5 Best Beginner Fishing Kayaks: Tips, Guides & Reviews
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Kayaking is a fun and versatile activity that can be enjoyed by anyone of any age. For anglers, kayaks provide a leisurely and quiet way to get to those hard to reach fishing spots. That being said, finding the right kayak for your starter level can be tricky. We created this review to help you decide the best beginner fishing kayak for you.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
Sevylor Quickpak K1
Tandem Sit-on-top inflatable
Lifetime Hydros Angler 85
Sea Eagle 330
Sit-on-top inflatable tandem sport model
Main Consideration for Beginner Kayak Fishermen
The biggest consideration for beginner kayakers is the stability and safety of their kayak. In kayaking, there are two key types of stability to watch out for: primary and secondary. Primary stability refers to how stable the kayak is when it is sat flat on the water; a broader base with planning hulls and hard chines often gives good primary stability.
Secondary stability refers to how stable it is to kayak when the boat is turned on its side; this is important when rolling back into position or in rough weather. Displacement hulls with soft chines give good secondary stability. We recommend trying to aim for a kayak that has good primary and secondary stability.
As for safety, modern kayaks have a wide range of safety features and products to help you. Having a brightly colored kayak can help you be seen in dark or rainy conditions, making it easier to get help. Flotation bags can help keep you and your kayak afloat in rough weather, while scupper holes automatically bail water from the cockpit if you capsize. Look carefully at product details to see which safety features are available and which are best for you.
Other Considerations When Choosing a Quality Starter Kayak
Where will you use your kayak? How will you use it, and what kind of activity will you do? What weather do you usually go angling in? What type of water conditions do you favor? All of these questions help determine the type of kayak that best suits your lifestyle.
Durability, Design & Comfort
No-one wants their kayak to break on the first day; getting a kayak made of durable materials like polyethylene, carbon fiber, or ABS can give you fun for years to come. If you like to get in and out of the water or fish in sunny conditions, getting an open sit-on-top cockpit could be a great option. If you prefer to fish in colder environments, you should get an enclosed sit-in cockpit. Getting a comfortable seat is a top priority – look for ergonomic and cushioned adjust seats and footrests for increased comfort on the go.
Size & Dimensions
Getting the right sized kayak for you is so important. The longer and thinner a kayak is, the harder it is to maneuver; we recommend getting a shorter, wider kayak of around 10 feet long or so. Whether you're going on an extended kayaking trip or a fishing weekend, you need your kayak to be strong enough to carry you, your gear, and then some; kayaks often have a max capacity of 100 – 600 pounds depending on the model.
Storage & Portability
Having enough room for you, your supplies, and maybe a furry friend is essential. Kayaks often have potholes, bungee storage, or holders for a variety of gear; some even have coolers built-in. Consider how much room you need and what type would be best for you and judge if the storage on your desired kayak is easy to use. Carry handles at various points on the side of the kayak make loading and transporting it to the water more manageable, so find a model with multiple ergonomic handles.
Extra Accessories & Features
Some desirable extra accessories and features of beginner fishing kayaks include:
Price & Warranty
We all love a good bargain, and it is easy enough to get a good beginner fishing kayak for your money. Kayaks can cost anywhere from $100 to $2,000, but you can easily pick one up secondhand or in a sale for added value for money. In terms of a warranty, kayak warranties range from 90 days to 12 years, so read the fine print to be sure you know when your warranty ends.
5 Best Kayaks For Beginners Reviewed
1. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
Best Beginner Fishing Kayak
Our pick for best beginner fishing kayak, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100, is an excellent option for beginner kayakers. Some of the many great features include the built-in tracking skeg, two covered storage hatches, front and rear bungee storage, self-bailing scupper holes, paddle holders, and various rod holders for all your fishing and relaxing needs. The sharp bow provides great speed and tracking while the flat bottom hull increases stability.
Built-in front and rear handles make carrying the kayak from your home or car to the water even easier, and the polyethylene material is both UV resistant and high density for added durability. The adjustable seat has padding on the back and in the seat itself for an even comfier ride for people of any height thanks to the multiple footrest positions.
The five-year limited warranty has you covered should any unexpected accidents happen, which is handy as some customers have reported that this kayak can be damaged during transit. If you are looking for a shorter and wider kayak to help you learn the ropes, then the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is a good choice. Overall, this is a great model that we recommend to any new kayaker.
2. Sevylor Quickpak K1
Best Cheap Beginner Fishing Kayak
8 foot 7 inches
Our pick for best cheap beginner fishing kayak, the Sevylor Quickpak K1 kayak, is a portable and convenient inflatable sit-on-top that is perfect for travelers or learners looking got affordable on the go fun. Setting up is simple and takes less than five minutes; the backpack turns into a seat and backrest when setting up correctly, and the double lock valves make inflation and deflation a breeze. The airtight system uses multiple air chambers to keep you afloat, meaning that if one gets damaged, you should be able to paddle to shore. The tarpaulin bottom gives durable protection from rocks and other sharp objects.
There are multiple footrest options to choose from as well as lift handles, a cup holder, and a secure bungee storage area. A paddle and pump are included for easy and convenient paddling, and the backpack nature of its deflation makes storage and transport easy.
While we love all of these features and the price tag, it is worth noting that inflatable kayaks are more prone to piercing or slashing damage than hard shells; consider purchasing a repair kit with it. Overall, this is a great option for new kayakers who love to travel or who have minimal storage options in their home.
3. Intex Challenger
Best Beginner-Friendly Inflatable Kayak
Tandem Sit-on-top inflatable
The most beginner-friendly inflatable kayak on our list, the Intex Challenger Kayak Series inflatable is a tandem sit-on-top model that is perfect for couples, families, or friends looking to learn together on a budget. Having a two-person inflatable kayak brings added flexibility in terms of storage, utility, and kayaking options. Unlike solo kayaks, tandem kayaks can be used by one or more people, meaning that you can go alone or with your loved ones while saving money.
The highly visible coloring makes for easier visibility in severe weather or dark conditions, which can be helpful in a pinch. The removable skeg gives you upgrade options in the future, and the inflatable beam floor adds rigidity. Grab lines along the edges make for easy transport, and the Boston valves can help you out in a pinch.
We do highly recommend getting a patch repair kit along with this purchase to protect against piercing or slash damage to your inflatable while you are on the water. Overall, the Intex Challenger Kayak Series is ideal for teaching you the ropes of kayaking while giving added seating and storage options. Give it a try for yourself and see if it is a good fit for your lifestyle.
4. Lifetime Hydros Angler 85
Best Value For Money
Our top pick for the best value for the money slot, the Lifetime Hydros Angler 85 is a sit-on-top solo model with a lot of great features. The polyethylene exterior is both UV protected and impact-resistant and has a swim-up deck that is perfect for hot summer days on the water. Multiple built-in carry handles are available for easy transport while the bungee storage and rod holders keep your belongings safe while you do what you do best, hauling in a great catch. Several footrest options are available to keep you comfortable, no matter your height, and shock cord straps are available for added security.
The combination tunnel hull design is both comfortable and practical, giving added stability and tracking. A five-year limited warranty has you covered in case the unexpected occurs, which can be a real lifesaver should anything get damaged.
While we do wish that the Lifetime Hydros Angler 85 came in more color options besides the neon green, we do love its features and the overall design for its practicality and visibility. Give it a try for yourself to see if it works for you and your angling routine.
5. Sea Eagle 330
Best Tandem Kayak For Beginners
Sit-on-top inflatable tandem sport model
Our pick for the best tandem kayak for beginners, the Sea Eagle 330 is a sporty sit-on-top inflatable model that is another excellent option for loved ones on the go. Suitable for up to class three whitewater rapids, the Sea Eagle 330 comes with two paddles, two seats, a pump, a repair kit, and a carry bag for easy setup and is NMMA certified. Setting up and packing away is fast and straightforward, while the carry bag makes storage a breeze.
Two skegs are attached to the underside for great tracking, and the inflatable floor adds rigidity. Bow and stern grab lines along the sides make for easy transport, and a three-year warranty covers this kayak should it get damaged during use. In terms of maneuverability and stability, the length and width along with the flat flooring help.
The max capacity of 500 pounds is great for those looking to bring some gear, and the polykrylar material is durable enough to deal with rough conditions and regular use. We do wish that there were more style and design options to choose from but do recommend giving the Sea Eagle 330 a try to see if it can keep up with you.
Comparison Guide: Kayak Types For Beginners
Sit-inside vs. Sit-on-top
A sit-inside kayak is a kayak with an enclosed cockpit that covers your legs, whereas a sit-on-top kayak has an open cockpit. Sit-inside kayaks are best for colder rougher waters while sit-on-top kayaks are perfect for hot sunny kayaking trips.
Inflatable vs. Hard Shell
An inflatable kayak is a blow-up kayak that is versatile and easy to store, while a hard shell kayak is a standard solid kayak available in a variety of types and styles. Inflatable kayaks are less durable but are cheaper than hard-shell kayaks.
Solo vs. Tandem
A solo kayak is a one-seater kayak intended for one paddler and their equipment, whereas a tandem kayak can seat multiple people and their gear; it can even be used by one person, making it a cost-effective and versatile alternative for families, friends or couples.
Why Use a Kayak for Fishing?
If you are struggling to understand why someone would go to the effort of paddling to a fishing spot rather than use a motorboat, you are not alone. Some pros of using a kayak include:
Kayak Fishing Tips for Beginners
When using kayaks for the first time, it is important to be supervised by at least one experienced professional and to have safety gear such as a PFD on your person. We recommend learning to kayak from a professional to master various paddling and life-saving kayak fishing tips for beginners, including:
Capsizing your kayak is an inevitable part of paddling, but it can be dangerous if not dealt with correctly. To help minimize or overcome hazardous situations, it is vital to bring safety equipment and accessories on every trip, such as personal floatation devices, whistles, and repair kits. Bear these things in mind during purchase.
The water is a dangerous and ever-changing natural body that should be respected and treated with caution at all times. Talking to local kayakers about currents and proper kayaking spots can help protect and guide new paddlers.
Kayaking Terminology for Beginners
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What kind of paddle should I get for a starter kayak?
The best kind of paddle is the kind that best suits your height and budget. Please read our guide on finding the best paddle for you here.
How do I determine the best length for my first kayak?
The best length of kayak for a beginner is between 10 and 12 feet due to the higher maneuverability.
What’s the best way to transport a kayak?
Some of the best ways to transport a kayak include putting it in the rear or on top of your car or using a kayak trailer.
Is there any other gear that’s important for kayak fishing?
Am I required to wear a life jacket?
In many jurisdictions, wearing a life jacket is required by law. Life jackets may not be the most fashionable thing in the world, but they will save your life. Life jackets are a non-negotiable essential of kayaking.