When you’re out on the river fishing, you might just stay on the bank, or you might want to venture further into the middle of the river to get to those spots that the fish are sitting in. As any good fisherman knows, this spot can unfortunately and frustratingly change rather regularly!
Waders are great and are very useful for getting out into deeper waters. However, it goes without saying that there’s a lot of water that you simply cannot enter when you’re wearing only waders. This is where the river fishing kayak comes in! Having the best river fishing kayak in the business could be hugely advantageous to your fishing, in terms of the areas that you’re able to reach, as well as the types of fishing that you’ll be able to do from the boat.
What Characteristics Should You Look For In A River Fishing Kayak?
As you’ll probably already know, the shape and design of a kayak change dependant on what its intended purpose is. For example, a kayak that’s intended for calm water ventures will be designed with a thin and streamlined base for the ultimate speed and ease of paddling. A river kayak, however, needs to deal with choppy waters and rapids. It, therefore, has to be slightly wider and shorter, in order to be as stable as possible.
Length – Shorter Than Others
A good river kayak should be relatively short in length compared to a flat water alternative, too. This is due to the fact that turning a boat around in the fast-moving waters of a river is already challenging enough, without adding a huge amount of extra length to tackle. The shorter the kayak, the easier it is to turn and the smaller its turning circle. It is therefore obvious why you should look for a short kayak for river fishing – you want it to be as easy as possible to move around the different areas of water.
More Width For Stability
Again, due to the fact that river water is more unpredictable and often very rough, it is essential to have a boat that’s stable and that can handle such conditions easily and safely. When you’re looking for a kayak to take river fishing, you want to be sure that you’ve got a boat that’s wide enough for the boat. The width of a kayak is often known as the “beam” too.
Another reason that you should be sure to get a wider boat is for comfort purposes. When you’re sitting still in the water (when casting or reeling in a fish, for example) you want to be on a boat that’s stable and allows for you to shift your weight around without giving you the fear of capsizing.
More Rocker Than Flat
For the same reason that a wider boat is important, a good amount of curvature in the boat’s design is also an important factor to look out for. A boat that has a more rounded bottom is far more suitable for moving in different directions unexpectedly in the water. For example, if you had to move sideward downstream in a flat-keeled boat, it would be very difficult to without capsizing. A rounded keel, however, is designed for this.
The Best River Fishing Kayaks – Well Priced and Functional Fishing Kayak
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
The Angler 100, first off, has a width of 31 inches. This is wider than the average kayak and is therefore perfect for adding the extra stability that is required whilst out on a river. This added width will not only mean that the boat can take rougher waters with more ease, it means that you’ll be able to cast and move around more without the boat moving around below you.
It’s also only 10’ long. The advantages that this shorter length brings are numerous. It means that the turning circle of the boat is considerably smaller than those that are longer in length, thus allowing you to get in and out of tighter spots on the river. It also means that the general handling of the boat is much easier, since there’s not as much length to get dragged around by the current of the river.
The Angler 100 is too, as you might have guessed from the name, extremely well kitted-out for fishing. It’s got three rod holders in total, meaning that you can easily rest your rod and be able to do something else whilst still having a line out in the water. There’s also plenty of storage spaces and areas that other equipment can be secured.
The Angler 100 is also very easy to move around, being only 10’ in length and 52 pounds in weight.
Some Key Points
- Width of 31” making it very stable
- 10′ in length
- Storage space is ample
- Well kitted-out for fishing
- Warranty of 5 years
- For more information on the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100, please see our full review of it here.
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak – Inflatable Fishing Kayak
The Intex Explorer K2 is our favorite of the inflatable options for river fishing, for many reasons, the first being its extremely good portability. Since the K2 is an inflatable kayak, it takes up next to no room in your house, garage, or the boot of your car. Normally speaking, a kayak would have to be mounted on the roof or would require a larger vehicle such as a van. The K2 allows for great usability whilst being exceptionally portable.
The next great point about the K2 is that it is extremely stable. As we’ve said, stability is a key feature to look out for in a river fishing kayak. At 30 inches wide, it’s got more than enough width to keep you up right whilst you’re moving around.
It’s very durable too. One of the main things that people worry about with inflatable kayaks is, of course, the possibility of deflation as the result of puncture. The Explorer K2 has been constructed from extremely strong “SUPER TOUGH” vinyl as well as a dense nylon outer. It would be extremely difficult to get a puncture in the K2 unintentionally when you’re out fishing.
Intex includes a nice amount of extras with this kayak too, such as a storage bag, repair patch, paddles, and an air pump for inflation.
Some Key Points
- 30’ wide and very stable
- Can carry up to 400 lbs of weight
- Seats 1 or 2 people
- 2 Individual Air Chambers
- Very low price
We’ve got a full review of the Intex Explorer K2 too!
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 – River Fishing Kayak
The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100, similarly to the previous two boats in our guide, is another very modestly-priced boat. The Systems Tarpon is excellently equipped for fishing on a variety of water types, but particularly fishing on rivers
At just 10 feet in length and 30.5 inches in width, the boat has the ideal dimensions for river fishing. It’s got easy manoeuvrability and is extremely stable as a result of this shorter, more stubby design.
The Tarpon 100 also has two rails fitted that are great for mounting any fishing equipment that you’d like. On here, things such as rod mounts and transducers could be fitted – all will be within easy reach once mounted here too.
There’s plenty of storage on-board the boat too. It’s got two covered storage areas towards either end of the boat, as well as another area in which articles can be secured by a bungee cord.
Some Key Points
- Ample storage
- Mounting rails for easy reach of equipment
- Good handling – 10’ long and 30.5” wide
- Can carry up to 325 lbs weight
- Only weighs 55 pounds, so is very easy to carry around when out of water
FeelFree Moken 12.5
The Moken from FeelFree is the longest kayak on our list of river fishing kayaks. It’s 12.5 feet in length, but is 32” in width. Although it may be slightly longer than the rest, it’s also slightly wider, which most certainly does compliment the overall stability of the kayak.
There’s plenty of storage on the Moken 12.5 too, with a waterproof storage area near the seat of the boat, as well as a large bungee storage area towards the back of the boat. The Moken also has rails too, know as Uni Tracks. They are ideal for mounting accessories that you might need whilst you’re out fishing.
In terms of comfort, the FeelFree Moken excels. It’s got adjustable footrests to make sure that your legs can be kept in the most comfortable position at all times, as well as a comfortable seat and standing area for casting. The seat on the Moken is extremely comfortable too, being padded and adjustable.
Some Key Points
- Great for fishing – fitted with rails for mounting equipment and 4 rod holders
- 12.6 feet in length and 32 inches in width
- Easy to carry around at only 66 pounds
- Can carry up to 480 pounds
- Ample storage space
For more information on the Moken, we’ve got a full review of it here.
Sun Dolphin Aruba 10
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is a great little boat for taking out fishing on the river. Being a sit-inside kayak, it’s very well-suited to fly fishing since you’ll be very secured in the boat once you’re out on the water.
The Aruba 10 is short and lightweight, at just 10’ in length and 40 pounds in weight. It’s therefore very easy to move from location to location. Even though the boat is very lightweight, it’s still able to carry up to 250 pounds of load weight. It’s got plenty of potential for carrying a person as well as a good amount of extra equipment.
Some Key Points
- Lightweight and short – perfect for the river
- Comfortable and adjustable seating position
- 250 pounds max capacity
- Sit-inside and perfect for fly fishing
What Else Should You Consider When Looking For The Perfect River Fishing Kayak?
When you’re buying a new kayak for river fishing, it can be a challenging process if you don’t know much about kayaks or are new to the process. There are a lot of important points that people often forget when they are buying their new river fishing kayak. The most important, however, include load capacity, storage, portability, and size.
Load Capacity – the amount of weight that you are going to be taking out on your new kayak is an important point to take into consideration when you’re buying your boat. Have a look at what you’re going to be taking out on the boat, and add this to the weight of yourself. Examine the load capacity of the boat too. If the weight that you’re hoping to take out is too close to the load capacity, it is not advisable to do so. Too much weight on a kayak can cause it to become unsafe, as well as very difficult to move around.
Storage – ensuring that the boat you’re looking at has enough storage space is important too! As well as making there is enough storage space, make sure that the kayak offers the type of storage space that you’re looking for – for example, waterproof storage hatches, etc. It goes without saying though, to make sure that the boat has an area that items can be stored securely. If you’re out on some rougher waters, you don’t want to be having valuable in areas above the boat that they could easily get lost or damaged.