Fishing kayaks, also known as anglers, are designed with more storage, mounts, and comfort for fishers. In this guide, we have researched and review the best beginner-friendly kayaks for fishing.
Our goal is to recommend the top rated starter fishing kayaks that are simple in design and can make trips onto water easy. When you start out with kayaking and fishing, the last thing we want is to over-complicate matter and overpay for boat designs and features we might not ever need. So let’s take a look at the better models of kayaks that can get you onto the water, let you paddle easily to where you need, and start fishing!
Reviews of the Best Fishing Kayaks for Beginners
1. Single Seater – Sun Dolphin Journey
The Sun Dolphin Journey is a great beginner kayak with a comfortable seating and multiple storage units. It has comfy seating with excellent back support, enough storage space for fishing trips, and rod holders to make fishing a little easier on the arms. The Journey is also very affordable and priced as an entry-level kayak at $500 and under. The 10-feet Journey has had complaints about its tracking (paddling towards a target) but the 12-feet Journey tracks very well for long distances. One drawback is the Journey is difficult for standing so it might not be the best for fly fishing.
The Journey has a solid, padded back support with knee paddings on the side for long hours and comfort. Multiple storage compartments are available, with two bungeed compartments in the front and back and one deeper water-proof storage in the center between the kayaker’s legs. The back storage compartment can be covered to prevent water splashes, or have the cover removed to store a small water-proof tackle box. The storage unit in the center console uses a hatchet that can use a cat bag to hold fish caught during trips. There are two flush mount and one swivel mount fishing rod holders on the Journey. For the more advanced fishers, you can switch out the swivel mount or other accessories or fishing devices.
2. Tandem Choice – Vibe Kayaks Skipjack
The Vibe Kayaks Skipjack is a 12-feet tandem kayak that can also be made to be a 3-person sit on top kayak. The two chairs can be adjusted to fit a third chair (not included) onto the kayak. It has a maximum weight capacity of 500 pounds, and lots of mounts for accessories, including two flush mount rod holders with caps and four mounting points for a Scotty or RAM mounts. We also find sealed hatches in front of each chair and a single bungeed tank well at the stern of the boat. It also comes with two plastic paddles and two chairs, with cushions for sitting and lying against.
The Skipjack can be stood on as well, but it is recommended only standing in the center of the kayak where there is more stability. It can be treated as a single-fisher kayak, with enough space to bring other larger tackle boxes and gears on board. The sides are bungeed to store paddles, and the overall design of the Skipjack provides a lot of flat surface space to work with during trips. With its flat and wide hull, this kayak will be great for relaxing sit-fishing, recreational kayaking, or for safe traveling on many types of water. It can also serve as an excellent continuation model for the beginner fisher who wants wiggle room for more serious kayak fishing.
3. Inflatable Choice – Intex Challenger
If you want something simple for a quickly getting onto the water, the Intex inflatable Challenger can be the go-to sit-in kayak choice. Either the Challenger K1 or Challenger K2 (tandem) can be a suitable choice for any beginner kayak fisher. A small, flat tackle box can fit in the cargo net storage space in the bow of the boat. The cargo net can also help hold your paddle or fishing rod temporarily. The Challenger comes with its own paddle and pump.
The heavy vinyl is durable enough for day-to-day use, as long you as don’t run into a sharp log or pointed stick (the same applies for all inflatable models). Pets such as dogs can also sit on the kayak without concern of the nails puncturing the vinyl. The Challenger also tracks very well, is relatively stable as you sit inside the kayak, and can make starting fishing trips easy and efficient. The only drawback is it doesn’t allow for standing and does lack a lot of storage space (for example, to bring a cooler with you). You can use the K2 model and use a bungee cord kit to convert the second passenger seat into a storage compartment.
Shopping Guide: 5 Considerations That Make A Suitable Beginner Fishing Kayak
Comfortable Seating For All-Day Fishing
Although some kayak fishers enjoy standing, comfortable seating is a must for any fisher especially if you are out in the sun for long hours. What beginners want to look out for are two parts to seating: 1) adequate back support, and 2) adequate leg space and placement.
You want to be able to rest your back against a solid support, preferably with a cushion to sit on and lean up against. The seating can use a framed chair or designed in a way to provide support.
As for leg space, taller individuals (close to or greater than 6-feet) should be looking for kayaks longer than 10 feet for space. Shoppers may find kayaks that use either grooves or adjustable feet placements. Both work great.
Relatively Stable and Easy To Use
Although most kayaks are built to be stable for sitting and similar in design for ease of use, there are a few kayaks that might be more wobbly than other ones.
Most professional kayakers would say to look at the shape of the hull to determine a kayak’s stability. We want boats that have a wider and flat hull that can balance itself well on different water surfaces. If a hull is rounded on its side, there might be more rocking even in calm waters!
Has Multiple Storage Compartments Available
Most kayaks have two storage compartments, usually bungeed (with ropes), at the bow (front of the kayak) and stern (rear of the kayak). Others have additional storage compartments such as a deep tank well hatchet in the center console (the area between your legs when you sit).
For fishers, we want storage compartments for our tackle boxes, for holding game fish, and coolers for food and water. Bungeed support is necessary to prevent stored items from sliding side-to-side or falling off the kayak during maneuvers.
Has Rod Holders
The right beginner kayak can make fishing easy and fun. We want to be on the lookout for flush mount rod holders, usually located along the sides of the kayak. Although most beginner fishers prefer to the cast-and-retrieve fishing, the mounts allow us to place our rods down while we sit back and relax, or free our hands to do other things.
It’s Relatively Cheap and Affordable
More expensive fishing kayaks can have additional features that might be nice and add a little bit of luxury to a fishing trip, but might not be necessary for beginners.
Part of a beginner-friendly kayak is that it won’t break the bank or take a bite out of your wallet simply to enjoy the trip. Depending on how long or how many people will be joining you in the boat, angler kayaks can be anywhere between $300 to $1000, or greater.
Inflatable kayaks will be the cheaper choice but can be susceptible to damage.