make you feel cramped.
If you have a larger frame, you’ll need something bigger than a 10-foot kayak.
If you're the kind of angler who likes to bring one rod and a small bag of tackle for a day of fishing, a small fishing kayak may be all you need. But if you want to have two or three rods rigged up and every lure and hook you own at your disposal, plus a cooler strapped to the back, you're going to need a larger kayak.
A boat’s chine is the point where the bottom of the kayak meets the sides. A hard chine is an angular union of bottom and sides, while a soft chine is more rounded.
Hard chine hulls provide superior primary stability over soft chine hulls but are more prone to tipping in choppy water. Soft chine hulls are known for delivering secondary stability and are usually faster.
Rounded hulls are built for speed and maneuverability, and they’re better suited for whitewater and sport kayaking. However, they lack primary stability compared to flatter-bottomed designs.
V-shaped hulls cut through the water even better than rounded hulls, but are considered more prone to tipping. V-shaped hulls perform better in rough water and may be better suited for ocean fishing.
Flat-hulled boats are easy to maneuver and provide excellent primary stability. Pontoon-hulled vessels are a hybrid design combining the primary stability of a flat-hulled design with the secondary stability of a rounded-hull design. Fishing kayaks with a pontoon hull will track well but are not the fastest option.
Which is best: Inflatable or hard-shell?
The answer to this question depends on what you want from your fishing kayak. Here are the key features of each type to help you make the best choice for you:
- Lighter and easier to carry than hard-shell kayaks
- Easier to transport or take traveling
- Made of highly durable materials
- Optimal inflation required for optimal performance
- Thorough cleaning after use required before deflating and storing
- An inflatable vessel might be more challenging to control than hard-shell kayaks
- Made from wood, plastic, fiberglass, or composite materials
- Ready to go with very little preparation necessary.
- Greater control than some other inflatable kayaks on the market
- Heavier than inflatable models, which can be inconvenient
- Transport and storage not as easy as inflatable vessels
- Require more maintenance than inflatables, but generally more durable
Do I need scupper plugs?
You may notice that some fishing kayaks come with additional scupper plugs, and others don’t. You’ll only need to get some if your kayak has scupper holes (these allow water that has splashed onto the boat to drain back out of the boat).
They’re used to plug these drain holes and prevent small amounts of water from beneath the kayak from splashing up onto the cockpit deck. However, it’s important to note that plugging the holes will prevent them from draining accumulated water on the deck.
What’s the best fishing kayak for beginners?
The best beginner kayak type would be an inflatable one. This is because they are lighter and easier to carry around than the hir hard-shell alternative.
They can usually be stored away neatly and easily and constructed from high-quality materials to ensure your peace of mind. Many inflatable kayaks come equipped with tandem seating, so you can bring a friend along on your fishing adventures.
Inflatable kayaks are also typically much cheaper than harder ones. However, you’ll need to consider the fact that inflatable kayaks can puncture.