What’s the best ocean fishing kayak for 2017?

What’s best kayak for ocean fishing?

Kayak fishing is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing aspects amongst avid fishermen because a kayak is much cheaper to purchase than a motorboat, is much easier to store and transport and, a kayak provides an angler with a means to stealthily approach wary populations of fish that would otherwise be spooked by a larger craft.

However, it is important to note that the saltwater environment is clearly divided into protected waters such as estuaries and sounds, inshore waters located within sight of the coastline and, offshore waters where pelagic blue water species live and, each ecosystem has different properties. Thus, because these different ecosystems present anglers with different challenges, different types of kayaks are required to fish them effectively.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Angler
Our favorite for 2016
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Angler
A great value option
Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 Kayak - 2015
A great ocean kayak, our second favorite

For instance, when fishing estuaries, salt marsh creeks, or Mangrove Swamps, maneuverability is more important than speed but, when fishing inshore or offshore waters, seaworthiness and speed are of paramount importance. Thus, the type of ocean fishing kayak that you should choose depends on the type of ecosystem that you will be fishing in most frequently. So, what is best kayak for saltwater fishing?

The Top 5 Ocean Fishing Kayaks for 2017

Below you will find a list of what I feel is the top five ocean fishing kayaks for 2017. Also, you may note that I have purposely chosen only sit-on-top models because they are, by far, the most popular type of fishing kayak. In addition, each kayak was chosen to meet the needs of a specific ocean ecosystem.

Rating System:

Each of the kayaks listed below is rated on an alphabetical scale  based upon their speed, maneuverability, seating, standing room, and outfitting.

Wilderness Systems Thresher 155

thresher kayakOf the five ocean fishing kayaks listed here, the Wilderness Systems Thresher 155 is definitely my favorite. Designed specifically for fishing open water, this kayak is an excellent choice for fishing both inshore and offshore waters because it provides a combination of excellent speed and initial stability due to its Swede Form hull design.

However, with a weight of 80 lbs. it may be a bit too heavy for smaller anglers to load and unload without assistance. On the other hand, it features Wilderness Systems’ Phase 3 AirPro kayak seat combined with adjustable foot braces to enable an angler to sit comfortably in the kayak all day long. In addition, it features Wilderness Systems’ removable Flex Pod OS center console which also doubles as a hatch cover to provide on-water access to the amidships storage compartment and, there are Slide Trax equipment rails installed on either gunwale forward and aft of the seat. Plus, it has paddle park grooves molded into the gunwales just forward of the seat to provide a place to temporarily park your paddle without it rolling around.

Also, it has two molded storage compartments located just forward of the seat with mesh covers but, it should be noted that the center console does limit standing room to two narrow tacks on either side and the storage compartments place these tracks well forward of center. Last, it also features a bow storage hood and the molded tank well in the stern is specifically designed to contain a cooler or live bait well and yet, still provide plenty of extra wet storage space. However, it does lack both a paddle keeper and an anchor trolley.

My rating:  Even though this kayak is my favorite of the five kayaks listed here, I have assigned it a B+ due to its lack of unobstructed standing room and lack of a paddle keeper and anchor trolley.

Specifications:

Length:                                    15′ 6″
Width:                                     30″
Weight:                                   80 lbs.
Type:                                       Sit-on-top
Capacity:                                 450 lbs.
Rigged For Fishing:                Yes
Propulsion:                              Paddle

Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5

Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 Kayak - 2015The Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 ocean fishing kayak is another excellent kayak for fishing both inshore and offshore waters. At 14 ½ feet, it is long enough to provide excellent speed and yet, with a beam of 30 inches, it has plenty of initial stability as well. In addition, with a weight of 70 lbs., it is a bit lighter than most of the other kayaks listed here. Also, it features Native Watercraft’s extremely comfortable High/Low kayak seat which incorporates a rigid, aluminum, frame that enables the angler to choose the low position for increased stability when paddling to their fishing destination and then switch to the high position for increased visibility once they arrive. In addition, it features a center console with plenty of room for mounting fishing electronics but, the center console does limit standing room to two narrow tracks on either side.

On the other hand, this kayak incorporates more pre-installed outfitting options than any other kayak listed here. For instance, it features six Groove Tack equipment mounting rails mounted on both gunwales in the stern, amidships, and in the bow along with two recesses on either side of the seat for Plano tackle boxes as well as molded indents fore and aft of the seat for additional tackle boxes. Plus, there are two day hatches positioned both behind the seat and in the center console and a molded tank well in the stern which is designed to contain a fishing crate or bait bucket as well as an open well in the bow for wet storage which can be covered with an optional hatch cover to create dry storage space. In addition, it comes with Cam-Lok paddle holders to complete the outfitting.

My rating:  If this kayak only had a pre-installed anchor trolley, then I would gladly give it an A! However, due to the lack of an anchor trolley, I am only able to give it a B+. On the other hand, of the five kayaks listed here, this kayak definitely provides the greatest number of outfitting options for the money and thus, it would be my choice second only to the Wilderness Systems Thresher 155.

Specifications:

Length:                                    14 ft. 6 in.
Width:                                     30 in.
Weight:                                   70 lbs.
Type:                                       Sit-on-top
Capacity:                                 450 lbs.
Rigged For Fishing:                Yes
Propulsion:                              Paddle

Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7

Ocean Kayak Trident Ultra 4.3 Angler Kayak - Sit-On-Top Yellow, One SizeAs ocean fishing kayaks go, the Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7 is without a doubt one of the best kayaks on the market for fishing both inshore and offshore waters. Based on their Trident 15 model and featuring their Prowler hull design, the Ultra 4.7 has increased volume in the bow for a drier ride and a moderate amount of rocker combined with a built-in skeg and a rudder system to aid in tracking. However, at 87 lbs. it may be too heavy for anglers with smaller statures to lift onto and off of a vehicle’s roof. On the other hand, its length vs. width makes it a relatively fast kayak and yet, the moderately wide beam provides plenty of initial stability. Also, it features the Ocean Kayak Comfort Hybrid Kayak Seat and adjustable foot braces for all day comfort.

However, it should be noted that standing room is limited to two narrow tracks on either side of the center console hatch cover. On the other hand, the Ultra Center Console Hatch Cover does provide plenty of options for mounting fishing electronics and, it also provides access to the in-hull rod storage compartment. Plus, there is a storage compartment located behind the seat that can be used for storing an anchor or as a live-bait well and, the molded tank well is designed to accommodate the Ocean Kayak Ice Box Storage Pod. Last, there are four, flush-mounted, rod holders mounted on either gunwale forward and aft of the seat and, there is a large hatch located in the bow for dry storage.

My rating:  I have assigned this kayak a B due to its lack of sophisticated seating, lack of unobstructed standing room, and lack of a paddle keeper and anchor trolley.

Specifications:

Length:                                    15 ft. 7 in.
Width:                                     29.1 in.
Weight:                                   87 lbs.
Type:                                       Sit-on-top
Capacity:                                 450 lbs.
Rigged For Fishing:                Yes
Propulsion:                              Paddle

Wilderness Systems Tarpon Angler 120

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 AnglerOf the five ocean fishing kayaks listed here, the Wilderness Systems Tarpon Angler 120 is the slowest but, is also the most maneuverable. However, due to its relatively narrow beam, it is also a reasonably fast kayak. Thus, it would be an excellent choice for fishing in protected waters such as estuaries, salt marsh creeks, and mangrove swamps. Also, with a weight of 67 lbs. it is one of the lightest kayaks listed here and thus, it is a good choice for smaller paddlers.

Also, it combines Wilderness Systems’ Phase 3 Air Pro Seat with adjustable foot braces for exceptional comfort. In addition, it features a center console for mounting fishing electronics along with Slide Trax equipment mounting rails on both gunwales forward and aft of the seat for additional mounting options and, there is an Orbix day hatch positioned just forward of the seat for storing small items. In addition, there is a large Orbix hatch in the bow for dry storage of bulky items along with a molded tank well in the stern which is perfect for carrying a cooler or live bait well. However, it should be noted that standing room is limited to two, narrow, tacks on either side of the center console and, it lacks both a paddle keeper and an anchor trolley.

My rating:  I have assigned this kayak a B due to its lack of unobstructed standing room and lack of a paddle keeper and anchor trolley.

Specifications:

Length:                                    12′ 3″
Width:                                     30″
Weight:                                   67 lbs.
Type:                                       Sit-on-top
Capacity:                                 350 lbs.
Rigged For Fishing:                Yes
Propulsion:                              Paddle

 

Feel Free Moken 14

Feelfree Moken 14 Kayak Blue Camo, One Size The Feelfree Moken 14 is another ocean fishing kayak that is an excellent choice for fishing both inshore and offshore waters. With a length of 14’ 8”, it is fast enough to reach those distant inshore fishing locations as well offshore waters and, with a width of 30”, it provides plenty of initial stability. However, with an outfitted weight of 76 lbs. it is a bit on the heavy side and thus, it may be difficult for paddlers with smaller statures to load and unload unassisted.

On the other hand, it features Feel Free’s King Fisher Kayak Seat combined with adjustable foot braces to keep anglers comfortable throughout an entire day of fishing and, it feature a large, unobstructed, standing platform just forward of the seat to enable anglers to stand up while fishing as well as a stand-assist strap to help them do so. Also, it features a center console and Uni-track equipment mounting rails on both gunwales forward and aft of the seat. In addition, there are two, flush-mounted, rod holders on either gunwale aft of the seat and a molded recess in the tank well that is specifically designed hold a fishing crate.

Plus, there is a large hatch in the bow for dry storage and a molded tank well in the stern for wet storage. Last, it combines Feel Free’s “wheel in the keel” with molded handles to make it easier to transport the kayak to the launch and back again and Feel Free offers several outfitting options that can be purchased separately.

My rating:  While I am tempted to give this kayak an A due to the excellent design and outfitting as well as its relative affordability, I have instead given it a B due to its lack of a paddle keeper and anchor trolley. However, I also believe that of the five kayaks listed here, this kayak is the best choice for anglers on a budget.

Specifications:

Length:                                    14 ft. 8 in.
Width:                                     30 in.
Weight:                                   76 lbs.
Type:                                       Sit-on-top
Capacity:                                 432 lbs.
Rigged For Fishing:                Yes
Propulsion:                              Paddle

Summary and Conclusion

So, while I would be very pleased to own any one of the five ocean fishing kayaks listed here, my absolute favorite is the Wilderness Systems Thresher 155 followed closely by the Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 and the Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.5. However, I also feel that the Wilderness Systems Tarpon Angler 120 provides the angler with most kayak for the money and, for those anglers on a budget, the Feel Free Moken 14 is definitely the best choice. But, I also believe that of all the ocean fishing kayaks available on the market today, the five listed here are the best of the best and thus, I believe that a person could not possibly go wrong purchasing any one of them!

Buyer’s Guide – What is an ocean kayak and how to find the best ocean kayak for fishing

When choosing an ocean fishing kayak, you will first need to decide whether you prefer a sit-on-top (as most anglers do) or a sit-inside kayak. Also, while it is true that sit-inside kayaks provide the angler with some protection from the elements and have a lower center of gravity and thus, greater secondary stability, sit-on-top kayaks are by far the favorite choice of anglers because they have a high degree of initial stability and they enable the paddler to easily reenter the kayak in the event of a capsize.

Also, it should be noted that shorter kayaks are easier to maneouver than longer kayaks but, they are also slower than longer kayaks. In addition, wide kayaks have greater initial stability than narrow kayaks but, they have less secondary stability and thus, they are less stable in steep swells and rough seas. Whereas, narrow kayaks have a greater degree secondary stability and thus, they have less tendency to pitch and roll in heavy seas but, are more difficult to keep upright due to their lesser degree on initial stability.

Furthermore, you will want a kayak with a comfortable seat and plenty of foot room for standing up while fishing. Also, it is wise to look for a kayak that has good outfitting with plenty of pre-installed equipment mounts and both a paddle keeper to keep your paddle contained when fishing and an anchor trolley to enable you to deploy a kayak anchor for those times when you want to remain stationary.

In addition, look for hatches or center consoles that provide in-hull rod storage space as well as dry storage for extra clothing, water, and food. Last, you should consider the physical weight of the kayak and determine whether or not you will be able to lift it onto and off of the roof of your vehicle or, if you will instead need a trailer to haul it to and from your destination.