Personally, I used to enjoy just the simplicity of paddling a kayak. Lately, however, I find myself getting a little bored out there, which is why I am getting more and more interested in the best sit on top fishing kayaks.
Not only does fishing while kayaking give you something else to do on the water, but it might also allow you to bring home additional food for dinner when all is said and done. Who doesn’t enjoy cooking up a fresh-caught trout or salmon every now and again?
Whether you like sport fishing or you intend to take a few fish home, you will need a sit on top fishing kayak that suits your needs. That is why we have taken the time to review 10 of the best fishing kayaks with sit-on-top designs for you today.
Also, buying a fishing kayak is different than buying a regular kayak, regardless of whether you are a recreational or very serious angler. So we will highlight the criteria to use when selecting a sit on top fishing kayak.
Unless you really, really love sit-in kayaks, sit on tops are the way to go for angling applications. So let’s review a few of them!
Photo by Harrison Kugler on Unsplash
- Best Sit On Top Fishing Kayaks
- Buying Guide
Sit On Top Fishing Kayak Reviews
- 1. Brooklyn Kayak Company PK11 Angler
- 2. Pelican Kayaks Basscreek 100XP Angler
- 3. Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler
- 4. Brooklyn Kayak Company PK13
- 5. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-TK29
- 6. Vibe Kayaks Shearwater 125
- 7. Pelican Kayaks Sentinel 100X EXO
- 8. Star Challenger Fish
- 9. Perception Kayaks Pescador Pro 10.0
- 10. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
- Our Pick – Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
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- Brooklyn Kayak Company PK11 Angler
- Pelican Kayaks Basscreek 100XP Angler
- Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler
- Brooklyn Kayak Company PK13
- Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-TK29
- Vibe Kayaks Shearwater 125
- Pelican Kayaks Sentinel 100X EXO
- Star Challenger Fish
- Perception Kayaks Pescador Pro 10.0
- Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
Photo by Stephen Edward on Unsplash
When you are buying a sit on top fishing kayak, your level of experience and ability to transport the kayak are two of the biggest factors that should influence your buying decision. Let’s talk more about those factors here.
For starters, we don’t recommend buying a super high-end fishing kayak if you are brand new to the sport. Something like the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 may be a bit more than you really need to get started.
For beginners, we recommend that your top priorities be the comfort of the seat, the presence of at least one or two fishing rod holders, and the overall weight of the kayak (more on this later).
You want to experience what it is like to have one or two poles to choose between, but you won’t need room for five or six poles until you gain experience with the locations you fish and what fish are biting at different times of the year and different hours of the day.
Furthermore, you may not want to make a huge investment in a fishing kayak until you are sure that you are going to like it. Some of the most expensive fishing kayaks out there can be heavy and cumbersome to move when they aren’t on the water, so you need to be sure you are willing to do that every time you want to go out.
On the flip side, most experienced anglers should look for a fishing kayak that offers a high degree of customization. Over time, we are willing to bet that you have gotten a pretty good idea of what you want to bring on your kayak and where you want it while you’re fishing.
If the new kayak you buy doesn’t allow you to set it up according to your preferences, the odds are higher that you are going to get frustrated and wish you had just stuck with your older kayak.
Because of the sheer number of features and amenities that they include, sit on top fishing kayaks are among the heaviest models on the market. As we mentioned, that makes them tougher just to get on the water than some other types of kayaks.
The right kayak for you, then, will depend on the vehicle you have and the method you plan to use for transporting it. If you have a small sedan or SUV without roof racks, for example, an inflatable fishing kayak is going to be the only type that will fit in the trunk of your vehicle.
If you do have a car or truck with a roof rack, your options will increase dramatically. That said, you will need to keep in mind that you will have to lift the weight of your kayak up and onto the roof (and back off) several times just to make one paddling trip happen.
In our opinion, getting a kayak cart is going to make your life much easier if you choose a kayak that is over 50 pounds. Depending on your size and comfort with lifting a kayak, you may even consider a cart for a lighter kayak as well.
For the absolute heaviest fishing kayaks out there, you may be well served to get a kayak trailer to tow behind your vehicle. This will make it easier to load and unload your kayak and allow you to pull up to almost any boat launch and unload your kayak easily right at the water’s edge.
- Length: 10’6”
- Width: 34”
- Weight: 60 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 420 pounds
The PK11 Angler is the shortest pedal-driven fishing kayak from Brooklyn Kayak Company. It is best suited for freshwater fishing in lakes, rivers, and ponds, but it can also handle protected saltwater bays and estuaries with minimal wave action.
The center-mounted pedal drive on this kayak can be operated forward or backward and you will be able to change your ‘cycling’ in an instant. Some other kayaks require you to slow down or make a larger alteration to operate the pedal drive in reverse.
It also offers plenty of storage for multi-day fishing and kayak camping adventures. The watertight hatch at the bow is perfect for gear that you want to keep drier while the stern cargo area offers additional storage with bungee rigging to keep things secure.
Flush-mounted rod holders built into the body of the kayak make it easy to store multiple rod and reel combinations and they can also be used to set up a trolling line as you are pedaling your kayak to a new fishing hole.
On the left and right gunwales, there are mounting points for your favorite kayaking accessories. Plus, it features a comfortable mesh kayak seat and a super flat deck that can accommodate standup fishing in calm waters.
- Length: 10’
- Width: 30.5”
- Weight: 50 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 325 pounds
The Basscreek 100XP Angler is a single-person sit on top fishing kayak that is made for creeks, rivers, lakes, and ponds. Pelican Kayaks is well known for producing some of the lightest, most impact-resistant, and most affordable kayaks on the market.
The biggest benefit of all of their kayaks is that they easily pop back into their natural shape if dented or compressed. That makes them perfect for fishing environments where you may be bumping against rocks, trees, and other debris quite often.
There are two flush-mounted fishing rod holders behind the seat in this kayak and an additional third rod holder on a swivel mount in the center of the cockpit. A total of six accessory eyelets give you plenty of means for securing your fishing gear and supplies.
A small watertight storage hatch at the bow gives you a place to keep gear or tackle that is sensitive to water and UV exposure. At the stern, the open tankwell with bungee rigging provides added storage space.
In the cockpit, the adjustable footrests can be moved according to the height of the paddler. Plus, the seat cushion provides plenty of support and the adjustable backrest allows you to customize your paddling position for maximum comfort.
- Length: 12’
- Width: 30”
- Weight: 72 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
The Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler is a unique design because it features a sunken-in, sit on top cockpit while offering the kind of large bulkhead compartment at the bow like you would find in some sit inside touring kayaks.
This is what makes it a great choice for overnight fishing trips. That front bulkhead compartment is the perfect place for your sleeping and cooking gear while the larger, open storage area in the stern holds all of your fishing gear.
This kayak is also great for locations that experience a lot of wind action. It is equipped with a drop-down stern rudder with foot-pedal controls to help you keep your kayak tracking straight in heavy crosswinds.
It also features two flush-mounted rod holders behind the seat and a swivel rod holder just to the right of the center console. Speaking of that center console, a small watertight hatch allows you to access items stored inside the front bulkhead from the comfort of your kayak seat.
On top of the console, a small mesh bag is perfect for holding a fillet knife or other small fishing equipment. The cockpit also boasts adjustable footrests and there are anchor cleats on the sides of the kayak to help you tie it off securely when you make camp overnight.
- Length: 13’
- Width: 33.25”
- Weight: 80 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 550 pounds
The BKC PK13 offers many of the same features and amenities as the PK11. It is just a few feet longer and slightly narrower so that you don’t sacrifice maneuverability and speed over long distances.
With a higher weight capacity, this kayak is also a better option for larger paddlers. It still includes a pedal-drive system mounted in the center of the kayak and an elevated, aluminum-framed kayak seat with mesh netting for excellent breathability.
This kayak features a total of three built-in fishing rod holders and two watertight storage hatches. It also comes with its own adjustable aluminum kayak paddle and a flat cockpit deck that is comfortable and stable enough for standup fishing.
- Length: 13’
- Width: 34”
- Weight: 77 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
The BKC UH-TK29 is the only option on our list for tandem anglers. It features a super flat cockpit design for standup fishing, but there are also two comfortable, mesh-back seats with elevated vantage points.
The seats can be completely removed for easier transportation and storage. Or, you can choose to just set up a single seat in the stern if you want to keep the bow open for standup fishing or transporting a canine fishing buddy.
There are two flush-mounted fishing rod holders at the center of this kayak and an abundance of mounting points. These points are perfectly situated for additional swivel rod holders or a fish finder.
The wide, flat bottom of this kayak makes it very stable in most conditions, but it is ideally suited to lakes, rivers, and protected coastal waterways. Plus, the mesh seats are adjustable to multiple positions for comfort whether you are paddling, fishing, or just lounging for a few minutes.
PC Vibe Kayaks
- Length: 12’6”
- Width: 35”
- Weight: 109 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 475 pounds
The Shearwater 125 from Vibe Kayaks is one of the best models out there if you are looking for a standup fishing kayak. It has a super open, flat cockpit design with a non-slip rubber grip mat to give you a secure place to stand.
Plus, it is wide enough to provide plenty of stability on calm waters. The Shearwater’s real selling point, however, is its ability to be customized with a number of propulsion and fishing accessories.
This kayak can be equipped with a pedal-drive system, trolling motor, or simply be paddled the old-fashioned way. It can also be powered by your preferred combination of any of the three, which allows you hands-free fishing, convenient trolling, and long-distance trips.
It also has a total of five seating options that can be suited to different applications. Low, high, partially reclined, fully reclined, and platform modes give you all the options for a comfortable and effective fishing experience.
In addition, the center of the kayak can be kept open for standup fishing or it can accommodate a center console pod. This pod is the best option for anglers with a lot of bait that they want quick access to on the water.
- Length: 9’6”
- Width: 30”
- Weight: 42 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 275 pounds
The Pelican Kayaks Sentinel 100X EXO is probably the best kayak on our list for young adults and smaller paddlers. The shorter length makes it easier to maneuver, but the narrower design may be a bit unstable for larger paddlers.
The smaller dimensions of this kayak also make it a great choice for creek fishing or for outings on smaller rivers. Pelican’s patented RAM-X Technology is also meant to handle the bumps and impacts that come with these types of fishing settings.
In the rear tankwell, the EXO storage compartment provides up to 13 liters of sealed storage space for your gear. That compartment can also be completely removed to load inside your home or garage, or it can be taken out if you want to put other fishing gear in the stern tankwell.
This kayak has an additional small storage area at the bow with bungee rigging for security. The smaller dimensions and lighter weight also make it much easier for recreational anglers to store and transport than some of the larger models we have listed here.
- Length: 10’8”
- Width: 38”
- Weight: 27 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 275 pounds
While it kind of looks like a standup paddleboard, the Star Challenger is made for wide-open fishing applications. It is one of the widest models on our list and it is also one of the lightest, which makes it great for travelers or smaller paddlers.
When fully inflated, this fishing kayak is stable enough for standup fishing. That said, it features an aluminum-framed kayak seat that is hooked right onto the deck of the kayak and features mesh netting for maximum breathability.
You can either remove the seat when transporting this kayak or fold it down for a lower profile. When you are on the water, however, you will have loads of options for customizing your fishing setup.
There are a total of five flexible surface mounts in various locations on the kayak for attaching GPS units, fishfinders, and all sorts of other fishing supplies. Plus, daisy chains at the bow and stern give you additional rigging options.
The self-bailing deck naturally sheds water and the included all-water fin will help you track straighter than you would be able to with most inflatable kayaks. Plus, this kayak comes with a pump and carry bag that everything packs up neatly inside when you are done paddling.
PC Perception Kayaks
- Length: 10’6”
- Width: 32”
- Weight: 57 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 325 pounds
The Pescador Pro 10 is a nicely compact sit on top fishing kayak with all of the basic features a beginner or intermediate angler would need. It has two molded-in rod holders directly behind the kayak seat.
Those rod holders are perfect for trolling or just keeping your hands free while you paddle. The seat is a thin, breathable mesh material so that you don’t overheat on exceptionally hot days and it is completely removable for easier transportation.
Having that removable seat also allows you to use that space for a larger kayak cooler, but there is plenty of space in the rear tankwell for one of those as well. In addition to that rear storage area, there is a small storage space in the bow with a mesh covering to keep your gear secure.
Along both gunwales towards the front of the cockpit, you will find gear tracks for attaching fishing gear. Plus, the center console is intentionally designed for one of the best kayak fishfinders with a battery zone and a place to mount a transducer without having to drill into the kayak.
Finally, this kayak comes with quick-adjust footrests so that it can adjust to paddlers of varying heights. It also features a five-inch deck plate behind the seat that gives you an additional mounting area for a trolling motor battery or other large accessories.
PC Hobie Kayak
- Length: 12’
- Width: 36”
- Weight: 105 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
This 12-foot sit on top fishing kayak has a pedal drive system that dominates the competition. The Mirage Pro Angler can handle deep or shallow water with kick-up fins that won’t get damaged if you run aground.
They also keep your kayak from getting caught on logs or kelp, so you can enjoy river or ocean fishing with this model. The Mirage’s pedal drive system also has a full-power reverse function, which allows you to switch from pedaling forward to pedaling in reverse in an instant.
The pedal drive system is also integrated with a hand-operated rudder control that is set right next to your kayak seat. Speaking of that seat, it is elevated with mesh netting stretched across an aluminum frame for supreme comfort and an elevated vantage point.
This Hobie kayak also comes outfitted with a retractable skeg to help you track in windy or wavy conditions. Plus, it features Hobie’s innovative H-rail, which is great for attaching all of your kayak fishing accessories to keep them handy.
Our Pick – Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
PC Hobie Kayak
The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 sets a new standard amongst pedal-driven kayaks, which is why it is our pick for the best sit on top fishing kayak in 2021. It is one of the smoothest pedal drives you will find out there and your direction can easily be controlled by hand.
The steering control is mounted on a rail right next to the kayak seat, which means you won’t have to turn or lean at all to correct your course. That means easily keeping your other hand on your fishing rod while making minor corrections with the other hand.
Hobie’s quality is also unmatched when it comes to pedal-driven fishing kayaks. From the ergonomic mesh back seat to the watertight storage hatches at the bow and stern, you will be getting a kayak that lasts for years.