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HOW TO CHOOSE A KAYAK FOR FISHING

Written by Gary Lacey on March 09, 2021

Fishing with a kayak opens up a ton of sweet new opportunities to stalk fish in waters that aren’t so easily accessed by larger or motorized boats – whether freshwater or salt.

Kayak fishing combines the quiet of paddling low on the water with the thrill of reeling in a fish that will feel way bigger on the end of your line when you're on a kayak than if you are on a bank or in a traditional boat. With a kayak you can also be far stealthier than any traditional motor boat as you glide over waters to your fave fishing spot and sneak up on fish without spooking them.

Having so many options out there, you’ll have a lot of decisions to make when shopping for a fishing kayak.

Here are some key decision points to help you narrow down your choices when you shop either online or at your local dealer:

(1) Decide if you want a sit-on-top or a sit-in kayak.

Sit-on-top kayaks are typically easiest to get in and out of. They also float if the kayak capsizes, where a sit-in can fill with water and sink.

(2) Determine if you want to paddle or pedal.

You may prefer the exercise and simplicity of paddling, or want the advantages of pedaling with your feet so your hands are free for fishing.

If you do decide that a pedal kayak may be best for you now or even later, then the Shearwater 125 is definitely the kayak you want, because you can always add the Vibe X-Drive Pedal Kit at anytime in the future!

(3) Where do you plan on fishing?

Where you plan to fish is another factor in deciding the type of kayak you’ll need. Are you fishing in moving or still water? Will you spend a lot of time sight fishing or trolling?

Smaller lakes and ponds: If you’re fishing in flat calm waters where speed isn’t a concern, a shorter, sit-on-top kayak with stability may be a good choice, such as the Sea Ghost 110, Yellowfin 120 or Yellowfin 100.

Open water: If you need to cover a lot of water (whether on a large lake or offshore) to get to your favorite fishing spot, you may want a longer, narrower sit-on-top kayak that tracks better and moves faster over distances, such as the elite Shearwater 125 or Sea Ghost 130, or Cubera hybrid SUP 120, or Yellowfin 120.

In addition, if you want to add an outboard motor to your Shearwater or Cubera to get to the honey holes even faster or avoid bad weather, then you can add an awesome Bixpy J-1 Outboard Motor in moments.

Rivers and streams: When fishing rivers or small streams, consider a shorter kayak that is easy to maneuver in tight spaces and can turn better, such as the Sea Ghost 110, or Cubera hybrid SUP 120, or Yellowfin 100.

Ocean: With wind, waves, currents and tides to consider, a boat with a rudder system can help you navigate better, such as the Shearwater 125, or Sea Ghost 130, or Yellowfin 120.

(4) How much weight will you be hauling?

You’ll want to think about the fishing kayak’s weight capacity. Consider your own weight and the amount of gear and tackle you'll want to haul. Are you a minimalist or do you like having a lot of gear close at hand? Knowing that will also help you pick the right kayak for your needs.

(5) Do you want to fish while standing?

Stability is key here. Wider fishing kayak hulls tend to be more stable, allowing you to cast farther and with more confidence while standing. The tradeoff for a wider fishing kayak is potentially a slower kayak, but it likely really won't be that noticeable.

(6) How do you plan to transport the fishing kayak?

How easy is it to handle and lift the kayak? Can you carry it solo to where you want to fish? Can you transport it on top of your car or in your truck bed, or will you need a trailer? Taking a look at each kayak model's weight on their specifications will give you the info you need.

(7) What kayak fishing features do you want or need?

Many fishing kayaks come with a range of features for your fishing needs, from rod holders to mounts that allow you to customize the kayak with your favorite accessories to tailer to the waters and species you'll be fishing.

Rod holders: Many kayaks have mounted rod holders or molded-in rod holders, or grooves on the sides for your rods to fit horizontally. You can also easily install rod holders to your kayak.

All of Vibe's Sea Ghost series, and Yellowfins series, and the Shearwater have built-in rod holders.

Seats: Finding a comfortable seat is like finding a shoe that fits. It’s worth the time to do it. Test the seats out for comfort, back support, seat cushion and where it hits on the back of your leg. On some kayaks, you can remove or move the seat to stand in the boat, or you can adjust the height or recline the seat.

The four-way adjustable Vibe Summit Seat is the most all-day, all-weather comfortable seat available anywhere, and it comes with different easily adjustable seating positions for when you need to get higher for sight-fishing, or if you want to make it easier for power paddling, or for just relaxing. With regards to sight-fishing, the optional Vibe Summit Perch can be added to the back of the Summit Seat to give you a full 16-inches above the water, whether seated or standing!

Storage options: Are you a minimalist or one of those anglers who has to have a cooler, tackle box, live bait and other fishing necessities with you? Storage options on fishing kayaks include hard, enclosed hatches in the bow, stern or midship for dry storage; large tank wells with room for your milk crate; or other storage container or bungee cords to secure dry bags.

One benefit to sit-on-top kayaks is that you have readier access to much of your gear that’s kept on top and inside the hatches.

Gear tracks: Slide tracks let you attach accessories such as phones and fish finders to your kayak without drilling holes. If yours doesn’t come with gear tracks, you can install them.

Standing decks: If fishing while standing is important to you, look for footwells that are designed for standing. Some may allow you to add support bars or assist straps.

Rudders: Kayaks with rudders help with tracking in wind. The rudder angle can be constantly readjusted via foot pedals, so it’s more responsive to changing conditions when you’re on the move. You may be able to install a rudder later on some kayaks.

Motor drive: For those looking to get to fishing spots without the tired legs and arms, Vibe also sells kayaks that can be outfitted with a motor.

Choosing the right fishing kayak comes down to primarily knowing where you will be paddling and fishing, and how you'll be fishing. Tight lines!

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