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How to Choose a Fishing Kayak

Ryan Lilly with Old Town Watercraft takes you through the different factors to consider when choosing your first or next fishing kayak.

Kayak fishing has exploded in popularity, driving a whole new world of ways to fish that includes new ways of getting around on the water. With so many great options out there, it can be intimidating to find the right fishing kayak. Let me walk you through ways to identify the right fishing kayak model and style that's right for you.

Types of Water

Let's begin by talking about where you'd like to fish. Even though our hulls are designed with specific conditions in mind, all of our boats will perform in saltwater, and freshwater applications. Suppose you're an angler who primarily fishes lakes and deep slow moving rivers for bass, panfish, walleye or other species, or coastal bays, mangroves or marshes or redfish, sea trout more, you should consider choosing a kayak with a W hull. The W hull is a flat pontoon style hull that is incredibly stable with generous usable capacity. If you'd like to stand and fish or tend to take a lot of gear along with you, consider choosing any of the following models:

If you spend your time fishing in large bodies of water such as big lake, ocean bays, or offshore where weather conditions tend to be windy and rock or tidal water. Consider choosing a model with a rounded hull and pronounced bow shape. Kayaks with these characteristics navigate rough, harsh, windy or tidal conditions better and are easier to surf. Models with these attributes are the:

Weight Capacity and Transportation

Now that we've identified what type of angler you are, it's time to think about what size watercraft is best for you. There are two main factors in play, how much usable capacity you need and how you plan to transport it. Usable capacity is the amount of capacity that remains after subtracting your weight and the kayak’s weight from the maximum capacity rate. If you're an angler who likes to take a lot of gear with you, consider choosing a larger kayak or if you're a minimalist and don't need a ton of extra capacity, maybe a smaller lighter kayak is right for you.

When deciding which kayak size to choose, it's helpful to identify how you intend to transport your watercraft. For example, if you drive a car or an SUV with a roof rack you may want a lighter smaller craft. Longer heavier crafts are much harder to car-top and are easier to transport out of the bed of a pickup truck or on a trailer.

Propulsion Style

We offer three ways to propel your fishing craft, paddle, pedal, and power. Which propulsion style you choose comes down to three main factors: your budget, where you plan to fish and what type of angler you are.

If you prefer to paddle, we offer several great models. Paddle models are simpler to transport and maintain. We offer both sit inside and sit on top. If you're someone who wants to outfit their craft with electronics, tackle crates and other gear, check out the following models:

If you're someone who keeps their fishing pursuits simple or wants a great crossover recreational fishing craft, check out the:

If you're looking to cover more water, explore more places and keep your hands free, a pedal model could be right for you. The award winning PDL drive offers instant forward and reverse control, allowing you to focus on fishing. Our pedal models include:

If you're looking for a premium fishing experience, consider our motorized models. We offer two models of seamlessly integrated Minn Kota power that allows you to put all of your energy into the catch. The Sportsman 106 powered by Minn Kota is compact and powerful. It is simple and easy to use, and even easier to transport. Control the forward and reverse thrust but the throttle and rudder with your feet.

The Sportsman Autopilot 120 and 136 model uses a GPS enabled Minn Kota trolling motor to propel, maneuver and anchor the kayak using spot lock technology.

If you're the type of person who fishes rivers, currents, tides or wind, the GPS enabled motor will remotely anchor your location as you fish with the press of the button. It's worth noting that our Minn Kota motorized watercraft require you to source your own 12 volt lead-acid or lithium-ion battery for operation. No matter what you're looking for, there's an option for every type of angler.

Read Reviews and Compare all Old Town Kayaks >


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