What’s the best fishing kayak for the money in 2015?
There are a lot of good fishing kayaks hitting the market now, and choosing the best one can be a challenge for both new and seasoned kayak anglers alike. First, take stock of the type of fishing you plan on doing most then factor in the kind of water you will be working the majority of the time. Experienced kayak fishermen can skip these steps. Beginners need to honestly assess their situation, then look up an experienced ‘yak angler or two for some Q & A sessions. Both new and experienced kayak fishermen can benefit from and enjoy demoing a few boats, and a couple of guided fishing trips checking out the pro’s boats and rigging setups will yield great insights.
Hobie Pro Angler 14 2015
Our favorite for 2016
Malibu Kayaks X-13 Fish and Dive Package Sit on Top Kayak
A great value option
Sun Dolphin Journey sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
A great entry level option
The best fishing kayaks offer similar features. Stability is a vital consideration, particularly for new fishermen. Initial stability refers to the side-to-side wobble that is felt when getting in or onto a kayak. Secondary stability is how difficult the kayak is to push past its critical roll point and flip over. The best boats perform well on both measures. An efficient and versatile rigging setup, or the mounting points for such a setup, is another feature of a good boat, as is the volume and convenience of gear storage capability. The best boats on the market for serious fishing belong to the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler line. Hobie has deep roots in California’s Pacific Ocean waters, and they produce some of the finest kayaks made to fish those waters.
Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14’
The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14’ is the best fishing kayak on the market today. Competition-capable and set up for big water, the Hobie is a pedal-drive boat and one of the most expensive ‘yaks out there, but its features speak for themselves. The MirageDrive takes advantage of the leg muscles for hands-free kayaking and efficient power. The H-Rail mounting system is a unique innovation, and the Lowrance-Ready installation system makes mounting fishing electronics simple. An adjustable support seating system and storage for six rods along with plenty of tackle and gear prep the Mirage for long big water expeditions.
Old Town Predator MX
The Old Town Predator MX is a 12’ kayak that combines the serious fishing features of the Predator 13’ with lighter weight and a shorter, more rounded hull to make a boat that can handle moving water well. The wide-open, clean deck and slip-resistant Exo-Ridges along with exceptional stability make this kayak easy to stand in and a good choice for sight fishing or fly fishermen. Six removable mounts and a large bow hatch with a click seal cover make it easy to gear up. The spacious rear tank well can hold a trolling motor battery, tackle boxes or fish.
Native Watercraft Slayer 12 Kayak
The Native Watercraft Slayer 12’ is a compact sit-on-top boat designed with stand-up fishing in mind. The self-bailing hull offers stability, stealth and speed. Open bow and stern compartments and plenty of molded storage inserts allow for a wide variety of storage containers and configurations. The seat adjusts from low to high position for sight fishing or fly casting, and the electronics console is placed within easy reach. Groove tracks support complete customization of rod holder positions with no drilling needed. Light weight, padded handles and the built-in Tag Along Wheel make single-handed transport easy even with the boat loaded.
Malibu Kayaks X-13
The Malibu X-13 gives the best value for the money by combining fishing performance with speed and the ability to carry a child for a boat that does recreation as well as fishing. The Malibu is light-weight and simple, with nothing to catch or break off, making it easy to transport and durable for active use. The open rear deck offers versatility in gear transport options. Built-in rod holders, clean hull lines and a good standing platform make the X-13 suitable for snag-free standup fly casting. Low-profile sides make landing hooked fish or entry and exit from the water easy.
KL Industries Sun Dolphin Journey SS Kayak
The Sun Dolphin Journey is a great entry-level fishing kayak. At ten feet in length and only 25 pounds in weight, this kayak is also good for those looking for a boat that is easy to store and transport but still has everything needed for a day of fishing. In fact, this boat is loaded with accessories and gear storage options. It comes with one swivel rod holder in the cockpit and two flush-mounted holders in the back deck. Stable and easy to get in and out of, the Sun Dolphin is made to combine good tracking qualities with maneuverability.
How to find the best and most affordable fishing kayaks
When buying a fishing kayak, you want to choose one that will provide safety, comfort and a good fishing experience. Pick a kayak that matches the water conditions you will usually be fishing in. In particular, consider your launching and landing situation. The kayak that will let you come ashore through waves or move through the rapids of a stream is a much different boat than one that goes into a lake off a boat ramp.
Water temperature is also a very important consideration. Sit-on-top boats are wet and much better suited to warm water, while sit-in boats offer protection from wind and waves. If you want to get into backwoods ponds, paddle down tight, winding creeks, and hop out to wade at times, a light, short boat like the Sun Dolphin would be the best choice. It is also a good option for those hunting a low-price boat. However, the Sun Dolphin will not be fast across flat water and is not suitable for big, open bodies of water that get rough.
Long, narrow boats like the Malibu X-13 have the profile that makes for good speed and more stable handling in chop and swell. When considering boat prices, remember the difference between rigged and unrigged boats. It can be quite expensive to set a fishing kayak up the way you want it, particularly when electronics are on the menu. Beginners may want to go with a minimally-rigged kayak to save money, then gradually accessorize as experience is gained.