Whether you’re buying for someone else or treating yourself, a fishing kayak is a gift that keeps on giving. Kayaking is a gateway to outdoor adventure, better health and community membership. And it all starts with finding the perfect boat from one of the best kayak fishing brands.
Our definitive guide to buying a kayak will help you select the right type, size, features and more, but once you have those details sorted out it’s time to choose which brand to go with. This list of the best brands will provide you with a brief background on each company, the types of fishing kayaks they offer, and the technology and features unique to their boats.
Get to know the brands and what they offer and soon you’ll be ready to gift the perfect kayak to the current or up-and-coming kayak angler in your life. Or, you know, yourself. Let’s get started.
Best Fishing Kayak Brands
3 Waters Kayaks
The mission at 3 Waters Kayaks is simple: build quality kayaks for those who want to flip a jig while standing with confidence or sitting back with ease. Their fishing kayaks are stable, comfortable and bullet-proof, yet affordable so anyone can join in the fun and catch a big fish.
Features of 3 Waters Kayaks
- Cathedral tri-hull design: Hull is comprised of three pontoons with deep channels running in between. This design means most of the boat is out of the water and only the narrowest sections are in the water, which, according to the manufacturer, allows for better tracking and efficiency than boats of the same width.
- Big Fish seat: Has multiple configurations (high, low, recline and flip away) and doubles as a lean bar when standing.
- Sturdy, reinforced standing platform.
The goal at Advanced Elements is to develop new and unique paddlesports products to enhance their customers’ outdoor experience. Their focus is on designing and manufacturing “inflatable kayaks with cutting edge technology” and providing excellent customer service.
- Aluminum rib frame technology: An aluminum rib frame is used in their StraitEdge kayak line. This allows the bow to slice through the water and the stern to act like a skeg, providing improved tracking.
Founded in 2016, Bonafide Kayaks’ plans are big, but their strategy is simple: they will do everything they can to produce the highest quality, most thoughtfully engineered fishing kayaks possible.
- HiRise kayak seating system: Allows you to sit with knees bent.
- SeatRack positioning system: Allows you to convert your seat to a lower position.
- PerchPads: For additional standing position on top of gunwales.
BOTE (pronounced “boat”) first started in the SUP business with glossy paddleboards designed for the backwaters near the company’s home base in Destin, Florida. Since then, BOTE has expanded their expertise to include inflatable SUP-kayak hybrids custom designed for fishing and recreation.
- AeroBOTE Technology: Multi-chambered inflatable construction for premium stability and strength.
- Convertible hybrid crafts: Removable top chamber and/or seat(s) let you customize your Bote in seconds.
- Comes complete with portable roller bag, hand pump, removable tracking fin and more.
Brooklyn Kayak Company
Brooklyn Kayak Company was founded by a group of New York-area paddlers who set out to build the ideal personal kayaks for anglers, outdoor enthusiasts and families. Their mission is to inspire you to get outdoors and actively enjoy fitness, sports, and the good life out on the water.
- Instant Reverse Pedal Drive: Offers pedal propulsion with forward and reverse modes.
- Rudder-controlled steering standard on select models. Also available as an add-on package.
- Sturdy rotomolded construction and wide hull for excellent stability.
Eddyline Kayaks is a manufacturer of premier kayaks and paddles. They pioneered ABS thermoformed technology within the kayak fishing industry more than 22 years ago and remain one of the best brands for consistent quality, fit and finish.
- Thermoformed Carbonlite 2000: Provides Eddyline kayaks with dimensional stability, high heat distortion temperatures, hard glossy finishes, easy repairability, good UV-resistance and a lighter weight. Also 100% recyclable.
- Sea-Dog performance foot braces: Designed to be maintenance free, self-cleaning and strong.
- Infinity Seat: Designed for maximum adjustability for a custom fit.
Feelfree Kayaks is more than just a company offering the most innovative kayak and accessory brands on the market today. The Freefree team is a close knit community of paddlers, anglers and outdoors people with decades of industry experience working hard to deliver an outdoor experience like no other.
- Overdrive system: Offers pedal and power propulsion on some fishing kayak models. The unit offers forward and reverse pedal drive as well as power-driven capabilities when paired with the Motordrive add-on.
- Wheel in the Keel: Offered on all kayaks, allows you to easily transport your boat to and from the water.
- Paddle Keeper System: Offered on all kayak models except Move, allows you to store your paddle during transport or secure it while on the water.
Since 1950, Hobie has been in the business of shaping a unique lifestyle based around fun, water and quality products. From their headquarters in California, Hobie Cat Company and its global subsidiaries produce an impressive collection of watercraft for worldwide distribution.
- MirageDrive Classic pedal system: Dual underwater fins that move the kayak forward.
- MirageDrive 180 pedal system: Dual underwater fins with reverse capabilities.
- MirageDrive 360 pedal system: Dual underwater fins that allow you to spin and move in any direction.
- Kick-Up Fin Technology: Dual underwater fins that fold up against the hull when coming into contact with an obstacle.
Long known for its whitewater kayaking roots, Jackson Kayak has quickly established itself as one of the top brands in performance fishing kayaks. For anglers, Jackson Kayak remains a leading builder of innovative, high-quality boats with distinctive design touches.
- Flex Drive 3D pedal drive system: Smooth, high efficiency propeller drive with forward and reverse propulsion.
- Flex Drive-E motor system: Lightweight, easy-to-use motor and propeller drive with shallow water protection. Conveniently swap with pedal drive unit on the fly.
- Comfort Seat: Fully adjustable, with breathable fabric and premium moisture drainage.
The Bass 100 from Jonny Boats is for the person who likes the concept of a kayak but doesn’t want to be confined to the restrictions of human-powered propulsion. It’s designed to offer freedom of choice with the ability to outfit, with pride, your own watercraft to fit your needs and budget.
- Unique and stable planing hull.
- Outboard and trolling motor transom mount area.
- Open bow storage area.
The West Central Coast of Florida, where the creators of Kaku Kayak were born and raised, is an angler, spear fisherman, snorkelling, diving and kayaking paradise. This is where the idea for their fishing kayaks and fishing paddleboards was born. Where will your kayak adventures take you?
- Standing platform.
- Multiple hatches.
As busy and crowded as the world seems, there are still tranquil places to explore, wildlife to encounter, moments to photograph, and fish to stalk, catch and release. These places often exist in our own backyards. And there’s no better way to discover them than in a Native Watercraft.
- First Class Seating: Solar screen HiFlow mesh is suspended over an aluminum frame, cushioning and supporting the back and bottom while drying quickly and ventilating. Can be reclined and slides forward and backward.
- Propel Pedal Drive: Included on all 2020 pedal kayaks. Features non-slip pedals, streamlined pedal cranks and an integrated weed guard on the propeller. Forward and reverse.
NuCanoe started as an idea. Tim Niemier, founder of Ocean Kayak, wanted to put “a billion butts in boats.” This idea led to the innovative NuCanoe design that enabled people to do things on the water—fish, hunt row, dive, crab, paddle or just relax.
- Freedom Tracks: Track system allows you to outfit your boat according to your liking.
- Superior stability.
- Lots of opportunities for customization.
In 1971, in a backyard in Malibu, California, the original owner of Ocean Kayak took an old surfboard and carved out two places—one to sit in and another for his scuba gear. That’s right—Ocean Kayak was born thanks to a passion for scuba diving. Today, tens of thousands of boats later, they’re one of the biggest manufacturers of sit-on-top kayaks.
- PDL Drive System: Reach speeds of 5.5 miles per hour with an efficient 10.3:1 gear ratio.
- Element Beach Seat, Element Seat and ACS2 Seat: Found on different kayak models. All offer ventilation, comfort, adjustability and support.
- Paddle, rod and cup holders.
Old Town Canoes and Kayaks
All boats from Old Town Canoes and Kayaks are born out of the same century-long tradition of quality craftsmanship that makes every day on the water unforgettable. Whether you’re fishing, sea kayaking, canoe tripping, or enjoying a relaxing paddle on the lake, there’s an Old Town watercraft for every type of adventurer.
- PDL Drive: Has an efficient 10.3:1 gear ratio and reaches speeds of 5.5 miles per hour. Forward and reverse maneuverability.
- Element Seating System: Seating system that is breathable, quick-drying and adjustable.
- Active Comfort System 2.0: Seating system that is adjustable, provides under-leg support and is ventilated.
For over 50 years, Pelican has leveraged their mastery of thermoforming to deliver durable, quality products at affordable prices. A commitment to innovation, investment in state-of-the-art technology and rigorous quality control standards have cemented Pelican as one of the best fishing kayak brands in the business.
- RAM-X: Multi-layer material used in Pelican boats has high-resistance to impact, an ability to regain its initial shape after hard impacts, and UV-protected finish.
- Many models have removable storage compartments.
- Kayaks are made with more than 50% post-industrial recycled material.
Perception Kayaks is a company of passionate kayakers who proudly design, mold and hand-assemble every Perception kayak in Greenville, SC. In every model and size, Perception Kayaks is known for personal touches that make kayaking fun for paddlers of all experience levels.
- Made with proprietary high-density polyethylene.
- Leak-proof one-piece construction.
- Excellent ergonomic support.
PIKE Kayak makes innovative folding boats designed for paddlers and anglers. Form follows function in these bold designs, ensuring top notch fishability in addition to eye-catching looks. Best of all, PIKE kayaks are easily stored in small spaces and can be carried to the launch in their fold-up backpack form.
- High stadium-style seating and expansive standup platform allow for excellent sight fishing.
- Multi chine tunnel hull for maximum stability.
- Kayak folds up into backpack weighing less than 42 pounds for easy portability and convenient storage.
Sea Eagle kayaks are light, compact, easy to carry and extremely durable. Whether you’re looking to explore nearby waterways, fish remote lakes or get away to a tropical paradise, Sea Eagle inflatables can take you there.
- RazorLite kayaks are the first inflatable kayaks to use drop-stitch throughout.
- Explorer kayaks have self-bailing valves.
- FastTrack kayaks have a sleek, curved, touring shape with state-of-the-art “NeedleKnife Keel” to provide hard-shell performance with benefits of an inflatable.
Uncharted Watercraft boats are proudly designed and manufactured in Lawrencetown, Georgia. Uncharted puts a lot of effort into creating your kayak to make sure you need no effort to enjoy it.
- Molded from high molecular weight polyethylene using twin sheet thermoforming technology.
- Can be assembled and disassembled in seconds with no tools. Packs down to fit in most vehicles.
Since 2013, Vibe Kayaks has focused on one thing—giving paddlers of any skill level the opportunity to experience the freedom that comes with diving into what nature has to offer. The brand is built on a passion for the water, fishing and outdoor living, and their products are the perfect combination of good looks, great features and affordability.
- Vibe Hero seat: Has two positions and provides comfort and support.
- Made of rotomolded single piece of polyethylene.
- Gear mounts.
In 1999, Viking Kayaks started out of a New Zealand shed with the goal of building better offshore kayaks for pelagic fishing. Since then, Viking has focused on getting the little things right for their clientele. Rigorous testing and feedback from anglers have produced a series of user-friendly kayaks with laser focus on high-performance fishing.
- Viking Tackle Pod: Removable, modular storage system for important gear like fishing tackle, electronics and other accessories.
- Lightweight polyethylene hull is stronger and stiffer than cheaper materials, with maximum UV resistance.
- All accessories are made of nylon with stainless steel hardware, suitable for saltwater paddling.
Innovative designs tuned for performance, premium outfitting and stunning quality have made Wilderness Systems boats among the most acclaimed paddling experiences in the world. From new entrants to seasoned experts, Wilderness Systems fishing kayaks are one of the best brands to get you where you want to be, more often—on the water.
- Helix PD Pedal Drive: Has a 6:1 gear ratio.
- Helix MD Motor Drive: Can reach speeds of 6 miles per hour and features a solar-rechargeable lithium battery that lasts up to eight hours.
- Some models are self-bailing.
The best kayak brands will set you up for some sublime fishing. | Feature photo: Courtesy of Eddyline Kayaks