The Things to Know Before Buying a Fishing Kayak & Some Tips for the Road

It’s pretty clear for anyone related to fishing that the fishing kayaks are the ones that everybody is talking about. No matter if you’re going in a fresh or salt water, the fishing kayak is the latest “must have” when it comes to fishing so if you don’t have one already, here are some facts you need to know before actually purchasing one.

Why go with a fishing kayak?

Not only that the fishing kayaks are more stable than canoes, but they’re also less expensive and more portable than any other traditional powered fishing boats. They’re a great option for the “small water” and that many anglers in urban areas appreciate.

Winning their fans in no time, the fishing kayak industry practically exploded, and you’re going to be impressed with the diversity of designs, sizes, and models.

Even if competition is always good as it lowers the prices, a new entry-level fisher can get pretty overwhelmed with the possibilities so you may not be able to seal the deal any time soon.

There are always some pinpointers that are going to make your choice a lot easier.

How do you recognize a good fishing kayak?

a good fishing kayak

Without any further introduction, let’s take a look at the things you need to consider before selecting your fishing kayak:

  • The stability is essential

Most of the kayaks out there were known for being unstable and tippy, but that’s not the case with the nowadays fishing models. They’re stable enough to support standing, which is quite the news for the kayaks. However, you don’t want too much stability as it’s going to make the kayak more difficult to handle and to paddle. If you’re a big guy, you should look for a wider and more stable model. Trollers and anglers that cover a lot of water should go with the narrower and less stable models as paddling is going to be easier.

  • Pay attention to its length

The length of the fishing kayak is fundamental for the performance on the water. You should know which length you’re going to need for the type of water that you’re planning to use it on. The rule of thumb is that a shorter model (less than 11ft) is going to be easier to maneuver, whereas a longer kayak (longer than 12ft) is going to be a lot faster.

If the waters in your areas are mostly creeks, backwaters, or small ponds, you should look for an easier to maneuver the kayak. Go with a longer model when you’re planning to fish on river, lake or ocean. Don’t forget to consider your body weight. If you’re around 300 pounds, you shouldn’t go much under 11 ft., no matter where you’re going to be fishing.

  • The portability

All that stability, fish ability and storage come with a price, and nowadays kayaks do sit on the heavyweight side. If you’re planning to travel a lot with your kayak, you should look for one that is both lightweight and easy to drag down a dirt path all the way to the water. You may load the accessories and gear you need if you’re going to go from the truck straight to water. Keep in mind that the sit-in models are lighter than the sit on top models.

  • The storage options

Fishers are notorious for carrying too much gear so finding a kayak that offers enough space for organizing your gear is ideal. Some models come with built-in storage, but you can also run into models that feature molded areas for the external storage (coolers, milk crates and so on). It’s common for the sit on top models to come with molded internal hatches, whereas the sit-in models offer more open space in the hull. Write down a list of the things you typically carry when fishing and imagine where you’re going to need to store it in your new fishing kayak.

Side note: Many models come with designated space for modern electronics. If you’re planning to fish a lot on the ocean or big lakes, look for a model of this type. This space isn’t mandatory when you’re only fishing on the shallow rivers.

  • Keel or no keel?

Placed on the kayak’s hull, the keel is the “fin” shaped piece of plastic that goes into the water, improving your speed and tracking. Some kayaks come with built-in keels, some feature retractable keels, and some don’t come with one at all. If you’re going to fish in open water, trolling or in some deep water, you should choose a keeled model. When you’re fishing standing up, or in close quarters and shallow rocky rivers, a model with no keel is going to work just fine.

  • Anchor or drift?

When you’re fishing in some open water or backwaters, you may want to add a traditional or electronic anchoring system to your kayak. Remember that it’s going to add some weight and you shouldn’t do it if you’re an angler that fancies the drifting with the current while fishing. Do due diligence about the anchoring methods as there are plenty of options to choose from.

What’s the best way to organize your fishing kayak?

The organization of your gear is essential when you’re fishing with a kayak. The last thing you want is not to be able to find the right color and miss your chance.

Here are some tips to remember for more natural organization of your gear:

  • Terminal tackle

This includes the several hooks styles (flipping, TX rig, swimbait), but also weights. You may also cover other essentials: ball and chains, shaky heads, Fish head spins, keel weighted hooks and so on.

  • The soft plastic items

fishing kayak

It’s best that you keep the things simple in your plastic selection. One could use some medium-sized, soft-sided tackle bags with several compartments for organizing everything. You could also separate by bait style into different compartments. Write down what’s in each of the pockets so that you find them more comfortable. Keep one within reach at all time. You don’t want to be able to cash in because you cannot see the “right color.”

  • The miscellaneous

The body of water that you’re going to fish is going to play an essential role in which tackle trays you’re going to take. Look for a useful crate-type storage option for storing your trays and rods. Plan and organize the boxes in the order that you’re going to use.

One tip for the road

If you’re ready to step up your game and look for a fishing kayak, don’t sit on the fence and get down with it already. Even if you may find it a bit challenging in the beginning, fishing with a kayak is only going to make you the fisherman you keep bragging you are