Choosing the right fishing kayak will have a big effect on your level of enjoyment on the water. Start by knowing what water you will primarily be fishing, and use these expert tips to help you make your choice.

OPEN WATER 

ARTIST AND BLOGGER, ROB CHOI

“In my opinion, a kayak needs to be over 13 feet long and less than 32 inches wide to qualify as an open-water boat. A long keel keeps the boat tracking straight while a curve in the bow, called rocker, improves handling by lifting the bow out of the water on the turn. A boat with less primary stability will absorb waves. I look for a pointed bow and stern that passes through the water easily. The bow should be high with a flare that deflects waves.”

RIVERS 

PRO GUIDE, JEFF LITTLE

“Each river is different and each river angler will have different needs. For a river with swift water, look for a shorter boat with a pronounced rocker. For average flow with minimal rapids, a longer boat will track straight and drift without spinning. Remem- ber, a larger volume boat will float higher in the water, which reduces draft. Lighter boats will be easier to portage around rough sections of the river.”

FLATS FISHING 

PRO GUIDE, ALEX TEJEDA

“A 13- to 14-foot boat between 34 and 36 inches wide combines stability with seaworthiness. Moderate rocker and long waterline improve handling and tracking when crossing open bays. A wide and flat, or multi-chine stern will provide stability to stand and fish once on the flat. The boat should pass through the water smoothly to reduce hull slap.”

PONDS 

CONTRIBUTOR, DREW HAERER

“Pond fishing often requires small, light kayaks for quick trips and easy access. Sit-inside kayaks are light and comfortable to carry. Small waters are perfect for hybrid kayaks that combine the open cockpit of a canoe with the maneuverability of the double-bladed paddles. Many hybrids are stable enough to stand and fish. A boat between 11 and 13 feet long will get into tight places.”

LAKES 

TOURNAMENT ANGLER, BOBBY CLARK

“When fishing larger lakes I look for a boat with a multi-chine hull for ultimate stability. The multi-chine hull moves volume away from the center keel like a pontoon boat. These boats also have less draft and more freeboard to travel through shallow water and carry a lot of gear. Multi-chine boats have high primary stability and track straight.”

Featured Photo: Dustin Doskocil

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