Best River Fishing Kayaks For 2024

Buyer’s Guide | Kayak Angler

Kayak fishing on a river requires unique knowledge about angling and paddling—you’ll need to learn how to read the water to know where to cast, and how to read water to know where to paddle. It also requires a more specialized kayak, one that can handle the changing variables you might find along a river.

If you’ll only be fishing wide, slow-moving rivers, an all-around fishing kayak will provide you with the performance and features you need. However, narrower, windier and faster-moving rivers are more safely and enjoyably navigated on a river fishing kayak. These kayaks track well in flatwater sections, while being maneuverable in low-class rapids. This maneuverability also translates to being able to negotiate obstacles and tight corners, which are part and parcel on rivers. At the same time, a good river kayak will be stable enough for you to stand and fish from, and provide all the storage space and fishing features you’d expect from any other fishing kayak.

Because of their shorter length, many river fishing kayaks are naturally on the lighter weight end of the spectrum. This can make it easier to launch from the steep and uneven terrain that’s characteristic of many riverbanks. If you often put-in in difficult spots, pay extra attention to weight when selecting a river fishing kayak.

The following river fishing kayaks offer a variety of features to help you fish and explore winding waterways to your heart’s content.

Top picks: Best river fishing kayaks for 2024

The following river fishing kayaks have received the highest star ratings by reviewers in our Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide. See and review all river fishing kayaks here.

Shop for river fishing kayaks

Follow the links below into the Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide where you’ll find every river fishing kayak available along with specs, prices, reviews and places to buy.

River fishing kayak reviews

There’s no better way to choose a river fishing kayak than by kicking the tires and taking a test drive. The staff at Kayak Angler have run the best river kayaks through the gauntlet. We’ve rigged the boats for fishing, loaded them with gear and hit the water, allowing us to evaluate how the boat handles and how it performs for the intended angler and conditions.

If you can’t get to the paddle shop or a demo day, take a test drive with our reviews of the best river fishing kayaks.