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Product Review & Information

Best Stand Up Fishing Kayaks Reviewed

Be better positioned to safely catch fish with these high-quality brands.

by PITeam

Product Review & Information

Best Stand Up Fishing Kayaks Reviewed

Be better positioned to safely catch fish with these high-quality brands.

by PITeam

by PITeam

If you consider yourself an avid angler, you understand the benefits of standing up while fishing. Fishing in a standing position means that you'll have a full range of motion, allowing you to cast a line farther and wider than if you remain seated. Because standing is so important while fishing, the real question on every angler's mind is whether or not it's possible to stand up on a fishing kayak.

Although kayaking is typically thought to be a seated watersport, it’s more than possible to stand on a kayak that is specifically designed for stand-up fishing. The best stand up fishing kayaks are designed for optimal safety and stability. Even if you lack the key skills for kayaking, you don’t have to worry about toppling over while casting a line or reeling in a catch.

Below you can check out the basics of stand-up fishing kayaks, why they’re so beneficial to anglers, and the best stand up fishing kayaks on the market today.

Types of Kayaks for Stand up Fishing

Sit on Top

The most popular kind of stand up fishing kayak features a sit-on-top design. The seat is comfortably positioned on top of the kayak, rather than tucked away in a cockpit. There are a few benefits to the sit-on-top design, the main one being that it offers the ultimate level of stability. Sit-on-tops are typically broader in size, which means there is very little chance of tipping - even while standing.

These also allow an angler to move about the kayak more freely and they aren’t limited on-deck storage space. Lastly, sit-on-top fishing kayaks have the highest weight capacity compared to other kayak types. The only potential drawback is that sit-on-tops are larger and heavier, which can make kayak transport more challenging.

Sit Inside

There aren’t many stand up fishing kayaks that feature a sit-inside design. The majority of stand-up kayaks meant for fishing are sit-on-tops, mainly because of the added stability that comes along with a sit-on-top design. Sit-inside kayaks are more suited to avid kayakers who want to cut across the water quickly and stay protected from cold weather and water. These kayaks are highly maneuverable, but they’re not the best choice for anglers.

Pedal Drive Kayaks

Instead of using a paddle to move through the water, pedal drive kayaks have a pedaling system on board. To use a pedal-drive kayak, place your feet in the foot pedals and start moving. This pedaling motion allows a propeller or set of fins to start moving, and the boat will be propelled forward. Steering a pedal drive kayak is easy; most models have a steering lever in the cockpit which allows the kayaker to change the rudder direction easily.

The main benefit of choosing a pedal-driven stand-up fishing kayak is the speed that comes along with it. Pedal-driven kayaks are extremely stable as well since they feature a wider design to accommodate for the onboard pedaling system. Pedaling while fishing is also an amazing lower body cardio workout. According to the best stand up fishing kayak reviews, one of the top choices for anglers is a pedal-driven kayak (we'll cover the specific model below).

SUP/Paddleboard

A stand-up paddleboard is not actually a kayak, but it is an alternative watercraft for stand up fishing. Some anglers choose a paddleboard because it cuts through the water quietly, and we all know that discretion is a must for successful fishing. Not to mention a paddleboard is a much cheaper alternative to a kayak, plus the lightweight design makes for easy transport.

These days, there are now plenty of paddleboards on the market that are specifically meant for fishing. They come equipped with a detachable seat, built-in rod holders, and sometimes even a cooler. However, SUPs don’t offer the same stability or storage space as a fishing kayak you can stand up in.


Benefits of Stand Up Fishing From a Kayak

Combining fishing and kayaking is one of the coolest innovations in water sports history. What's even cooler is that fishing kayaks are now designed for safe standing, which means you won't be forced to sit and fish while out on the water. This is the main benefit of investing in a stand-up fishing kayak, but it's not the only one. Here are a few more benefits the come along with stand-up kayak fishing:

  • A wider range of view with the ability to stand
  • Easy access to fishing gear and onboard storage
  • Better positioning and improved accuracy when casting and reeling
  • Standing while fishing reduces the risk of back pain
  • Stand up kayaks offer better stability due to larger size

Choosing a Quality Stand Up Kayak

Usage/Primary Fishing Location

Beforehand, think about whether you’ll be using this boat on a glass-like lake, slow-moving river, or wavy coastal waters. Each body of water comes with a unique set of water safety rules. This means that your fishing location has a lot to do with other buying considerations, like durability, stability, and safety features. Also, consider the specific water laws of your intended location, like whether or not a motorized fishing kayak is permitted.

Durability, Design & Comfort

Fishing is not considered a fast-paced water sport. One of the main goals for many anglers is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the water. Well, you can't expect to do that from a stand-up fishing kayak that isn't designed for comfort. A comfortable stand up fishing kayak will come equipped with a comfy adjustable seat and plenty of space to move around. If you plan on kayaking with a fishing buddy, be sure to invest in a tandem boat large enough for 2 anglers.

In addition to comfort, choosing a kayak that features a durable design is extremely important. These watercrafts don't come cheap (although they are much less expensive than traditional motorized fishing boats), so your kayak needs to be built to last. One of the most durable kayak construction materials is high-density polyethylene.

Kayak Type/Speed

The main consideration for kayak type is sit-in vs. sit-on-top. The sit-on-top design is better in terms of stability and storage, but sit-in kayaks are great for maneuverability and speed. Another determining factor for speed is the kayak's method of propulsion. In other words, what is pushing the boat through the water?

Pedal kayaks utilize a propeller that can be found beneath the boat. This propeller is driven by the foot pedals found in the cockpit; the faster you pedal, the quicker you can move through the water. Other than motorized kayaks, the pedal propulsion system is the best in terms of speed. However, the simplistic paddle design is preferred by some anglers since it provides a great upper body workout.

Size/Dimension & Weight Capacity

Always consider a kayak’s size dimensions before making a purchase. Stand-up fishing kayaks are generally a bit larger than kayaks means solely for paddling. Be sure that you have enough space to store your kayak during the fishing off-season. Fishing kayaks vary in size, ranging anywhere from 10 to 14 feet. Check your intended storage area ahead of time to make sure you have enough storage space.

Kayak weight is another consideration. You'll see from the stand-up fishing kayak reviews below that kayaks vary in weight, just as they do length and width. A heavier kayak is often more stable on the water and provides more storage space, plus it will have a higher weight capacity. But it is crucial to keep in mind that a heavier, larger kayak will be more difficult to transport and store.

Stability & Safety Features

Stability is a major factor, especially since you plan on standing while kayak fishing. Stability has a lot to do with a kayak's hull shape, and the most stable is a flat hull. This means that the base of the kayak will be somewhat flat (rather than rounded or V-shaped). A flat hull isn't just more stable; it also provides more room to move about on board. Flat-hull kayaks are the perfect choice for anglers looking for a safe, stable, and spacious watercraft.

Storage & Portability

Onboard space is a must for anglers. Not only do they need space for themselves, but also all their fishing gear and safety equipment. The best stand up kayaks will have plenty of storage in the boat's bow and stern that is easy to access. Not only does it need to be accessible, but it should also keep your belongings safe from water and weather.

In terms of portability, kayak weight and size are significant factors. However, even the heaviest stand-up fishing kayaks can be made easily portable with the addition of sturdy carry handles. In most cases, kayak transport requires 2 people - one at the back of the kayak, and one at the front. Look for T-shaped handles on the bow and stern to make the transport process easy.

Accessories

If you plan on using this in fast-moving waters, you might think about purchasing a kayak anchor along with the kayak. This will help you to stay in one place as you fish. Other fishing accessories to look for include built-in rod holders and a mounting system for GPS and fish finders. Most fishing accessories will need to be purchased separately, but your kayak should be built to accommodate these accessories adequately. 

Budget & Warranty

Whether your budget is a concern or not, it is still something to consider. The best stand up fishing kayaks range drastically in price, so establish your budget beforehand. You'll be able to find a top stand up fishing kayak for less than $1,000 (we'll cover that model below), but plan on spending anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000.

When manufacturers offer a warranty along with a product, it means they have faith in what they're selling. You should be able to find a stand-up kayak with a limited lifetime warranty, but not always. Every manufacturer provides unique warranty coverage, ranging from limited lifetime to no warranty at all.


5 Best Stand Up Fishing Kayaks Reviewed

1. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130

Our Top Pick

Max Load Capacity

550 lbs

Body Type (Material)

Polyethylene

Kayak Type

Sit on Top

Dimensions (l & W)

13 ft - 33 Inches

Kayak Weight

75 lbs

Warranty

Limited Lifetime Warranty

The best stand up fishing kayak to top the list is the Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130. This watercraft was designed specifically with anglers in mind. It features impressive stability, stretching 13 ft in weight. Even with its large design, this kayak weighs only 75 pounds, meaning it’s not only stable but also highly transportable. The Sea Ghost 130 provides superior comfort with its breathable mesh seat and adjustable foot braces.

The name Sea Ghost is fitting; not only is it comfortable, but also fast. Part of this can be attributed to the sleek hull design, but it also has to do with the toe-controlled rudder system. This allows anglers to change direction while also maintaining speed, even on windy days with strong currents.

Even while standing, the Sea Ghost offers ultimate stability. The slip-resistant deck has something to do with this, as does the wide kayak frame. In terms of fishing accessories, the Sea Ghost comes with 2 flush-mounted fishing rod holders, a universal mount for fish finders and GPS, and 2 bungee paddle parks for conveniently storing away the paddles when not in use. All in all, this is the best stand up fishing kayak on the market right now.

Pros

  • Gear-mounting for fishing accessories
  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Comfortable seat with adjustable foot braces
  • Toe-controlled rudder system
  • Lots of onboard storage space

Cons

  • None

2. Wilderness Systems ATAK 120

Best Rated Standing Fishing Kayak

Max Load Capacity

400 lbs

Body Type (Material)

Polyethylene

Kayak Type

Sit on Top

Dimensions (L & W)

12’3 ft - 35 Inches

Kayak Weight

86 lbs

Warranty

Hull: 5 Years, Parts: 1 Year

According to reviewers, the best fishing kayak to stand up fish in is the Wilderness Systems ATAK model. Part of the reason for this kayak’s popularity is that it comes with the option for a motorized propulsion system. If you’re hoping to move through the water as quickly as possible, you’ll love that this boat is compatible with the Helix MD motor drive. Keep in mind that you’ll have to purchase the motor separately.

The sit-on-top design is comfy, durable, stable, and safe even while standing. In fact, this kayak has won awards for its unmatched stability and wind-shielding deck. The platform is entirely open and customizable with plenty of space for fishing equipment and accessories. The SMART hull technology ensures optimal tracking in almost any water and weather environment.

The only downside is that the ATAK 120 Fishing Kayak doesn’t come with a rudder system, you’ll have to purchase that separately.

Pros

  • Wind shielding deck
  • Open platform with tons of space
  • SMART hull technology for better tracking

Cons

  • Rudder system sold separately

3. Hobie Mirage 180 Pro Angler

Best Stand Up Kayak for Fly Fishing

Max Load Capacity

600 lbs

Body Type (Material)

Polyethylene

Kayak Type

Sit on Top

Dimensions (L & W)

13’8 ft - 38 Inches

Kayak Weight

144.5 lbs

Warranty

3 Years

Hobie Mirage created the very first pedal kayak in 1997. Since then, many pedal kayak companies have been created, but Hobie remains the leader of pedal-driven kayaks. This is especially true when it comes to the Hobie Mirage 180 Pro Anger, the best stand up kayak for fly fishing. Because this kayak is pedal-driven, the cost is much higher compared to paddle-driven kayaks - but entirely worth it.

This is the best stand up fly fishing kayak for several reasons, the main one being speed. To glide smoothly across the water, you'll simply push your feet against the adjustable pedals. This allows a set of fins to move beneath the boat, propelling it forward. The lever can control the direction in the cockpit, which alters the course of the rudder.

Along with quick movement and easy turning, the Hobie Mirage 180 Pro is as stable as kayaks come. The standing platform comes equipped with deck pads to prevent slipping. The real draw of this Hobie, though, is the amount of on-deck storage space. The nearly 14-foot platform comes with several closed-off storage hatches as well as open storage space beneath the bow and stern.

Pros

  • Powerful Mirage pedal drive system
  • Sturdy mounting for rods and accessories
  • Stable extra-wide standing platform
  • Elevated seat for a wider range of view

Cons

  • Costly
  • Pedal drive unnecessary for some anglers

4. BKC RA220

Best Stand Up Fishing Kayak Under $1000

Max Load Capacity

450 lbs

Body Type (Material)

Polyethylene

Kayak Type

Sit on Top

Dimensions (L & W)

11.5 ft - 34 Inches

Kayak Weight

68 lbs

Warranty

5 Years for Hull and Deck

If you’re on the hunt for a stand up fishing kayak for sale, consider the BKC RA220 Single Fishing Kayak. This is the best stand up fishing kayak under 1000 dollars, a price that is hard to beat in the kayak fishing industry. Even with the low price, this fishing kayak comes with everything an angler could need. While fishing from the BKC RA220, you’ll have access to twin flush-mounted rod holders, waterproof storage hatches, and foot-pedal operated rudder control.

For the most part, BKC customers are happy with the RA220’s performance. Even with the lightweight design and small size, this kayak ranks high for stability. The seat is comfortable enough to sit all day long, but when you want to stand it is more than possible. However, a few reviewers have commented that if you are over 6’ and bear significant weight, standing is more difficult on the BKC RA220 than on other kayaks. So if you’re a larger-than-average individual, you might want to spend a bit more cash for better standing comfort.

Pros

  • Waterproof storage hatches
  • Most affordable stand up fishing kayak
  • Easy-to-adjust rudder system
  • Lightweight and portable design

Cons

  • Not recommended for long distances
  • Difficult standing for large individuals

5. Perception Pescador Pro

Best Sit on Top Stand Up Fishing Kayak

Max Load Capacity

375 lbs

Body Type (Material)

Polyethylene

Kayak Type

Sit on Top

Dimensions (L & W)

12 ft - 32.5 inches

Kayak Weight

64 lbs

Warranty

Hull: 5 Years, Parts: 1 Year

If you know that the sit on top hull design is for you, look nowhere else than the Perception Pescador Pro. This is the top choice for sit on top stand up fishing kayak for many reasons. First of all, the Pescador provides all-day comfort with its breathable mesh seat and 2-level seat adjustment. Not only can the seat be adjusted forward and backward, but also up and down.

Comfort is one of the most-loved qualities of the Pescador kayak. Many reviewers have made comments about this kayak’s outstanding comfort, even for larger anglers.

For added safety, the Perception Pescador comes with built-in buoyancy and leak-proof one-piece construction. Although this is one of the smaller kayaks on the list, it doesn’t skimp on storage space. Anglers love the open storage compartments found at the bow and stern. These are perfect for strapping down coolers, tackle, and other necessary fishing gear.

Mounting fishing accessories like fish finders, GPS devices, and fishing rods can be done along the kayak’s integrated accessory rails. This specific model comes in 2 different sizes, 10’ or 12’, each one with a different weight capacity. The 10’ Pescador kayak can hold up to 325, while the 12-footer has a higher weight capacity of 375.

Pros

  • Affordable stand up fishing kayak
  • Unbeatable comfort
  • Plenty of bow/stern storage
  • Sturdy integrated accessory rails

Cons

  • Rod holders need improvement

Paddle Board (SUP) vs Kayak for Fishing

SUP fishing and kayak fishing are very similar with a few minor differences. It’s difficult to say which one is better since each has its own set of pros and cons. Fishing from a paddleboard doesn’t offer the same stability as kayak fishing, but it is perfectly stable if you plan on staying in calm waters. New SUPs that are meant for fishing come equipped with everything you could ever need as an angler. This includes rod holders, bungees for tying down gear, and fishing accessory mounts.

As long as the water is extremely calm where you intend to fish, SUP fishing works just fine. However, due to a kayak’s better stability, it is the optimal choice for dealing with wind, waves, and currents. You can't always predict the weather - and neither can professional meteorologists it seems - so you'll be more limited on your fishing opportunities with a SUP. If there's any wind, waves, or even small ripples, using a SUP for fishing will be more challenging than using a fishing kayak.


Kayak Standing & Balancing Tips

Most kayaks are designed with sitting in mind, but as you know already, stand up fishing kayaks are unique. These kayaks allow an angler to stand in a comfortable and safe position while fishing. Standing allows a kayaker to cast a line more accurately, pitch and flip, and increase the range of visibility.

  • Practice standing in your fishing kayak on land before on water
  • Stand up slowly with weight distributed evenly between both feet
  • Keep your feet close to the seat in a wide stance (if you fall, you can fall backward comfortably into the seat)
  • Never lock your knees while standing and fishing
  • Have confidence!

Using a Stand-Up Fishing Kayak

Before taking your stand up fishing kayak for a test run, be sure to read all of the manufacturer’s instructions ahead of time. Even better, take the kayak manual out on the water with you so that you can refer to it if you have questions. Common questions typically relate to rudder control, pedal-driven kayak mechanisms, and proper paddle technique.

 While getting in and out of your stand up kayak, use extreme caution. The best way to launch a kayak is from the beach into shallow water. Once the kayak is floating on the surface, you can climb in slowly. Then, using your paddle (or pedal-drive system), start kayaking in your intended direction. If your kayak comes with a rudder, this is a great tool for changing direction. If not, you’ll have to learn the proper paddling techniques.

Avoid Kayak Capsizing

Since you'll be surrounded by water while kayak fishing, there is always the chance of tipping, or even worse, capsizing. There are ways to decrease the possibility of these things happening, and the first is to be mindful of the kayak's maximum weight load. When you come close to or exceed the weight capacity, the risk of tipping or capsizing increases exponentially.

Another helpful tip to avoid capsizing is always evenly to distribute weight throughout the boat. Anglers often kayak with a lot of gear, including rods, fishing coolers, tackle and bait, and fishing gadgets like fish finders and GPS. Add this to your own weight, and there's a good chance the boat will be weighted down with a few hundred pounds. No matter how you do it, try to distribute this weight as evenly as possible throughout the boat.


Care & Maintenance of Your Boat

After each fishing excursion, hose down your kayak with fresh water. It doesn't matter if you were kayaking in a freshwater fishing spot, this is always a good idea. Buildup of dirt, sand, and salt is the leading cause of kayak malfunctions, so do your best to clean this stuff off after each use. Give extra care to cleaning kayak parts like the rudder and pedal mechanisms if you're using a pedal-driven boat.

Proper storage is a major component of kayak maintenance. When your kayak is not being used, always keep it out of the sun. Heat and UV radiation can harm the integrity of the hull and fade the boat’s coloring. Always be sure to cover the cockpit area, especially if you’re storing the kayak outdoors. This will avoid the chance of being surprised by critters who have decided to make a home in the kayak’s cockpit.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are stand up fishing kayaks safe?

Absolutely. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and keep to the recommended bodies of water, using a stand-up kayak is perfectly safe. To increase safety, always wear a personal flotation device while on the water, especially while standing.

How do kayaks stay balanced?

A stand up fishing kayak is designed to stay as balanced as possible while on the water. Stand up fishing kayaks perform even better than other kayak types since they feature a wider hull for standing. But it is also up to the user to promote balance. Balance is achieved by evenly distributing weight throughout the kayak and never exceeding the kayak’s weight capacity.

Do I need to add an outrigger or stabilizer to my stand up fishing kayak?

A kayak outrigger is a pair of long, buoyant poles that are fitted to either side of a kayak. Outriggers are used to stabilize a kayak and keep it balanced. Investing in an outrigger isn't often necessary, especially if you plan on fishing in calm waters with few waves and currents. Outriggers are mainly used for deep-sea trolling where waves are larger, so an outrigger could be helpful if you're planning on deep-sea kayak fishing.

How do I paddle a kayak standing up?

In most cases, you'll be paddling your kayak while in a seated position. If you do choose to paddle while standing, do so very carefully. The water should be calm, and you need to feel confident in your standing skills. Be sure to keep your knees slightly bent - never locked. Your stance should be wide, and your feet should be as close to the seat as possible.

Can I stand up on a tandem fishing kayak?

It isn't common, but there are a few stand up fishing kayaks on the market that can accommodate two people. It is only recommended that you stand on a tandem fishing kayak if it was specially designed for stand up fishing. With two people on board, it's even more important to distribute the weight as evenly as you can.

Where do I keep my fish on my stand up fishing kayak?

Most stand up fishing kayaks have space on board for a fishing cooler. Since a cooler can weigh the boat down quite a bit, it is best to keep it at the boat’s stern. There should be bungee cords on board to keep it tied down, or you can bring your own.

Are sit-in kayaks good for stand up fishing? What type is most stable?

No, sit-in kayaks are not the ideal choice for standing, mainly because they are much narrower than sit-on-top kayaks. Sit-in kayaks are built for maneuverability and speed, not so much for stability. The much better choice for standing and fishing is sit-on-top kayak with a wide hull.


Conclusion

After covering all the essentials of stand up kayak fishing, it’s still safe to say that the best stand up fishing kayak is the Sea Ghost 130 created by Vibe Kayaks. The sizeable 13-foot hull makes this one of the most stable fishing kayaks on the market. With tons of fishing accessories, superior comfort, and optimal direction control, this stand up fishing kayak is what every angler dreams of. 

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