Fishing Kayaks: A 2022 Buyers Guide - The Fisherman

Fishing Kayaks: A 2022 Buyers Guide

A dozen of the fishiest kayaks you’ll find for your coastal kayak clashes this season.

The first quarter of 2022 has seen a notable uptick in kayak purchases, especially in the world of recreational fishing. Some of the outfitters I’ve spoken to during the winter show season said their lineup of kayaks is being cleared out of the showroom almost as soon as the trucks can deliver the newest model.

Something unique we’ve noticed at the Jersey Shore this spring that will no doubt be of interest to Long Islanders and New Englanders alike is that fishing kayaks in 2022 satisfy two immediate needs to the current angler.  For one, the notable increase in gas prices this year has many folks considering the economic value of a fishing kayak, either in conjunction with their current gas-powered engine or as a replacement.

The second big impetus behind the paddle or pedal-driven fishing kayak is a bit more noticeable among the surfcasting community.  Here in the Garden State we’ve seen a huge number of winter-over striped bass in 2022; when the March 1 season first opened many of those holdovers were sitting in holes and along edges where wade fishermen enjoyed a great opener.  But as those stripers spread out in the bays and rivers, the ones finding the best action were those who were able to launch and hunt from any particular street end or access point.

With the spring run in full effect and summer knocking at the door, it’s the perfect time to add another weapon to your fishing arsenal, and these dozen manufacturers offer some of the latest, greatest fishability in the world of kayaks today.

BONAFIDE

bonafidekayaks.com

BONAFIDE

In addition to the ease of transport and overall simplicity, one of the very best parts about fishing from a kayak is that the angler is seated about as low to the water as possible.  But in some situations – like working a sedge, flat or creek mouth, being able to stand up has serious advantages.  After months of research and development, Bonafide has made great strides in the SS127 from both the “sit” and “stand” side of the kayaking equation.

While seated, the Bonafide SS127 boasts their proprietary HiRise kayak seating system which features an ultra-high-back seat to allow you to sit with your knees bent, taking pressure off of your lower back.  When it’s time to cover some water, their trademarked SeatRack and foldable seat frame allow quick and quiet conversion to a lower position.

With a beamy 33-1/2-inch width and 12-foot, 7-inch length, the SS127 sit-on-top fishing kayak may be one of the most stable kayaks you’ve ever been in.  A stable platform with smooth glide and excellent maneuverability, the overall fishability in the bonafide will make you stand up and take notice.  Bonafide has trademarked the term Ultimate Fishability featuring YakAttack GearTrac to allow anglers to have gear out of the way but always within reach.  Fully rigged weight the SS127 comes in at 84 pounds, with a capacity load of 475 pounds.

MSRP: $1,799

BOTE

boteboard.com

BOTE

The new Lono Apex Pedal Drive from BOTE is a sub-hybrid, part paddleboard, part kayak and part pedal boat.  Awarded Best New Watercraft at ICAST 2021 for its unique versatility, this inflatable fits easily into an easy storage bag and offers all the fishability you need.

For the angler who wants speed, portability, versatility, durability, and a pedal-driven option, the LONO Aero can be paired with the APEX Pedal Drive, though the LONO Aero can be used as a kayak or stand-up paddleboard (SUP).  The BOTE has D rings and handles, ample storage, a unique MAGNEPOD to secure insulated metal drinkware, and is Rocket Rac Compatible for storing rods.

A sharp-looking inflatable, it also boasts all the add-on features to make this one of the most uniquely efficient fishing machines on the kayak grounds. The Pedal Port boasts a clear removable cover that allows for the LONO Aero to be fitted with the sold separately Apex Pedal Drive unit, converting the LONO from standard kayak to pedal driven kayak.  Removable top and seat allows you easy conversion from LONO Kayak into a stand-up paddle configuration. It’s constructed with BOTE’s exclusive Aero Technology for peak rigidity and performance, with four independent chambers for enhanced stability.

Inflated the LONO Aero by BOTE has a 400-pound capacity and tapes out at 12-1/2 feet with a beamy 35-1/2-inch width; the loaded bag weight is 73 pounds making for a unique “carry in, carry out” option on the kayak fishing grounds.

MSRP: $1,500

HOBIE

hobie.com

HOBIE

Kayak anglers who like to travel light will love the latest addition to the ever-growing Hobie fleet, the all-new Mirage Lynx.  With a hull weight of just 45 pounds, the 11-foot long, 36-inch wide Lynx boasts a 350-pound capacity while being lightweight and easy to transport.  An exceptionally stable kayak, the Lynx is sleek yet rugged, designed specifically for anglers want the flexibility and versatility to load and launch with minimal effort.

A hard-shell spin-off of Hobie’s proven inflatable 11 design, the Lynx features ACE-TEC construction for rigidity and durability, a removable rudder system for optimal steering control, and a premium MirageDrive 180 propulsion system with Kick-Up Fin technology that affords maximum control with forward and reverse pedaling, even in shallow water.

A V-hull entry, wide bow, and innovative waterflow tunnel system combine to ensure ultimate maneuverability to allow anglers to push back into the marshes and shallow pockets inaccessible to others, while keeping hands free to execute that perfect cast or to sit tight on structure. It also comes H-Crate-ready and has additional bow storage with Bungee tie downs and scupper holes for a live well or bait tank and comes ready to install fishing electronics and a Power-Pole anchor system.

The new Mirage Lynx platform features molded-in tracks for mounting accessories, an EVA standing pad, and ample cargo room that can be utilized for a variety of applications. For the ultimate package, upgrade to a Hobie H-Rail mounting platform with integrated, patented RAM Hand-Track.   Available in Two-Tone Golden Papaya and Dune.

MSRP:  $2,699

NATIVE WATERCRAFT

nativewatercraft.com

NATIVE

Large and in-charge is the best way to describe the latest Native to hit the kayak fishing market in 2022.  One of the Native brand’s most popular designs of all time, the Slayer Propel 13 has been updated with the new Slayer Propel Max 12.5. Featuring the proven Propel Pedal Drive and impressive kayak fishing features, the Max 12.5 is an incredibly versatile kayak fishing platform.

Key features include bow hatch area with a small bucket, a location for battery placement and easy transducer wiring through the integrated hull scupper. Built in transducer mounting plate on the hull so you do not have to drill into your kayak to mount your transducer. An electronic switch mounting plate that is replaceable if you want to change your setup without drilling into your boat. Bow and stern inserts built in for easy mounting of a Power-Pole Micro Anchor or a motor. Ample storage and groove tracks for accessories as well.

The specs are impressive; at 12-feet, 6-inches in length. The Max 12.5 boasts a 34-inch width and can accommodate 500 pounds of onboard capacity.  Fully rigged this beast of machine weighs in at 125 pounds (95-pound fitted hull, without seat and Propel Pedal Drive installed).  Three color choices include Gator Green, Grey Goose, and for those who might like to don the drysuit for winter duck hunts along the marshes the Hidden Oak.

MSRP:  $2,899

NUCANOE

NUCANOE

Founded in 2006 by Tim Niemier (who also founded Ocean Kayak) and Blake Young, NuCanoe builds hunting and fishing kayaks known for innovative design, incredible stability, and motor compatibility.  With company headquarters in Washington State and a production facility in Wisconsin, NuCanoe boasts that over 95% of the parts and accessories they use in their kayaks are made in the USA.

The NuCanoe Unlimited was newly-released in 2021 and is one of the most customizable models produced by NuCanoe. It is capable of being used with a pedal drive system, or with a trolling motor or small outboard.  A solid open deck design with unlimited rig-ability, the Unlimited is fast and stable, and is “plug and play” ready for pedals, power, and electronics.

At first glance the NuCanoe Unlimited is a quasi-hybrid between canoe and kayak, with an open cockpit that provides plenty of room for your fishing & hunting trips.  The craft is loaded with standard features for rigging – wiring access plates, flush rod holders, and 10-, 15- and 79-inch TopLoad Accessory Tracks, as well as XL Tranducer Pad underneath – along with seven scuppers standard and Tarpon drainage channels for open deck fishing free from pooling water!  Plus, the 360 Fusion Seat delivers superior comfort and support all day long and boasts easy assembly.

Coming in at 12-1/2 feet in length with a hull weight of 84 pounds, the super beamy 41-inch length helps provide greater stability and an impressive capacity load of 650 pounds (one to two people) as well as maximum power capacity along the squared transom of 2.5 horsepower.

MSRP:  $1,799

OCEAN KAYAK

oceankayak.johnsonoutdoors.com

OCEAN

The Inuit people were the first to invent the kayak, a one person hunting craft framed of driftwood or whalebone and covered it with stretched skins.  While this “sit inside” style is still preferred for touring – though based on 21st century resins – the “sit-on-top” kayak is much preferred by anglers for stability, and the one company that can lay claim to that design is Ocean.

In 1971, the Ocean Kayak was born in a backyard in Malibu, CA when the company’s original founder took an old surfboard and carved out two places — one to sit in and another for his scuba gear.  Over 40 years later, the open shape of Ocean’s sit-on-top kayak makes it an ideal fishing platform offering an incredible range of motion and plenty of width and stability.

One big change in the Ocean lineup over the years is the incorporation of the PDL-Drive with instant forward and reverse found the lightning-fast and ultra-maneuverable Ocean Malibu Pedal.  Featuring a moderate rocker hull shape, this pedal-drive kayak is a do-it-all saltwater watercraft.  Fishing features include elemental beach seat with fully adjustable slide-track, three flush-mount rod holders (two behind the seat and one forward facing), a large stern tankwell able to accommodate gear, a pair of 18-inch accessory tracks and a universal transducer mount.

The Malibu Pedal from Ocean weighs in at 85 pounds (pedal console is 19 pounds) and has an onboard capacity of 450 pounds.  At 12 feet in length with a 34-1/2-inch width, like all Ocean Kayaks, it comes with an industry leading 5-year warranty and a lifetime hull warranty.

MSRP:  $2099

OLD TOWN

oldtowncanoe.johnsonoutdoors.com

OLD-TOWN

An ICAST “Best of Show” winner, the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 motorized kayak leverages Minn Kota’s Spot-Lock technology, allowing you to ‘yak to your spot faster and hold your position more effectively while you fish.  The 12V Minn Kota motor with 45 pounds of thrust combines with the foot brace steering for truly hands-free fishing and exceptional maneuverability.

Premium seating on Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 provides all day comfort, and the dual-layer Textilene is durable, UV resistant and easy to clean. You can position the seat higher or lower in the kayak, and it’s removable for easier transport.  A large, open cockpit features four 18-inch tracks enable easy on/off mounting of accessories, while two forward-facing and two rear-facing flush mount rod holders are there when you want them, and out-of-the-way when you don’t.

An extra-large rudder provides excellent boat control in forward and reverse, while you can command the Minn Kota motor and Spot Lock with a touch of your thumb using the Bluetooth connected i-Pilot remote.  At 12 feet in length and taping out to 37 inches in width, this sleek fishing machine can support a total weight (angler, gear, and 75-pound lead-acid battery) of 558 pounds, while total weight with all assembled gear coming in at 152 pounds.

MSRP:  $3,999

PELICAN

pelicansport.com

PELICAN

You’ve no doubt seen the Pelican brand in many large retail outfits, but did you know that they’re a 50-year family business based in Quebec, who employs a staff nearly 900 workers across three manufacturing sites in North America? And how about the fact that a little over 2 years ago they acquired all of the assets of Confluence Outdoor LLC that’s of comprised of six leading watersports brands?

One of the newer offerings in the Pelican line that’s (A) geared towards anglers, (B) addresses the budget-minded consumer, and (C) provides super-easy transport to and from the water is the 10-foot Catch 100 sit-on-top fishing kayak.  Weighing at just 57 pounds, Pelican’s Catch Classic 100 fishing kayak at 120 inches in length and 34 inches across, and is capable of 350 pounds of capacity.

Built on a tunnel hull, this 10-footer boasts a wide and flat deck platform which provides a large standing area and room for extra gear or mounting your accessories. It features adjustable footrests, a comfortable and breathable ERGOCAST G2 dual position seating system that allows kayakers to adjust the seat to a high or low position.  There’s a quick lock hatch and a storage platform with bungee cords to store fishing gear, flush mount rod holders, a ruler for measuring out your catch and a stand assist strap to help you quickly transfer to a standing position.

The Catch 100 from Pelican is a great price-point option for the smaller angler looking for a lightweight, easy-to-store kayak.

MSRP:  $600

PERCEPTION

perceptionkayaks.com

PERCEPTION

For those who may be brand new to kayak fishing, the whole “pedal drive” system may be a little much for your budget, particular if you’re just looking to do a little paddling along the sedges or back creeks, doing a little bucktailing for fluke or casting at short stripers.  A brand that’s been around for 40 years that still hand-assembles every one of their products in Greenville, SC, Perception Kayaks calls their Pescador Pro series “your perfect fishing kayak.”

The Perception Pescador Pro series of sit-on-top fishing kayaks are outfitted with the features and performance that anglers demand.  The 12-foot Pescador Pro is fast and stable, designed to track straight in variable conditions while also providing the cargo, space and stability required to fish our local waters.

The sit-on-top design of the Pescador Pro 12.0 offers generous storage (up to 375 pounds max capacity) and accessory mount options to make it easy to outfit, while removable and adjustable camp chair is one of the more comfortable seats you’ll find.  It’s an easy kayak to transport at just 64 pounds, and at 12 feet in length it measures 32-1/2 inches across.  As with other brands in the Confluence Outdoor fleet, Perception kayaks are readily available at most major outdoor retailers in the region, and the slightly shorter Pescador Pro 10.0 is also a great starter option for paddling anglers looking to stay at or below the $1,000 price threshold.

MSRP:  $1,059

SEA EAGLE

seaeagle.com

SEA-EAGLE

Sea Eagle has re-imagined their popular PaddleSki inflatable catamaran kayak using drop-stitch technology to make this highly portable craft safer, more stable, and easier to stand upon while making casts and sighting fish. A high-pressure, drop-stitch floor inflates up to 10 psi for a rock-solid platform. Supported by two large side tubes, the floor rides 4 inches above the waterline which helps reduce drag.

A versatile craft capable of holding two people (855 pounds), the PaddleSki can be motored, paddled, or sailed. A 3-gallon tank of gas can take you up to 70 miles for a full day or days of fishing and fun. It can be rigged with a gas or electric motor, a bow-mounted motor, a canopy, any Scotty fishing accessory, thanks to the two pre-installed Scotty pads, and one or two swivel seats.

This durable 14-foot, 4-inch inflatable weighs just 67 pounds (93 pounds with the two swivel seats) and compactly folds down to 36 by 21 by 12 inches to fit into any trunk or truck bed.  The PaddleSki’s roomy cockpit measures 11-1/2 feet by 21 inches and is covered in a non-slip EVA foam foot pad.  Made with 1000 denier reinforced PVC, the tubes themselves take about 10 minutes to inflate.

Four packages available starting at just $1,499, though one fourth place winner in The Fisherman’s 2022 Dream Boat Fishing Challenge in 2022 will take home the Sea Eagle PaddleSki 437ps Swivel Seat Package with the retail value listed below.

MSRP: $1,649

VIBE

vibekayaks.com

VIBE

Started by founder and angler Josh Thomas with the best-selling Sea Ghost Series, the Shearwater 125 from Vibe has been engineered from the water up to be the most versatile and customizable fishing kayaks on the market.  The top international seller in the Vibe kayak line, the Shearwater 125 was designed and built for superior angling performance coupled with the unrivaled power of choice of Vibe X-Drive pedal drive, Bixpy Jet power motor, paddle – or all three!

Pedal the Shearwater 125 using the Vibe X-Drive which allows fast but smooth-and-easy pedal acceleration and stopping. Power up with the Bixpy Jet mounted to the Shearwater’s Bixpy-Ready rudder which delivers a stealthy yet powerful punch of quick propulsion at a weight of only 9 pounds including the battery pack.  Of course, with Vibe Evolve paddle in hand, you can always take the classic approach covering water.

Rolled out in March of 2020, the Shearwater 125’s ‘fighter-delta’ aggressive chassis hull provides excellent handling, stability, and stealth whether standing or seated, while also ensuring its unmistakable “Vibe” at a glance.  Fishing standards include four flush mount rod holders and four integrated top-loading gear tracks, along with removable sealed fishfinder pod with built-in transducer mount and a pair of reinforced Power Pole mounting locations.

At 12-1/2 feet in length with 35 inches from gunnel to gunnel, the “dry” weight is 77 pounds with a load capacity of 475 pounds, offering a lot of options for future evolution as you continue to press on in search of bigger fish.

MSRP:  $1,499.99

WILDERNESS SYSTEMS

wildernesssystems.com

WILDERNESS-SYSTEMS

If you’re looking for an Advanced Tactical Angling Kayak, then A.T.A.K. may be the Wilderness Systems craft for you.  Released in model year 2017, the Wilderness A.T.A.K. 120 is a continuation of the A.T.A.K. 140, an open customizable platform in slightly smaller package.

With increased rocker for improved maneuverability in moving water, the A.T.A.K. 120 boasts a secondary transducer scupper to accommodate advanced electronics (like side-scan) while utilizing the Helix MD Motor Drive (sold separately).    A new quick-release cam lever allows the AirPro MAX seat to be adjusted fore/aft on-the-fly.

Designed, molded and hand-assembled in the USA, the Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120 comes in a 12 feet, 3 inches with a width of 35 inches.  There’s ample onboard storage through a bow hatch, stern tankwell, cockpit console and removable pod.  Weighing in at 86 pounds, the A.T.A.K 120 can accommodate a max capacity of 400 pounds and provides plenty of stability in a kayak.

Wilderness Systems is part of the Confluence Outdoor group headquartered in Greenville, SC that makes up several distinguished brands of kayak, canoe and SUP offerings including Perception and Mad River; as such you’re more apt to find Wilderness Systems models (Tarpon, Recon and Radar) available at some of the larger marine outfitters

MSRP:  $1,719

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