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#5913465 - 03/03/11 02:34 PM How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak
Fish ZoMbiE Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 03/25/09
Posts: 9937
Some General Rules:
1. Paddle as many as you can before you make your purchase.
2. For best performance & safety, pay attention to weight capacity ratings.
3. A comfy Seat & Quality Paddle will help make the experience more pleasant.
4. Craigslist & Kayak Shop "Demos" are a good source to pick up used yaks at a good price.
5. Ask what other have experienced with: EXAMPLE: Pelican 116,Ocean Scrambler XT, etc. etc.
6. See what the reviews are on your choices click->

* Some shops offer Forum members a 10%-20% discounts!

#5913667 - 03/03/11 03:32 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Fish ZoMbiE]
Mark Ray Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 14428
Loc: Arlington, TX
I know you asked me to provide some input and really hope we can get this thread "stickyed" so that any newbie to kayak fishing can look at it, but it really looks like you've covered the bases pretty well, FZ.
I would like to add that nobody should be afraid to buy a good quality name kayak used though because as long as you keep it in good shape you can get every bit of what you paid for it (if not more) out of it in resale.
Also when people are looking at max capacity ratings figure you need at about 100lbs more than you and your gear weight to have a nice dry ride.

#5913668 - 03/03/11 03:33 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Fish ZoMbiE]
Neumie Offline
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 07/25/06
Posts: 3178
Loc: SA, Hallettsville, or Rockport
Good list.

7. Go fishing several times before you start attaching accessories.
8. Consider how you're going to store/transport, longer kayaks are a little more difficult than shorter kayaks.
9. Generally speaking, longer kayaks are quicker/less maneuverable, shorter kayaks are more maneuverable/not the best for longer distances, wider kayaks are more stable/slower on the water, narrower kayaks are less stable/quicker on the water. So find your equilibrium.
"Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water." -Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." - Heraclitus

#5913691 - 03/03/11 03:41 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Neumie]
Mark Ray Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 14428
Loc: Arlington, TX
Anybody want to talk intellegently about primary and secondary stability?

I had a Cobra kayak that felt like you were gonna tip over everytime you moved but you would have to fall out of the thing to actually turn it over.
The reason for this is the shape of the hull. It was a narrow v shape at the bottom and it came up and spread out wide and flat at the top right below the water line.
Because of the bouyancy of it the narrow shape at the bottom made it feel really shakey. Now if you loaded it down to capacity (I think it was like 450#) it would sit lower in the water and feel a lot less shakey.

#5913700 - 03/03/11 03:44 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Fish ZoMbiE]
bert Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 2178
Loc: Garland, TX, USA
To expand on #3, make sure you budget for this as well

10. Go to retailers web sites and look for users reviews on kayaks don't just trust the pro reviews
11. Compare boat strengths to your desired activity, if you are creek fishing a 15 foot boat designed to go beyond the breakers is not going to suit your needs
12. If you are new to the sport take someone who is experienced with you or take a paddling class rather than putting yourself at risk
13. When looking at boats make sure and take a measuring tape to check the seat, tank well and other features that will be important to your rigging and the gear you want to be able to use

Edited by bert (03/03/11 03:45 PM)

"Ipsa scientia potestas est"-Knowledge in itself is power - Sir Francis Bacon

"Beware the lolipop of mediocrity, one lick and you could suck forever" - unknown author

#5913703 - 03/03/11 03:46 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Fish ZoMbiE]
R E N Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 02/15/11
Posts: 2551
Loc: Team REN HQ
Demo, demo, demo...

Edited by Pi Money (03/06/11 08:59 PM)

#5913891 - 03/03/11 04:28 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: R E N]
StevenNDallas Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 1710
Loc: SW Richardson

I am now a fan of one man and a 17 ft canoe
as handling it solo is most manly.

And I think it is better than a yak cause of the stand up stuff.

If I step into a big $$ turd I'd get a tricked out SOT !

But I am waiting for my ultimate multi rod storage / raiser seat ideas to hit the market. Actually some one is doing the seat, a flip n' raise insert.
Unless you are wearing a grass skirt and sleeping in a ditch and eating only road kill, you too are part of 'the problem'.

#5913932 - 03/03/11 04:37 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Fish ZoMbiE]
Carver Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 1640
Loc: Garland, Tx
There is no single best Yak. At least not for me. but that won't keep me from yammering on for a while.

The question is quite timely for me.
This is the first time in quite a few years I have only had one kayak in my stable and I hope that is short lived. (I do still have two cedar strip canoes, but they are more nostalgia I am afraid to admit)

Getting down to one yak has forced me to make some tough decisions and try to answer " which one will I keep?".
I have bought, used and eventually sold several yaks in the last five years just for the sake of learning a bit about this same subject and finding a better boat for a particular purpose. Then there are the rentals when fishing in Florida or Nebraska ( or numerous point in between) while I was supposed to be on job-site working. I wanted to learn first hand about what I was reading on these forums and knew that I could recover most of my money from anything I bought. I also discovered the location of most of the manufacturers close-out centers in the south also.

Yaks owned recently for two years or more (I'll list still in production only )( and that I still remember):

Pelican Castaway (1)
Heritage Fisherman Pro (1)
Hobie Outback (2)
Hobie Revolution (1)
Hobie Pro Angler (3)

Paddled ( actually fished two or more days out of )
Tarpon 140
Tarpon 160 (My favorite saltwater paddle type)
Perception Prism
Hobie Sport

What I already knew was that the "best yak" is very, very isolated,,,,, only for a particular trip, for a particular location and on that particular days weather only. The difference in wind from one day to the next would have me taking a different yak to the same location as the day before. Changing from chasing surfacing stripers / hybrids or (anything else that dwells beneath diving birds) versus catfish jugging versus crappie fishing would require even more decision making for the same water. Drifting 8 two hook spider rigs in a tourney with a 7 - 10 fish live weigh-in and 6 lbs of minnows to keep alive required me to change again drastically.

There is no single best Yak. At least not for me, but I still have to choose just one.

When life dictated I thin my fleet to one I eventually chose the Hobie Pro Angler for reasons that most would not expect.
I fish open water for several species,and most all of my yaks would do that quite well, but also really, really like the creeks for both fishing and hunting up in the grassland. Most all of them would fish open water great and track well enough for the long crossing or retreat from an advancing thunderhead. The Pro Angler will take the open water better than just fine, Pedals easier and is faster than my Outback did, but most importantly, turns in a much tighter radius. It will basically turn in its own length and is actually my creek boat that works in wind and open also. When I am hunting, I get in and out of the boat regularly and this is much easier also. You can run and jump into it with no fear of dumping.

The bad. I can carry it in the back of my truck, but still it is much better handled on a small trailer and that was exactly what I was fighting that caused me to thin the fleet,,,,,,zero storage space. Not trailering was one of the beauties of kayak fishing. I do walk it down to the water through grassy lawns regularly but I sure don't carry it on my shoulder like my cedar.

My traditional paddling kayaks held great importance in my stable as well as my heart as I have paddled for five decades before I ever heard the words "mirage drive". Even after I started pedaling instead of paddling I clung to the traditional yaks for any day that I would rather drift or chase catfish jugs and having free hands didn't really count.
I would also take them on most pleasure trips where I was doing scouting for hunts or just traveling and touring. I simply love to Paddle.

I don't fly fish so standing while in a kayak has never been a great desire except for slinging a cast net form the yak. I do very much enjoy the luxury of being able not just to stand but to casually walk around in the boat from end to end. I have put a lawn chair behind my seat and taken a full grown adult with me with no regrets other than having to share my junk food.

Obviously I am a Hobie fan as most owners are. That being admitted if the question had a low $ limit to it, I would say that you ( I ) need to find ( in order of importance to me) a GOOD TRACKING yak that is stable enough that you can turn compeletly backwards in your seat with no fear of turtling. There is simply no reason to invest in a yak without paddling it and in-fact if the water is warm turtle it in your demo. Go to the shallows and start leaning. Most of the time you will be quite surprised by the secondary stability of most modern yaks. You might feel squirrely for a minute, but when you lean over far, the added perimeter hull will add buoyancy to the needed side and hold you still..... maybe.. like I said shallow warm water. Learn the limits of the boat and yourself.

The need for good tracking simply cannot be over stated. If you spend every third stroke correcting your intended course you are not getting near the pleasure out of your yak you could be. You can add a rudder to a anything and I will always vote for that, but the yak should track and glide well without the rudder deployed. The rudder will keep you straight, but it is still spending ( read that as wasting ) the energy you just deployed to go forward.

Don't over buy in size! Bigger is not necessarily better.
Get a yak that will do all you can imagine plus some, but windage from a yak floating high and longer than needed is a monster to keep on location without adding hardware. The better fit the yak the more fun it is to paddle, store and carry.

What you do to your yak can change it's value ( usability ) and not always for the best.
Don't add hardware you don't really see an immediate need for and then keep it low and light. Just because everyone says it is cool on the forum doesn't mean you need to be hanging your landing net on it tomorrow on your yak. Then ask if you really need the landing net anyway.

I will always suggest a fish-finder as an addition no matter how inexpensive or simple. Knowing what the structure of the water is means everything even if you don't understand at first. It is the best teaching tool ever.

I have a yak designed in my mind and partially finished in my computer I hope to build eventually. It is 13-14 long and 32" wide but with a severe hourglass cross section midship. The bow is low and flush for wind and drainage. There is a lip similar to a spray skirt in front of the seating area that will shed waves that I have plowed into and through. I would rather not go over the top of everything on a long haul offshore. It does not have much initial stability, but if you lean it into the secondary float, you are carving a smooth curve like snow skiing or free-form canoe paddling. Its a hoot.
Phill Pittman new website for product development Best kayak source in Texas

#5914129 - 03/03/11 05:36 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Carver]
David Cole Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 01/31/08
Posts: 1355
Loc: Hurst, Texas
Well said Mr. Carver. There are number of good boats out there... Native and Hobie are the two that come to mind...and being biased towards Hobie because I have a Revolution and like it. I've only added an anchor trolley and one rod holder. The rest of the stuff can put in the milk crate, bungied behind the seat. Just remember to turn on a vertical axis and not a horizontal one...or you will go for an unintended swim. Finally, most reputable dealers will discount a new purchase by 10-15%. I bought mine in Austin, but there are local DFW area shops that probably will discount if you ask.
Trout Unlimited Life Time Member
Lake O.H. Ivie Fly Fishing Body of Water Record Holder for Blue Catfish (2.21) and Largemouth Bass (1.62)
My Boat:

#5914225 - 03/03/11 06:08 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Carver]
RealBigReel Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 1271
Loc: Stephenville, TX
There is plenty of good advice above here.
My experience in a kayak has been only in fresh water.
The single best kayak for me is HYBRID. This is a kayak that I designed and built from scratch. It is the 4th kayak I have built. HYBRID is 14'X28" and it has it ALL, with a hull weight under 40 lbs. I realize not everybody can design and build their own kayak even if they wanted to.

If I were going to buy a kayak one of the major criteria that I would look at is weight. There are so many kayaks out there with outrageous weight numbers, and no good reason for it either. I can't see choosing a kayak that weighs 20 lbs or more extra than a similar model. In the light weight category Cobra kayaks excel. I had a Navigator for some time and caught a lot of fish from that kayak.

If I were going to buy a kayak today I would definitely want a pedal drive and in that category the Hobie Revolution excels.

Choosing a kayak that comes feature rich would be nice and in that category the Jackson Coosa excels. The adjustable seat is a feature that would be hard to beat.

Each kayak has it merits and flaws.
But this is what I would look for:
In general I want a kayak at least 12 feet long as this is the minimum for longitudinal stability
Hull weight should not exceed 50 lbs.
Pedal drive.
Lots of easy access storage.
High back seat. Soft, coiffed bottom.
Plenty of rod holders.
Bait tank with self priming fresh water intake.
Easy access cooler.
Fish finder is nice.

There is nothing like a little experience in a kayak to know whether it is good for you.

Edited by RealBigReel (03/03/11 07:02 PM)
My kayak STRIPER2. I don't go too fast but I go pretty far.

#5914383 - 03/03/11 06:57 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: RealBigReel]
spiny norman Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 07/13/06
Posts: 2303
Loc: Shady Shores
Before you buy, think long and hard about where you will use it most. This is where those trade offs are made. My first yak was an OK Scrambler. not a bad yak for a starter, but I quickly realized that it was not best suited for what I'm doing most. Paddling bigger distances over coastal flats and big N Texas lakes.

#5914939 - 03/03/11 08:53 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: spiny norman]
butch sanders Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 27668
Loc: Arlington, Texas
I have a Mainstream Patriot Sit in Kayak 12 Foot. It paddles great & effortlessly.
Please don't call them sinks

I chose this to duck hunt from along with fishing.
You can store much more in the "SI" . 1 time At Possum Kingdom, at daylight, I was paddling right in the middle of probably 200 Canadian Geese. They did not know I was there. Did not shoot any either, way to beautiful.

I have 2 rod holders that have actually landed fish while trolling

I have storage upfront & waterproof storage behind. I have packed enough food & liquids for a 3 day trip (rather Spartan) & carried 3 rod & reels with tackle

As i have become older & suffered a knee injury, i wish i also had a Sit on Top. I have to go to shore to get out now.

For expeditions i would never trade my Mainstream. wish i had a NICE sit in for fishing

I believe you get wgat you pay for in the boat its onself

I believe that a mid-range paddle is good enough also, i bought an expensive telescopic paddle and The River ruined it the 1st trip.

Remember, The River is hard on your equipment, so get good equipment. Nothing worse than having a spool, rod, or paddle break down on a trip you have taken your time & effort to attend.

Like Spiny said "Where will you use it?"

Just my thoughts men

#5916964 - 03/04/11 11:40 AM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Mark Ray]
Fish ZoMbiE Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 03/25/09
Posts: 9937
14. More pronounce (higher) bow allows you to rider waves higher (dryer, faster) in chop & surf.

15. Overnighters: Larger hatches allow you to stow & grab LARGER items below deck easier.

16. If you don't like to travel light, look at Yaks with larger cargo areas (behind the seat)
17. As well as length, a streamlined bottom means less paddling to glide through the water & better tracking.
18. Some yaks are designed to install sonar/transducers below the hull in direct contact with the water.

19. Rounder or flatter bottoms are typically easier to turn. example: white water kayaks
20. High sides (gunnels) generally = a drier ride.
21. Lower gunnels catch less wind, allow angler to sit side saddle & generally = a wetter ride.

#5917197 - 03/04/11 12:20 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Fish ZoMbiE]
Fish ZoMbiE Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 03/25/09
Posts: 9937


#5918725 - 03/04/11 06:01 PM Re: How to Choose the BEST Fishing Kayak [Re: Fish ZoMbiE]
gutcheck Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 07/28/08
Posts: 2469
Loc: Dallas
Great stuff here. Don't think I can add anything really. I'll just reiterate that a kayak is a solid piece of mass. The laws of physics apply. Think carefully about how one kayaks physical properties, dimensions and hull shape differ from the next, then do what you can to demo them in conditions that you expect to be paddling.

For every positive quality in a yak, I can play devil's advocate and show you how it could be a negative. Hull weight under 40? Totally get why people would demand that. But remember that for production yaks, that lighter weight often translates to less plastic, which is a decent indicator of durability. Oilcanning and cracked scuppers are not the end of the world, but for me, staving off such problems is more important than the lighter weight. Wanna stand? Makes a lot of sense if you like to pitch and flip for bass. Can also help with fatigue and joint issues. Just know that your wider, higher profile yak is gonna be a chore to keep tracking well and will get pushed around a lot more when you decide to chase stripers with it in open water on Texoma with 15-20 mph winds. Wanna cover a ton of water in big wind? Your 15 footer is gonna be great for that, but trying to turn and maneuver that thing when you decide to go into that densely wooded creek for some crappie ain't gonna be easy. Peddle drive you say? I wish I had one too, believe me. But then again, my 12 foot 2 inch mr 12 cost me less than a third of that and when I take it into creeks, shallow cover, and and along oyster reefs, my shoulders might be hurting next day, but I don't have to worry about damaging that mirage drive. Don't like the idea of scuppers cracking under the weight of your ever widening, near middle-aged backside and all that gear you're now taking along? Get yourself a hybrid. They're bullet proof and stable to boot. But get a sponge and a bilge pump and keep in mind that those things can sink. Those 3 foot swells don't just suck now, they can be life-threatening. Want a higher rocker for those swells and chop? Good thinking. Just don't be too irritated when the hull slap from your boat makes those bedding bass aware of your presence while sight fishing.

It's all a tradeoff...

Someday, I'll sell my Manta and get four or five boats. A kaskazi dorado/hobie revo for long distance offshore trips, a Coosa/Commander/Pro Angler with trailer/Ultimate for river running and pitching/flipping to visible cover on small wind sheltered lakes, a Malibu II for taking my wife and or daughter along for a paddle, a Wavewalk with trolling motor to drop brushpiles, a mini x for chunking into the back of my new 4x4 Tacoma to explore unfished creeks, ponds and backwaters, and a canoe that I probably will only use to take one or two nostalgic "Goodbye to A River" style trips during my autumn years and will look great in the rafters of my luxurious man cave.

Hey, a guy can dream can't he?

Edited by gutcheck (03/04/11 06:39 PM)

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