Choose A Fishing Kayak
  |  First Published: May 2009

If you’ve been out on the water lately you may have noticed the growing number of kayaks drifting past bristling with rods and fishing kits. They seem to be everywhere; invading freshwater rivers, lakes, estuaries, bays and even venturing offshore to tangle with fish most people wouldn’t expect them to.

This increase in kayakers is mainly due to their ability to flout convention: they launch wherever they like, avoid registration fees, ramp rage, petrol costs and never have to do boat maintenance. Starting to sound tempting, isn’t it?

Whether you’re a land-based angler with a limited budget or a die-hard fisher looking for adventure, there are a lot of good reasons why you should join these guys and get a fishing kayak.

kayak options

Kayaks generally come in two types: sit in or sit on top (SOT). Most anglers generally prefer the former as it has more room for your gear and is easier to get back into if you fall in the drink.

You can drop a line from anything that floats, but the best single kayaks for the job start at around $900 and go to $2,500. In that price range there are short, long, conventional paddle and also pedal-powered kayaks. Picking one that suits you and your fishing habits can be a little confusing at first and not all kayak retailers actually know what a fishing rod looks like. A quick ring around will sort out who has angling experience, but if unsure ask for a demo. The best kayak dealers will happily accommodate you if you can meet them for a prearranged test drive.


Most anglers see a kayak as just another tool to get them onto the fish, so the selection process can be broken down quite simply depending on what kind of fishing you do.

Long Kayak

Long kayaks glide through the water quicker than short ones and cut through chop. They are good for longer distances in rough waters, which makes them great offshore options when working against wind and current.

The longer line design makes them hold course better but correcting them with a paddle is harder, so anything over 4m is better off with a rudder.

Short Kayak

Short kayaks are slower on the water and they tend to bump and splash in rough conditions, however, they have a better turning circle that gives easier control. This is handy when fishing structure and skinny water, they are also lighter to lift and easier to store.

Wide Kayak

Most people prefer wider kayaks, 700-900mm across, because no one wants to be unstable when fishing. There is a lot of misinformation about the stability of different hull shapes, but my advice is to ignore any jargon and judge a hull by its width and shape under the water. Wider, flatter hulls with beefy almost right-angled chines (sides) hold the water the best.

Double Kayak

Double kayaks for fishing are very popular but they can soon become rather tedious if one person is left using it alone. Lugging around a very large yak all the time on your own is very hard work, so before you invest in one ensure your fishing partner/buddy will be using it with you at least 50% of the time.

Plastic Fantastic

Plastic kayaks are more durable than fibreglass models, and tend to be the best choice for most of us. It doesn’t matter if polly hulls are scratched and they don’t fracture with impacts. However, there are some good fibreglass fishing surf skis available these days that are finding popularity in surf areas like the Gold Coast.

Pedal Power

Pedal powered kayaks have gained huge popularity amongst anglers, and for good reason. Although often snubbed by stiff kayak paddle enthusiasts, yak anglers love them because they make fishing easier; they free up your hands, fishing shallows in them is no problem, and they are easily paddled too.

Extra Tips

Get a kayak you can load on the car, it may sound obvious but it’s often overlooked. A lot of yaks are hard to handle up onto the roof racks of your vehicle. We all come in different shapes and sizes so you may not be able to lift the same yak that your big mate tosses round with abandon.

Nevertheless, if you have a smaller physique and want a bigger yak not all is lost. There are plenty of good loading aids on the market like the Rack and Roll or Thule Slip Stream, but check that it will all work for you and your car first.

Last of all keep in mind any extra gear you might want to mount to your intended purchase. Having room to mount extra rod holders, fish finders and storage for your catch can be an important factor later as your yak fishing confidence and experience grows.

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