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5 Best Kayaks for River Fishing

kayak fishing in a river in graham county az

River fishing on a kayak brings together the thrill of outdoor adventure and fishing all-in-one. However, it’s not as easy as it looks.

kayak fishing in a river in graham county az

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as picking up a random kayak at a store and hoping for the best. River fishing kayaks are specifically designed for stability and maneuverability in rivers compared to flat water.

We have found the best river fishing kayaks on the market that are appropriate in length, width, storage space, and safety for dealing with rapids, tight corners, rocks, and currents.

Top 5 River Fishing Kayaks

  1. Pelican Sentinel 100X Kayak
  2. Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak
  3. Sun Dolphin Journey Fishing Kayak
  4. Lifetime Tandem Fishing Kayak
  5. Perception Outlaw Fishing Kayak

Pelican Sentinel 100X Kayak

The Pelican Sentinel 100X Kayak is most ideal for those looking for an all-rounder river fishing kayak.

Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak - Sentinel 100X

It ticks all of the boxes – from the length, weight, width, and storage space. Made of a durable polyethylene, it is ideal for river terrains as it resists the impact from sharp rocks.

At 9’6”, this is a fairly short kayak. However, this is ideal for river fishing as the length is easier to control.

Whilst it may be slower compared to long flatwater kayaks, speed isn’t a priority in river fishing as the currents and fast-running water tends to push the kayaks anyway.

Despite this, this particular kayak has a flat-bottom hull that provides both stability and more speed than hulls with rounded keels.

As transportability and storing a kayak can be a two-person job, this kayak is fortunately lightweight for portability, weighing only 44lb. It has a maximum weight capacity of 275lb – just be sure to consider how much equipment you intend to bring on the kayak as well.

pelican sentinel kayak

This yak also comes with an adjustable padded seat with a backrest to assure for maximum comfort – unless you want to stand on the kayak instead, which you can do!

Pros

  • Stable design – Short length, wide width, and flat-bottom hull ensures for maximum stability and maneuverability in fast rivers
  • Good storage space – Multiple storage compartments to securely hold equipment
  • Lightweight and good weight capacity – Can be easily transported and can hold up to 275lb in body weight and equipment

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with handles – Handles and cleats need to be added by the buyer for ropes

Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak

Fishing in a river can be just as fun with a fishing companion, so why not consider a tandem kayak?

Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak

The Elkton Outdoors Tandem Kayak is 12’ long and features two seats with three seating positions, so one person can adjust the seat to the middle position if you want to fish solo. 

As for storage, it offers two storage compartments at the front and rear, an airtight compartment, and a platform for ice chests. It also comes with two adjustable rod holders as well as two double-sided oars.

Pros

  • Ideal for two people or solo fishing – Two adjustable seats and three seating positions can fit one or two people comfortably
  • Great storage – Multiple storage compartments to fit two people or extra equipment
  • Durable material – Body is made of heavy-duty materials to prevent cracks and dents upon impact

Cons

  • Heavy – Due to heavy-duty materials, this is a heavy kayak to carry and transport

Sun Dolphin Journey Fishing Kayak

Sometimes, kayaks that experienced anglers use for river fishing can be complicated for beginners to use at first.

a sun dolphin kayak for fishing

River fishing on a kayak is a complicated and tactical activity that requires a lot of experience and proper training, so it’s best to find a good starter kayak for novices.

That’s where the Sun Dolphin Journey Kayak comes in. At 10’ long, it is a suitable kayak for fishing in rivers, streams, and lakes.

It is made of a durable UV-stabilized polyethylene that is resistant to damage from impact, so you don’t have to worry about accidental hook-in-kayak issues. We’ve all done it! 

Whilst the backrest is padded, the seat itself will need some DIY adjustments with blankets or a cushion for comfort.

As for storage, this kayak comes with a portable accessory carrier and storage compartments. It also comes with two flush-mount rod holders and a swivel rod holder for multiple fishing at once. 

Pros

  • Ideal for beginners – Length and width make this an ideal kayak for novices and intermediate anglers
  • Good storage – Storage compartments and portable accessory carrier included, as well as three rod holders
  • High-quality materials – Made of durable materials that are resistant to damage upon impact

Cons

  • Uncomfortable seat – Backrest is padded but the seat needs padding for comfortability

Lifetime Tandem Fishing Kayak

Say you’re a father or mother with a thrill for fishing and you want to bring your son or daughter with you. A one-person kayak sometimes isn’t big enough, but that’s where this tandem kayak comes in.

lifetime 10 foot kayak

The seats sit higher than other kayak models for easy paddling, and the included paddles are small enough for kids to learn the ropes. 

The top priority when fishing with a child or family member is safety. A kayak should be wide enough to hold both humans, and also to hold the storage and provide enough stability for standing fishers.

This kayak offers this, as it has a maximum weight capacity of 500lbs and can seat up to 3 people. 

There is one storage compartment as well as a deck area with bungee cords to hold equipment. 

Pros

  • Ideal for families – Fitting up to 3 people, this is a stable and safe kayak for taking kids fishing
  • Good width – Width allows for balance, stability, and for standing fishing
  • Good materials – Made of UV-protected polyethylene that resists cracking, peeling, and fading

Cons

  • Not suitable for experts – Experienced fishers and paddlers may find this kayak too simple

Perception Outlaw Fishing Kayak

This yak is most ideal for advanced and experienced anglers and paddlers. Available in three attractive colors, this is the most professional-looking kayak on our list. 

Perception Outlaw 11.5 big kayak

At 11’6” long, this kayak has an impressive maximum capacity of 425lbs – ideal for carrying lots of equipment.

As for storage, this product offers a large stern tankwell with a bungee cord rigging to store gear. The comfortable mesh seat is also elevated, adjustable, and foldable to stand on top of. 

As most experienced anglers prefer multiple fishing rod holders, this kayak offers 4 holders for rods.

Not only this, but it is equipped with two storage trays with drink holders for holding coffee or extra pieces of fishing equipment such as bait. If the equipped accessories aren’t enough, there is a large deck surface for customizable options. 

This kayak is most ideal for experienced and intermediate paddlers and anglers. 

Pros

  • Great performance – Great balance, stability, and maneuverability for experienced anglers
  • Good storage – Lots of storage options available for equipment
  • Customizable – Large deck space for customizable options

Cons

  • Heavy – May need another person to carry and load on to a vehicle 

FAQs

Which is better, sit in or sit on kayaks?

Both kayak designs have their strengths and weaknesses. Sit-in kayaks offer the best protection against the elements, but may take in too much water and will need emptying on land. If you flip your kayak, you will struggle to get back in the kayak with the water inside of it.

Sit-on kayaks, on the other hand, can empty water easily without having to move to shore due to the open-top design and drainage holes. Sit-on kayaks are also generally wider which offers more stability and better storage space. 

Generally speaking, sit-in kayaks are best for flat-water situations such as lakes or ponds, and sit-on kayaks are best for fast-moving water including rivers, rapids, and the ocean. 

Is an 8ft kayak too small?

Shorter kayaks are best for providing more control and maneuverability. 8ft kayaks are great for beginners and children who want to learn the ropes of kayaking.

This length is good for river fishing and paddling in fast-moving water, though you will get better speed from longer kayaks. 

Why are fishing kayaks so expensive?

This is mostly down to the cost of manufacturing. Fishing kayaks require a lot of heavy-duty materials to provide the ultimate safety and stability in fast-moving water situations – especially for rivers, rapids, and the ocean.

Generally speaking, the more expensive the kayak, the longer it will last and the cheaper it will be in the long run as it won’t require regular replacements and fixings. 

What size kayak do I need for my weight?

The general rule of thumb is to go for a kayak that has a maximum weight capacity of 125 pounds more than your body weight. This is to ensure that the kayak is strong enough to hold both yourself and your equipment and gear.

The maximum weight capacity figure indicates how much weight the kayak can hold with absolutely everything on/in it – remember, the heavier the contents in the kayak, the slower it will be. 

Final Thoughts

You don’t want to compromise when it comes to buying a kayak, so go for the very best.

These river fishing kayaks will not let you down and you’re bound to land tons of fish with them. Just don’t forget a life jacket!

Rocco Smith

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