How to Choose a Fishing Kayak

Learn about kayak features designed for anglers; from rod holders to increased storage to pedals.

Looking to take your fishing experience to the next level? Then you might be ready to add a kayak to your next fishing trip.

You’ll find a variety of styles, sizes and features designed with anglers in mind. Pro Tips is here to walk you through everything you’ll need to consider when choosing a fishing kayak.


Fishing kayaks have unique features that can help enhance your experience on the water.

  • Rod holders provide hands-free fishing and easy access to your rod.
  • Fishing kayaks can provide convenience with extended storage for your gear. This can include built-in tackle boxes.
  • Some fishing kayaks will come with improved comfort. These features can include an upgraded seat or thigh pads for long days on the water.


Fishing kayaks can come in either sit-on-top or sit-inside varieties. Both styles offer stability while on the water.

“Sit-on-tops are great for easy, open access to your fishing tackle and provide great stability for choosing to fish while standing,” outdoor guide Mark Morgan says.

This type of kayak can also be easier to get in and out of if you happen to fall out or if you need to get out and wade.

The sit-inside style provides stability due to its low center of gravity. This can be helpful if the water is choppy. Sit-inside kayaks also offer some protection from the elements. This makes them a good choice for cold-weather fishing.


Looking to free up your hands? You might want to try a pedal kayak.

“Some fishing kayaks are offered with pedal power,” Morgan says. “This gives you the option to fish with free hands while still moving downstream.”

There are two types of pedal kayaks:

  • The first is push-pedal kayaks. Only your feet propel this style. These kayaks can be better for casually moving through the water.
  • Rotational pedal kayaks require you to move your legs in a walking motion. These kayaks can be better for covering greater distances.

PRO TIP: Remember to keep a spare paddle handy with your pedal kayak in case something happens to the pedals.


If you prefer a paddle kayak, there are specially designed paddles for fishing. They will come with a retrievable hook for grabbing a line in the water or the dock line.


Remember to consider where you’ll most likely use your kayak. Depending on the area, you may benefit from either a shorter or longer kayak.

“Smaller kayaks are great for small, confined areas that you might need to turn,” Morgan says. “Whereas longer, slender kayaks are great for large open bodies of water.”

Once you find the right fishing kayak for you, you’ll need to have the right gear. Check out this guide on how to pack your fishing kayak.

A kayak can help boost your fishing experience. Once you find the one for you, you’ll be ready to hit the water and hook the big one.