Buying guide and best beginner fishing kayak for all kinds of people

Person sitting on a fishing kayak with fish in right hand
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If you are still indecisive as to which fishing kayak is suitable for you, or what features to look for in your first fishing kayak, then this article is for you! Here, you will find relevant information regarding what to take into account when searching for your first fishing kayak but also our top fishing kayak recommendations that were chosen after some extensive research reviewing products and other consumers’ experiences. So, let’s jump right to it!

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

Top 5 best beginner fishing kayaks

Rest assured that only the most stable entry-level fishing kayaks have been recommended. If you are interested in knowing what makes a suitable fishing kayak for beginners, then keep reading till the end.

Tamarack Angler 100: Ideal for people on a budget

The Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak is a sit-on-top kayak that comes ready for fishing. With a total of three rod holders, you can fish from either side of the kayak to maximize your changes while out. The kayak has ample storage for gear, even though some of it may get tossed around a bit as you paddle. The flat bottom should help with stability and will hopefully prevent some of that movement. It’s stable enough for standing up with ease, which makes it a decent fishing kayak for beginners.

The design is relatively lightweight, and the two T-handles make it easy to move around on land. This comes with the downside of having a lower maximum weight limit, so you’ll have to plan carefully about which gear to bring along. While you’re out on the water, the Angler 100 makes for a reasonably comfortable experience, but if you’re out all day, you may want to consider a better seat rest.

Pros
  • Adjustable padded seat back and seat pad
  • Adjustable footrest
  • Front and rear shock cords for additional storage space
  • Rear tank well for a cooler or fishing equipment
  • Two storage hatches beneath the deck
  • Paddle holder
  • Front and rear T-handles for easy transport
  • Two rear rod holders and one front rod holder
  • Flat bottom for increased stability
  • Relatively lightweight
  • 5-year limited warranty
Cons
  • Not completely leakproof
  • Items stored beneath the deck shift around a lot
  • Low maximum weight capacity

In case you are interested in reading more about affordable fishing kayaks, then be sure to check out our fishing kayak reviews!

Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler: Ideal for women and short people

The Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler has a durable design and has fishing on its mind. With lots of storage for gear and a pair of rod holders, you can safely store and access whatever you need to catch the big one while out on the water – so long as you stay under the 275-pound maximum weight limit. The kayak itself is a reasonable 44 pounds and has two handles for portability. If you are a woman or consider yourself a short person, then this is the best fishing kayak for you.

The Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler does a great job with back support but surprisingly leaves a lot to the imagination in the seating area. You may want to spring for a more comfortable seat for a day out on the water. The kayak is very streamlined and stable in the water, making it easy to maneuver and even easier to keep stable when you’re fighting that fish. If you do get some water on board, the drain plug can make short work of it.

Pros
  • Padded backrest with seat cushion
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Flat bottom hull ensures stability when casting and reeling in fish
  • Removable storage
  • Internal storage molded into the kayak with room for a phone and beverages
  • Paddle holders
  • Front and rear handles for easy transport
  • Two vertical rod holders
  • Drain plug to remove water from beneath the deck
  • Designed for stability and tracking
Cons
  • Poor seat padding
  • The front storage is hard to access while sitting
  • No storage beneath the deck

Sevylor Coleman Colorado: Ideal for 2 persons

The Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person kayak comfortably seats two people and has nice options for storage of gear. The four rod holders make it easy for two people to fish without encroaching on each other’s space. If you’re out on your own, seats are removable for extra storage space, and the kayak is easy to steer even as a sole occupant.

The kayak is made with durability in mind. The 1000 denier tarpaulin bottom and reinforced 840 denier nylon cover can handle almost anything – even if you’re forced to drag the kayak over weeds, bushes, or rocks. Following a common trend with inflatables, the kayak does have three independent air chambers to keep you from sinking. Since this inflatable tends to sit higher in the water thanks to extra buoyancy, it is more susceptible to wind and currents. When done on the water, the kayak folds up into a carrying case for easy portability.  

Pros
  • Lightweight inflatable kayak
  • Easy to steer even with one kayaker
  • D-rings for tying down gear
  • Paddle holders
  • Folds up for portability
  • 1000 denier tarpaulin bottom
  • 840 denier nylon cover
  • Four adjustable rod holders
  • Removable seats
  • Mesh storage
  • Comes with a skeg mount
Cons
  • Paddles and pump not included
  • Can be difficult to track in strong current and winds
  • 1-year warranty

Sevylor Quikpak K1: Ideal for children

An inflatable kayak with a 400-pound maximum capacity? The people at Sevylor are on to something with this design. Unfortunately, this weight limit might go to waste due to the limited storage options on the kayak. It is designed to have a small footprint, as the kayak compacts down to a small size, and even the paddle breaks down into three pieces for storage. The best part is that the kayak inflates in minutes and is ready to go.

The shape of the kayak makes it almost impossible to tip over out on the water, which can be a blessing to newer kayakers. The tarpaulin bottom is puncture-resistant, but even in the event of a poke, the unit has five different air chambers to keep you afloat. This unit is relatively easy to steer due to the fact that it’s only 18 pounds, but the lightweight also makes it susceptible to wind and waves out on the water.

Pros
  • Almost impossible to capsize
  • Included dual pumps make inflation and deflation quick and easy
  • Very versatile design
  • Small storage footprint
  • Very lightweight
  • Large maximum weight capacity
  • Adjustable footrest
  • Inflatable backrest/seat
  • Paddle holder
  • Puncture resistant
  • Storage pockets for holding gear
  • 2-year warranty
Cons
  • Paddle is not durable
  • Plastic tightening rings can lead to blisters from rubbing
  • Difficult to control in strong winds or currents
  • Limited storage space

Perception Outlaw 11.5: Ideal for big and tall people 

The Perception Outlaw 11.5 is a reasonably large kayak designed to accommodate even the tallest kayaker. There’s quite a bit of room to move around within the kayak, and has tank wells to hold your gear. Without any storage beneath the deck, though, your equipment has a strong likelihood of getting wet. There are also options to add more storage, such as saddlebags or mounting. The whole setup is pretty customizable, and even the seat can be folded up to increase space in the kayak.

The robust design does make it a bit slow to move through the water, but with the silent traction pads on the bottom, fish won’t hear you coming. Two double-barreled rod holders allow for up to four rods at any time, increasing your chances of landing a fish. The kayak was even designed with standing in mind and is stable enough to allow you to fish while standing up.

Pros
  • Designed to accommodate all sizes of paddlers
  • Large bow and stern tank wells for storage
  • Optimized and elevated seating console
  • Molded-in storage trays and cup holders
  • Elevated comfortable mesh seat
  • The seat can fold away
  • Durable skid plates on the bottom of the kayak
  • Room for optional additional storage
  • Front handle for portability
  • Two double-barrel rod holders
  • Silent traction pads
  • 5-year warranty
  • Customizable
Cons
  • Paddle not included
  • Not built for speed or strong currents
  • No storage beneath the deck

Insights & Takeaways

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to fishing kayaks, but given all the different models available out there, there’s a good chance that you can find one that fits your needs. Hopefully, you were able to find a suitable fishing kayak in the product recommendations above. 

Once you have chosen a fishing kayak that meets your needs and expectations, have a look at our summary of the best fishing kayak accessories.

How to choose a fishing kayak for beginners

Most people will agree that a stable fishing kayak is exactly what a beginner kayak angler needs. This allows you to focus on the fishing aspect while slowly getting used to being on a moving surface without worrying too much about falling into the water. Still, there are other things to consider when choosing a fishing kayak. Let’s discuss the 5 most common factors.

Who is Using The Fishing Kayak?

People kayaking

Children mostly need a fishing kayak that is lightweight, stable, and small in size. The lighter the fishing kayak, the easier it will be for them to carry and steer the fishing kayak. Meanwhile, the stability of the fishing kayak will help them focus on learning how to navigate on the water and fish while staying safe. A front and rear handles are interesting features to have on the fishing kayak because they allow an adult to tow them when their arms get tired or if they end up in a stronger current than they can manage.

Women mostly need a fishing kayak that is lightweight and small in size, especially for those who want to be able to carry and load their kayak themselves. Most plastic fishing kayaks weigh between 38 lbs and 70 lbs, which might still be on the heavy end for some women. Luckily, there are plenty of tools such as kayak carts and rack systems to help ease the burden of carrying. Although there are fishing kayaks made of even lighter materials, namely fiberglass, they also tend to be fragile and very expensive, which might not be the best investment as your first fishing kayak. Lastly, the fishing kayak should also have a comfortable seat that feels great on the hips, butt, and thighs.

Tall and big people mostly need a fishing kayak that can accommodate their weight, height, and leg length. The maximum weight capacity is probably the most important specification to look for when searching for a fishing kayak. This should be compared against one’s own body weight and the weight of the gear equipment that will be taken along on the fishing trip. To avoid back pain or sitting too tight, choose a fishing kayak that has enough leg space and a comfortable seat with a high back.

Do You Plan To Use The Fishing Kayak In Saltwater Or Freshwater?

Saltwater Fishing Kayaks

Ocean scene with waves illustration


Saltwater refers to water that’s in a rough state such as the sea and rivers with middle to high currents. Given that this type of water often covers a wide area, choosing the right fishing kayak will depend on whether you plan to go fishing near the shoreline (=inshore fishing) or in the middle of the sea (=offshore fishing). In both cases, you will need to maneuver over long distances in order to reach prime fishing locations and face steep waves and stiff winds at any given time. Thus, you should aim for a long and slightly narrow fishing kayak, which will allow you to move fast and feel secure, especially when opting for offshore fishing. In practice, however, most anglers prefer to go for a sit-on-top fishing kayak because they offer more movement for casting and reeling in fish. Also, a sit-on-top fishing kayak will not fill up when you roll over, making it easier to get back into.  

Freshwater Fishing Kayaks

Natural environment lanscape scene illustration

Freshwater refers to water that’s in a calm state such as ponds, lakes, and rivers with little to no current. Since you won’t need to go too far in this type of water, you can focus on fishing kayaks that are lightweight and offer good stability, which will also allow you to fish while standing. For this reason, you should be looking for short and wide fishing kayaks.

Bear in mind that fishing in saltwater is suited for more experienced anglers since they tend to encounter a fight from the fish they’re trying to catch. Therefore, if your fishing skill level is still in its infancy, fishing in freshwater would definitely be the perfect start for you.

How Will You Transport Your Fishing Kayak From Your Home Into The Water?

The most common way to transport a fishing kayak on a vehicle such as an SUV, truck, or sedan will be on the roof. Thus, it is important to compare the weight specifications of your chosen fishing kayak with your ability to lift it onto the car roof. An alternative way is to use a kayak trailer instead of a kayak roof rack as a method of transportation. This allows you to slide the kayak at waist level making it more convenient. However, depending on the state you live in, you will need to register your kayak trailer, and needless to say that it takes up a lot of storage space in your house. Once you arrive at your destination, you might need to use a kayak cart in order to move the kayak from the parking lot, boat ramp, or over the beach to the actual water. If you don’t want to be bothered with purchasing additional transport equipment for your fishing kayak, it might be a good idea to focus on compact fishing kayaks such as inflatable and foldable fishing kayaks.

Check out this kayak transportation guide to learn more about the different ways for transporting your kayak on any type of vehicle.

How Much Weight Will You Carry On Your Fishing Kayak?

One of the common mistakes entry-level kayakers tend to make is purchasing a fishing kayak without taking into account its weight in comparison to the sum of their own weight and the amount of gear they want to carry on their fishing trip. Overlooking this fact will get you nowhere except to the bottom of the lake. Also, consider the amount of space you and your fishing equipment would require on the fishing kayak. Most fishing kayaks offer plenty of space but differ slightly in their dimensions leading to some kayaks offering more leg space while others more storage compartments. 

How Much Are You Willing To Spend On Your Fishing Kayak?

Nowadays, it is perfectly doable to get a decent fishing kayak with plenty of features at a bargain price. Features such as accessory track mounts, rod holders, storage places, and adjustable foot braces can certainly be found in fishing kayaks with a price range between $300 and $500, which is surely enough for someone just starting out. Something worth mentioning though is that fishing kayaks in this price range require a paddle in order to move forward. In case you want to free your hands for fishing, photography, or watching wildlife with binoculars, you can opt for a pedal fishing kayak where you use your feet to propel yourself forward. Be mindful though that pedal kayaks start at about $2,000, while a traditional kayak with a paddle can cost you less than $500!

If you really have a tight budget then be sure to also check out our article on the best affordable fishing kayaks.

Common Terms Used For Fishing Kayak Parts

Anatomy of sit on top kayaks


Tracking is a term used to describe how straight a kayak glides without any steering or paddling. Kayaks that are very easy to turn often lose some tracking as a result.

Stability refers to how easily the boat stays right-side-up in the water. The more stable a kayak, the easier it is to get in and out of the kayak or making sharp turns without flipping it. 

Hatch is a storage compartment in the body of the kayak that is usually covered with a waterproof lid. All gear stored in the hatch should be put in a drybag since water can still penetrate into the body of the kayak. 

A cockpit is the opening of a sit-inside kayak where the paddler is seated. Generally, it is hard to capsize a sit-in kayak but also hard to get the water out of it once it occurs.

A spray skirt is an accessory available to sit-inside kayaks that sits around your waist and covers the cockpit. It’s main purpose is to keep water from entering the cockpit during use.

Scupper holes are openings usually found on sit-on-top kayaks near ground level and that help drain off water instead of pooling in the side walls of the craft.

The hull is the shape of the bottom of the kayak which influences how difficult it is for a paddler to keep moving in a straight line and the stability of the kayak.

A skeg/rudder is located at the stern of some kayaks and their main purpose is to keep a kayak on a straight track when moving forward while paddling with a crosswind. Rudders rotate side-to-side and are controlled by foot pedals whereas skegs simply drop straight in the water and help the boat go straight.

A keel is the strip that runs along the bottom centerline of the boat. It is the part that is most susceptible to damage by dragging the kayak over concrete and rocky surface onto the water.

Ally Mash
Ally Mash
Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.

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