The Best Kayaks for Fly Fishing in 2018 (Comparison Included)

Kayaks are one of the fastest-growing of the paddling sports, and anglers are a big part of this growth. Once you consider the advantages of kayak fishing—mobility, lower cost, and ease of transportation- it is easy to see that adding a kayak to your fly fishing can significantly up your game. Plus, spending your day paddling can be enjoyable even of you do not catch any fish!

The problem many would-be kayak anglers face is selecting the right craft—and in all truth, this can be mind-boggling. But it does not need to be so confusing. By starting with a detailed review, such as the one we have prepared below, you can narrow down your options considerably. Then, you can consider where you will be fishing and, of course, what you can afford.

From motorized and pedal-powered models to the latest in inflatables, the following article will guide you through the process of selecting the best fly fishing kayak. Below, you will find reviews of the best fly fishing kayaks, their key features, and what we liked or disliked about each—everything you need to jump start your own search.

Regardless of what features top your list of “must-haves”, cost considerations, fishing style, or where you will be wetting a line, we are confident that one of these models will be your best option for a fly fishing kayak. 

Best Kayaks for Fly Fishing Comparisons 

8 Best Kayaks for Fly Fishing 

1. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 17T

Hobie is known for offering a wide range of fishing kayaks and accessories specifically designed to improve your time on the water. The Pro Angler 17 T is not only a top-notch fishing kayak, its increased length and width provide the stability needed to fly fish with confidence. Add to this the many features standard on Hobie models, and you have yourself an excellent choice if you’re looking for a top-end fly fishing kayak.

The Mirage Drive pedal system allows for hands-free movement and, when coupled with the drop-down skeg, makes it easy to stay on station when fish are located. Multiple storage options for both gear and rods will allow you to take all your favorite accessories without cluttering the deck and risking breaking or losing valuable gear over the side. Finally, with the Pro Angler, you will be purchasing a professional fishing kayak, not a paddling kayak that you need to reconfigure.

What we liked

  • Increased size means added stability
  • •12 rod holders (2 vertical & 10 horizontal)
  • Seat system allows for easy reconfiguration from tandem to tandem facing or solo

What we didn't like

  • High price point
  • It weighs a lot, making it difficult for the solo user to manhandle the kayak into or out of the water
  • With so many controls and advanced accessories, there is a steep learning curve

2. Ocean Kayak Prowler

The Prowler has a simpler design focused on providing the angler with the features they need—and it does so in a kayak that is suited for a wide range of waters including both fresh and saltwater as well as offshore.

With the Prowler under you, fly fishing will no longer mean wading shallow streams or beach areas. Now you will be able to access those promising backwaters, offshore migration routes, or even that structure that is just outside your casting range. Plus, you will have the performance and speed necessary to do so without getting tired before you could even cast a line.

What we liked

  • Great value for the money
  • Unclutter deck design makes for safe and snag-free operating area
  • Light weight

What we didn't like

  • Fewer adjustable features mean less personalized fit
  • Only 2 rod holders
  • No support bars or assist strap for angler who wants to stand

3. Oldtown Predator

Just like the name suggests, the Predator was designed by the Oldtown Prostaff to be at the top of the fishing kayak food chain. When anglers design a craft for anglers, you end up with a kayak that not only includes many of the features anglers wish every kayak had, but also one that performs where anglers want to go.

The Predator includes features such as abundant storage for tackle, a slip-resistant deck surface, and easy-to-use seating adjustments that will add to your fishing experience rather than making their use a chore.

Plus, this watercraft is equally at home on the local lakes and rivers as it is on the near-coastal areas saltwater anglers favor. You will find that this kayak is able to operate in conditions where many similar-sized kayaks are outmatched.

What we liked

  • Lots of storage for rods, tackle, and coolers
  • Deck is designed for standing and has a slip-resistant surface
  • 3-position Element seat is comfortable for both casting and paddling

What we didn't like

  • A bit heavier than ideal, given the length
  • 13 ft length does not allow for the best offshore performance
  • No preinstalled rod holders

4. Sevylor Coleman Colorado

You might be surprised to see this inflatable kayak made the list—when it comes to fly fishing and kayaking, they typically do not make the cut. They are generally unstable, lack the control desired, and are prone to puncture. But the Colorado is different and deserves consideration.

With a hull constructed of 18-gauge PVC and covered with 870D & 1000D fabric, it is unlikely you will suffer a trip-ending puncture from scraps, accidental snagging, or dropping a lure. Should a leak develop, the multiple-chamber design will prevent loss of all air and allow you to return to the dock.

And by using an I Beam construction, the designers have also overcome the sagging common with inflatables, and even made the Colorado strong enough to allow standing in the correct conditions.

What we liked

  • Light weight and easy to transport—it even comes with backpack
  • Pre-rigger to accept a 12-volt trolling motor
  • Generous size provides plenty of room for anglers and gear

What we didn't like

  • No pump or paddles included, meaning it is not out-of-the-box ready 
  • The valves do not accept many standard air nozzles, so you may need to purchase an adaptor
  • Light weight & generous size results in tracking difficulty, especially in crosswind

5. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130X

Wilderness Systems pioneered the fishing kayak and continues to be a leader in the field, so it should come as no surprise that the Tarpon 130x impresses on first sight. This kayak is the combination of the many years of experience the designers have and the feedback they have received during that time.

Alternate propulsion systems are growing in popularity with kayak anglers, and the Tarpon 130x is compatible with both the Helix PD pedal system and Helix Motor Drive. It is also pre-configured to accept a wide range of electronics including fish finders and GPS, again very popular with modern fishermen.

Fly anglers will enjoy that the Tarpon 130x not only allows standing but was specifically designed to do so. When casting for far-off bone fish or weary stripers, it is nice to know you can get the extra control and elevation needed to hit the mark without the fear of falling overboard.

What we liked

  • Multiple propulsion systems available including paddle, pedal, and motor
  • Hands-free movement 
  • Multiple easy-to-reach storage compartments

What we didn't like

  • Redesigned motor mount means earlier
  • Helix systems will not fit
  • Narrow shape of rear storage area makes finding a cooler or box that will fit difficult

6. Perception Pescador Pro 12

The Pescador is proof that a quality fly fishing kayak does not need to cost so much you cannot afford to fish. The designers have come up with a well thought-out design that, although simple, is configured to easily accept popular accessories. Plus, you get this at a fraction of the price you would pay for many competitors’ models.

This is an ideal kayak for the beginner looking to find their niche, or a more experienced paddler looking for a single unit capable of multiple tasks. While it may not be the fanciest or most advanced model available, it can provide many seasons of reliable use in many fishing applications.

What we liked

  • Well-designed deck configuration allows for easy access to gear
  • Pre-configured to accept latest in electronic fish finders and GPS
  • Able to handle a wide range of water conditions including offshore and lower-class whitewater

What we didn't like

  • Use of plugs rather than scuppers makes for slower draining of water
  • Rod holders can be difficult to access depending on seat position
  • Additional rod holders are needed

7. Big Tuna by Jackson Kayak

Big Tuna by Jackson Kayak

This is a welcome advantage for the fly fisherman who likes to stand and cast without having to worry about getting wet.

The tandem design easily allows for two anglers, even if both wish to stand at the same time. This would be especially welcome if instructing or guiding other anglers. When fishing solo, you will enjoy the extra room, stability, and ample storage.

What we liked

  • Designed for standing with extra width as well as seat height and assist straps needed for easy transition
  • Molded seat supports and stadium seats allow for easy reconfiguration
  • Tackle storage is both ample and secure

What we didn't like

  • Although the seats are adjustable, they do have some small parts that can be easily lost
  • Extra size means paddling in the wind c9an be a bit more difficult
  • When used solo, control is not easy and may require slightly more advanced techniques

8. Eddyline C135 Yakattack

This newcomer to the fishing kayak arena has been described as “stylish, comfortable & adaptable”. While this may appear to be marketing hype, it is backed up with an award-winning design that is available in multiple colors and seating configurations. Couple this with its ability to easily accept several popular aftermarket accessories, and you have a kayak you can customize and call your own.

In addition to being nice to look at, the Yakattack is also fun to fish from. The ability to accept both trolling motors and stakeout poles allows for use in a wide range of environments and is especially suitable for those interested in longer trips. This is a kayak you can fish from in comfort and style without forgoing performance.

What we liked

  • Able to accept trolling motors, stakeout poles, and multi-position rod holders without modification
  • Light weight but still able to deliver large capacity without fear of tipping or loss of performance
  • Thermoformed hull offers high level of impact resistance

What we didn't like

  • Cost – a bit steep for a model without a paddle option available
  • Would like to see additional sizes available, especially for those wishing to go offshore

Conclusion 

Hopefully, this review and our thoughts on these popular fly fishing kayaks will help you move from considering one to getting one of your own.

However, it is recommended that you do more than simply read our review though—you need to get on the water and try some out for yourself. Whether you visit a dealer, take a paddling class, or borrow a friend’s watercraft, testing these kayaks is the best way to find what fits you and your needs.

Good luck, and tight lines!

David Valle
 

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!

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