When you’re preparing to make the catch of a lifetime, having a good river fishing kayak at your disposable makes all of the difference. While there are many brands and different types of fishing kayak on the market, knowing which one works for you is key to making the most of your excursion. Below you will find our full buyers guide plus our river fishing kayak reviews.
Choosing the Right Kayak for River Fishing
There is no one style of kayak that works for every fisherman. Finding the right one means knowing exactly how you want to use it and getting one that is tailored to your needs. Do you plan to fish in freshwater ponds? Are you fly fishing for smallmouth bass? Are you venturing into saltwater for bluefish? Will you be using the kayak just for fishing or will it double as a vessel for a relaxing day on the water? Read our river fishing kayak reviews below to find out more.
Sit on Top vs. Sit Inside (SOK vs. SIK)
The majority of river fishermen go with sit on top (SOK) kayaks because of their durability, stability, and strength. With an SOK kayak, you are less likely to roll over, and you have a little more room to move around without tipping. If you have to wrestle a bit to get your catch into your kayak, you will want a sit on kayak.
With the sit inside kayak (SIK), you will stay drier as they protect the lower half of your body. SIK kayaks are known for being lightweight and highly sought after for their maneuverability. SIK kayaks are best for fishing in rapidly moving waters and can be transported easily on top of a car or in the back of a pickup.
The Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak
With the ability to adjust the seat, attach a spray skirt and add back supports, this kayak is best for the fisherman on the move. The kayak inflates and just seconds and folds for easy storage between trips. This kayak offers a generous amount of space to store all of your coolers, gear, and accessories, and works wonders in calm lakes.
Cons: Because it is inflatable, it is less sturdy than traditional hard plastic kayaks. A small tear can result in onboarding of water. Retails for between $679.93 and $799.95 at area retailers.
If you are a novice, or just want some amazing photos from close angles, you may want to check out recreational kayaks. These are best on calm lakes, ponds, and rivers. Recreational kayaks offer a heavier body that makes them more stable but harder to carry to and from the fishing site.
Most recreational kayaks come complete with storage areas, wide cockpits and rigid seating for extra durability.
One of the biggest cons of recreational kayaks is that they hold a straight a straight line as well as other kayaks. If these kayaks take on water and flip, it can be challenging to set them upright.
Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 Recreational Kayak
This hybrid kayak is best for fishermen that want to switch between calm waters and rapids. It is probably the top river fishing kayak for sale right now. Its reinforced hull can withstand years of wear and tear, making it a great value for the money. Comfortable seating is easy on the back and legs, allowing you to sit for hours without feeling cramps. Excellent for larger paddlers, the Aspire 105 kayak allows a free range of motion and more room to maneuver than others in its class.
Cons: The seat, which is designed for comfort, can often be a bit of a challenge for larger owners who find it hard to get in and out of.
The higher end of fishing vessels, touring kayaks offer versatility, unlike their recreational counterparts. Touring kayaks are more expensive than other types and work best in rougher waters like rapids.
Touring yaks come equipped with bulkheads and hatches that make it less likely that they will flip, even if they take on water. These kayaks are specially designed to increase lift, fight waves and navigate over rough waters. Most of them have either a skeg or a rudder for easier navigation.
They are often made from rigid plastic or a composite material. These kayaks, however, are not for the claustrophobic. They come with cockpits that are built to withstand a beating and make paddling more efficient.
Touring kayaks offer storage space for your fish, bait and other accessories. You can even store a small cooler to store your fresh catch or a few cold drinks.
Delta Kayaks Delta 12.10
This lightweight model is a favorite for both overnight and day trippers. At 43 pounds, the Delta 1210 is considerably lighter than its counterparts. Rubber grab handles make for easy carrying, and press-lock hatch covers keep your vessel from taking on water. With two main dry storage areas at your disposal, you can bring along extra clothing, gear and bait without worrying about it getting wet. The entire seat slides back and forth with five settings, making it perfect for fishermen of varying heights.
Cons: Because the model is lighter than recreational kayaks, it can be challenging to use in high waters or rapids.
If you want a kayak that you can simply shove in your backpack and make your way to the lake, you will want to try a folding kayak. They are similar to inflatable kayaks in that they are easy to transport, yet feature a rigid body that enhances their performance. You can go from your car to the water in less than 20 minutes with folding kayaks.
Oru Coast XT Folding Kayak
One of the best on the market, this kayak is made for the single fisherman. If you are looking for a workout in addition to a great finishing excursion, look no further.
Cons: Folding kayaks don’t perform as well in rapids or fast moving water.
There are many great yaks on the market right now. Finding the best river fishing kayak for the money is a matter of knowing what you want and how each model fits your lifestyle.