3 Best Ocean Fishing Kayaks

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today, for those looking to get themselves setup with a nice fishing kayak to take to the open seas, I have had a good look around and come up with my 3 best ocean fishing kayaks for those big fish chasers in 2021. Ocean Kayak fishing is a lot of fun, quite relaxing and at times even a good way to get some exercise as well. I do a bit of ocean kayak fishing around where I live as on a nice calm day there are plenty of rocky headlands hiding all manner of species that I would normally need a boat to get to.

One turn off for those looking to get themselves into an ocean kayak fishing however can be the cost. But to be honest, there are some options that do not cost a fortune and definitely do what they are needed to do in both a river and ocean environment so I wanted to share with you some good options here. So grab yourself a nice cold beverage and a snack and let’s see if we can present some good ocean kayak fishing options to you here…

My 3 recommended ocean kayaks

I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:

 KayakPriceGet it
ocean fishing kayaks - malibuMalibu Kayaks Stealth-14 Ultimate Fishing Kayak$CURRENT PRICE
ocean fishing kayaks - preditorOld Town Predator 13 Angler Fishing Kayak$$CURRENT PRICE
ocean fishing kayaks - preditor pedalOld Town Canoes & Kayaks Predator Pedal Fishing Kayak with Rudder$$$CURRENT PRICE

What should you be looking for?

Unlike rods, reels, tackle and other fishing related equipment, there doesn’t appear to be the large range of different variations on what is needed in regards to the types of fish being targeted etc. Sure, there are different types of kayaks but at the end of the day, they are fairly versatile in their abilities and different usage areas. There are however some things to keep in mind as you look into getting yourself a good ocean fishing kayak so let’s run through these below:

Types of Kayaks

In terms of kayaks, there are three main types that you may be interested in looking at. These are:

1. Sit on Top kayak

As the name suggests, these are the style that you sit on top of as you paddle along. These are great for fishing as they are generally wider and more stable than some of the others as well as giving you the ability to swing a rod 360 degrees around the vessel with ease. On the downside, there is no protection from the water (you will get a wet if the wind picks up) and if your model is not long enough they can be slow moving too.

Most move about via the traditional paddle method however some also have foot peddles and rudders which make fishing in the ocean a lot easier. I use a sit on top model with foot pedals and whilst it does struggle in stronger currents, it is perfect for my oceanic fishing needs. And although they are generally a little more on the expensive side to buy, the longer the model the better it will run on the open ocean as well.

2. Sit in Kayaks

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These are the ones where you site inside the kayak (via the little ‘cockpit’ at the top). They can be just as effective for fishing as the sit on top models and work well in areas with stronger current. They do tend to be narrower and longer making them a little faster across the water however this makes them a little less manoeuvrable as well – which is not generally a major issue in the ocean.

Most move around with paddles and do hold the added advantage of offering more protection from water spray etc. however they do lack the on top storage and access capability of their sit on top cousins.

3. Inflatable Kayaks

Again as the name suggests, these kayaks inflate for use and come in both sit on or sit in options. Many do come with fishing capabilities and can definitely be used in this capacity. They are also very good where storage and transportation space is limited (I.e. you don’t have a roof rack or trailer on which to carry the hard plastic versions).

I have been fishing with people in inflatable kayaks and they work ok if you pay for a good quality one – although in my personal opinion not as well as the two types listed above – not to mention the fact that fishing entails the use of sharp hooks and knives…

These can be a good option if storage and transportation of their rigid counterparts is an issue. I personally would leave them alone however would love to hear some comments below if you have found these working well for you.

ocean fishing kayaks - stripe 1

Location

In addition to the three main type of kayaks outlined above, there are a number of variations that you can look into as well. So as you start to look into the type of kayak you would be looking to purchase, the first thing to consider is where you will be using them. Think about:

  • Current – Although not as susceptible to the strong tidal flows of some estuaries, ocean currents can certainly build strength as well. The consideration here is that with ocean fishing you generally do have to paddle a little further go to to your fishing grounds so if this distance is considerable, or currents are generally strong, then a longer craft will be more effective here .
  • Hazards – Some water locations contain hazards such as rocks and coral reefs etc. that can become visible at low tide. These generally do not bother a kayak as they may a faster moving motor boat but they are still something to be aware of. Longer, narrower kayaks are not as easy to turn around between rocks etc. in the water as the sit on top flatter models.
  • Local weather– One major issue with ocean fishing is that weather conditions can change extremely quickly. This means that the kayak you choose will need to be able to store all required safety equipment such as weather proof jackets, water and even flares etc. And again, longer versions will be able to handle choppier seas far more effectively than their shorter cousins.

There is more to this but from the point of view of fishing from an ocean kayak, as long as none of the above are too extreme, then you should be ok in any model. At the end of the day, the main question to ask yourself is whether you need to more balance or more speed to be able to manoeuvre around your chosen waterway.

Species of fish being chased

Another consideration to think about is the type of fish that you will be chasing. Again, this is mainly about balance and manoeuvrability. If, for example you are chasing fast moving surface fish with a lure, then you may need to move quickly to get to where they are. Alternatively, those of you looking to drift along in the current with your bait or lure bouncing along the bottom, then slower moving, wider kayaks will suit.

Length

Kayaks, like most other floating devices, come in a range of lengths starting at around 8 ft up to 13 – 14ft. Depending on the environmental and fish factors we have discussed above, you may consider the following:

Short craft (8 – 9ft) – The shorter the craft, the easier it is to turn however not the fastest thing you will ever sit in. It will also not hold a glide over the water for very long and is very susceptible to anything other than flat water. These are very good for lakes etc. where waters are not rough and manoeuvrability around trees and rocks etc. is required or estuaries with minor currents. I would however not recommend this length for ocean kayaking.

Medium craft (10 – 12ft) – This length can handle rougher water whilst maintaining stability with a little more speed. They are a little harder to manoeuvre than the short craft but a little faster with better water glide (a.k.a. tracking) to keep the craft moving forward with momentum. The 11 – 12ft models are the perfect length for those looking to fish in a number of areas and/or environmental factors. I have been out on my 10ft kayak on the ocean but only on very very calm, flat days and only very close to the shore.

Long craft (13ft+) – If you are planning to do a bit on the open ocean, then I would suggest a longer kayak option. Manoeuvrability and turning is a problem here (think Titanic) however but if you are chasing fast fish – or need to travel larger distances to get to the fishing grounds – then good length is a must. Longer models often come with foot pedals with the ability to hold a bit more gear which can definitely come in handy if the conditions change quickly – which, as mentioned above, is a common occurrence when on the ocean.

Width

Width also plays a role here but to be honest, I have always looked at length as my main factor (others may disagree so please comment below if you do). In short though, the wider the craft, the more stable it will be on the water. Narrower boats tend to be faster and maybe a little more manoeuvrable (longer boats however still will not turn as well as shorter ones).

ocean fishing kayaks - stripe 2

Fishing assistance

Ok, if you are looking at a kayak and it doesn’t have at least some rod holders, then it is not a fishing kayak. Remember that with a kayak, there is only really a certain amount of space and fishing does generally need a little bit of equipment such as a rod (obviously), bait and a knife at a minimum. And if you are on the ocean, there is also some extra safety equipment to consider as well. So regardless of the width or length, look for a kayak with the following:

  • Rod holders – in my opinion a must for a fishing kayak – even if these are the only fishing related options on the vessel. I mean, where do you put your rod when you are paddling otherwise?
  • Storage – preferably with a dry bag but at the very least somewhere to store your extra tackle, water, cell phone and car keys etc. – even the smaller length craft will normally have two of these. Also, look for space to keep safety gear such as wet weather jackets, lights, flares and even a radio etc. Bigger models also contain space for an Esky (cooler) where the big catches can be stored – I have even seen some models with live bait tanks as well.
  • Bait cavity – These are little sections in the top of the kayak where you can put your bait (some are round for drinks as well). These are not critical (as you can use a bait belt) but very nice to have.
  • Netted storage – These are generally located at the very front or back of the kayak where you can put larger stuff such as a life jacket (although in the ocean this should be worn at all times), tackle bags, drink coolers and so on…
  • Space for a fish finderFish finders are extremely effective for kayak fishing. Larger models often have unit and sensor mounts build in as well

The number and setup of these will obviously vary from kayak to kayak dependent upon the length (where they can fit more in, and price paid). For a good ocean fishing kayak however I would be expecting most of the above at the very least.

ocean fishing kayaks - stripe

What Do I use?

Admittedly, I don’t do as much ocean fishing on a kayak as I do in a tidal estuary where I use a 10.5ft sit on top model. In the Ocean however, I use a 14ft Hobie ocean fishing kayak (which I borrow from a neighbour) with foot pedals that allow me to pedal around when floating.

In the first dry pocket storage I keep a small plastic container with some extra tackle as there are some snags in the water and a ‘dry wallet’ with my phone, wallet and keys. In the front dry pocket I keep a ‘keeper bag’.

It has 6 rod holders which I use for my two rods and a net and there is space of a small cooler box and a built in bait tank.

The kayak tracks well in slightly rougher waters (I don’t go out if there is the chance of really choppy conditions) and will run quite well with the current. Its downfall however is that it can be a bit cumbersome if I have to move around rocks or shallow areas etc. Oh, and these are expensive – which is why I borrow the one I use.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. Malibu Kayaks Stealth-14 Ultimate Fishing Kayak

This first one is a very basic model that would work well for those looking to fish in both estuaries and on the ocean. It doesn’t have the features of many others however its lightweight design and stability make it perfect for beginners (or those who need a lighter model for transport purposes). Specifications as follows:

  • Length: 14 ft
  • Rod Holders: 4 flush mounted and 1 swivel
  • Dry Storage: 3
  • Wet/bait Storage: 2
  • Bait cavities: 2
  • Netted Storage: yes x 2
  • Foot pedals: No
  • Adjustable foot rests: Yes

Other inclusions:

  • Adjustable hard seat back

Why have I chosen it?

I like this one purely for its lightweight design and ease of use for those looking to either get started with kayak fishing. At 14ft it is definitely suited to more open water and estuaries with great stability and tracking. Its strong blow-molded high-density polyethylene (HDPE) hull design also means it will stand up to all those minor ‘dings’ that come with fishing in rocky or corally areas.


2. Old Town Predator 13 Angler Fishing Kayak

Whilst this next one probably doesn’t have the storage and live bait capabilities of the first model above, it does still contain some great storage and rod holders options for ocean fishing. It does however add extra stability and non-slip surfaces to allow for stand up angling (good for coral reef fishing) and the mounts and transducer scupper for the attachment of a fish finder. Its seat is also adjustable to maintain paddling comfort with a good tank well that could easily hold a cooler box as well. Its only downfall is the lack of flush mounted rod holders. Its specs include:

  • Length: 13 ft 2inches
  • Rod Holders: 6 Removable Mounting Plates for rod holder attachment
  • Dry Storage: 2
  • Wet/bait Storage: 0
  • Bait cavities: 1
  • Netted Storage: yes x 1
  • Foot pedals: No
  • Adjustable foot rests: Yes

Other inclusions:

  • Adjustable canvas seat
  • Paddle holder with elastic cord
  • Fish finder mounts and transducer scupper
  • Mounts for horizontal rod storage
  • Removable tackle trays in front storage

Why have I chosen it?

This is a good ocean kayak for a good price. Its UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene flat bottom design makes it a master of stability suited to many locations whilst still maintaining good tacking for longer distance paddling should the fishing grounds be a little further away from the launch point. This is a kayak suitable for beginners and experienced fishermen alike and could also work in larger estuaries and lakes too.


3. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Predator Pedal Fishing Kayak with Rudder

With my last choice here we are going to look at a higher end model that introduces foot pedals and a rudder. These additions are great for those who wish to ‘drift’ around on a coral reef or rocky shelf as they can move back and forth without having to constantly pick up a paddle. It also contains a larger storage and mounting options to easily accommodate a fish finder with slip proof standing capabilities as well. Specifications as follows:

  • Length: 13 ft 2inches
  • Rod Holders: 3 flush mounted holders and 6 Removable Mounting Plates for rod holder attachments
  • Dry Storage: 2
  • Wet/bait Storage: 0
  • Bait cavities: 1
  • Netted Storage: yes x 1
  • Foot pedals: Yes + Rudder
  • Adjustable foot rests: Yes

Other inclusions:

  • Adjustable canvas seat
  • Fish finder mounts, transducer scupper and internal battery case
  • Mounts for horizontal rod storage
  • Space for tackle trays under seat
  • Front/reverse setting for pedals

Why have I chosen it?

Once you start to look at foot pedal driven kayaks, unfortunately the price does rise. This however is a great kayak for a good price with the ability to pedal or stand with enough mounts and holders for all your kayak fishing needs. It is perfectly suited to many non ocean based locations such as estuaries and lakes as well. Good, solid kayak for beginners and experienced fishermen alike.

 

Conclusion

And there it is – my 3 best ocean fishing kayaks. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

Paul

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3 Best Ocean Fishing Kayaks
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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing hobbyists who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to fishing.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome fishing gear that will give you the best chance of catching a fish for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Paul

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