Best Fly Fishing Kayak in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Fly fishing is an activity that requires a lot of skills, practice, and dedication. Because it requires great stability on the water, it would be hard to catch gamefish using that technique.

But don’t worry, having reliable equipment always proves helpful. That’s why I’ve raided the market for the best fly fishing kayaks and gathered them right here on this list.

If you’re not sure how to pick a fly fishing kayak, I’ve got a buying guide for you to make the features and specs a little clearer.

List of the Best Fly Fishing Kayaks:

Comparison Table:

Kayak

WeightWeight Capacity

Width

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

55 lbs.325 lbs.

30.5 in.

Ocean Kayak Prowler 13

56 lbs.325 lbs.

28 in.

Perception Pescador Pro 12

57 lbs.375 lbs.

32.5 in.

Hobie Mirage Outback

103 lbs.425 lbs.

34 in.

Feelfree Lure 11.5

74 lbs.425 lbs.

34 in.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

85 lbs.475 lbs.

33.75 in.

The 6 Best Fly Fishing Kayaks in 2020

1. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 – Best Lightweight Fly Fishing Kayak

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

 

The Tarpon 100 is a reliable sit-in-top kayak that provides plenty of storage and even waterproof options.

In terms of stability, it’s pretty steady. It measures 10 feet in length and 30.5 in width, and these measurements highly contribute to its stability and enable you to stand up and cast your rod (something you’ll probably have to do while you’re fly fishing). The absence of a pedal system also makes it easy to stand up in this kayak.

Moreover, it provides users with a lot of comfort features, including a full seat that isn’t just molded into the kayak or resting on the base. It’s also a Phase 3 AirPro seat, which is the most comfortable in their line. 

There’s also a mesh cover to prevent stickiness from hot weather and a SlideTrax system that allows you to choose the accessories you want, including extra rod holders.

The two waterproof hatches found on the bow and center of the seating combined with the very large day will provide you with plenty of space and storage to pack all your essentials with you.

However, a major drawback of this kayak is its very limited weight capacity. The Tarpon 100 can only accommodate 325 pounds, which may not be enough to support you, your gear, and your catches.

Pros:

  • Plenty of space for storage and movement
  • Dimensions make it stable
  • Mesh-covered Phase 3 AirPro seat
  • Equipped with two waterproof compartments
  • Rear well storage

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have a pedal system
  • Limited weight capacity

Bottom Line

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 is an ideal choice for anyone who’s looking for a lightweight fly fishing kayak that provides comfort throughout the day. However, if you plan to catch big fish or if you require plenty of equipment on your fishing trip, I wouldn’t recommend this one due to its limited weight capacity.


2. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 – Best Ocean Fly Fishing Kayak

Ocean Kayak Prowler 13

 

The Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 comes with a sleek stripped-back design, decent storage, and stable performance.

Its long waterline and narrow hull work on enhancing its performance, especially when the waters are rough. The Prowler 13 also offers great tracking and impressive top speed.

At 56 pounds, it’s one of the lighter fly fishing kayaks and can be transported by a single person. However, its weight capacity only goes as far as 325 pounds.

As for comfort, the Prowler 13 comes with a comfort seat plus which offers an adjustable backrest and can easily be removed for replacement.

In terms of storage, it does a great job. It comes with a large tank well system in the stern where you can pack bulky gear and rest assured that it won’t get wet. You can also pack your valuables and seal them in the bow-mounted waterproof hatch.

Plus, the hatch offers access to bow and stern internal storage for fishing rods, and that’s how you carry your rods safely inside the kayak. On top of that, there’s a bungee storage on-deck.

Finally, the hull is equipped with a transducer mounting on which you can put a fish finder and two-rod holders. However, there’s no space to add additional rod holders, and there are no gear rails.

Pros:

  • 13 feet long with a 34-inch beam
  • Suits ocean fishing
  • Adjustable footrests and seat
  • Good storage
  • Excellent performance
  • Top speed with good tracking
  • Internal storage and external bungee storage
  • In-hull rod storage
  • Not too heavy

Cons:

  • Seat sits a little low
  • Day well is rather small
  • Lacks gear rails
  • Only two rods

Bottom Line

The Prowler 13 is a durable kayak that suits fishing in open waters like seas and oceans. This speaks volumes of its stability and reliable tracking. It’s also lightweight. However, if you’re looking for something on which you can pack plenty of gear, you should check other options out.


3. Perception Pescador Pro 12 – Best for Lakes and Rivers

 

Perception Pescador Pro 12

 

The Perception Pescador Pro 12 is another sit-on-top kayak that comes with the series’ extra features, especially the focus on tracking well in various conditions. Its tracking is unbeatable if you’re fishing in a lake, a river, or calm coastal waters.

Despite that, at around 57 pounds, it’s not too heavy to move around or to store. It’s a pretty durable kayak with resistance against UV rays and abrasion.

As for the storage options, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 comes with accessory mount options, a bungee-secured bow well, a large stern well, and tackle box storage in the front seat. All of this provides more than enough space to pack plenty of things.

This fly fishing kayak comes with a very comfortable, stadium-style seating configuration with two positions that you can adjust to fit.

It also has molded rod holders to provide you with enough room for your equipment as well as carry handles that facilitate getting the kayak to the water’s edge.

However, at only 375 pounds, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 wouldn’t be a very suitable choice if you have company or if you’re packing a lot of gear.

It’s also not the most stable kayak for standing up during fishing. You’re still able to do it, but it doesn’t feel as steady as other options on the list.

Pros:

  • Comfortable, stadium-style seats
  • Bungee rear tank
  • Center console
  • Stern 5 deck plate
  • Two molded rod holders and cup holders
  • Tackle Box storage

Cons:

  • Not as sturdy for standing as other kayaks
  • Subpar weight capacity

Bottom Line

If you’re not going to fight against stubborn fish that require you to stand up, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 is a good choice. It provides ample storage, a lot of comfort, and good tracking.


4. Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback – Best Tracking and Stability

Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback

 

If you’re looking for great stability and tracking, the 34-inch wide Hobie Mirage Outback has plenty to offer. This offshore fishing kayak gives you plenty of value for its price with its high-end features.

With the patented MirageDrive paddle driven system, anglers will be able to control the vessel by paddling rather than rowing to keep their hands free for fishing.

Furthermore, it comes with a retractable rudder that makes tracking easier and enables you to paddle more seamlessly no matter the conditions in which you’re kayaking.

It provides you with comfort throughout your trip with an adjustable Vantage CT-W seat that comes with lumbar support. No matter how you prefer to sit and whether you’re paddling or fishing, you’ll feel comfortable and at ease. It’s equipped with four-rod holders, which is a good number for quick action.

As for storage, the Hobie Mirage Outback comes with multiple storage options where you can bring all your gear. There are even smaller accessories like cupholders of different sizes, extra cargo hatches, and long-running shelves that maximize convenience.

However, at 103 pounds, the Hobie Mirage Outback isn’t the most portable. The 425-pound weight capacity makes up for that, though.

Pros:

  • Great weight capacity
  • Comfortable seat
  • A very adjustable Vantage seat
  • Equipped with four-rod holders
  • Can be pedaled forward and backward
  • Two waterproof storage compartments
  • Sail mount option
  • Provides space for installing a fishfinder

Cons:

  • Pretty basic
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

With easy navigation, many ergonomic and convenient options, and comfortable seating, the Hobie Mirage Outback easily takes the cake for being a top-end fly fishing kayak.


5. Feelfree Lure 11.5 – Best for Stand-up Fly Fishing

Feelfree Lure 11.5

 

 

The Feelfree Lure is equipped with plenty of features that make it suitable for fly fishing.

While it’s shorter than the Mirage Outback, for example, at only 11.5 feet, it’s wider at 34 inches, which is great for standing up and having plenty of space to move around.

What’s more, the Feelfree Lure is equipped with a standing bar that you can pull on to stand up more easily and feel more balanced. It also has a standing platform at the bottom of the kayak that allows you not only to fish while standing but also to paddle!

It’s a somewhat heavy kayak at 74  pounds, but it also has an ample weight capacity of 425 pounds.

Another great feature is the small, waterproof sonar pod on which you can place electronic devices like fish finders and lower them into the water.

Finally, this kayak provides maximum comfort with a Feelfree Gravity Seat that you can adjust in four directions by simply pushing or pulling a lever.

Pros:

  • Sonar pod
  • Wide design provides stability
  • Standing platform and bar
  • Adjustable seat
  • Rod holders and two storage hatches

Cons:

  • Tracking is a little difficult

Bottom Line

The Feelfree Lure 11.5 is the ideal choice for those who love fishing standing up. It’s wide, stable, and comes with both a standing bar and a standing platform.


6. Perception Pescador Pilot 12 – Best Weight Capacity

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

 

If you’re going fly fishing with a friend or if you’re the kind that likes to bring all of their equipment and gear on a trip, the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 would be a suitable option with its 475-pound weight capacity that beats all other options on the list.

It’s also a great choice if you want to do hands-free fishing. This is because it’s equipped with a pedal drive system that enables you to use your feet to power it forward. What’s more, if you want to paddle instead, you can remove the pedal system.

As for the ergonomics, the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 comes with an ergonomic captain’s chair that’s designed to fit everyone and anyone. It also has four molded-in rod holders that enable you to keep multiple fishing pole setups ready whenever you need to use them.

To store your belongings, the Pilot 12 comes with three hatches that provide ample dry storage.

Pros:

  • Removable pedals
  • Ergonomic captain’s chair
  • Three dry storage hatches
  • Four molded rod holders

Cons:

  • Hefty
  • Not the most affordable
  • The raising and lowering mechanism of the rudder is faulty

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a capacious weight limit, ample comfort, and decent storage, I’d highly recommend the Perception Pescador Pilot 12. Although it’s a little heavy and not the most affordable choice, it has a lot to offer.


How to Pick a Fly Fishing Kayak

When you’re shopping for a fly fishing kayak, you’ve got to bear in mind that there are two different aspects to the kayak that you have to consider. The first is how the kayak suits fishing and the second is why it suits fly fishing specifically. So, let’s delve into it.

1. Stability

To stay safe on the water, you need a reliable kayak that moves steadily. This is especially true if you plan to move in the cockpit to cast your rod while standing up.

Usually, the width of the kayak plays a huge role in how stable it is. But that’s not all, as there are two types of stability to understand: primary and secondary.

Primary stability refers to the kayak’s ability to resist tipping, and that’s where the width contributes. On the other hand, secondary stability refers to the depth of the keel. While those with a deep keel may seem like they’re more likely to tip over, they’re actually great when it comes to counter-balancing by leaning the opposite way in case you feel like the kayak is turning over.

It’s also worth mentioning that the length of the beam must be proportionate to the length of the kayak. For example, if your kayak measures 12 feet, the beam must measure more than 30 inches. A narrower beam might cause your kayak to lose a significant amount of stability.

In short, the wider ones are less likely to tip over, but if they do, they’re a pain to recover.

2. Comfort

Fishing isn’t an activity that you spend a couple of minutes on, but rather one that lasts the day, which makes comfort a requisite. There are a couple of features to look for in a kayak to make sure that it’s going to be comfortable.

These include the seat, which should be padded and adjustable, as well as have lower back support and adjustable footrests to make sure your knees are bent properly for effective paddling. A seat with mesh covers would also be a great option for breathability.

Also, look for self-draining scuppers and make sure they’re located at the lowest point of the cockpit for thorough draining.

3. Deck

The perfect decks for fly fishing would be the ones found on sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks. This is because they don’t have a cockpit, which makes for more room for storage and moving around. 

Moreover, these allow you to stand up without issues. But make sure they have a traction pad available to provide footing, even if the kayak is wet.

4. Tracking

Tracking refers to how far your kayak can stay on track when underway, specifically to move quickly and straight. If your kayak has good tracking, it’ll hold its course even when a turning force like a sweep stroke acts on it.

To maximize this stability, you should opt for a kayak with a flat bottom hull and chines to push the water away. Moreover, a skeg by the rudder will contribute greatly to this aspect.

5. Weight Capacity and Storage

If you want to keep your deck clear, you’ll need a kayak with plenty of storage space where you can keep your gear, equipment, and valuables away from any water. It’s always a great idea to have different spaces in multiple areas of the kayak or even your PFD. Storage spaces must be easy to access, tightly sealed, yet easy to open and close.

There should be enough space behind your seat to store a milk crate, a bucket, or a box where you can keep your stuff. Another great addition would be some tight bungee tie-downs that criss-cross the well to spare you the need for constant clasping and unclasping.

To be able to bring everything you need on your fishing trip, your kayak must have enough weight capacity to support you and your things. The ideal weight capacity on your kayak would be 100 pounds more than your weight and the weight of your equipment combined.

Your kayak’s length also contributes to this aspect, so make sure that it’s greater than 10 feet. This enables it to accommodate plenty of things without a problem.

Final Thoughts

While the six fly fishing kayaks I’ve mentioned can all count as the best fly fishing kayaks on the market, there are a couple that stand out.

For one, if you’re looking for the most stable option that features good tracking, opt for the Hobie Mirage Outback.

If that’s too expensive and you want something that’s budget-friendly, go for the lightweight and affordable Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100.

The Perception Pescador Pilot 12 will be a great choice if you want to pack on gear and equipment for a professional fly fishing trip.