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Best Fishing Kayak On Sale in 2020

Your Guide:
Andy Bell

After 50+ hours of research and testing, we have chosen the BKC 220 as the best fishing kayak available. This model will stand the test of time and continue to be a great kayak long after next year's models come out. 

Our pick has an excellent seat that’s better than most models, increased speed that adds an extra appeal and the best design we have seen.

Quick Summary: Top 10 - Best Fishing Kayak This Year

Our seasoned editors have picked and rated these products for each specific category and area of expertise to recommend you the best models and products we can. We receive commission from some of these affiliate links.

Best Overall Price/Performance: 1. BKC UH-220
"11 Foot model with paddle and seat at an unbeatable price"

Runner up: 2. Perception Pescador 12 Pro
"12 foot model with a great amount of storage space for gear"

Best Pedal Drive: 3. Hobie Mirage Outback
"No holds bar build quality, pedal drive and storage. Great if price is not an issue"

Runner Up Pedal Drive: 4. Native Watercraft Slayer 10 Propel
"Great build quality with Propel Pedal Drive"

Best Premium: 5. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler Kayak
"Larger than the outback with the same great features and more"

Best Storage: 6. Old Town Topwater 106 PDL Angler
"Great pedal drive and unbeatable amount of storage and bungees for gear"

Best 11 Foot Budget: 7. Wilderness Systems Pungo 105 Angler
"Everything necessary to have a great fishing experience at a great price"

Best 12 Foot Budget: 8. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120
"Unbeatable price at a 12 foot size"

Also Great: 9. Ocean Kayaks Trident 11
"Great price and storage options at 11 feet"

Also Great:10. Native Watercraft Slayer 13 Propel
"One of the more popular Slayer models, great price to performance"

    - If your looking for just pedal fishing kayaks, please see guide here.

Our Reviews

Best Overall

The BKC 220 offers the best overall fishing features with solid design, integrated extra storage its light weight, and comfortable.

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: No
  • Length: 11 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 2

The UH-220 is a kayak that meets expectations at a great price. It is equipped with excellent tracking capabilities and is quite maneuverable. It can easily accommodate extra gear as it has a good weight capacity and tons of extra compartments and storage for rod holders and the like. The seat is a advanced adjustable model and the dry storage is phenomenal.

Brooklyn Kayak Company is a new name in the fishing kayak industry, but it has proved its mettle in a short time. Its UH-UH is a sit-on-top kayak and has a unique design. This design makes it the trendy best kayak to have, and the camo design colors easily blend into the environment, thus making fishing easier.

Moreover, it is equipped with excellent tracking capabilities and is quite maneuverable. It can easily accommodate lots of gear as it has a good weight capacity.

The Brooklyn Kayak is not very lightweight but isn’t on the heavier side either. It has two seats that are comfortable and ergonomic, and the paddle rests are high-quality bungee ones. There are three mount rod holders, four mount rod holders, and footrests too. There is extra storage as well at the back of the seats where you can put your valuables. The kayak is overall very secure and comfortable and is good for long-distance voyages.

Full Review Here.


  • It delivers good value for money
  • It includes 7 rod holders
  • The paddle rests are high quality
  • It is very portable because of the multiple carrying handles
  • Very stable


  • Paddle may need replacement for a higher end model

Runner Up

The Pescador pro offers the best overall fishing features with solid design, integrated extra storage, light weight, and extra comfort.

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: No
  • Length: 12 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 2

The Pescador Pro has been a staple of high-end paddling kayaks for years. It has continually been reviewed as one of the best kayaks out there and continues to impress. Its speed is incredible in comparison to similar sized boats. You can toss the Pescador over your head and lug it 30 or 40 yards from the parking lot to the water, a big convenience if you don't want to trolly it.

These features and a low price (below some of its costlier high-end competition) put it over the top to be one of our top picks this year.

The kayak even includes places to mount electronic items and other accessories so that you can use them without any issues.

As fishing kayaks are heavier than recreational kayaks because they have extra rigging, the Perception Kayak Pescador Pro is heavier than most other kayaks.

The amount of dry storage offered by this kayak is small, but because of the fixings, you can store a lot of accessories on it. You can keep your valuables such as phones and watches in the storage, and the cargo deck is spacious enough to keep other items.

Seating is also very comfortable with a mesh seatback that keeps the user cool and well-ventilated. It offers good options for organization with its many mounting options. 


  • Storage options are good.
  • It is very durable.
  • The seats are very comfortable.


  • It’s not very stable.

Best Pedal Drive

Legendary pedal drive and features make this one of the most renowned kayak models

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: Yes
  • Length: 12 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 3

The Hobie Mirage Outback is our top pick as it is equipped with lots of handy features according to every kayaker and fisherman’s needs and is comfortable to use as well. It is equipped with the MirageDrive system that allows you to propel smoothly through the waters. The concept behind the MirageDrive system is that your leg muscles are stronger than the arm muscles and thus, you can use them to propel your kayak more effectively.

The Hobie Mirage Outback consists of a mega drive pedal as well, which allows you to maneuver smoothly in the water. As you’ll be using your leg muscles, kayaking will require less effort and thus, you’ll have more energy for fishing.

This kayak has an excellent ergonomic design overall and is ideal for you if you want to be able to go kayaking for longer periods. The MirageDrive system also consists of blue fins that pivot 180 degrees and offer a hands-free kayaking and fishing experience to users.

See full review here.


  • 180-degree pivoting is available for the maneuvering fins
  • Hands-free propulsion is present
  • The Vantage CT seat is very comfortable
  • There is a lot of dry storage
  • It provides an excellent fishing platform


  • It is very expensive

Runner Up Pedal Drive

Great build quality with Propel Pedal Drive

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: Yes
  • Length: 10 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 3

The Native Watercraft Slayer has a minimalistic design and has great options for recreational paddlers and anglers. It has a clean deck, and the seating system is very comfortable with the option to adjust the height.

This kayak is good for going offshore for hunting kingfish or going in flat waters for fishing redfish. It even has built-in rod stagers, self-bailing hull, and tackle storage, which makes it one of the best fishing kayaks available on the market.

The Native Watercraft Slayer has been designed especially for fishermen and has a sit-on-top design, which offers comfort to the paddler while entering or leaving the cockpit. It also offers excellent tracking as it features a hard-chinned rudder-ready hull.

The most unique feature is its Tag Along Wheel made up of hard plastic that allows easy transportation. There is a dry storage area as well that can be a good place for storing batteries and electronics like phones while you are out fishing.


  • It has a durable build.
  • It paddles well.
  • It offers good tracking.
  • The seats are adjustable.
  • There are track rails installed.


  • It is not fast.
  • The beam is a bit narrow.

Best Premium

Larger than the outback with the same great features and more

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: Yes
  • Length: 12 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 3

The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler is a high-end fishing kayak and is equipped with features such as the MirageDrive 180 which makes paddling easier. The kayak is equipped with a bluefins pedal drive that offers a good propulsion system to the user. Again, the main idea behind this yak is to allow users to use their legs for propelling because, then, they can use more force and save some energy for fishing too. Since the legs are used to propel the kayak, your hands are free to do anything. The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler offers a stable and comfortable fishing platform.

It has a wide hull and allows the user to sit above the deck. The good thing is that there is a standing platform for those who love to fish while standing. Hence, this kayak will suit all types of fishermen.

There are tackle boxes present in a pivoting rack, and the hatch holds it in front of the seat. This feature is very handy as it allows the user to reach the space underneath easily.

See full review here.


  • It is the most advanced fishing kayak.
  • The MirageDrive system makes propulsion very smooth.
  • It is long and wide enough for a comfortable ride.
  • There is ample storage.
  • There is a standing platform too.


  • It is very heavy.
  • It is very expensive.

Best Storage

Great pedal drive and unbeatable amount of storage and bungees for all gear

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: Yes
  • Length: 10 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 3

The Old Town Topwater PDL Angler is designed especially for kayak anglers. It is perfect for paddling in large water bodies such as bays, lakes, and coastal areas. It is equipped with lots of handy features such as a Mod Pod center cover, 3-position element seating system, and removable mounting plates.

The three-position element seating system is very beneficial for the user as it can change the position according to the condition required. The user can improve stability for travelling fast, improve visibility for fishing purposes, and enhance maneuverability for standing up on the kayak while fishing.

It has a rigid seat frame which is more comfortable than the sit-on-top kayaks. There is a molded paddle rest as well that allows you to park your paddle when you aren’t using it. The Mod Pod cover allows you to customize the kayak and allows you to place the cover without drilling holes in it.


  • It is very stable and fast.
  • It offers dry storage at two locations.
  • It has a suitable design for fishing.
  • It is compatible with accessories such as stand-up bars and outriggers.


  • It is heavy.

Best 11 Foot Budget

Everything necessary to have a great fishing experience at a great price.

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: Yes
  • Length: 11 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 3

Wilderness Systems Pungo 140 is a lightweight yak and has a very ergonomic design, which makes it convenient to use. It allows easy loading and unloading of the kayak from the transport vehicle, which is a very useful feature and makes it easy to take it anywhere. Thus, if you don’t have direct vehicle access, you shouldn’t be worried as it is very easy to transport.

The Pungo 105 is also extremely fast and has a sit-in deck that offers a comfortable riding experience and keeps the people inside the cockpit dry.

It is equipped with a Phase 3 AirPro seating system that is both adjustable and comfortable. The seats are contoured, and the backrest has been designed to improve the comfort level of the user. There is dry storage space as well for keeping smartphones, watches, wallets, sunglasses, and tackle boxes.


  • The seating system is adjustable and comfortable.
  • It is lightweight and portable.
  • Easy access to gear is provided due to the console.


  • If you’re a tall angler, it can be a bit tough on the knees.

Best 12 Foot Budget

Unbeatable price at a 12 foot size.

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: Yes
  • Length: 12 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 3

Wilderness Systems is a well-known brand when it comes to kayaks, especially best fishing kayaks. The Tarpon 120 is another well-designed kayak offered by the company that is known for recreational purposes as well as fishing. It is very comfortable and equipped with incredible features such as a paddle holder, a cup holder, self-billing scupper holes, keepers XL foot brace system, gear storage pockets, and a storage hitch.

It is a fast kayak, but it is not suitable for you if you are fond of fishing while standing. Though it is not too stable, it performs great while you’re sitting on it and fishing. This is because the Phase 3 AirPro seating system is very comfortable.

The sit-on-top design is good for those who need a clear picture of the water and want an easy way to enter and exit the kayak. The seating system is very comfortable and is slightly raised from the bottom of the boat to give a comfortable fishing experience.

See our full kayak review here


  • It has self-billing scupper holes.
  • It is lightweight.
  • The AirPro seat offers comfort and good breathability.
  • The leg length is adjustable.


  • The rudder system has to be bought separately, which makes it costly.

Also Great

Great price and storage options at 11 feet

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: Yes
  • Length: 11 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 3

The Ocean Kayaks Trident 11 is a fast kayak and is perfect for large bodies of water as it can reach distant locations effortlessly. However, if you are not an experienced kayaker, it will be a bit difficult to handle it isnt the best kayak in rough waters.

It is equipped with a Comfort Hybrid seat back that offers lumbar support and a tall backrest to provide comfortable seating to the user. The frame is rigid, and the seat is a standard molded one.

It has an adjustable foot brace system that allows you to adjust the position of the knees according to the level of comfort. There is a sonar shield storage compartment and a modular fishing pod center console as well that provides easy access to the fishing gear rods while you’re fishing. The ocean kayak is transducer compatible to maximize the use of fish finders, and there is no need to modify the scupper holes to install the transducer.


  • There are adjustable foot braces for different paddlers.
  • There is good space to place fishing rods and electronics.
  • It is very fast and cuts through water smoothly.
  • It offers high maneuverability.
  • Trusted name with ocean kayak


  • It has a narrow beam.

Also Great

One of the more popular Slayer models, great price to performance

Quick Specs

  • Pedal Drive: Yes
  • Length: 13 Foot
  • Rod Holders: 3

The Native Watercraft Slayer 13 is very popular and is equipped with lots of handy features for fishermen. It has a sit-on-top design and, thus, allows comfortable and easy entry and exit options. It offers amazing tracking capabilities because of its hard-chinned rudder-ready hull. The hull also features a prominent keel which improves the tracking capabilities of the kayak.

The seating system of the kayak is comfortable and rigid and is made up of an aluminum frame with a suspension mesh that is adjustable. The seat can also be reclined and set according to the preference of the user.

Furthermore, it has a Tag Along wheel similar to the Native Watercraft Slayer Propel and has a dry storage compartment for storing anything you wish. You can also easily add rod holders or other tools for your assistance and make the kayak as convenient as you want.


  • It has an increased helm response.
  • The Tag Along wheel aids in transporting.
  • It has an adjustable seating system.
  • It offers secure electronic gear mounting.


  • It has a narrow beam.

Choosing The Right Fishing Kayak

To learn how to choose the best fishing kayaks that are suitable for you, you will have to study the market carefully and find the yak that applies to your distinct tastes and needs. Firstly let's go through some of the materials and models so you can get familiar with what exactly you will be buying.

Looking for the best fishing kayaks under 1000? See the guide here.

Brand Rankings

After a lot of research we have put together a list encompassing reviews found all across the web and averaged them across all the reliable fishing products. This list is not a 100% accurate ranking of the brands. Please take this list with a grain of salt and use it more as a rough guide. One brand can have a kayak which is great and better then another even though it has a lower average rating then another brand so please keep this in mind.

BRANDAvg Rating %Fishing K ReviewsFishing ProductsPopular (3+ Reviews)Notes
1. Wilderness Systems96%442119-
2. Ocean Kayak96%282108-
3. Hobie Cat93%1031512-
4. Malibu91%10898-
5. Jackson Kayak96%60106-
6. Heritage Kayaks90%7041-
7. Native Watercraft89%78158-
8. Old Town88%5253-
Cobra Kayaks80%4922-
Sea Eagle84%3222-
Feelfree Kayak92%4883-
Liquid Logic94%3397-
Future Beach94%2632-
Emotion Kayaks92%2053-
Nu Canoe100%1921-
Riot Kayak84%1351-
Bic Sport80%531-

Models and Materials

Many different materials go into the design of the best fishing kayaks, but there are four very common ones, these include the single layer linear polyethylene, three layer polyethylene, fiberglass, and Kevlar-carbon, here we will evaluate their pros and cons:

1. Single Layer Linear polyethylene

Kayaks made of single piece manufacturing, are hard, resistant to abrasion and the weather. It is a very common material used for the creation of kayaks and is highly recommended since they are often more durable than the three - layer polyethylene option.

Single LayerLinear polyethylene

2. Three-layer Polyethylene 

As its name indicates it has three layers, the tough, glossy exterior provides a good glide on water. Within Three-layer Polyethylene the material is thicker making the buoyancy of the kayak better, providing thermal insulation “in this case for closed kayaks” and the inside layer is non-slip.

Three-layer Polyethylene

In our opinion, the Single Layer Polyethylene kayaks are much more robust, much heavier and perhaps a bit more durable due to their rough finish. Polyethylene is the main material for the construction of the majority of kayaks on the market.

3. Fiberglass

Fiberglass is a very light material, it weighs less than a kayak made from polyethylene and has excellent sliding abilities on the water. Its weaknesses include: Fragile against impacts and rods, more expensive pricing than polyethylene. This material is used for the sit in models or cruise models of kayaks.

fiberglass kayak

4. Kevlar carbon

This material is extremely lightweight, lighter than fiberglass and more resistant. Its weaknesses include its high price. Labeled as the “Ferrari's” of sea kayaks and ready for competition.


Types of Angler Kayaks

SIT On TOP or “Open”Sit-In ClosedPedal and SailingInflatable
sitontop-fishing-kayaksit-in-fishing-kayapedal-fishing-kayakSea Eagle 300x
Properties-Properties are polyethylene, fiberglass– Polyethylene properties, fiberglass, kevlar carbon, fiberglass– Polyethylene properties, fiberglass, kevlar carbon, fiberglass- Rubberized fabric
Price-Affordable price.- Higher price point than an Open kayak- Usually a higher price point than all others- Low to high, usually cheaper then other kayaks
Speed- Slower than sit in kayaks– Faster than open kayaks– Fast pedaling- Slower then the average kayak
Weight- Weight less then sit in kayaks unless you have many accessories– Generally lighter than the open kayaks.– Heavy, difficult handling, use of a truck for transport to embark and disembark.- Usually weigh less than the average kayak
Notes-They are the most popular type of kayak. -Ease of attaching accessories. -Technical expertise not necessary in its management -Safe and stable– Less space, to attach accessories. – Need prior training: technique of paddling, buoyancy and – – Eskimo roll – Protect better from the cold– Ease of attaching lots of accessories, as well as those that already come with them thanks to large onboard space – Usually come with a strong kayak seat – Less stress on arms since movement is done by pedaling– Most are not suitable for fishing in the sea, however not to be too pessimistic there are some brands that were tested and said to be very comfortable and usable for fishing. These can be found in our inflatable kayaks section. Best inflatable kayak page here.

What Will You Be Using It For?

Your next question requires you to consider exactly where and what you will be using your kayak for.

- What are your goals for your yak?
- Will you be using it on an open ocean/sea or will you be using it on a placid lake, or will you be using it on rivers and rapids?
- Will the water be warm water, will it be cold water?
- Will you be launching through the surf?
- Are you going to be okay with storage space or will you need enough to camp out?

Think about your endgame, what exactly are you going to need and be honest with yourself - foresee the future. You don't want to buy a kayak you will be upgrading from a couple of months later. Once you start thinking about your needs and writing them down slowly, you'll start seeing that particular kayaks pertain more to you and your goals than others.

Long Vs Wide

Getting a Long Fast Fishing Kayak Vs  a Wide Stable Fishing Kayak is a big consideration. Usually, when you're looking for a kayak, a good rule of thumb is - the longer and thinner a kayak is the faster it will be and vice versa. This has to do with physics and the effect of cutting through the water at a lower surface area.


Conversely, The wider kayaks, though they are slower are much more stable which is what you should be looking for as a beginner.  

A lot of kayakers will find out that kayaks that seemed stable and fun to use become more mundane and slow for them after time but this is not due to the kayak itself it's because of a kayaker's improved abilities over time. Some people recommend finding a kayak then getting the next best model of what you thought you would need since as the kayaker gets better at stability, balance, and fishing, they'll want more from their kayak, and the old version may no longer cut it.

Sit On Top Or Sit In?

Most fishing kayaks are geared to the sit on top kayak since they allow you to hold much more accessories and are much easier for bringing in fish and moving around. However there is a drawback, and that is how wet it can get within the boat can often fill up with water. However, with a sit-in boat, your maneuverability is more limited since you can't completely reel fish in and bring them within your kayak also the sit in models are a bit less stable in comparison.

An alternative is a more closed sit on top kayak which essentially has some enclosure but is not fully enclosed, so you have the ability to store things within it without the issue of too much water getting in. However, we recommend a sit on top kayak for the purpose of fishing.

Other Considerations

Primary Vs Secondary Stability

I had a Big Game kayak that felt as if you were going to tip over every time you moved. However, you would need to drop out of it to actually tip it over.

The reason behind this is the hull's design. It was a small v-shape at the bottom. Also, it got up and spread-out extensively and smoothly just above the water line.

Due to the buoyancy of it, the slim design at the bottom made it feel unstable. Now if you filled it right up to its weight capacity it'd remain lower while in the water and feel much less shaky.

Storage and Transport

When you're ready to purchase a fishing kayak, you'll have many different options for storing it. Whether you want to put it in your garage or you have a shed out back to hold it, you need to take into consideration its size before you take it home. For transportation, there are a lot of different options available to you. There are kayak trailers that are specially built only to hold kayaks, and these provide an excellent means of loading your boat if you don't want to deal with the hassle of a roof rack. For More detailed guide an excellent resource:


However, if you rather be more economical, a roof rack would hold a kayak well. You would need to find your exact measurements and install it on top of your car.
There are also many options for making homemade kayak trailers with a simple base these can be as cheap as $400.

A kayak bike trailer, this allows you to load your kayak onto a mini bike trailer and drive it around short distances.

Getting To The Launch Point

Getting your kayak to the launch point from a close location can present many gear options as well. The most popular option is a kayak cart which allows you to transport your kayak on a vehicle like a dolly to your location.

Rigging Your Kayak For Fishing

The only difference between a kayak built for fishing and a kayak built for fishing are the rigging capabilities it has. Some fishing kayaks will come with nets at the front for holding items and fish, they will carry areas for your rod holders, for your tackle boxes and much more. Of course, if your a do it yourself person and want to save some money you can rig it yourself with a few power tools, and you can be on your way. For beginners, we recommend getting a kayak made for fishing, after all, custom work could cause holes and issues you would want to avoid.

Fishing Kayak Rod Holders

Some people tend to be obsessed with having as many rod holders as they can get on a kayak and go crazy turning a kayak into something that resembles a hoarder's attic. Avoid the urge to turn your fishing kayak into a monster! Two or three fishing rod holders are usually plenty, and if you want more, well there's nothing I can tell you, your addicted!

The choices of fishing rod holders depend on personal comfort,

1. Deck Mount Rod Holder
2. Flush Mount Rod Holder
3. Homemade Contraptions

An average fishing rod holder will have either a 4 inch round base or a two to a four-inch rectangular base.

deck-mount-vs-flush-mount for kayaks

Many of the fishing kayak models will come with these already mounted but if not make sure you have the tools handy to be up to the task. The location of the mounts is going to be the most important consideration here. You may have a general idea of where your fishing rod holder will go. Don't start making holes in a great kayak before you're sure what you want. You can make marks on your kayak with a pen and try to sit in the kayak and pretend you're casting and putting down the rod; this will help you determine what exactly feels comfortable for you.

Gear Holders/Organizers

You can go crazy trying to organize and sort your gear into the perfect sections, colors, and areas, you can get obsessive compulsive with this. With your kayak, there is a limit to how much you can take with you, and that's why its best to optimize to the essentials, selecting your perfect lures and favorite accessories to take out. Battle with your inner beast telling you to pack the bait holders with everything you own, use your favorite lures and the ones you have confidence in, and you can concentrate more on the fishing rather than the accessories.


The Seat is something that is overlooked by a lot of people, but after personally going through hundreds of kayak reviews I see a large pattern, the seat. The seat can make or break a kayak and is usually the most complained about accessory on a kayak. Make sure you're comfortable in your seat and if your stock seat feels more like a second-hand yoga-mat I highly recommend you go out and choose a more expensive and usable one, your butt will thank you after an hour or so.

Closing Words

Whichever yak you choose we are sure youll have a great time out there on the water. Kayak fishing is a incredible sport and is growing every year with more and more exiting innovations, keep checking our lists for exciting new developments and well continue to help you find the best fishing kayak out there!

The boat itself, nevertheless, weighs just 32 pounds and you can pack it in a storage hatch case for comfort. Because you don’t need to be worried about your fishing equipment being all around the place when you’re in the water, the cargo room increases the flexibility. Great spacing for a water bottle. This design has a self-bailing drain device that might end up being useful on the sea or when in white-water streams. Pace and monitoring are covered from the set of shaped skegs, that'll ensure that the canoe slides easily over the water. If your looking to stay on the cheap side and like the portability of inflatables you can see our full list of inflatable kayaks here.


Our Top Pick Again
Brooklyn Kayak UH-220
The BKC 220 offers the best overall fishing features with solid design, integrated extra storage, light weight, and extra comfort.


The Best Pedal Kayaks On Sale In 2020 – Pedal Kayak Reviews

Your Guide:
Andy Bell

What if we told you we could help you find the best pedal kayak for your specific budget? Don't get a kayak that you'll leave in storage for years! For our guide we dedicated many hours(over 50) comparing 20 different kayaks and choosing our winners for this year. 

Based on our analysis our top pick for this year was the BKC UH PK13, with its affordability, depth of pedal strength and features we couldn't resist!

Quick Summary: Top 10 - Best Pedal Kayaks This Year

Our seasoned editors have picked and rated these products for each specific category and area of expertise to recommend you the best models and products we can. We receive commission from some of these affiliate links.

Best Overall: 1. BKC UH-PK13 Pedal Drive Kayak
"A exceptional pricetag and a great length with pedal drive"

Runner up: 2. Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak
"Last years number one, more expensive but unbeatable pedal drive"

Best Compact: 3. Native Watercraft Slayer 10 Propel Kayak​
"Smaller but still feature rich with incredible pedal drive and storage"

Best Comfort: 4. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
"Best seat in the market and compact sturdy design"

Best Budget: 5. Perception Pescador Pilot 12
"A great price with extended bungees and storage"

Best 13 Foot For Fishing: 6. Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13
"Unbeatable storage with incredible space and additions"

Best 13 Foot: 7. Hobie Mirage Revolution 13
"A perfect size while maintaining everything you need with pedal drive"

Best Overall For Fishing: 8. Old Town Topwater 106 PDL Angler
"A compact 10 foot six size & everything you need with a great pedal drive"

Best Fishing Storage: 9. Wilderness Systems Radar 115
"Optimized storage and comfort for fishing at an unbeatable price."

Best Mixed Use: 10. Ocean Kayak Malibu Pedal
"Great for casual pedalers and those looking to just start fishing"

Top 3 Quick Comparison






Best Overall

BKC UH-PK13 Kayak

13 Foot

BKC Drive

Runner Up

Hobie Mirage Outback

12 Foot

Mirage Pedal Drive

Best Smallest

Native Watercraft Slayer 10 Propel Kayak blue lagoon 2016

10 Foot

Propel Drive

Our Reviews

Best Overall

The BKC UH-PK13 is the best choice if you love long outings and are a angler or just enjoy pedal kayaks and are looking for the best kayaking experience.

Quick Specs

  • Length: 13 Foot
  • Drive: BKC
  • Rod Holders: 3
BKC UH-PK13 Kayak

Our most prolific and most recommended best pick this year, is a kayak made by the renowned kayak company BKC. This is a great seaworthy pedal kayak, which provides stability and speed easily. With its dual rod holder, awesome tackle storage and interesting colors like blue camo, grey camo, blue, grey, yellow and red, this ones sure to make you feel proud. Be it for fishing or exploring the waters, the BKC pedal drive option and the lightweight hull will make it through without challenge.

This kayak also comes with a paddle and the seat is incredibly durable. They have truly outdone themselves with this mode, you wont have to worry about tipping over since the stability is perfect and the storage space is massive with a front tank well and back bungees. Lighter than most models in its size range and easy to carry and put on a roof.

Be it for fishing or exploring the waters, the BKC pedal drive option and the lightweight hull will make it through without challenge. This kayak also comes with a paddle and the seat is incredibly durable. They have truly outdone themselves with this mode, you wont have to worry about tipping over since the stability is perfect and the storage space is massive with a front tank well and back bungees. Lighter than most models in its size range and easy to carry and put on a roof.

Runner Up

One of the best kayaks and best rated versions of the Hobie Pedal series.

Quick Specs

  • Length: 12 Foot
  • Drive: Mirage Pedal Drive
  • Rod Holders: 4

The Hobie Mirage outback is consistently seen as one of the best pedal kayaks out there and makes our list every year. This year is no exception the Hobie outback comes with its Mirage Drive system. The Mirage Drive system is heralded as one of the fastest paddling systems with the only negative being the inability to reverse. The kayak comes with a Vantage CT seat which is extremely comfortable and durable.

Hobie are known as the pioneers of pedal kayaks in the market and with the outback they show they known what their doing. The Mirage Outback Crew comes with 81 lbs fitted hull, 3 way connector for Lowrance Ready, and Thru Hull wire plugs.

The standard features include large bow hatch, which is covered, a two – piece paddle with on – hull storage and mesh covered stowage pockets. What’s more, the Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak It weighs 99 pounds, offers a carrying capacity of 400 lbs and is 12’ 1” in length, 33” in width and 15” in height.

The Hobie is a great choice for almost any type of water from freshwater, ocean, and inshore waters. The kayak has great turning and the rudder system is very slick and designed to be easy to use. Hobie has truly knocked this model out of the park.

Also Good

The perfect choice for any occasion, this kayak boasts of great stability and features to provide you with a stress free experience.

Quick Specs

  • Length: 10 Foot
  • Drive: Propel Drive
  • Rod Holders: 3

The Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 is one of the most durable pedal kayaks out there today. It's a plus for any fishermen out there or person that just enjoys pedal kayaking. It comes with native watercraft propel drive system which has one of the best quality pedal systems out there today and allows you to go both forwards and backwards.

The impact resistant rudder is great for a durable option which leaves you unafraid of it hitting things like rocks in shallow water. There is also ample storage space. The propel is 13'2" with a weight of 85 pounds and a capacity of over 400 pounds. The seed is a custom durable seat from native watercraft. The kayak is extremely stable and offers a very dry ride when fishing. If you want a great fishing kayak for the money look no further.

Also Good

The largest kayak from Hobie and a great comprehensive choice.

Quick Specs

  • Length: 12 Foot
  • Drive: Propel Drive
  • Rod Holders: 4

The Hobie Mirage pro angler is another offering from Hobie kayaks that is utterly exceptional in every way. Make no mistake that this is the Cadillac of premium fishing kayaks. Though the price tag matches its quality do not be afraid. The kayak comes with its patented Mirage Drive and glide technology pedal drive system. It also offers the Vantage seating system which makes it feel as if you're on your couch at home kayaking.

The storage area is very per slice Lee built to allow you to incorporate for rods, different vertical storages for 2 rods, and an area for easy access to tackle.

The added features that it has that is in on most other kayaks is the atrial mounting system this allows you to increase the kayak's versatility and have a more streamlined experience. There is also a tracing keel for improved tracking. Finally it is built and ready for fishfinder installation. The pro angler has a carrying capacity of over 600 pounds. If you're looking for a fishing pedal kayak you would be hard-pressed to do any better than the pro angler 14.

Also Good

Another great choice from pescador

Quick Specs

  • Length: 10 Foot
  • Drive: Propel Drive
  • Rod Holders: 3

The perception kayak pescador pilot is one of the best bang for your buck that you can get for a pedal kayak on the entire market. The price tag is slightly cheaper than the other models listed the make no mistake it comes with the same amount of features and a renowned quality.

The pedal drive system is comparable to the native watercraft system and allows you to reverse. The pilot comes with ample storage and different features and bungee's and Rod holders to make your fishing experience truly great. The kayak has a length of 12'5" and weighs 85 pounds.

Also Good

A larger great choice from Native Watercraft for the 13 foot model

Quick Specs

  • Length: 13 Foot
  • Drive: Propel Drive
  • Rod Holders: 3

The Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 is on of the best pedal kayaks in the 13 foot category. Make no mistake this kayak is large and not for a smaller frame, it contains a large amount of extra space for different dry storages and additional space made especially for storage of fishing goods and accessories.

Also Good

Another great choice from Hobie

Quick Specs

  • Length: 10 Foot
  • Drive: Propel Drive
  • Rod Holders: 3

The Hobie Mirage revolution is a phenomenal choice for a fishing trip. With the quality that comes with the Hobie kayak the revolution mixes in comfortable seating and extreme convenience. The Mirage is a little smaller than the other models listed here at 11'6" however it's light weight hall takes your peddling energy and rewards it with increased acceleration and increased maneuverability.

The kayak comes with below deck storage and a wide array of deck features and leasing options including an optional kayak sail kit. The revolution may be the smallest kayak we've mentioned today however for its size it's definitely one of the most feature-rich.

Riggers Paradise

If your looking for a kayak built with every fishing consideration, this is the one for you.

Quick Specs

  • Length: 10 Foot 6 Inches
  • Drive: Removable Oldtown Pedal Drive
  • Rod Holders: 4+ rods with two rod holders and horizontal rod storage

Expressly designed for the purpose of professional fishing with absolutely nothing left to chance, this tank has been created by some of the best fishing names in the industry. 

This kayak is extremely compact and lightweight but don't let that fool you it comes with an amazing hands free stand up platform packed to the brim with storage, bungees, compartments and features.

The pedal drive is specific to the Old Town Line and has a great reverse motion that lets you get the biggest in precision while still fishing. The drive is actually removable so it can be installed and good to go in seconds as well it can be easily taken apart for shallow water docking.

Features include a great over-sized tank well, as well as rod and tackle storage for gear.

The seat is second to none including padded foam and adjustable comfort to keep your back moving and avoid spinal injuries.

Professional Fishing At a Great Price

One of the best selling tri-powered kayaks from Wilderness Systems, with pedal and power capabilities

Quick Specs

  • Length: 11 Foot 6 Inches
  • Drive: Helix MD Motor Drive (Sold Separately)
  • Rod Holders: 4

The Wilderness Systems Radar has always been known as one of the leaders in fishing kayaks. The kayak comes with a specialized smart hull technology that combines stability and portability throughout the hull to minimize weight and overload while still having the perfect placement and gear areas to maximize your storage.

The Radar allows perfect movement and standing abilities with its expertly weighted hull and includes different rails to position your pedaling in a way that makes the experience perfect for you.

The kayak includes multiple electronics options that will allow you to include down imaging or side scanning with your fish finder.

The seat is one of the more comfortable seats in the market it is the Phase 3 Airpro which is fully adjustable with mesh fabric to allow you to get the maximum in airflow while maintaining expert comfort.

This is only a sample of some of the great features this beast contains, if your looking to stand up fish with all the accessories you can get your hands on and still save a buck this ones for oyu.

Ocean Kayaks Answer to Pedal Kayaking

Commendable performance with clean design meant for the casual weekend fisher

Quick Specs

  • Length: 12 Foot
  • Drive: Malibu Pedal Drive
  • Rod Holders: 4

The Ocean Kayak Malibu is a good kayak that provides you with the basics when it comes to fishing. Alot of the storage is open though there is a stern tank well under the seat.

With this kayak they have opted more to give comfort rather than express fishing capabilities as we can see with the three cup holders, though make no mistake there are a ton of storage options including accessory  tracks and bungees for storage in both the front and back.

The seat is incredibly comfortable with adjustments all around the the pedal system is a PDL drive system that allows fast cruising while also allowing you to uplift the system when attempting to dock.

How do I Choose?

Since pedal kayaks are a fairly new technological inovation alot of people are lost as to how to choose the correct model. Here we compile a list of factors and things to go through to help you choose.

Push Pedals VS Rotational Pedals

Push pedals are easy to use, the motion is simple, by just pushing the pedals in you get propulsion. However, pushing pedals for a long time can result in adverse health effects on your back just like regular kayaks since you are not fully extending the legs. Some of the most common side effects of pushing forward pedals include leg and foot cramps, muscle injuries, back pain and early fatigue especially in the joints of your legs and feet. For the rotational pedals, the legs and feet move fully resembling walking thus resulting in less stress on your legs, feet and joints.

Considering the fact that these two systems are human driven, they are supposed to lose the least energy possible during exertion. An average person can only provide around 0.25 horsepower in an unsustainable manner.

pedal kayaking

For the rotational pedals, the user is able to engage uninterrupted motion; meaning that the generated energy is not lost rather it is preserved. In rotational drive pedals, the pedals are an efficient means of the body transmitting power to the propeller with minimal energy loss. Lets now consider that with push pedal driven kayaks, most of the body's generated energy is lost; meaning that the driver losses a lot of energy especially while trying to accelerate. Continuous loss of energy with every pedal usually results in early fatigue and a less efficient system.

Overall the difference between the two is pronounced. A rotational pedal driven kayaks motion mechanism involves a rotational propeller that is continuous and thus wastes little body energy, while the push pedal kayak combines push pedals with two side moving flaps thus making it the least mechanically efficient. There are many experts that have argued that the push pedals system is as efficient as the rotational pedals however comparing the two mechanically, rotational pedal driven kayaks are more efficient.

Hull Size and Shape

pedal stability

A very important factor when it comes to stability for pedal kayaks is the hull size.

Most kayak fishers that are beginners and starting to pick up the sport may be uncertain on the water. its common that they don't understand that a kayak that DOES NOT have a wide flat bottom and you can use to lean side to side could actually be a large advantage and INCREASE the kayaks stability in rough waters not decrease it. We recommend you choose hull size dependant on the type of waters you will be using the kayak for.

A flat, round shape of the hull often used in agile kayaks for small rivers makes the kayak more maneuverable though provides less tracking.

Brand Rankings

When it comes to pedal kayaks there are a few name brands that stick out. Over the years we have seen that the kayak market is getting flooded with more and more brand names though the pedal kayak market continues to stay somewhat unsaturated. Some brand makers have perfected the system while some continue to strive to achieve the best pedalling experience.

The Two brands that continue to stick out above the others are:

Hobie Kayak- Mirage Brand

Hobie kayaks have been making high quality products for years and that brand reputation has carried on to their pedal kayak offerings. Known as some of the most reliable pedal kayaks Their offerings include many different versions which are updated on a somewhat regular basis to include the latest in technology. Their main differentiation is the mirage drive technology they have implemented to improve pedalling performance. This works in a push manner where your feet push pedals inwards and the mechanism moves flippers that cross over each other displacing water and propelling the kayak.

mirage drive

Pros - Can manuever well in shallow water with the pedal system.
         - The fins can be folded up against the hull when launching or within shallow water.

Cons - Will not track very well because it does not have a rudder.
          - Back and forth motion can be hard on the knees and patela area.
          - No reverse function.

Native Watercraft- Propel Brand

The Propel brand has been around for about the same time as the Mirage brand, it sits about on par with the Hobie kayaks though the Hobie kayaks are larger in the number of different models they offer. The propel Has the propel pedal drive system which uses a propeller to push the kayak forward. A great extra feature is that you can also go backwards in the kayak!

propel drive

Pros - Tracks well within any configuration.
         - Can be used to pedal in reverse.
         - The drive unit installed can be easily flipped out of the water while your in the                                    boat and you can then continue on with a paddle. The point above makes                                          launching the kayak easy. 

Cons - Needs about a foot of clearance to not hit the bottom of body of water.

Other factors to consider


There are primary and secondary forms of stability. Looking at the secondary point of stability it refers to which angle the boat will capsize at. With regards to this, v shapes can be the best for tracking and a good secondary point of stability however they are bad for the first point of stability. The best for primary stability can be the flat hull however they have bad marks for secondary stability which means the kayak will turn quicker but wont track well on a straight path and capsize in rough waters.

The increase in Primary stability from flat hulls can be great for very calm waters and be comfortable for beginners however when the waters shift to being rough this same primary stability can cause kayaks to capsize and tip over. For rough waters you would want to choose a stronger secondary stability.

"Primary and secondary stability:

Primary (sometimes called initial) stability describes how much a boat tips, or rocks back and forth when displaced from level by water movement or paddler weight shifts.

Secondary (final) stability describes how readily a boat capsizes. Primary stability is often a big concern to a beginner, while secondary stability matters more to experienced travelers who may frequent rougher waters. Primary stability increases as the boat's volume moves away from the centerline. For example, catamarans offer high primary stability and little secondary stability, given that their volume is on either edge of the boat." kayaking

Having a pedal kayak eliminates the added stability benefit of a paddle. The pedal positioning also makes a user take up less surface area for their weight and cause the slightest movement to shift weight to a portion of the kayak whereas for the paddle kayak when your feet are spread out your weight is spread throughout the kayak.


This debate have gone on for a long time. The consensus that you find is a large dependency on the actual driver. Whether the driver has a stronger upper body or lower body can have a huge differences. There are cases of paddlers leaving pedalers in the dust and vice versa. Looking at it mechanically and from a design perspective considering the fact that pedal kayaks are less stable in the water and the fact that they must be wider to enhance stability, they are likely to be slower.


They also feature rudders for steering purposes; these rudders increase their friction within the water thus decreasing the kayak’s speed by an average of 10%. Also the added width makes them heavier, making them slower in the water. The above reasons make them put a lot more pressure on the user resulting in earlier fatigue. These kayaks are usually used for recreational purposes such as fishing and touring and not racing.

Through a survey of users the average speed of the Hobie Outback was found to be about 3.5 mph with about 6-8 mph top speed between 15-20 minutes.

As a comparison the Trident Prowler 13 which is a paddling kayak is reported to maintain a average speed of 4 mph

As a comparison a Mirage Adventure with a sail kit can achieve consistent speeds of about 15-20 mph with a wind rudder and sail kit

Longer kayaks make it much easier to get from point a to point b because of their longer hulls, usually a rule of thumb is the wider the hull of a kayak the slower the kayak will be. Alot of other factors can influence your kayaks speed including the hulls materials, fiberglass and kevlar and thermoformed plastic are better and make your kayak faster.

Tracking and Turning

In this section, we shall address how a pedal kayak is different from a paddle kayak in terms of tracking and turning. Considering the directional control of these two kayaks, the pedal driven kayak feels a little more unstable than the paddle driven one. It is for this reason the pedal kayaks hull must be built a bit wider to enhance stability while on the water. You will commonly see pedal kayaks being slightly wider and a bit bulkier. This is to try to make up for the stability issue. Although the pedal kayak is being propelled by one of your strongest body parts, your legs, the ability to steer is always more limited than the paddle driven kayak. A paddle gives the user ample ability to effectively control tracking and turning while propelling the kayak. Although pedal driven kayaks are equipped with a hand activated rudder steer stick, its operation in terms of tracking and turning is far less useful than in a paddle kayak.When comparing paddle kayaks to pedal kayaks, the paddles facilitate quicker and more efficient turning than the pedals. For instance, people using a pedal driven kayak usually cling to the sides of the kayak to keep it balanced unlike those in the paddle driven kayak who keep it balanced using their paddles on each side.

What makes the steering difficult on the pedal kayak compared to a paddle kayak is debatable, a rudder can only be so large at the bottom of the kayak and you can only dedicate so much effort to adjusting it. Also the effect of a paddle on the far side of a kayak is more pronounced in turning then in the centre bottom of the boat. 

pedal kayak

With a paddle you can make sharp turns whereas with a pedal kayak and a rudder you may have to do some adjustments similar to what you would see on a boat. Not quite like the titanic trying to avoid an iceberg but the difference is pronounced!

The pedal kayaks steering rudders are controlled by your hand through a lever usually located in the cockpit of the kayak. A well know statistic is that rudders embedded on these pedal kayaks cut down the kayak’s speed by an average of 10% thus making it harder for the user to get to the top speed they desire. Last but not least, while using the pedal kayak on shallow waters or in reedy waters, the rudders are likely to get stuck in mud and obstacles or rake themselves on the reeds bringing you to a halt.


Getting a pedal driven kayak in the water can be hectic especially if you don’t have the man power to assist you. Their wide hull makes them heavier than the paddle kayaks.

Besides their wider hull, they are also equipped with steering rudders as well as a pedal drive attachment which adds up to its heavy weight. 

pedal kayak transport

On top of that the rudder provides another protruding object that could cause problems if it were to get hooked on something. Their transport to and from your location to the beach can only be done by a big vehicle and not a simple roof rack on a small car. Upon reaching the beach, you may also need assistance to get it into the water.

Launching and Beaching

Launching and beaching for the pedal kayak is just like it is for any other kayak. It can be smoothly driven into the water. However, it is advisable for the user to carry a secondary propeller such as paddle in case the pedal system fails.

Use in Shallow Waters and Vegetation Rich Areas

Kayaks have the ability to take you anywhere you want to go but for pedal kayaks, visiting some areas especially shallow water areas and areas with sea weeds can be problematic. The reason behind this limitation is that shallow waters make the propellers prone to obstruction from mud and obstacles underneath the water. Upon reaching shallow waters, you are advised to use a paddle rather than the pedal so as to ascertain that the underneath mechanisms are not destroyed or clogged. This makes them unusable for fishing in shallow waters and vegetation rich areas.

 pedal kayak on reefs


Pedal kayaks are not meant for white-water or fast running water navigation. They have minimal free-board which makes them easily filled with water from running water streams. Further, pedal driven kayaks’ are almost impossible to navigate in moving water since the re-positioned driver’s feet from the foot of the hull obstructs the ability to adequately balance and control the boat.

Fishing Considerations

It’s often argued that pedal kayaks are the best when it comes to fishing since they only utilise your legs for motion which keeps your hands free to fish! This also allows the user to pedal and fish at the same time. Although both hands are free, at times you might find yourself with just one hand free and the other holding onto the kayak’s deck or leaning on it to keep balance. However, fishing with a Pedal Kayak is a little more fun than using the paddle kayak since you can move along while fishing in comfort unlike with the paddle kayak.

fishing pedal kayak

The only limitation of the Pedal Kayak is that is doesn’t have the reverse capability thus going backwards can be a bit of a hassle. This issue is solved if you choose a rotational pedal kayak.

Standing Up While Fishing

Standing up and fishing while in a pedal kayak can be achieved when you are sure that nothing will destabilize you. It is always advisable to remain seated while fishing however many kayaks advertise themselves as being great for stand up fishing. Although it’s argued that the Pedal Kayak is large enough to ensure stability even when standing, anything can cause you to lose balance and end up falling in the water.

standup kayak fish

Closing Words

We have discussed various attributes that make people choose a particular kayak. No matter what the reason of preferring a particular kayak, energy used to drive them should be considered. Our bodies are all we have and inflicting unnecessary stress on them can add up in the long run. Some kayaks can be more ergonomical and efficient than others and keep you from getting tired. With regards to the speed factor, it is debatable whether pedal kayaks are faster or slower than paddle kayaks but this can greatly depend on the users personal strengths and weaknesses, if you have chicken legs you may want to spring for the paddle kayak. There are many factors to consider when choosing your perfect pedal kayak, the best advice is always choose one that feels right for you and comfortable regardless of what someone tells you is the best or worst model.

BKC UH-PK13 Kayak

Our Pick Again
BKC UH-PK13 Pedal Drive Kayak
The BKC UH-PK13 is the best choice if you love long outings and are a angler or just enjoy pedal kayaks and are looking for the best kayaking experience.


The Best Kayak Fish Finder On Sale – Reviews, Tips, Ratings

Your Guide:
Andy Bell

After combing through countless kayak fish finder models including some red flag bad options and dedicating over 30 hours of research we have come up with a guide to only the best fish finders around for kayaks. In this guide well go through everything you know when choosing one that's right for you.

Based on our analysis our top pick for this year was the Garmin Striker 4, with its affordability, depth of 487m and features we couldn't resist!

Quick Summary: Top 10 - Best Kayak Fish Finders This Year

Our seasoned editors have picked and rated these products for each specific category and area of expertise to recommend you the best models and products we can. We receive commission from some of these affiliate links.

Best Overall: 1. Garmin Striker 4
"487m depth in freshwater and a 228m depth in shallow water, great features"

Runnerup: 2. Lowrance Hook 4x
"Great screen and design with clean interface make this one of our favorites"

Also Good: 3. Humminbird PirhnhaMax 197c
"The most precise fish finder with a great frequency and a depth of 600ft"

Also Good: 4. Raymarine Axiom 7
"Wifi enabled and with a great touchscreen the Chirp sonar is second to none"

Best Depth: 5. Garmin Echo 551DV Fish Finder
"Depth of 2300ft and a clean screen make it one of the best"

Best Screen: 6. Humminbird 859ci HD Fish Finder
"7 Inch screen and clean depth, the larger fish finder here"

Best Downscan: 7. Lowrance Elite-5x HDI Fish Finder
"Comes with a great downscan and broadban sounder, clean great technologies"

Also Good: 8. LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder
"Clean and large design with chirp sonar and 91m depth"

Best Basic: 9. Garmin Echo 100
"8 Leven grascole FSTN screen and a 183m depth at a great cheap price"

Best Mobile: 10. NorCross HawkEye F33P
"Small and portable our niche pick"

Top 3 Quick Comparison






Best Overall

487 m

3.5 inch 480x320

305 m

4.3 inch 480x272

183 m

3.5 inch 320x240

Our Reviews

Best Overall

The Garmin Striker 4 is an affordable, excellent, sonar unit for your kayak. It’s relatively new and has some of the best features we have seen. 

Quick Specs

  • Shallow Depth: 487 M
  • Screen: TF 16 Bit
  • Backlight: No

One of the best kayak fish finders in the list is the Garmin Striker 4. Although it is new in the market, it provides exciting features like allowing you to fish in both shallow and deep water. The depth is 487m in freshwater and 228m in shallow water.

This kayak GPS comes with not only a high precision internal GPS, but also excellent sensors. This device from Garmin has a Fish Symbol ID, which makes it easier for you to identify fish. The Garmin also provides you with depth of target. What’s more, there’s an option of auto gain, which will filter out any unwanted noise, and help you scan at higher speed.

Garmin’s Striker range is relatively new, being introduced by Garmin in 2016, and the Striker 4 is the base model. It is also the most affordable one, and it makes it one of the cheapest CHIRP sonar units you’ll find on the market, while still coming from a reputable manufacturer.

It has a 3.5” screen with a resolution of 480x320px.

 There’s a dual frequency CHIRP sonar feature, as mentioned earlier, which is limited to mid and high CHIRP. The transducer covers both 200 kHz with 15 degrees, as well as 77 kHz with 45 degrees. This gives you enough flexibility to be able to fish in both shallow waters, as well as deep ones. As far as depth goes, you can go for as much as 487m in freshwater, or 228m in saltwater.

 It is worth mentioning that the Striker 4 comes with a high-precision internal GPS. Garmin are pioneers in the navigation game, and the Striker 4 lives up to the expectations.

The Striker 4 has a few perks, such as the Fish Symbol ID. This is a function that analyzes the return results of the sonar, and displays fish icons for any returns that the sensor will interpret as fish. It also gives you the depth of each fish target. There is auto gain, to automatically filter any unwanted noise, and ultrascroll which lets you scan at higher boat speeds. You’ll still notice quality loss at speeds of over 40 miles per hour, but it is unlikely that you’ll be traveling at those speeds in a kayak.

The whole unit is IPX7 waterproof, so you should be safe with splashes of water, or even rain, and the backlit display gives you excellent readability, even under bright sunlight, which is something you will come to appreciate.


  • Detailed representations of objects, structure and fish
  • The device is easy to use and easy to install
  • CHIRP sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation


  • Small Display


The Lowrance Hook 4x is an excellent pick with great features for a fish finder. Its great screen and design, set Lowrance Hook 4x as our runner up.

Quick Specs

  • Viewing angle: 85 degrees
  • Screen: 4.3" TFT
  • Waterproof: IPX7

The list of best kayak fish finders is incomplete without the Lowrance Hook 4x. Introduced in late 2016, this is yet another masterpiece from Lowrance, which provides you with basic, yet the most essential features of a fish finder.

This comes with a 4.3” 16 bit color TFT screen along with 11 level back-light, which allows you to see even in bright sunlight. The display is also IPX7 waterproofed, meaning, you don’t need to worry about accidental fresh water exposure. Additionally, with the help of DownScan Overlay, you not only have target separation but also great imaging.

Also a relatively new addition to the market, the HOOK series by Lowrance was introduced in the beginning of 2016. The entire series was designed to provide the basic and most necessary features of a fish finder, and they manage to do so. They’re fairly similar to the Elite series as well. The HOOK-4x is in the lower half of the series, and is a fish finder without any navigation.

The HOOK-4x comes with a 4.3” screen which has a resolution of 480 x 272 px. The 16-bit color TFT and 11-level backlight make sure that you can clearly distinguish everything on the display even in bright sunlight. As far as the sonar goes, this fish finder has a broadband CHIRP and DownScan. With the CHIRP sonar, you can go as far as 305m deep, and DownScan gives you 91m. Frequencies range from 83 kHz to 800 kHz, depending on whether you’re using CHIRP or DownScan, and depending on which cone angle you go for (they range from 20 degrees to 60 degrees).

The display is IPX7 waterproof, meaning it can withstand minor accidental water exposure, but there isn’t any guarantee, especially in saltwater. You might want to opt for a cover if necessary to keep water out, just to be on the safe side.

There are a few perks you get with the fish finder, such as DownScan Overlay, which combines the 2D CHIRP with DownScan to get you both the target separation and the great imaging. This gives you a very clear image of what’s below. There is also Advanced Signal Processing, which deals with noise rejection, and TrackBack, which lets you review the sonar feed.

When you combine everything, and add the price to the mix, you get a lot of bang for your buck. The HOOK-4x is a great all-round, entry-level fish finder.


  • Multi-window display
  • CHIRP Sonar performance
  • Advanced signal processing (asp)


  • Bad brightness in daylight

Crowd Favorite

The Hummingbird PirahnaMax is the most precise kayak fish finder that comes at an inexpensive price, deserving of the respectable 3rd position.

Quick Specs

  • Sonar Frequencies: 200/455 kHz
  • Screen: 3.5" 
  • Depth sonar: 600ft

The Humminbird PirahnaMax 197c owes its success to the precision sonar it contains. With its 5.5”x4” display and 256 hues of color, you are bound to have a detailed picture of any fish taking bait. You have a peak output of 1600 watts, making it precise.

In addition to these features, the Humminbird PirahnaMax 197c also boasts a narrow beam with a 16 degree cone and a wider beam with a 28 degree cone. The narrow beam focuses on sharp details, while the wider one allows you to see more objects. You also have a fish ID, which distinguishes fish in the water, and marks them for your ease of fishing. All in all, this is a great grab for a stellar price.

The Humminbird PirahnaMax 197c is an excellent fish finder, mostly thanks to its precision sonar. Even though many of the models in the PirahnaMax series have been discontinued, the 197c DI is one of the improved models that are still up for grabs. It is a basic fish finder with Down Imaging technology, but it offers no navigation features, which might be its biggest downside.

The environment beneath your kayak will be as clear as day using this compact device. It is around 5.5”x4”, and it comes with a 320 x 240px 3.5” backlit display. There are 256 color hues, which enable you to get a very detailed picture on where the fish are biting. In addition, a gimbal mount makes the device much easier to operate due to the rotation and tilting options. You get a peak output of 1,600 watts, which is plenty.

There is a narrow beam, with a 16-degree cone, which has a 455 kHz frequency, and a wider one, with a 28 degree cone and a frequency of 200 kHz. The narrow beam is primarily made for sharp details of items that are beneath the boat, and the wider one lets you see more objects, albeit at a lower detail level. You can even use Down Imaging, which has a 74-degree beam and 455 kHz. There’s also a fish ID feature that distinguishes the fish in the water and marks them as such.

To sum things up, you get Down Imaging and a 256-color TFT screen, as well as all the other necessary bells and whistles of a basic fish finder, all for less than $200. This is tough to beat, and for anyone looking for a fairly basic tool, you should by all means go for it.


  • Down Imaging and Dual Beam Sonar
  • Visible in daylight
  • Transducer included with mounting hardware


  • Sensitive display, prone to scratches

Also Great

The Raymarine Axiom 7 is a great kayak fish finder with a state of the art GPS and the fish finder with the biggest display in our list.

Quick Specs

  • Wi-Fi Enabled
  • Screen: 7" Touchscreen 
  • Quantum Radar, Chirp sonar

With each of these kayak fish finders, you will find a unique feature which makes it special. For the Raymarine Axion 7, it is its functionality outside of the fishing aspect. With Bluetooth and built-in wireless, this unit is set to make your fishing experience unique.

Moreover, you can transfer all this data to a different device, through the built in SD card storage. This also comes with an integrated Wi – Fi, helping you to stay in touch with the fish even when you are looking at your smartphone. When all is said and done, the Axiom 7 gives you a lot of functionality, and all of the built-in features are well made, with no skimping on features anywhere.

Raymarine is a fairly reputable brand as far as fish finders go. The Dragonfly 4 Pro started garnering attention as soon as it was introduced, and it has even gathered a award or two. Improvements over the previous model include buttons that are more clearly marked in comparison, a simpler 4-way direction button, vastly improved attachment mechanism, as well as a ball-and-socket design, which lets you rotate and swivel the entire unit as much as you want.

The 4.3” LCD display gives you 480 x 272px to work with, and the built-in optical bonding gives much brighter colors and better contrasts to the images, which greatly improves overall visibility, especially outdoors. It also means that you can view the image at various angles, which was something you could only find on models that were significantly more expensive some time ago.

You get a 50/200 kHz and 83/200 kHz dual channel CHIRP sonar, and you can use it in depths of up to 183m. The sonar is amazing, and you get an image with easy-to-read numerals that let you know details such as vessel speed and object depth, which can be quite helpful in certain situations.

The included GPS functionality is worth noting - it boasts a 50-channel GPS/chartplotter. You can plot up to 10,000 track points, 3,000 waypoints and up to 150 routes. You can even transfer them to another device using the built in SD card slot.  One more thing you won’t find on a lot of products is the integrated Wi-Fi. You can use it to connect to an app on a smartphone or a tablet, thus enabling any other anglers on board to take a look at the action in real time, without having to struggle to see the same display.

When all is said and done, the Dragonfly 4 Pro gives you a lot of functionality, and all of the built-in features are well made, with no skimping on features anywhere.


  • Fast 10 Hz 72 Channel GPS/GLONASS Receiver
  • Big display with multi-touch interface
  • includes surface and trunnion mounting kits, mounting hardware, power/data cable


  • Weak GPS Antenna

Also Great

This is one of the newer additions to Garmin’s lineup of fish finders, and is one of the best, if not the best fish finder you can get in the price range. You get incredible sonar, along with a large, clear display. The 500 watts of power give you 700m of depth. You will appreciate the fact that it is a part of the Echo series, which are known among anglers to have incredible accuracy.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5 inch
  • Display resolution: 480 x 640 (VGA)
  • Depth: 2300ft / 701m

There’s a dual beam transducer, which uses the 77/200 kHz frequency, as well as the 50/200 kHz one. The DownVu capabilities give you an overview of the entire structure, as well as the fish underneath the boat, with near-photographic quality. This is something that none of the competitors offer, at least not at this level of quality. Even though at this point it might seem to you as a marketing gimmick, once you get used to it, you will see that it is difficult to go back to something of lower quality.

You have a 5” display, which is best suited for larger kayaks, and you can do things such as zoom in and out, there’s both vertical and horizontal viewing, and there’s even a split screen mode, which lets you look at both the down image and the broadband sonar, side by side. The resolution is 480x640px, which is plenty for a device of this caliber.

Extra features include IPX7 rating, enough to keep you safe from splashes and rain drops, Ultrascroll for moving at higher speeds, Fish Symbol ID etc. You can also rewind the sonar, to look better at some specific details. All in all, it’s a pretty complete package for a fairly compelling price.


  • Tilt/swivel quick-release mount
  •  Includes sonar history rewind
  • Easy installation


  • Short Cables

Also Great

This behemoth of a device comes with a 7-inch display, which is backlit and gives you crystal clear images. The size is enough for you to be able to notice anything you’d want to, and the colors and backlight make sure that the display stays fully visible even in direct sunlight. 

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 7 inch
  • Display resolution: 480 X 800px
  • Depth: 183m

It is truly one of the brightest and biggest screens available. The resolution is 480x800px, which is plenty for this use, and it offers great detail on whatever is beneath the surface.

There’s a 183m depth capacity when in broadband mode, and 76m in down imaging mode. There’s a DualBeam PLUS feature, which gives you the choice between a 20 degree angle, for finding fish that might be hiding lower down, and a 60 degree beam for a wider view. You can have both views side by side, and even blend them together, in order to get a complete picture of whatever is below.

The angler will see a photo of exactly what’s underneath the boat, thanks to the Down Imaging technology, and the 2D sonar lets you locate and target fish with ease. This combination lets you leave out any guesswork when you want to catch fish.

You do get quite a few additional features. More notable are the Ethernet networking, which does require an adapter cable, as well as the three preset buttons that you can program for convenience. There are two card slots, which you can use to save maps and waypoints, and there’s a 10 Hz refresh rate with the GPS. What’s best about the Humminbird 859ci HD is that there are plenty of ways to expand it and upgrade it, and it makes sure your fishing experience is more enjoyable, and easier.

Even though far from the cheapest on this list, the price of the Humminbird 859ci is fairly decent when you factor in everything that offers. If you can afford a higher quality fish finder, and you could do with the added functionalities, by all means go for it.


  • New Higher Speed Processor
  • Down Imaging and Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
  • Optional Ethernet Networking


  • Pricey

Also Great

The Lowrance brand doesn’t need an introduction. If you’ve ever used them before, you will be familiar with how good the DownScan imaging system works, and even how good the Broadband Sounder is. Both are incredible technologies by themselves, but HDI, which stands for Hybrid Dual Imaging, is a combination of both.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5" color LCD
  • CHIRP Sonar
  • Depth: 305m

There’s a power rating of 250W, and you can see as far as 305m, albeit at 50 kHz. Since most of the fish can be found much shallower than that, the Elite-5x HDI could even be overkill, which makes it the ideal solution for everything.


There is a 5”, 256-color, 480x480px TFT display with fluorescent cold cathode backlighting. The display is excellent, and everything is clear and you can see everything perfectly.

The Hybrid Dual Imaging series all have the combination of a traditional SONAR, and DownScan. Since DownScan is much better and much more precise as far as structures go, and SONAR is much better in terms of spotting individual fish, the combination is more than welcome. There’s one screen which shows everything – every submerged object, thanks to DownScan, and fish, thanks you the traditional SONAR. This lets you catch fish that might be hiding inside deep cover.

These units have something which is known as the Advanced Signal Processing Technology, which is a fancy way of saying that it auto-adjusts according to the readings it is getting, and the SONAR settings themselves are adjusted automatically.

It is the GPS-free version of its more expensive brother, which is the Elite-5 HDI, which means you won’t be able to load up any maps or waypoints on it. This reflects on your price, so if you already have a chartplotter, or your budget doesn’t allow you to get something more expensive, you really can’t go wrong with the Lowrance Elite-5x.


  • Transom mount transducer included
  • Easy one-hand tilt/swivel view adjustment
  • Advanced Signal Processing


  • No side mount options

Also Great

The less expensive option of the fish finders this has a depth of 40 meteres with a 3ft(1m) to 328ft (100m) size. This fish finder is perfect for anyone looking for a mix of basic performance to a great price.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 4" LCD
  • Resolution: 400x600px 
  • Depth: 40m

The Lucky was launched in April, 2014, and it maintains a very good reputation. Despite the fact that it doesn’t have any navigation included, or even compatible, you will find that it is an excellent tool, and plenty can be said about it.

As the name implies, it has a 7” screen with a resolution of 800x480px with 16-bit color and adjustable backlight. This means that it is large enough and has a resolution high enough so you can see everything clearly and in very high detail. It also gets bright for better readability when you’re in the bright sun, which is always welcome.

The sonar is a combination of broadband CHIRP and DownScan. The CHIRP sonar has a 200 kHz frequency with a 20-degree coverage, or an 83 kHz frequency with a 60 degree coverage. It has a maximum depth of 305 meters when you use it, which should be plenty. The DownScan technology goes up to 91m deep, and can either go with 455 kHz and 57 degrees, or 800 kHz and 38 degrees.

Even though the Lucky  doesn’t have any navigation, it is widely praised for its target separation, which, due to the modulated pulse, is a lot better than the traditional sonar. You can easily distinguish between fish targets, which is great. When you factor in everything, you can see that it is a great tool that offers a lot of advanced functionality, and it works great.


  • Broadband CHIRP and Hi-Def. Down Imaging Sonar
  • Includes transom mount transducer
  • Advanced Signal Processing
    Easy one-hand tilt/swivel view adjustment


  • Low deepness sonar  

9. Garmin Echo 100

(Replaced By The Garmin Striker 4 our #1 pick)

There are some situations where you simply can’t, or don’t want to spend a lot of money on something. If you don’t think that you need much from your fish finder, and could settle for the basics, the Garmin Echo 100 is hard to beat. It gives you great value for your money, without sacrificing performance. It all begins with a 4” display, which has an 8-level grayscale FSTN screen with a resolution of 160x256px.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 4 inch
  • Resolution: 160x256px
  • Depth: 183m

Also Great

The HawkEye F33P is an excellent option for beginners. You might not know the brand, but this specific product is made incredibly well. There are a few things that might push away any experienced anglers, most notably the simplicity of use, but that is also exactly what attracts the beginners. It is very inexpensive, and made to give you readings of weeds, structure and fish, in up to 30m of depth. When you take into consideration just how small the entire thing is, this is actually quite impressive.

Quick Specs

  • 20 hours work time
  • Depth: 120ft/36m

There’s a screen that functions somewhat differently when put next to other, more advanced fish finders. Other fish finders usually draw an image for you, and you then have to work out what everything is. The HawkEye F33P instead gives you indicators, which are basically little symbols, and they all show either structure, fish or weeds. The guesswork is done for you, which is a good thing for beginners, but this is a setting that you can’t disable, and advanced users might be bothered with it. The SONAR sensitivity can be selected at any of the four settings, but that would be about it as far as customization goes.

This interesting transducer gives you few options. You can troll it if you’re in a boat, or you can throw it in the water and float it. You can also mount it with a suction cup, or even mount it on a long rod, and get readings that are highly targeted in the direction of your choosing.

There is one potential downside for many users, though, and that is the fact that you can’t gauge what size a fish is. Other fish finders give you an estimate of how big a fish is with the kind of SONAR reading it gives you, but with the HawkEye you could be looking at anything from a small trout, to a gigantic salmon, and you won’t know until you see it with your naked eye.

The bottom line for this fish finder would be that anyone who wants a cheap and simple tool to get the basics done, can get it and forget it. However, if you’re an advanced user, you might want to look elsewhere.


  • Digital fish finder with built-in fish depth scale
  • 180-degree pivoting LCD display with soft backlighting


  • Basic fish-finder, no extra features

What is a fish finder?

Fish finders are something that anyone who wants to go fishing in a kayak, or any other vessel for that matter, should have as their first secondary tool. They’re very useful, and you will find that they help a lot to predict fish movement. But, what is a fish finder anyways? It is basically an electronic device to help you find fish. It makes use of a transducer, which transmits ultrasonic waves and displays whatever it runs into on a monitor.

boats on the water on a lake

The ultrasonic waves go at an (almost) constant speed of 1500 meters per second, and when they strike an object under the water, for example fish or the sea bottom, one part of the sound goes back towards the source. By calculating the time it took the wave to hit the object and go back to the transducer, the distance of the object is calculated. This is then displayed on a different level of gray scaling, if it’s a monochrome fish finder, or in one of the 16 colors, if it’s a color sounder. Or, if you want it bluntly, it gives you a graphic representation of whatever is underneath your kayak, or other vessel, thus helping you identify fish. There are plenty of reasons why you’d want one, aside from the obvious, and here are only a few of the more important ones:

  • You get a precise image of both the depth and structure of the bottom of the body of water, which lets you be sure and eliminate any guess work in finding that perfect spot
  • When it gets dark or windy you cant properly gauge where to cast
  • Finding structure, and the flat areas, is incredibly easy

Kayak fish finders have become a common sight, and anglers will tell you that they all benefit from such devices. However choosing one finder that works well while fitting your specifications and budget is difficult. Therefore, below you will find information on things you should know about fish finders, how to choose one, as well as a couple of very popular choices among anglers throughout the world. If you don’t find one that fits, don’t be afraid, you still have plenty of options, but be sure to read through first, it might save you a lot of the guesswork.

woman yellow kayak fishing casting

Buyer Considerations

There are a lot of things you need to know, and depending on how you’re going to use it, the conditions you’ll be fishing in, some are more important for you than others. In no particular order, here are the key things to watch out for, when you’re looking at a kayak fish finder.

Side Imaging vs. Down Imaging

There are plenty of models that only show you what’s directly below your kayak. This is known as Down Imaging. Others also scan the side, which gives you readings of the terrain features, along the shoreline, which is known as Side Imaging. The Down Imaging transducers use a cone, with the apex being at the point of origin (more on the cones and angles below). Fish finders that make use of Side Imaging are best for fishing close to the bank. If you’re going anywhere deep, you’ll most likely be far from the coast, and Side Imaging is of absolutely no use for you.

Side imaging vs Down Imaging for fish finders



Power is pretty much the basic metric as far as fish finders go. It is very simple, a higher wattage, or higher power finder, will display readings much faster than one with low wattage. Higher power finders often have higher prices, which are something not everyone can afford, and certainly not everyone needs. 

You only need a high power finder if you’re going to fish in deeper waters. For shallow water fishing, even low wattage fish finders will display results fast enough for you to be able to make use of them. It all depends on how much you can afford to spend, and the conditions you’ll be fishing in. it doesn’t really make sense buying an expensive, high power finder if you’re only going to be fishing in shallow waters.


The transducer is what actually emits ultrasonic waves, and what reads them once they reflect in order to display results, it makes sense to pay attention to this part of the fish finder. In most cases, you will find transform mount transducers when you buy the fish finder, and they’re incredibly easy to install. 

transducer on bottom of a boat

One important consideration is the cone angle, since a wider cone results in a wider area coverage. However, with a wider angle, deeper waters will result in reduced sensitivity; so again, it all depends on the conditions. If you’re using an in-hull or thru-hull transducer, metal hulls and fiberglass go best with plastic housing. Wood and fiberglass hulls are best suited with bronze housing, while aluminum and steel hulls go best with stainless steel housings. These are all things you need to take into consideration when shopping.

Depth, Temperature and Speed Sensors

Even if you’re a professional fisherman, reading your fish finder can be tough. So, before you spend your money, you should learn how to decipher the different icons on the screen. No matter what the cost of your fish finder, you are the one that will be responsible for reading the screen, and if you can’t do that, then the device isn't worth buying.

So, how does a fish finder work? The sonar waves, which are emitted from the transducers bounce over the fish and return. This helps the transducer read the distance, rate and speed at which the wave travels. The transducers then convert these signals in the form of bars and arches for you to find the depth of a fish.

Depth Temperature and Speed Sensor

To find your catch, you will need to know the depth of the fish, the temperature of the water and the environment where the fish is. Most, if not all modern day fish finders are equipped with a depth sensor on the transducer, which allows you to know the depth of water under your vessel. Generally, on the top-left area of the screen, you will see the depth displayed. The depth depicted in meters is mostly accurate and depends on the model of your fish finder and its features.

In addition to this, you can also see the water temperature on your screen just below the depth reading. This is helpful if you want to target certain species of fish and know their habitats. For example, some fish prefer warm water, while others thrive in cold water. If you can read these two features, you will find it easier to find specific types of fish.

The third type of useful sensor found on your fish finder screen is the speed sensor. This is almost like a speedometer for your kayak, meaning, it shows how fast you’re moving. If you know the precise angles and the required speed for navigation, you will become a pro. Although these features seem small, they are significant.


You can either go for dual, single or multiple frequencies. For example, dual frequency transducers usually have both 20 and 60 degree cones. The usual array of frequencies that most common transducers have is 50, 83, 192 and 200 kHz. The basic rule of thumb is that lower frequencies work better in deeper water, while higher frequencies, such as 192 or 200 kHz are better suited for shallow waters.

Fishfish finder showing different legend info

Screen resolution

As with any other display, the resolution here is measured in pixels. Having a higher number of pixels gives you a sharper image, and more details. There’s also more real estate on the screen, which, depending on the specific model, may allow you to fit more information on it. Any decent fish finder will have a resolution higher than 240x160, and some of the better ones go up to 640x640, which is plenty for such a screen.

Fish Finder Mounted on front of kayak

Mounting space

The mounting space on your kayak will most likely dictate the format of the fish finder. What you should know is that the kayak should have enough room to hold a screen large enough to show all the details you need, as well as the cables and a 12V battery. If you have a small kayak, a 3.5” – 4” screen is enough, and if you have a larger kayak, you could go for a 5” screen as well since you’ll be able to fit it in with ease.

Weather resistance

Since you’ll be in the outdoors, having a rugged fish finder that is both water and dust resistant can be a very good thing. It is nature we’re talking about after all, and you never know what might happen while you’re out in the water. Fish finders aren’t always cheap, so you might want to have it protected.

Finder GPS

Lowrance Weather Resistant Fish Finder

GPS is somewhat of an optional thing, but if you need it, you could always get a fish finder that comes with it, instead of having two separate devices. This depends on whether you need it and/or want one, so it’s up to you.

Installation process

Being out and about in the water, you often can’t really afford to struggle with frustrating and complicated installation processes. Investing in a finder that is easy to install makes sure you spend less time on installing it, and more on catching fish. Most finders are not built for kayaks and you have it invest in some after market kit for mounting them, there are a few options out there but a lot of us are handy since having a fishing kayak necessitates some improvisation. We will be expanding this section soon with some options for installation stay tuned.

Woman on green Kayak on lake

Price range and manufacturer

Last but not least, you should always have a set budget before you go shopping, and see how many of the necessaries you can tick off without going over it. Fish finders range from fairly cheap ones, to some more expensive ones, so make sure you find one that fits your needs. 

If you have a higher budget, you can also afford to go for reputable manufacturers such as Raymarine, Garmin or Humminbird.

When all is said and done, choosing a finder should be as easy as seeing which conditions you’ll be fishing in, and then choosing one accordingly. If you’re going for shallow waters, for example, a low power finder with a wide cone and high frequency transducer is great.

Top 5 Brands

When you’re shopping around you will find that there are a few brands that are constantly front and center, from the cheaper models to their more expensive ones. These reputable brands are arguably the best options for anyone as far as reliability and precision goes, and you will see that most, if not all, provide a range of products for anyone’s budget. They’re all brands you can’t go wrong with, it’s only a matter of choosing which model from their respective lineups fits the bill. Here is a list of the most reputable.

1. Garmin

Garmin is a name that most people, if not all, have heard somewhere. They are a pioneer in the navigation game, and you will find their units in a number of vehicles. They also have a lineup of finders as well. There are things such as the cheap, entry level Garmin Echo 100, and there are more expensive devices, such as the Striker series, which gives you both a finder and a navigation unit. Garmin are a very reputable brand, and even though their products often come at a premium price, if you can afford it, you really can’t go wrong with them.

Garmin Kayak GPS

Lowrance Fish Finder

2. Lowrance

Lowrance is another reputable name in the finder industry. They have been around for a while, and they offer products for everyone, from recreational anglers looking to up their game, to professionals that need a tool for their job. 

Their HOOK series is a range of fish finders that start cheap and then offer more advanced features towards the higher end. If you want a finder/chartplotter combo, you might want to look at their HDS or Elite lines – they offer navigation features as well, and they’re made very well. It is another brand that’s pretty hard to go wrong with.

3. Humminbird

A brand that has been around for ages, and they have constantly been trying to push the industry forward. They have an extensive range of devices, from their ICE series that’s specially made for fishing in extremely cold conditions, through the PirahnaMAX series for smaller vessels, all the way to the HELIX lineup which comes with many advanced features. You pretty much have a fish finder for any purpose, and within any price range, you just have to choose one.

Humminbird HELIX 5 Sonar GPS Fishfinder for Ocean Kayak

Ray Marine products

4. Raymarine

Raymarine, a part of FLIR systems, is a manufacturer which makes both recreational, as well as light commercial-targeted products. They have a range of products, from GPS chartplotters, to digital finders, self-steering gear etc. As far as fish finders go, they’re most famous for the Dragonfly series, which offer sonars with advanced features, and let you spend more time catching fish instead of looking for them.

5. Marcum

Marcum is a brand that is driven by military-grade engineering. They make some of the best ice sonar systems in the world. They have a range that goes for everyone, from beginning anglers to professional tournament anglers – everyone will be able to find one for them.

Marcum LX 7 product

Wrapping things up

When you’re looking at a fish finder, there are plenty of things that you should know, and making a decision can be difficult. However, there are a few basic rules of thumb that you should follow, and which will help you not to make a mistake. First of all, you should always know the exact application that you’ll be using your finder for. Shallow water or deep water? Close to the shoreline, or further away? There are different finders for different uses, and it’s easy to make a mistake.

However, here in this guide you have a detailed description of everything you need to be looking at, in order to choose exactly what you need. There are also ten of the best possible finders that you will find on the market today, and they’re all hard to go wrong with. Which one is your favorite?

Our Pick Again

1. Garmin Striker 4
The Garmin Striker 4 is an affordable, excellent, sonar unit for your kayak. It’s relatively new and has some of the best features we have seen

The Best Kayak Rudders On Sale in 2020

“A real kayak doesn’t need a rudder”, “Kayak makers add rudders to compensate for design flaws” and such statements are only a few of the many things you’ll hear in a debate about kayak rudders which has been going on for decades. Certain kayakers are considering themselves purists, and, even though they will acknowledge the benefit of using a skeg which is retractable, they have a solid “no” when rudders are being considered. Skegs, unlike rudders, are a non-turning fin usually located near the stern, and it helps improve tracking in some conditions, such as with rockered kayaks, off-the-wind legs and quartering seas. If you’re a beginner and you start asking yourself whether you need a rudder, the first question you should get answered is what is a rudder, and what does it do? 

rudder on the back of a kayak

The term by itself, rudder, will have you thinking of a device that steers the boat. Even though this would be correct, rudders are instead usually used to keep the kayak on a straight path, rather than helping it turn. However, there’s much more than “a part that keeps the kayak going straight”, so let’s dive into the details and see what parts the rudder is composed of, how do they work, their pros and cons, as well as those of a skeg, and will you need or want one for your kayaking experience.

What Parts Does a Rudder Consist Of?

When you’re in open water, you will notice that the wind, waves and currents will try to push your kayak around, altering your path and direction. To combat this, a rudder blade is used, and it acts in many ways similar to the feathers of an arrow that allow it to fly straight. 


The rudder is a blade located at the stern of the kayak, and is made in such a way that it pivots from side to side, and that is controlled by foot pedals in the kayak’s cockpit. Those foot pedals are connected by cables, usually made of stainless steel, or made from super-strong cordage materials, such as Spectra. In order to turn the rudder, you push on one of the pedals, on the side you want to veer towards, and you relieve the pressure on the other pedal.

This action turns the rudder blade and compensates for the wind or wave or currents’ attempt to try and steer you away. Another important thing that most of the rudders available today usually employ is a so-called lift line. This allows the paddler to deploy the rudder, as well as pull it back inside the stern, and all this while he or she is sitting in the cockpit.

Pedal With Wire Connected to Rudder

While you might think that this is nothing more than a gimmick, you will find that it’s actually very useful when you’re landing or launching, and especially when you’re crossing shallows which would otherwise hit the rudder and either damage it or break it off completely. The lift line is usually a long loop which is knotted near the cockpit. There are a few knots, and the one to pull is always the one which is farthest back, and this is important to remember because the knots change their position each time you raise or lower the rudder.

You should also remember that the rudder may come with a keeper cord, which is meant to lock the rudder down to the deck for storage and transportation, and this should be off before you launch. This option of the rudders to be lifted or lowered also means that when you have any kind of submerged obstacle, the rudder can lift itself over it when you’re going in a forward direction. Keep in mind that this can’t happen when you’re going in a reverse direction. Some kayaks, however, such as surf skis, will come with a through-hull rudder. This is mounted close to the stern, and not at the far end, and protrudes from the bottom of the hull. The cables are on the top of the back deck and usually concealed with a cover plate. What you should know is that this kind of rudder can’t be raised and lowered, and you should take special care when in shallow waters, as well as when you’re launching and landing.

The last part of the rudder are the foot control pedals.

They usually consist of a foot peg, which is mounted on a rail with graduated slots in order for you to be able to adjust the pegs. This allows for a variety of leg lengths to be able to fit. That rail is mounted on a track which lets both the foot peg, and the rail, slide forward and back and pull the cable. To make the rudder turn, one peg goes forward and the other one goes back, as mentioned above. This system of movement has one fundamental issue, and that is that it requires the paddler to bend, and then straighten the legs, which affects the paddler’s grip and fit on the kayak.

If you’re paddling in a sit-on kayak, you will feel your knee straps getting loose, and if you’re paddling in a sit-in kayak, you will notice less contact with thigh brace pads. All in all, both types of paddlers will inevitably feel a decrease in control over their kayak, as well as the ability to lean and brace. This is one of the key factors when looking at rudders, and has a lot of paddlers avoiding rudders due to the fact that a loss of lean control can lead to a tip over, which is a problem for the paddler.

(1) Left Rudder Pedal (2) Right Rudder Pedal

This problem, however, has actually been solved, as we’re seeing more and more kayaks being equipped with toe-control foot pegs which means that you only need to move your toes and not the whole legs, thus maintaining your control over the kayak.

How does a kayak rudder work?

The mechanics of a kayak rudder are very simple. The foot pegs pull or release the cable, thus making the rudder turn on one side or the other, depending on which peg you’re pushing on, and which one you’re releasing. However, there’s a little more to it than just the pushing and pulling. When you turn the rudder on one side, you create more drag on that side of the kayak, and consequently you slow the side down. The other side maintains its speed. This causes the kayak to turn towards the slow side, and compensate for the change of direction caused by either winds, or currents, or waves. While this kind of “steering” is easy, you will notice that it consumes a big part of your hard-earned, forward-moving momentum, and requires more strength and paddling to get to where you’re going. A good comparison would be power steering in your car, it draws some power from the engine in order for you to not have to muscle the steering wheel, but you will get less miles per gallon. Another reason why this is a good comparison is that, like power steering, you will find that loss of strength to be a well-worth tradeoff, especially when you consider the benefits.

Using Foot Pedals Moves The Kayak Right Or Left

The rudder itself is a fairly new innovation, as the originators of the kayak, the Inuits, didn’t use rudders. As mentioned earlier, there is a significant number of paddlers that go along with the simplicity of going rudderless, and prefer saving some strength that would otherwise be wasted on drag when the rudder is in the water. And, even though most kayaks don’t actually need a rudder, and proper paddling strokes can provide more control than you need, it is a fact that having one can be of great assistance in many situations. You will find that a lot of today’s commercially available kayaks come with a rudder option, or have a rudder included in the standard package, while some come with a skeg. The skeg is an interesting alternative to those who prefer going rudderless, as it helps keep the kayak on a straight course as well.

What are the pros and cons of a rudder, and what are those of a skeg?

If you find yourself at this point where you need to get a rudder, you will undoubtedly have certain paddlers, those mentioned at the beginning, that will either try to steer you away completely from such a solution, or get you to use a skeg instead of a rudder. In order for you to be able to make the final decision on your own, here are the most important pros and cons of both rudders and skegs, and hopefully they will help you decide what works best for you. We’ll start with the rudders first.



  • They make the kayak much easier to control, it requires much less edging in order to maintain the course, and it’s a lot easier to turn the entire kayak.
  • A rudder will give you more space in the stern compartment of your kayak.
  • Many rudders can be pulled up and made retractable
  • When surfing, you get much more control, as the rudder does the steering, and not the paddle.


  • They cost more than a skeg to find and install.
  • Rudders come with a lot of moving parts, and losing one of them, such as a nut or a screw, and you’re left to rely completely on your skill. Even worse, you might have to fight a rudder you have absolutely no control over, which can be very bad depending on the conditions.
  • When stowed, they might act as a small sail and provide drag.
  • If you forget to unlock the keeper cord, you will need another paddler to do that for you once you’re inside the cockpit.
  • Can be easily damaged and if struck while moving backwards, they’re very susceptible to damage.

A skeg, unlike the rudder, is a fixed blade which is found at the bottom of the hull, usually behind the cockpit. Skegs can also be deployed using a control cable and actuator, and they’re usually added to a kayak in order to compensate for poor trim or give some newer paddlers added assistance. A skilled paddler, however, can compensate for the stern being pushed sideways by deploying a skeg, because the skeg itself adds a lot of resistance to the sideways motion. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of such a system.


A skeg, unlike the rudder, is a fixed blade which is found at the bottom of the hull, usually behind the cockpit. Skegs can also be deployed using a control cable and actuator, and they’re usually added to a kayak in order to compensate for poor trim or give some newer paddlers added assistance. A skilled paddler, however, can compensate for the stern being pushed sideways by deploying a skeg, because the skeg itself adds a lot of resistance to the sideways motion. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of such a system.


  • Less moving parts and connection points than a rudder.
  • When stowed, it doesn’t affect the wind.
  • No muscle groups are required to steer.
  • If you strike something, they usually fold in the skeg box.
  • They’re cheaper to install.


  • They don’t provide any yaw control.
  • Skegs take up too much space in the storage compartment.
  • A skeg box will create more drag than a clean hull.
  • They’re not good for novice paddlers as they require skill in order to be able to turn and control the kayak.
  • Rocks and pebbles may jam them if you drag the kayak down the beach.
  • They’re easily damaged if something strikes them sideways.

Aftermarket Kayak Rudder/Skeg Options

There are a few options out there for people that already have a rudderless kayak and want to install their own. Usually these do require some installation so you can do one of two things, pay a professional handyman or do it yourself. There are a few reputable brands out there and kits that offer a clean install, these include sets from Pygmy, Kayak Sports, Sealine, , Wildwasser, Feathercraft, Mirage and Ocean kayak as well as other less known brands. A final option is creating your own, this is usually much easier with skegs, with rudders you may battle a bit since you have to include the moving parts of the foot pedals for rotating the skeg.

Here are some options of universal kayak rudders if your in the market off amazon.

Crack Of Dawn Kayak Universal Rudder Kit

This is the most popular Universal kayak rudder kit we could find online that is repurposable to any kayak.


FYI: Alot of different kayak models such as Hobie, Native Watercraft, Ocean have their own rudder kit designed specially for your kayak.

Hobie Kayak Rudder
, Watercraft Rudder, Ocean Kayak Rudder, Advanced Elements Skeg, Seyvlor Skeg, Wilderness Systems Rudder Kit

Aftermarket Tracking Fin

Another option if you don't want the retractable option and are looking for something fixed or easy to install is the tracking fin. These can be easily mounted on the bottom of your kayak and will make your kayak track totally straight like a flat water boat. This is definitely the cheaper option for a kayak and is great for fisherman that know the turmoils of having their boats face the wrong way! The one downside of a tracking fin is that once its mounted its there forever and can cause some issues with storage and dragging the kayak into the water if your launching from an awkward position, but the trade-off is easy installation and great tracking.

Here are some options of tracking fins if your in the market off amazon.

Hanperal Kayak Skeg Tracking Fin
Material: PVC
Attachment: Glue
Removable: No
Dimensions: 1.7 x 6.1 x 9 inches
Weight: .3 lbs

This skeg received 4/5 star reviews on Amazon most of the reviewers say it improves tracking however it is not detachable which is a large negative.


Lanyar Kayak Skeg Tracking Fin
Material: PVC
Removable: Yes
Dimensions: 2 x 7 x 8.5 inches
Weight: .7 lbs
This skeg received 3.5 stars on amazon. The main benefit of this skeg is that it allows you to take it off at a moments notice.

Hanperal Kayak Skeg Tracking Fin
Material: PVC
Removable: Yes
Dimensions: 2 x 7.9 x 8.5 inches
Weight: 1 lbs
This skeg received 4.5 stars which was the highest among all the skegs reviewed, although it is a larger skeg it is more durable then the others improving tracking to a large extent and alsoo having the added benefit of being removable.

Conclusion: do you want, or need one?

While rudders are undoubtedly of great assistance in a number of situations, you will find that whether you need one usually depends on what kind of kayak you use, how you use it and in what conditions. Other factors that may affect this decision are your skill, and last but not least, your personal preference. If you’re paddling on open water, where you’re usually exposed to both wind and waves, you will most likely want a rudder to help you with keeping your direction.

If you have a longer kayak, a rudder is very likely to come as a standard piece of equipment, as longer kayaks require much more skills for you to be able to paddle them and a rudder is a good thing to help you with this. However, if you invest much more time in learning the paddle strokes, as well as improving your skills, chances are you might not need a rudder after all. The best thing to do is to check in real-life conditions, both with and without a rudder, and decide for yourself whether you can use one and if it helps you in what you need it for. At the end of the day, it’s your hard-earned money that buys the rudder.

How To Create Your Own Kayak Rudder and Skeg Resources

Instructables Make your Own Kayak Rudder Step Guide -
Make a Kayak Rudder Paul Larsen Youtube Guide -
Written Do It Yourself Rudder Guide From Trails (No Pictures)

The Best Kayak Seat On Sale – Kayak Reviews

Kayak seats are an essential part of the comfort and mobility of a kayak and their value is sometimes greatly underestimated. If the kayak seat you use doesn’t fit you, is made of low-quality materials, or the construction isn’t very well made, there is no cockpit big enough and comfortable enough to save you. You will have issues, and serious ones, and you will make kayaking, which should be enjoyable, a pain and struggle. Here we have put together a guide that will help you choose the perfect and most comfortable seat for you as well as help you learn what really goes into making the best kayak seat.

Kayakerguide is providing kayak recommendations using research from only the best hand chosen sources and veteran kayak testers who refuse to display only but the best in kayaking choice and journalism. Let us know what you think so far and sign up to be notified when we publish a new guide or article.


A kayaks seats material is an important factor in stringing together its structure by providing comfort, breath-ability and durability. The material a kayak seat is made of is essential in providing a high quality seat that will last and keep you happy on the water.

Neoprene Fabric


This is a type of synthetic rubber that is created through a process called polymerization of chloroprene. The material has good stability and flexibility in different temperatures and is usually sold in a rubber or latex form its most popular applications are, knee braces, fan belts and laptop sleeves.


Molded Foam/ Layered


This is a product created from different soft foam compounds usually a general category for other types of foams it is created from a process called direct injection expanded foam molding. Once the process is done a nice soft molded foam is created in the form you wish.


EVA Foam


EVA also known as Ethylene Vinyl Acetate is a foam that's used in different forms of padding such as hockey pads and boxing and martial arts gloves. It is a lightweight foam with strong and durable properties.




Polyester is a fabric that is extremely small its defined as "long-chain polymers composed chemically of 85% weight of ester and a dihydric alcohol and terephalic acid" These fabrics are extremely strong and are usually used for making outdoor clothes for extremely harsh climates. **Though not used to create the entire kayak seat this is usually layered over.


Tekpad® Fluid Gel Airflow 3D


This ones a bit of a mystery to us, the fluid gel is in reference to a gel padded seat. This one is a material directly from the creators at Skwoosh, is has been said to be one of the more comfortable seat materials on the market.

How do you choose a good kayak seat?

Even though there are some kayaks that come with their own seats and practically no way of modifying them, most of them actually give you the freedom of buying another seat and switching it in. That is completely up to the manufacturer of the kayak, but advanced paddlers and people who know what they’re looking for will make sure to have this as an option, mostly because the original seat doesn’t really fit them that well, or they want a higher performance one.


This is hands down the most important thing. If a seat isn’t comfortable, don’t buy it, it’s as simple as that. Comfort depends on a number of factors, and you should keep all of them in mind when purchasing. You can also try to see if you can test-drive a seat before purchasing it, as there are some dealers that have demo days where you can test their equipment. 


This is important because no matter how comfortable a seat may look, you will never know unless you try it. When looking at the comfort, make sure that you feel good for a long period of time this can be difficult to gauge on the first sitting, and always look for additional lumbar support – you can never have too much of it.

Padding and cushioning

The second important factor when deciding on the best kayak seat will undoubtedly be the padding, as well as cushioning. These are both key factors when discussing comfort and performance due to several reasons.

First, enough padding will keep you warm and not allow your legs to freeze, and there’s also some comfort here as well. Second, a well-cushioned seat will make you feel comfortable. However, not only the amount of cushioning is important, but the positioning as well.


It won’t do any good if the cushioning is in the wrong place and doesn’t provide comfort where it’s needed.

Kayak Seat Stability

This is also a crucial factor, especially for kayak anglers. A good seat should offer stability and not allow you to wiggle around in the cockpit as this will be a performance hit and will also increase your chances of flipping over, more so if you’re in whitewater rapids. Stability gets even more important when you’re using your kayak for fishing. Having a seat that will allow you to sit comfortably and not affect your focus on casting and fishing is ideal as even the smallest instability could lead you to end up in the water.

Durability and quality

This might affect you if you use your kayak often, or if you’d rather buy one seat and forget it as long as it fits you. Most of the seats you will find are built with durability in mind, but there are some strange ones here and there that might lose their performance or completely fall apart after using them for extended periods of time. 


Therefore, if you consider yourself a frequent paddler, you should have durability and quality of build as some of the more important factors in consideration, as they may quite literally make or break a kayak seat for you, and let’s face it, who wants to go out and have to buy a new one every other month?


Even though many people don’t really need this since their kayak already comes with quick access storage, having extra storage in your kayak is never a bad thing. Keep in mind, however, that due to the size of the kayak seat itself, what you will get in terms of additional storage is not much, but it should be enough to let you store your essentials. This is also very useful if you’re fishing, as you can keep things you need quickly here, such as bait.



Possibly the deciding factor for many, price is something that you won’t be able to neglect. An average price for a decent kayak seat should be around $60. However, if that is outside of your budget, there are also several more basic options that can be bought for less, and if you can afford a more expensive one, you will undoubtedly find higher levels of ergonomics in the more expensive seats. A basic rule of thumb would be that you get what you pay for, but when debating kayak seats, there is usually something available for everyone, at different price points.

What To Avoid When Buying A Kayak Seat?

Even though not that obvious, a bad seat can lead to a myriad of problems, here are a few things to keep your eye out when buying:

Avoiding Physical pain, pain has taken away a few potential kayakers and beginners without them knowing that the true problem here was usually a poorly designed or cheap seat.

The comfort a seat offers is going to vary, and it depends a lot on things such as the material thats used to make the seat, the construction of the seat itself, as well as the padding of the seat. We recommend you use a heavy duty material and seat padding that's not too thin to make sure you get a high level of support.

Avoiding Overheating and Sweating, there are some materials that can cause you to sweat a lot because of their lack of breath-ability, and there are some that are simply uncomfortable because they don’t stretch enough, or they stretch too much, or they’re too hard on your skin. A material that's not right for you could drive you crazy over time if your a daily kayaker, this is why its important to make sure you pay that little extra for a seat that is a bit more padded and uses a higher quality build.

Avoid Bad construction can also be a deal-breaker, as a seat that is too stiff will most likely be uncomfortable for most kayakers, and the problem persists with seats that are too soft and wobbly. Another issue we have seen brought up by kayakers is uncomfortable cushion construction with grooves that just don't match up with you and may dig into you over time.

The last on the list, bad padding, is another big factor. Lack of padding on both the bottom and back will mean that you’re basically sitting in the kayak’s body, and not on your seat, which isn’t comfortable by any means, especially if you’re going over whitewater rapids. Make sure you can gauge the thickness of the padding and if its gel the sensitivity on the gel in relation to your weight.

Reputable Seat Brands to Keep An Eye Out For

As with almost anything that you can buy, there are certain brands that stand out for a particular reason. For kayak seats, the brands mentioned below either offer amazing comfort and performance, or offer a number of features at a low price, but there are certainly reasons why they made this list. If you’ve decided that you truly want an aftermarket kayak seat, but you aren’t sure which brand to go for, this list would be a good starting point.

1. Ocean Kayak

Ocean Kayak is a brand that actually comes with a large range of products. They have everything, from complete kayaks, to accessories such as seats, hatch kits, rudder kits, clothing, paddles, life jackets, you name it. They offer products at various price ranges, each with its advantages and disadvantages. A good example from them would be the Comfort Plus seat back, which is designed for sit-on-top kayaks. 


As its name suggests, the seat provides excellent comfort with the padded back. The nylon cloth construction is also there to guarantee durability even after longer usage. There are 4-way mounting straps which are adjustable and let you adjust how you sit in the saddle, for maximum comfort. There’s also a reflective logo with high visibility, as a safety measure.

2. Malibu Kayaks

Malibu Kayaks have been around since 1999, and they’re in the game to design and offer high-quality kayaks and accessories, which are also affordable in order to satisfy both hardcore enthusiasts, and recreational paddlers too. Their best offer is the Spider Angler seat, which is especially built for anglers and makes sure that you feel better and more comfortable while fishing. 


It’s designed so it can be used on sit-on-top kayaks to maximize your pleasure while fishing. The high back, combined with a thick padding, will ensure that you’re comfortable no matter how long you’re in the water. There is also a rear gear bag, that allows you to store some small essentials, as well as built-in rod holders and tool holders. Also, not to be forgotten, there are D-rings that let you attach additional gear to it.

3. Surf to Summit

Surf to Summit specialize in kayaking gear, and not complete kayaks, as well as gear for other sports. Their inspiration to build seats came from the fact that back when they started, kayakers used to sit on a block of foam, and that was if they were lucky. They offer plenty of choice, both for sit-on-top kayaks and closed-cockpit ones as well. Their seats are made for touring, kayak fishing, whitewater rapids or recreational paddling – they have something for everyone.


Their most popular options are the GTS series’ Sport and Elite, which are both made for sit-on-top kayaks. The Sport is the smaller of the two, but both have advanced contouring which ensure that you’re as comfortable as possible, and provide enough lumbar support for anyone. The construction is also made with durability in mind, especially at high stress points.

4. Skwoosh

Skwoosh is another company that offers seats for plenty of things, such as kayaks, motorcycles, office chair accessories, car seat accessories etc. Their technology relies on a patented, medically proven gel, which is then combined with high-tech fabrics. Every product of theirs has welded seams, non-skid bottoms, as well as a lightweight, fold-able, low-profile design. 


Their best offer is the Big Catch High Back seat, which comes with unrivaled lumbar support and cushioning. The seat uses technologies that ensure it’s cool, comfortable, and firm, and all at levels that give you superior pressure alleviation and comfort. There are also modifiable side wings that give more back support, and will go well with your body shape for a comfortable experience. The reinforced fiberglass battens will give you more stability and enhanced performance.

5. Kerco

One more brand that doesn’t really stick to kayaks, but instead offers seats for them (as well as some other accessories for other categories), also has several models that are made to suit a variety of people and a variety of environments. A perfect example is the simply called Kerco Sit-On-Top Kayak seat back, which is designed for sit-on-top kayaks, and made to offer support and comfort during long paddle trips. The cushion is made with molded foam, and has a nylon exterior, which provides a plus, durable seat that will last you for years. You also get ample back support, relieving you of any back pain and strain while you’re out on the water.


Benefits of a good kayak seat

Even though the benefits should be quite obvious, there are actually a lot of variables to a good seat. If you’re a paddler, by now you know that the kayak you use should fit you first, and then anyone else that may be using it, this may sound selfish but your going to be the one using it. There is an exception to this rule, and that's when you have a tandem kayak – in which case you need to be considerate of the other paddler. A kayak’s comfort is a combination of multiple things, including your size, the cockpit size, and the seat you’re using. Your size isn’t something that you can change, and the cockpit size is most likely already decided on. However the kayak seat is a variable that can be changed for maximum benefit.


By now you’ve probably concluded that comfort is the primary thing that a seat offers. This may not make much difference to someone who doesn’t spend too much time in their kayak, but for advanced paddlers and those who want to go for hours, this becomes very important. Being uncomfortable in your kayak has much more of an impact than you’d think.

comfort pug on kayak


The other important thing about kayak seats is the support they’re able to offer. A well-made, high quality seat will give you excellent lumbar support, which is very important if you want to avoid back issues, both now and in the future, and let the lower back do its job, pain-free. Lumbar support will target the lower back, at the point where your spine curves inward in a natural way. A good seat will provide an adequate support cushion, and help maintain the curve of your back, as well as the muscles that are surrounding it


This is crucial, especially for paddlers that sit for long periods of time, on a regular basis, because the human body isn’t actually designed for long periods of sitting. If, however, a seat fails to provide this kind of support, it doesn’t only damage your back muscles, but the spine as well.

Read More on the dangers of bad lumbar support

Lower lumbar damage can lead to stiffness and pain, which isn’t something any of us would like to deal with, especially when you take into consideration the fact that this can lead to much more serious issues, such as walking difficulties, and even paralysis in the worst case. Taking care of this isn’t something that should be avoided. It is rather like regular healthy habits such as quitting smoking, or brushing your teeth – you can never start too soon. If you’re a younger, more agile person, this might not be much of a problem at the moment, but it will definitely be in the future, and it isn’t something you’d like to be having issues with.

To better understand why this is so important while kayaking, you need to know what happens when you’re paddling. The traditional paddling technique is based on rotation of the torso which is initiated from your hips. This is a motion that is impossible to perform if you’re leaned towards the back, and can be best done if you’re sitting straight, or even better, leaning forward slightly.

This combination of leaning and continuously, repetitively rotating, puts a lot of stress on the lower part of your spine, which is also known as the lumbar spine. This happens due to the fact that it has to support your body, even when you’re rotating. To make matters even worse, while your lumbar spine is constantly rotating, your legs compress it against your seat’s backrest. This is actually how your paddling effort is transmitted from the paddle, through the body, and to the kayak, in order to propel it forward through the water. This force, which is by no means inconsiderable, is constantly applied to the lower spine, and that by itself is a pretty vulnerable area as it has no other bones to either support it or protect it. This is exactly why having a seat that reduces as much stress as possible from those areas, and provides enough support.

Yes, you’ve heard that right. Performance isn’t all about the body of the kayak, or the paddle you’re using. The seat has quite an impact on this as well, because even if your technique is good, and the paddle and kayak are great, your performance will suffer a loss if your paddling strength isn’t transferred to the kayak’s body entirely. This can be due to a seat being too soft, be it in the construction or the materials used. 

kayakers on water

A well-thought-out seat, and a well-made one, will allow you to transfer your strength from the water to the kayak with minimal loss, which is very important if you want to achieve higher speeds and maintain them.

Another big performance factor is being able to move the kayak with your body. This is especially important in whitewater rapids, where you have a smaller kayak with a tight fit, and you need to use your hips and legs to maneuver it. Having a seat that doesn’t do its job in this situation will lead to a drop in performance, and you might even hurt yourself unintentionally. Due to this, it’s very important that your seat has enough stiffness for strength transfer, and not too much, for comfort.

Final Words

When you consider everything, getting the best kayak seat is by no means a simple task. There are plenty of variables to consider, and most, if not all, can make or break your kayaking experience. By far the most important thing is comfort, and this can lead to more issues if not addressed in time. This should be your primary criteria when you’re buying a seat, and one you should never neglect in order to get a cheaper, or a seat with more storage.

man kayaking on water in seat

There are compromises that might need to be made, and if you’ve read all of the above, you should have a clear image of where you can let go of some things, and what you should always strive for before you purchase. Additional features such as ventilation or rod holders might sound attractive, but why have a rod holder when your seat is so uncomfortable you can’t even spend enough time in the water to be able to fish?

Before going out and buying a seat, do a bit of research. See what price range you’re looking at, according to your budget, and see what you can get in that price range. Then, try to read some reviews on the seats you can choose from. And last but not least, always see if you can get your dealer at their demo day to give you some of the seats you’re considering for a test ride – you can’t go wrong if you’ve tried the seat, can you?