6 Best Ocean Fishing Kayaks: Offshore & Sea Yaks Reviewed

Ocean fishing presents unique difficulties to kayak anglers. Shifting tides, choppy water, and corrosion from the salt are just a few things to consider. There is also more exposure to sunlight and the elements in general than what you might find when freshwater fishing.

Many manufacturers have been working for decades to make the perfect kayak for any fishing trip. If you’re looking for the best ocean fishing kayak, read through this article to get a comprehensive overview of the market.

Preview

Product

Kayak Type

Max Weight

Check Price

Lifetime Muskie Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak with...

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

Kayak Type SOT Hardshell

275 lbs.

Driftsun Rover 120 Inflatable White-Water...

Driftsun Rover 120/220

Sit-in inflatable

600 lbs.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12 | Sit on Top...

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

SOT hardshell

475 lbs.

Elkton Outdoors Auklet Sit-On Top Fishing...

Elkton Outdoors Auklet

SOT hardshell

500 lbs.

BKC RA220 11.6' Single Fishing Kayak...

Brooklyn Kayak Co. RA220

SOT hardshell

450 lbs.

Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback (Seagrass)

Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback

SOT hardshell

425 lbs.


Considerations When Choosing a Quality Ocean Fishing Kayak

Kayak Type

One of the key differences in kayak styles is sit-on-top or sit inside. Sit-inside kayaks offer more protection from spray but are harder to get back into if they tip. Sit-on-top kayaks can’t fill with water and are much easier to reboard. Generally speaking, sit-on-top kayaks are good for ocean fishing because they have more room to move and are much safer.

Other types of kayaks have their own advantages. Inflatables are more portable but often lack storage space and built-in mounts. Tandem yaks are great for multiple people, but they should be convertible for use on solo trips too.

Durability & Comfort

Polyethylene is one of the most common materials used to build hardshell kayaks, while PVC is used for some inflatable models. These plastics are inexpensive to manufacture and usually resist damage exceptionally well.

Single-piece construction is the best way manufacturers put these plastics to use because the resulting product has no seams or weak spots. Hard plastic isn't the most comfortable to sit on for long periods, which is why a supportive seat is crucial. Most are adjustable, and footrests also help anglers find an optimal position.

Transport & Storage Space

Many kayaks are too heavy to be transported by one person without the help of a dolly. Lifting a kayak onto and off of a roof rack is one of the most infamously troublesome parts of kayaking, but many have handles to make this task easier.

Storage space is important, especially watertight storage for valuables. Most kayaks have small cockpits to prevent the ingress of seawater in case a large wave should crash down. This reduces the amount of storage space. Dedicated storage compartments are the best solution to this conundrum.

Tracking Method & Maneuverability

Tracking is a word used to describe the movement of a kayak. If it moves straight ahead, it is said to track well, while bad tracking would involve some unwanted side-to-side movement.

Kayaks achieve good tracking with skegs, rudders, or tracking fins. Skegs are often the best middle ground since they can usually be removed. Rudders are more versatile because they can change direction, but they typically aren't removable.

Chine & Hull Design

V-shaped hulls track better in a straight line, while U-shaped ones have better balance and maneuverability. Many manufacturers try to blend the two together—for example, a U-shaped hull with a V-shaped protrusion to get both good balance and tracking.

There's also a chine, which is the way the hull meets the sides of the boat. Hard chines or more narrow and offer a little better tracking but might tip more easily while soft chines are more rounded and have better secondary stability.

Stability & Speed

Primary stability is the kayak's balance in a normal upright position. The angle to which the kayak can tilt without tipping is called secondary stability.

Narrower V-shaped hulls are faster and have worse primary stability, while U-shaped hulls are more comfortable to turn and have better primary and secondary stability. This also means wider hulls with better balance are easier to get in and out of.

Wider kayaks are also far easier to stand up in, which is preferable for many anglers who like to stand up to cast.

Accessories & Add-Ons

Customizable kayaks may have gear tracks for fish finders, GPS devices, and additional rod holders or lure trays. It depends on what kind of fishing you plan to do, but generally, some dry storage for valuables and space for a cooler or a fishing basket is the minimum requirement for an ocean fishing kayak.

More sophisticated designs like fish finder guards and built-in live wells make angling that much easier. Removable seats can also create more storage space for solo anglers. Of course, these additional features are usually reflected in the price of the kayak.

Price & Warranty

Sea fishing kayaks can cost several hundred dollars or several thousand. The difference in price generally reflects the tracking and performance of the yak itself as well as the accessories and add-ons mentioned above.

Warranties to protect your investment aren’t always a given, but many of the manufacturers in this guide provide them for at least one year. Better warranties up to five years are also available from some companies. Typically these only cover factory defects and not damage from normal wear and tear.


6 Best Ocean Fishing Kayaks Reviewed

1. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

Best Ocean Fishing Kayak

Kayak Type

SOT Hardshell

Material

Polyethylene

Hull Shape

U-Shape

Dimensions

10’ L x 31” W

Max Weight Capacity

275 lbs.

With its longer length and design features specifically crafted for better handling, the Tamarack can get up to a quick sailing speed and remain balanced and easy to turn. This kayak has a sharp bow to cut through waves as well as channels carved in the hull and chine rails that give it both great tracking and excellent stability, even far out from the shoreline. It still takes a good sense of balance to stand up on this kayak, but it's not impossible to do.

The hull is flat, which is probably why it has such solid primary and secondary stability. It's also built out of durable plastic that is UV- and impact-resistant. It is perfect for handling submerged obstacles, rough launchings and landings, and the harsh direct sunlight of the open ocean. 

The least convenient thing about this kayak is its weight, which comes in at a rather hefty 52 pounds. One person can still transport it overland with the help of a dolly, but getting it on and off a kayak car rack takes some effort. That being said, its durability makes the weight worthwhile, and it's still much more comfortable than you might expect for a hard shell plastic yak.

There are scupper holes in the seat that let water in, which can be refreshing in hot weather. If that's not ideal, you might need to invest in plugs of some kind. Some yakkers have found that standard earplugs work as a cheap DIY solution.

The Tamarack is the best open ocean fishing kayak since it has all the crucial features like paddle keepers, bungees, and plenty of storage on board in addition to durability and fantastic handling and stability. Add on some extras like wheels or dry bags for the storage bins, and you'll have the perfect setup for reeling in saltwater targets like red snapper, grouper, and kingfish. 

Pros
  • Self-draining scupper holes
  • 5-year limited warranty
  • Great stability
  • UV-resistant
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Storage isn’t watertight

2. Driftsun Rover 120/220

Best Inflatable Ocean Fishing Kayak

Kayak Type

Sit-in inflatable

Material

PVC

Hull Shape

U-Shape

Dimensions

12.5’ L x 38” W

Max Weight Capacity

600 lbs.

For such a lightweight kayak, the Driftsun Rover can handle a lot of abuse. It’s an ideal option for ocean anglers who fish in pairs and want a portable watercraft. Its three air chambers inflate in under ten minutes, and a convenient carry case takes all the hassle of transportation out of kayak angling.

There are carry handles to make moving it and launching even easier, too. The hardware, which is mostly located on the removable seats, is all corrosion-resistant so it can handle constant exposure to saltwater without breaking down or having their appearance suffer.

The ripstop bottom to this kayak makes it feel sturdier than most other inflatable kayaks, which is even more important for ocean fishing. Footrests and the adjustable seats make for a comfortable ride, plus additional features like the built-in camera mount that set the Rover apart.

Self-bailing scupper holes that can be plugged in flat water to stay dry or opened in rough waters to let water drain ensure whatever level of comfort the paddlers want in any condition. The Rover would be a great ocean kayak fishing setup right out of the box if it weren't for the lack of storage space.

It doesn't take much to turn this yak into the ideal low-profile fishing vessel. All it really needs besides storage is a couple of rod holders, but besides that, it's a good option for anglers who need extra space. It's a longer kayak, but the bottom is flat for extra stability.

Thanks to the tough tarpaulin on the bottom, there’s no indication it will puncture, even when launching or sailing over sticks, rocks, or pebbles. Unlike many other inflatable kayaks, there aren’t tons of tiny nooks and crannies in the Rover that would make it difficult to clean off sand and salt thoroughly. There's a one-year warranty, and everything from the pump to the paddles is included with purchase.

Pros
  • Inflates quickly
  • Ripstop bottom
  • Portable
  • Built-in camera holder
Cons
  • No rod holders
  • No storage

3. Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Best Pedal Kayak for Ocean Fishing

Kayak Type

SOT hardshell

Material

Polyethylene

Hull Shape

U-Shape

Dimensions

12’5” L x 33.75” W

Max Weight Capacity

475 lbs.

The Perception Pescador is high-performance and packed with features. It might be a bigger investment than some of the competition, but it's well worth it for anglers who go out on the water often and need a kayak that will stay in great working shape for years and years. Its hull is made of sturdy plastic that's impact- and abrasion-resistant.

Several different hull designs allow you to customize your yak or suit your fishing environment to be less visible to your targets. The shape of the hull gives this yak terrific balance, so much so that anglers can cast from it while standing up. 

Piloting this craft can be completely hands-free since it’s pedal-powered, but there is a rudder in the rear that can be operated with one hand if you need a little more direction. The cockpit is wide open for comfort and gear storage. All the equipment needed for successful ocean fishing will fit comfortably on this kayak. It has gear tracks for rod holders or fish finders, plus front and rear storage, both of which are large enough to fit a cooler or fishing basket.

Leaks are a non-issue on this yak thanks to its single-piece construction. Two self-draining scupper holes get water out fairly quickly, and they're located near the front of the cockpit by the pedals so your butt won't get wet as it sometimes does with kayaks that have scupper holes in the seat.

Additional conveniences like cup holders and bungee cables make it easy to travel in. The adjustable pilot’s chair and footrests are plenty comfortable for sitting in over long periods, although having the ability to stand up is still a considerable benefit.

Like other really durable kayaks with tons of features, this one weighs more than more pared-down models. That's the tradeoff for its single-piece construction. There is a skid plate on the stern to allow for dragging without marking or damaging the hull, but it’s still wisest to invest in a dolly or wheels to safely transport this yak.

Pros
  • 5-year warranty
  • Built-in gear tracks
  • Hands-free operation
  • Molded-in rod/cup holders
Cons
  • Very heavy

4. Elkton Outdoors Auklet

Best Sit on Top Ocean Fishing Kayak

Kayak Type

SOT hardshell

Material

Polyethylene

Hull Shape

V-Shape

Dimensions

12’ L x 36” W

Max Weight Capacity

500 lbs.

The Auklet is a strong ocean fishing kayak with some of the best handling and steering around, built with a manufacturing process known as roto-molding that cuts costs and results in a very strong product.

Foot-operated rudder controls allow anglers to pilot the craft through choppy water and get extra strength behind your paddle strokes. Between that and the length of this kayak, you're able to get up to a rapid speed if conditions are right. There are not many motor-free watercrafts available for getting out into the open ocean quickly.

The primary balance might feel a bit shaky on the Auklet, but the secondary balance is incredibly reliable. The comfortable seat is built of sturdy aluminum, and it gives a great angle over whatever is happening in the water, plus it adjusts quickly and easily, making it easy to stay comfortable. It also has tons of storage, including a center console that's perfect for coolers or tackle. It might be hard to find a good place to mount a fish finder, but it’s certainly possible to get one on this yak.

One of the most convenient features of the Auklet is dry storage, which allows you to store keys, phones, and other valuables in a safe place. Many kayaks lack this, even if they do have some in-hull storage. It’s also easy to stow paddles or fishing rods out of the way on this vessel.

The Auklet is also a very versatile kayak, customizable to suit the needs of any angler or fishing scenario. It can handle all the waves and spray you can throw at it without tipping, and it's great for strategic fishing, making it the ideal sit-on-top ocean fishing kayak.

Pros
  • Ready dry storage
  • Foot-operated rudder
  • Built for speed
  • Customizable
Cons
  • Less primary balance

5. Brooklyn Kayak Co. RA220

Most Stable Ocean Fishing Kayak

Kayak Type

SOT hardshell

Material

Polyethylene

Hull Shape

U-Shape

Dimensions

11’6” L x 34” W

Max Weight Capacity

450 lbs.

This is likely the best all-around ocean fishing kayak because it has just about everything an angler could want. In addition, the design of the rotomolded polyethylene hull makes it extremely well balanced.

Standing up is no worry, and even the secondary balance doesn't cause any alarm when the rider is leaning heavily to one side. The RA220 has the pedal-operated tiller of the Elkton Outdoors Auklet with double the storage. Three of the four storage compartments are watertight, and the fourth is perfect for a cooler or a fishing basket.

It isn't the lightest kayak out there, but at 68 pounds, it's lighter than some comparable models from other manufacturers. The RA220 has lots of length for going fast, but that doesn't stop it from having fantastic handling, especially with the help of the pedal-operated rudder system. Besides the good handling and solid tracking, this kayak comes in a variety of colors and designs to make your yak stand out in a crowd.

For anglers who enjoy the added benefit of a fish finder, there’s a cutout in the hull to drop a transducer down through. UV protection on the hull is rated to last for up to eight years, but additional sprays with UV-protectant sealant will help it last even longer. The seat is comfortable, and there's plenty of room in the cockpit.

Traversing long distances quickly is pretty easy with this kayak, and its steady balance holds true even in choppy ocean water, although full-size waves might tip it. Thankfully, it's easy to get right-side-up and climb back into the pilot's seat again.

Pros
  • Fantastic balance
  • Ample watertight storage
  • 5-year warranty
  • Hull transducer cutout
  • Pedal-operated rudder
Cons
  • Likely needs a trolley

6. Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback

Best Hobie Kayak for Ocean Fishing

Kayak Type

SOT hardshell

Material

Polyethylene

Hull Shape

U-Shape

Dimensions

12’9” L x 34” W

Max Weight Capacity

425 lbs.

It might be a large investment, but the new 2020 Mirage Outback is the best of the best. It has trademark innovations like Hobie’s MirageDrive 180, which grants the pilot lots of propulsive strength either forward or backward with minimal effort. It doesn't add much weight to the kayak, and if the fins happen to hit submerged sticks or rocks, they retract automatically to prevent damage. It’s never been easier to trek across the inshore shallows to get out to the deeper water where the fish are. The rudder also retracts on impact to prevent damage.

The first thing you notice when you start out in this new Hobie is that the seat is wider and more comfortable than most other models. In fact, this top of the range Hobie is leagues ahead of almost all the rest of the competition.

It has a standing floor, and the seat is lifted slightly to give the pilot a better vantage point over the fish. There are large, conveniently-placed storage spaces in the front and center of the craft. Additionally, a specific place for a kayak cart to mount makes one-person transport really easy.

A sharp bow helps this kayak cut through ocean waves, and the hull design gives it great tracking. Gear rails let you place key gear right where you need it. There's also extra protection for your fish finder. A shield protects a cavity in the bottom of the kayak, and there are three scupper holes that each make a fine spot for a transducer.

Pre-installed wire plugs make this one of the easiest kayaks to outfit with a fish finder of any caliber. This kayak is also ready to use with micro anchors. All in all, this is the cream of the crop when it comes to ocean fishing kayaks because of its versatility and ease of use.

Pros
  • Transducer shield
  • Retractable paddles
  • Large storage bins
  • Perfect for shallow water
Cons
  • Big investment

Ocean Kayak Fishing Setup

Most ocean fishing kayaks come ready to use right out of the box. There may be skegs, rudders, or fish finders to put on. For maximum portability, attaching a dolly or wheelset usually does the trick. If you don't have a yak with inset rod holders or oar keepers, at least one of each will likely be needed.

Safety is essential. The shoreline is likely to be miles away while you fish, so a personal flotation device is a must-have. If you can find a waterproof communication device, that could also be helpful.


How to Kayak Fish in the Ocean: Saltwater Fishing Tips

Tips for Proper Kayak Paddling
  • Keep a good posture, your legs together and knees slightly bent.
  • Rotate your torso to paddle. Arms should stay straight.
  • Give more power at the beginning of a paddle and less at the end.
  • Don’t bend your wrists and don’t end the stroke too late.
How to Handle Waves

Always tackle waves head-on or at an angle, don't let it hit the side of the yak. When a wave strikes, lean forward as much as possible and lower your forehead to the kayak. Place the paddle in the water vertically - it will help hold you in place.

How to Avoid Tipping
  • Keep the kayak moving.
  • Load gear low and balanced.
  • Stay near the center of the kayak.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a kayak suitable for ocean fishing?

Kayaks make great vessels for ocean fishing. They allow anglers to get out to deeper water where big targets are without investing in a boat. Essential gear like electronics and tackle are easily stowed on a kayak. As long as you know how to steer it and handle waves, kayak fishing in the ocean can be tons of fun.

Where do I keep my catch in an ocean fishing kayak?

Some anglers use storage space on board the kayak to keep a cooler for their catch. Other folks use a mesh bag off the side of the yak to store their fish in the water, which keeps them fresh. If you can keep them in the water, you should, but the important thing is to at least have your catch on ice until you can get them to shore.

Where can I buy an ocean fishing kayak?

The best deals and widest selection is available on Amazon. Most seller accounts selling kayaks on Amazon are run by manufacturers or their certified retailers. Advantages like warranty and customer service are still available to the buyer in most cases, but make sure you do some research to make sure before you buy.

What regular maintenance does my ocean fishing kayak require?

The most important thing to do is wash all the salt away after a trip. Every now and then, a UV-protectant should be applied to the yak as well. If there are scupper holes or spray tends to get into the inside of the craft, a thorough detailing may be necessary from time to time. Also, make sure connections and screws are maintaining a proper hold.

Who makes the best ocean fishing kayaks?

Hobie is famous for making high-quality kayaks that are outfitted with all the best features. The Lifetime Tamarack is also a well-known model for a smaller upfront investment. At the same time, brands like Perception and Brooklyn Kayak Company offer dependable yaks for anglers who are on a budget or just beginning to learn how to fish from a kayak.


Conclusion

Ocean fishing kayaks should be stable enough to use safely, fast enough to get out on the water, and have enough storage space for gear and tackle. The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is the best kayak for ocean fishing because it has all this and a durable polyethylene body that can withstand just about anything.