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 2023
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.
Best River Fishing Kayaks
BKC TK122 Angler Tandem Coastal Cruiser Kayak
Blue Sky Boatworks Angler 360º
BKC RA220 Sit On Top Angler Kayak
Blackfoot Angler 160
Blackfoot Angler 130
Shearwater 125 Signature Series
The Catch 110 HyDryve II
Argo 100XP Angler
Vibe Yellowfin 100 Angler Kayak
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.
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Shop by brand
Advanced Elements river fishing kayaks
Aquaglide river fishing kayaks
Ascend river fishing kayaks
Bonafide river fishing kayaks
Brooklyn Kayak Company river fishing kayaks
Hobie river fishing kayaks
Jackson river fishing kayaks
Kaku river fishing kayaks
Pelican river fishing kayaks
Perception river fishing kayaks
Sea Eagle river fishing kayaks
Vibe river fishing kayaks
Wilderness Systems river fishing kayaks
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.
- ICAST First Look: Bonafide RVR 119
- Fishing Kayak Reviews
- Jackson Coosa FD Pedal Kayak Review
- Fishing Kayak Review: Hobie Mirage Outback Pedal Drive
- Fishing Kayak Review: Bonafide RS117
- NuCanoe Flint Hybrid Fishing Kayak Review
- Jackson Liska Fishing Kayak Review
- Old Town Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman Hybrid Review
- Old Town Predator PDL Fishing Kayak Review
- Inflatable AIRE Ride IK Angler Reviewed