Best Saltwater Fishing Kayak

Whether you are a keen inshore or offshore fisher, finding the most ideal kayak can be detrimental to your fishing experience. It’s not easy to find a kayak that provides the right width for balance, enough room for holding equipment, and one with good maneuverability. 

The last thing you want is a kayak that topples over or leaks when you’re reeling in tuna. The primary and secondary stability options that a kayak offers are paramount for saltwater fishing, after all. 

Fortunately for you, we’ve got you covered! We understand the importance of finding the best kayak to assure your safety and quality of fishing. Here are the best saltwater fishing kayaks, ranging from the best inshore and offshore kayaks and ones that are suitable for any fishing venture.

OUR TOP PICK

Lifetime Tamarack Sit-On-Top Kayak, Tan, 120', Model:90237

This is our favorite kayak for saltwater fishing adventures. Lifetime is one of the most reputable and reliable brands in the kayak industry, and the Tamarack Angler is no exception. 

If you’re looking for a kayak to cut through saltwater environments quickly, this is ideal for you. At 10ft long and with a sharp bow, this kayak is designed to glide through waves and currents.

Not only is it fast, but the flat-bottomed hull allows for stability in both primary and secondary conditions (how steady the kayak sits on the water and how stable it is when turning on its side). The balance doesn’t stop there, as this yak offers a straight keg to allow for straight and consistent paddling in open water. 

Made of a UV-protected polyethylene, this kayak can hold up to 275lbs in body weight. There is an option to buy this model with or without a paddle, and there is a paddle keeper fitted to keep the paddle in place. As well as this, the kayak is equipped with a total of three fishing rod holders - two flush-mounted and one top mounted. 

Something that saltwater fishing kayaks often lack is sufficient storage space. When you’re out on open water away from civilization, you’ll want enough room in your yak to bring your essential items and equipment.

Fortunately, this kayak comes with two convenient storage hatches and several footrest positions, which could be handy for placing smaller items such as water bottles. 

Pros:

  • Stable and fast - Flat-bottom hull and sharp bow allow for stability and speed
  • Sufficient storage - 2 storage hatches allows for convenience
  • Good weight - Ideal balance between light and heavy to balance on the water without capsizing

Cons:

  • Uncomfortable seat - Recommended to bring a cushion for the seat as it is uncomfortable for long-haul fishing trips

BEST KAYAK SEAT

Wilderness Systems Atak 120 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak | Premium Angler Kayak | 12' | Atomic

Kayak fishers are all too aware of the pain of an uncomfortable yak seat. Some fishing trips can take hours to a whole day, so the last thing you want is a hard seat that offers no back support.

You need a seat with the right padding and back support to enhance your balance and allow you to focus on what’s really important: fishing. 

That’s where the Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120 comes in. This kayak offers a patented seat that offers different recline positions to allow for comfortability regardless of your preference.

Not only this, but it comes with padded footrests that improve alignment in the spine and enhances balance when fishing. 

This 12ft kayak offers all of the elements of a good saltwater fishing kayak. It’s all about convenience, with its stern hatch, tankwell, and gear security straps for storage purposes.

It is also an attractive kayak that is customizable - both by the platform and its compatibility with a Helix MD motor drive. 

Pros:

  • Comfortable seat - Patented seat can be adjusted for comfort along with padded footrests for back support
  • Long and sleek - Design allows for cutting through the water at a smooth pace, and is stable enough to stand on
  • Customizable - Accessories and platform can be customized, and a motor can be fitted if necessary 

Cons:

  • Accessories needed - No rod holders available, this will have to be done yourself with the built-in slide bars

BEST FOR STORAGE SPACE

Emotion Stealth Angler Fishing Kayak, Sandstone, 11'

Storage is often a downfall in saltwater fishing kayaks. You’re out in open water and away from civilization - you’re going to want to bring all of the necessary equipment and your personal items.

More importantly, you want this equipment and items to be safe. 

This Emotion Stealth kayak offers the best storage out of the products on our list. Not every kayak will offer a hatch underneath the deck - but this one does.

The kayak is made of a durable polyethylene for peace of mind for the equipment inside the hatch. It also comes with a large tankwell with an adjustable bungee cord to hold bags and larger pieces of equipment. 

As for the rest of the yak, this product offers two flush mounts and one deck mount rod holder to hold multiple rods at one time.

It is 11ft in length and features a flat-bottom hull for balance, a sharp bow to provide a streamlined speed, and a tracking skeg to align the paddling - no chance of drifting off course! 

Pros:

  • Great storage space - Large hatch underneath deck and tankwell offers great storage space for equipment
  • Adjustable seat - Padded seat can be adjusted to support the back
  • Streamlined and stable - Equipped with necessary features that help to provide speed and balance for primary and secondary stability

Cons:

  • Color - Only comes in Sandstone color for those who prefer an authentic and unique design

BEST KAYAK FOR TWO PEOPLE

Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak, 12.2 Foot Sit On Top Fishing Kayak with EVA Padded Seats, Includes Aluminum Paddles, Rod Holders and Dry Storage Compartments

Not everyone wants to go fishing alone. Tandem kayaks are a great way to bond with your fishing partner and, potentially, double the amount of fish caught. This kayak is ideal for holding two people - or just one person if you want extra storage space! 

Elkton Outdoors has created an ideal kayak for two anglers to fish in saltwater environments. Made of an impressive 1000 Denier PVC and tarpaulin, this is a durable and heavy-duty tandem kayak that is appropriate for flat water and open seas due to its rupture and rip-resistant build.  

The seats are adjustable with velcro and offer back support for long fishing sessions - which also means one can be removed to allow for more storage space if you are fishing alone.

Speaking of storage, this kayak offers two storage compartments at each end of the yak as well as a platform specifically for ice chests.

Not only this, but this kayak comes with two paddles and rod holders. It also comes in an awesome Camo design. 

Pros:

  • Tandem kayak - Two seats can be adjusted for two fishers or a solo fisher with the three positioning options
  • Good storage - Two storage areas, an airtight compartment, and an ice chest platform for holding lots of equipment
  • Paddles included - Comes with two paddles so additional purchases aren’t necessary

Cons:

  • Heavy - As it is designed for two people, this kayak weighs around 90lbs and may require two people to move it

BEST KAYAK FOR RELAXED FISHING

Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak - Sentinel 100X - 9.5 Feet - Lightweight one Person Kayak (Fade Black Green/Light Khaki, Angler/Fishing) (MBF10P100-00)

Some anglers may be looking for a simple kayak that works well for both fishing and leisure.

At 9.5ft long, this is the shortest kayak on our list and most beneficial for beginners and those looking for a multipurpose yak - one that you can fish on, and one you can cruise on. 

The Pelican Sentinel 100 weighs only 44lbs and is one of the easiest kayaks to carry and store - which is one of the reasons why it’s so popular with beginners.

Due to its lightweight design, this kayak is best suited for calm waters and inshore fishing rather than offshore fishing. 

This kayak comes with a storage area with a protective bungee cord as well as another removable storage compartment.

Despite its weight, this yak is equipped with a flat-bottom hull to allow for balance for both primary and secondary stability. It is made from multi-layer polyethylene which is designed to last for years with its impact-resistant design. 

Pros:

  • Good for fishing and cruising - Simple design is suitable for fishing or cruising in calm waters
  • Ideal for beginners - 9.5ft length is shorter than other kayaks, which is easier for beginners to control
  • Good storage - Storage area with bungee cords and removable storage container

Cons:

  • Not designed for offshore fishing - Build is not suitable for offshore fishing in rough water

Best Saltwater Fishing Kayak Buying Guide

What To Look For in a Saltwater Fishing Kayak

Material

The material of a kayak is one of your top priorities. The last thing you want is a cheap, flimsy yak that cannot deal with the impact of saltwater. The best material to look for is a UV-resistant polyethylene.

Polyethylene is a common plastic that is built up of multiple layers on a kayak. It is lightweight, waterproof, and mostly impact-resistant to prevent holes and breakages. The UV-resistant element is designed to protect the kayak from overheating in the sun, which can also damage the color of the kayak. 

You will find that more expensive kayaks will have a better quality polyethylene material, which is more financially beneficial in the long-run as these will last for years with proper care. To clean the kayak, simply spray it down with clean water from a hose. 

Weight

Saltwater kayaks need to be light enough to carry and to balance on the water, whilst heavy enough that they are easy to steer and paddle. This is where the polyethylene material is best because the multiple layers work out to be the ideal weight for saltwater fishing. 

Typically, saltwater kayaks weigh around 60 to 70 pounds. Tandem kayaks may be heavier as they are designed for two people. 

Comfort

This seems obvious, but the comfort of a kayak is very important. Freshwater fishing in a kayak might be fine for less comfortable seating as the fishing sessions are generally shorter, however, this isn’t the case for saltwater fishing. 

Saltwater fishing is all about long sessions due to how far people tend to go. Therefore, you will need appropriate seating that will support your back and cushion your tailbone.

Fishing involves twisting the upper body in ways that can be uncomfortable, so an adjustable seat with back support is great for aligning the spine and retaining a good posture to prevent back pain.

Maneuverability

Saltwater fishing kayaks require good maneuverability. They should feature a flat-bottom hull (the bottom of the kayak) to allow for good balance and stability, a sharp bow to allow the kayak to cut through the water at a faster speed, and a tracking skeg at the back of the kayak to keep it well-aligned. 

All of these features are designed to help the kayak move in different directions. Generally speaking, thinner kayaks are fastest but are more prone to capsizing when turning. Wider kayaks are slower but less likely to topple over when turning.

Design

This might not be a priority for some, but a design that you love may enhance your fishing trips.

A kayak can be used for several years if well-maintained, so you might as well choose one with a design that you enjoy!

Width

When it comes to saltwater fishing, the wider the kayak, the better. These kayaks are slower than narrow kayaks intended for cruising because saltwater fishing in a kayak isn’t about speed.

These will offer more balance in the water, more control with turning, and will provide more storage space. As saltwater fishing can last several hours to a day, wider kayaks will also provide more legroom for comfort.

Primary and Secondary Stability

If you have heard these terms but you’re not too sure what they mean, here’s an explanation for you. 

Primary stability refers to how steady a kayak sits on flat water, either with or without an anchor. Wider kayaks are best for this as they cover more surface area. Look for kayaks with flat-bottom hulls, as these are designed to provide balance. 

Secondary stability refers to how stable the kayak is when turned on its side. Skill will contribute to this, but generally speaking, narrow kayaks are more likely to topple at turns. 

Our Top Tips

  • Always wear sun protection even in cloudy weather, as the water will reflect UV rays. 
  • Be cautious about mosquitoes in mangroves and always use bug spray. Also, keep an eye out for snapping turtles who may want to attack your kayak. 
  • Mount a waterproof camera to capture your catches before releasing them. 
  • Wind can be an angler's worst enemy on a kayak. Make sure to have an anchor or power pole to stabilize your kayak when it is sitting on the water. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Does kayak color matter for fishing? 

There is currently little evidence to prove that fish are attracted to or scared of a kayak color. Experienced anglers will say that bright colors and camo designs are good as they might attract the fish, but in reality, it comes down to personal preference.

Some say that white kayaks may be too bright and obvious for luring fish.

Are sit on top kayaks good for the ocean? 

Sit-on-top kayaks are generally better than sit-in kayaks - but they should only be used by experienced paddlers. Sit-in kayaks may seem more stable, but if water enters these kayaks there’s a high chance of the yak capsizing as it cannot empty the water easily.

You will need to paddle to the shore to empty the water. Sit-on-top kayaks may require more balance, which is why they are recommended for experienced paddlers only, but they can easily empty water without having to paddle back to shore.

What is a good size kayak for a beginner? 

Generally speaking, shorter kayaks are better for beginners. We recommend anything that is between 9ft and 11ft in length, as these are usually easier to control.

However, if you are over 6ft tall, it is recommended to opt for longer kayaks due to leg length. 

How much does a good kayak cost? 

The best kayaks for saltwater fishing can be anywhere between $400 and $700, potentially even more. Regular kayaks are generally cheaper, ranging around the $300-$400 mark.

It is usually better to spend more money on a higher-quality kayak, as you are more unlikely to spend more money on fixings and replacements. Generally speaking, cheaper kayaks are designed for beginners, whilst more expensive kayaks are suited for experienced paddlers. 

Is it safe to kayak if you can’t swim? 

Yes and no. As long as you can paddle well in a kayak, you won’t need to swim! You’ll need to have practiced your paddling skills and need to be confident on top of the water to prevent toppling over.

A good instructor should guide you on useful techniques on how to avoid toppling and how to get back into the kayak should it topple. However, if the water is deep, it is recommended to have swimming skills to stay afloat in the case of capsizing. 

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