More anglers than ever are turning to fishing kayaks for fly fishing. A kayak can take you places a power boat or pair of waders can’t, whether you want to carry into seldom used waters, paddle up narrow rivers, or simply explore the other side of the lake.
Not all fishing kayaks are suitable for fly fishing, though. You’ll want to look for a boat that has superior stability and clear deck space. Then there are the personal features for you to consider, such as storage space (how much gear do you plan on bringing?), performance (how far do you want to go and what kind of waters do you want to fish?), weight (do you need something light enough to portage?), and seat setup (do you prefer to stand and cast or will you require a higher chair so you can sit and cast?).
These fly fishing kayaks from Hobie, Old Town, Vibe Kayaks, Feelfree Kayaks, Wilderness Systems, Bonafide Kayaks, Native Watercraft, Perception Kayaks, NuCanoe, Jackson Adventures and more cover all the bases, leaving no aspiring kayak fly fisherman without.
Here are the best fly fishing kayaks on the market today:
- Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
- Old Town Predator 13
- Vibe Sea Ghost 130
- Feelfree Lure 13.5
- Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K.
- Bonafide Kayaks SS127
- Native Watercraft Ultimate 12
- Perception Kayaks Pescador Pro 120
- NuCanoe Pursuit
- Jackson Adventures Mayfly
[This article is part of the Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide for The Best Fishing Kayaks For 2021. Find all the best fishing kayaks from the top brands for all situations.]
The Mirage Pro Angler 12 fishing kayak from Hobie deploys all the big-boat fishing features of the Pro Angler series on a 12-foot-long platform that fits neatly in the back of most any pickup truck. Keep a half-dozen rods rigged for the ultimate kayak fishing adventure. Confidently stand and fire cast after cast. The elevated Vantage ST seat makes it easy to move around the boat. Now includes a retractable skeg for improved course-keeping, as well as innovative H-Rail for superior flexibility in accessory rigging. Now with the Guardian Retractable Transducer Shield and the reversing MirageDrive 180 with Turbo Kick-Up Fins.
The Predator 13 from Old Town was engineered—both below and above the waterline—to deliver the perfect platform for fishing and on-water sporting. Old Town’s Pro Staff examined seating, rod placement, paddle holders and total “fish-ability” and incorporated it all into this revolutionary boat. This boat features Old Town’s Element Seating System, which provides high/low seating options and an adjustable backrest. Also included are rod tip holders and rod retainer bungees, side-mount paddle storage and a molded paddle rest, a slip-resistant deck, a stand-up assist strap and more.
View all Old Town fly fishing kayaks.
Venture farther than ever before in the Sea Ghost 130 Angler from Vibe Kayaks. The extra-wide hull offers unmatched stability and handles everything from rivers to surf. This boat has all the features anglers demand, such as extra rod holders, a large rear tankwell, a foot-controlled rudder system, easy-to-reach front and rear hatches, tackle tray holders, a center console for additional storage with a lid to mount additional equipment, and so much more.
View all Vibe fly fishing kayaks.
The Lure 13.5 from Feelfree Kayaks provides a new level in stability, comfort and versatility. The 13.5 is longer, faster, extremely stable and capable of bigger water, featuring a front multi-use console, and a removable sonar and electronic pod. The Lure’s super-stable 34-inch-wide hull paired with an extra-large padded standing platform gives you the option to paddle or cast in sitting or standing position. The Lure 13.5 is also available with the Overdrive Pedal & Motor System.
The A.T.A.K. from Wilderness Systems strikes the elusive balance between speed and stability with its long waterline, highly walkable surface and wind-shedding hull. The open deck design is optimized for accessory customization with storage opportunities intelligently located throughout. The AirPro MAX high/low seat delivers comfort and visibility, while the Flex Pod OS console provides electronics integration and compatibility with the Helix MD Motor Drive (sold separately). It comes in two sizes: the 120 and 140.
The SS127 from Bonafide Kayaks is hard to beat when it comes to fishability from a kayak. Every feature was designed from the ground up to create an amazing angling experience. Featuring a hybrid catamaran hull design that provides uncompromised stability in various conditions, this boat is not kind-of-stable, it’s crazy-stable (at only 33.5 inches wide!). This allows for the comfortable HiRise seating system to raise to an ultra-high position for improved sight casting and to relieve pressure on your lower back.
The Ultimate 12 from Native Watercraft is an original standup fishing hybrid (featuring Native’s patented Tunnel Hull technology) that lowers your center of gravity to make standing while sight casting a breeze. The Ultimate 12 offers easy access to fishing at a budget price. Its clean, open floor-plan makes loading and unloading a breeze, and allows for unobstructed casting. Lightweight and sturdy, this hybrid is hard to beat.
View all Native Watercraft fly fishing kayaks.
The Pescador Pro 120 from Perception Kayaks is a real fishing kayak for real fishing enthusiasts. It’s packed full of fishy features with the tracking and stability discerning anglers have come to expect from today’s fishing kayaks. These features include a removable Pro Seat that has two-level adjustment, rod tip recesses, gear tracks, large front and rear open storage, and more. The light weight of this kayak make it easy to transport and store—perfect for anglers looking for portability.
The Pursuit from NuCanoe is a high-performance and high-potential fishing kayak for competitive kayak anglers. It maximizes speed and stability while providing exceptional tracking and maneuverability. The open deck layout gives anglers full control over the configuration and outfitting and the new H2ProDrive pedal system means the Pursuit can be powered by paddle, pedal or motor.
The MayFly from Jackson Adventures is a fly fishing oriented sit-on-top loaded with features to make kayak fly fishing more fun and user-friendly. The MayFly has a versatile hull optimized for tracking, stability, and speed in popular fly fishing conditions and destinations, including tropical flats, slow-moving rivers, lakes and ponds. The MayFly includes a myriad of design aspects that address the needs of fly fishermen—such as fly line management—creating the ultimate kayak fly fishing platform. Snag-free foot rests and features, protected fly box storage, unique storage options for your fly fishing rod and reel, rod butt props for dealing with tangles, integrated and protected fly patches, and more cater to the high-performance features expert fly fishermen need while being versatile and stable enough to bring new kayak fly anglers into the sport.
How we chose the best fly fishing kayaks
We consider several factors when choosing the best fly fishing kayaks. From ensuring we judge the kayak according to its intended purpose to making sure you’re actually able to buy it, here are the things we consider when picking the kayak in each category:
- Purpose. Comparing apples to apples.
- Performance. How well does it do its job?
- Features. Sometimes we’re all about bells and whistles, sometimes not.
- Real-world testing. We put them to the test on the water.
- Price. Is it affordable? Does its performance justify its cost?
- Sales. Best-selling models are best-sellers for a reason.
- Availability. It won’t be good if you can’t buy it.
- Designer and brand interviews. We ask the people who made it why.
Let’s find you the perfect fishing kayak for fly fishing
Use the Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide‘s reviews, specs and expert rankings to help you find the right kayak at the right price. Find all the best fishing kayaks from the top brands for all situations in The Best Fishing Kayaks For 2021.