Offshore kayak fishing presents unique challenges and risks. Of course, it also offers unique rewards, like the chance to catch tuna and grouper. So how do you reap those rewards and mitigate those risks? In addition to learning skills like how to surf launch and taking appropriate precautions like monitoring weather conditions, having the right gear is essential to staying safe (and having a good time) fishing beyond the breakers.
A fishing kayak that’s designed for open-water fishing will be stable in windy and wavy conditions (and when you’re reeling in a big fish). However, a good open-water kayak is not as stable as an inshore kayak. To absorb the power of the waves and turn on a dime, as well as ride waves into the beach, the boat should lean to the right and left. Most ocean boats have a long waterline to track well, allowing you to travel long distances with ease. To improve handling, big-water kayaks have a slight bend in the keel, called rocker. The paddler can lean back and lift the bow out of the water to make a fast turn or surf down the face of a wave. To ensure gear and fishing rods survive a surf launch and rough seas, an ocean kayak has ample storage space below deck.
These open-water fishing kayaks from Ocean Kayak, Old Town, Hobie, Native Watercraft, Wilderness Systems, Vibe Kayaks, Eddyline Kayaks, Viking Kayaks, NuCanoe, Jackson Adventures and more are capable of managing surf, currents, swells and the constant stream of big fish you’re sure to be reeling in.
Here are the best ocean fishing kayaks for offshore fishing on the market today:
- Ocean Kayak Trident 13
- Old Town Sportsman BigWater 132
- Hobie Mirage Revolution 13
- Native Watercraft Manta Ray Angler 12 XT
- Wilderness Systems Radar 135
- Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130
- Eddyline Kayaks Caribbean 14 Angler
- Viking Kayaks Profish Reload
- NuCanoe Pursuit
- Hurricane Kayaks Skimmer 140
- Jackson Adventures Kraken
[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 Trident 13 from Ocean Kayak balances size with agility, making it the most versatile kayak in the fleet. It performs well in almost any water application, but you’ll notice the superb performance in breaking surf and rough seas. Seaworthy and stable, this boat is great for carrying heavy loads and is at home in open water as well as backwater flats. Features include the ACS2 Seat for all-day comfort, gunnel accessory tracks, a Bow Click Seal Hatch, a redesigned Mod Pod II, two flush mount rod holders and more.
The Sportsman BigWater 132 from Old Town is a paddle kayak that’s been engineered above and below the waterline to be the perfect platform for fishing. At just over 13 feet, the performance tri-hull design provides the paddling efficiency essential in more open water and the stability required when you stand. Breathable, quick-drying and fully adjustable, the Element seat provides the comfort needed to keep you on the water longer.
The Mirage Revolution 13 from Hobie is a smooth, stable kayak that’s capable of taking on boisterous water. It includes go-all-day creature comforts such as the Vantage CT seat. It’s catchy too, with dual rod holders and plentiful tackle storage. If you crave a change of pace from the hands-free, reversing MirageDrive 180 with Kick-Up Fins, then pick up the paddle—you’ll find the Revo 13 still makes tracks. If this is a floating SUV, it’s one that loves a twisty, challenging track.
View all Hobie offshore fishing kayaks.
Affordability, fishing-ready features and high/low seating are the name of the game with the Manta Ray Angler 12 XT from Native Watercraft. This polyethylene adaptation of the thermoformed Manta Ray 12 LT contains the same hull design focused on maximizing stability in a seated, paddling or sight-casting position. This boat delivers the performances, confidence and comfort necessary for a long day on the water.
The Radar series is Wilderness Systems‘ first tri-powered kayak with paddle, power and pedal capabilities. The Radar 135 features S.M.A.R.T Hull Technology that combines stability, maneuverability, acceleration, responsiveness and tracking throughout the entire design for ultimate performance in multiple water environments. In addition to a flat platform for standing and freedom of movement, the Radar boats state-of-the-art outfitting, multiple storage and electronics options, and compatibility with the patent-pending Helix PD Pedal Drive and Helix MD Motor Drive. The AirPro Max seat is comfort-adjustable for any mode of travel you choose.
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 offshore fishing kayaks.
A laudable lightweight fishing kayak, the Caribbean 14 Angler is a high-performance version of Eddyline‘s popular Caribbean 12, especially adapted for fishing enthusiasts who may be dealing with surf or rough water conditions. This kayak is quick and stable, with a hull designed for efficiency, tracking and maneuvering. It’s outfitted with traction pads, rod holders, gear tracks, a Cloud 10 Seat and an elevated seat with a drain to keep you dry.
View all Eddyline offshore fishing kayaks.
The Profish Reload from Viking Kayaks offers a great kayaking experience whether you’re paddling for pleasure or you’ve got fish on your mind. It offers plenty of storage for multi-day trips on the coast or down the river and isn’t too heavy for those portages. A low seat and freeboard means less wind resistance and their high-back seat offers great comfort for long days on the water.
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 H2Pro Drive pedal system means the Pursuit can be powered by paddle, pedal or motor.
View all NuCanoe offshore fishing kayaks.
Hurricane Skimmer 140
The Skimmer 140 from Hurricane has a touring-style hull and Trylon construction that allow it to easily outpace other kayaks in its class. Its low seat-pan and comfortable outfitting make you feel totally connected with the boat. Fully-featured from bow to stern with a generous front hatch, center day hatch, and stern day hatch, this boat is designed for serious paddling, and anglers will be overwhelmed by the outfitting opportunities this lightweight sit-on-top has to offer.
The Kraken from Jackson can handle many tasks and any sea conditions. The v-shaped, long, narrow hull lends this boat stability in steep waves and swells, as well as an ability to track straight and cover distance even when the wind is blowing. Features include a seat that can be moved fore and aft, a Plano ammo-style tackle box and JKrate, YakAttack GearTracs in the tankwell, a GoPro mount, flush mount rod holders and more.
Note that the Kraken is no longer in production. You’ll need to check with your local dealer for stock, or shop Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for used boats. Jackson’s next-best boat for ocean fishing is the Coosa FD. While not truly an ocean kayak, the Coosa FD is a sturdy pedal kayak that is quick in the surf and solid for all-day fishing. In contrast, the Kraken’s large bow hatch, long waterline and sport handling make it a classic open-water kayak.
How we chose the best offshore fishing kayaks
We consider several factors when choosing the best open-water 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 ocean fishing kayak
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.