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Things to Consider When Selecting a Fishing Kayak

Let’s start at the beginning! How to choose a fishing kayak that is right for you. Start at the beginning, where do you plan on fishing?

Open Water, Protected Water, River?

The type of water body you will be using your kayak on should be one of your first considerations. How
certain designs perform in specific environments will have a significant impact on safety, performance and fun.

If you are considering fishing the ocean, or venturing offshore in large lake or bays it very important to select a kayak that can handle rough water. Even if you are only planning fair weather fishing, the weather can change rapidly. If these environs are in your sights, consider getting something like the Kraken 13.5 (check your local dealer to see if they still have inventory of this awesome kayak designed for oceans) or if pedal driven Coosa FD.

If you considering river fishing boats designed to navigate rapids and swirling eddies will greatly enhance your river fishing experience.  Fortunately, Jackson kayak is fluent in river!  For a minimalist and extremely capable river fishing kayak consider the OG Coosa. If you are interested in rivers but want a boat that is feature rich and more of an all-arounder, consider the Coosa HD.  

If you looking to fish lakes and ponds the choices become plentiful.  The following sections should help you find the right boat.

How to Choose a Fishing Kayak

Paddle, pedal, motor

While pedals have become dominant in the fishing kayak market, the simplicity of a paddle kayak should not be overlooked.  In some settings such as thick cover, paddling can be more effective.  Paddle kayaks are generally lighter and involve essentially no maintenance.   Drive systems are also expensive and can increase the cost of a kayak significantly. If you find the simplicity of paddling appealing consider a kayak like the Bite, Yupik, or Big Rig.

The allure of “hands-free” fishing has made pedal drive kayaks extremely popular in the kayak fishing community, especially amongst bass anglers.  Pedal drives offer opportunities to easily change and maintain position while actively fishing that are difficult while paddling.  If a pedal drive is on your checklist, check out the Bite FD, Coosa FD, or Big Rig FD.

Adding an electric motor to a kayak has become popular for individuals looking to increase their range.  All of the kayaks in the FD line are compatible with the Jackson Flex Drive.  The Flex drive is a plug and play electric motor that can rapidly switch places with the pedal drive on FD equipped boats to get the ultimate combination of range and finesse with a minimum of hassle.   If you are considering an aftermarket motor such as a Torqueedo, any of the kayaks in the FD or HD line with Powerpole mounts will ease installation significantly. 

Sit or Stand

Anglers that enjoy sight fishing have a number of choices for kayaks that facilitate standing.  While you can actually stand in most kayaks with practice, stable hulls, flat floors, and leaning bars can greatly facilitate the experience.  If standing is a priority consider the Big Rig HDFD, Bite, or Mayfly.

Sit in or Sit on Top

Most fishing kayaks are sit on tops.  Sit on top kayaks are self-bailing and the large open deck is a good platform for angling.

However, if you want to cover a lot of ground, have protection from the elements, or like to “cast and blast” you may want to give a sit inside a look.  Sit inside kayaks are faster and often easier to paddle, as their flat bottoms glide across the water. They also offer a bit of extra protection from the elements, and TONS of internal storage. They are great for those interested in longer distance paddling on flat calm water, and kayak camping. They are also easy to camouflage making them a good choice for waterfowl hunting.  If this sounds appealing, consider a kayak like the Kilroy HD or OG Kilroy.   

Please remember, since they are not self-bailing they are not recommended in current or open ocean.

How to Choose a Fishing Kayak

Rigging and tackle storage

Modern fishing kayaks are designed to facilitate rigging and tackle storage.  Things to look for include track systems, mounting locations for things like electronics or anchor systems, and storage areas like tank wells or hatches.  

Storage and transportation

Before selecting your kayak it’s a good idea to think about how you intend to store and transport your new boat.  Smaller, simpler boats will be lighter and easier to cartop.  Bigger boats will require a pickup bed or small trailer.

How to Choose a Fishing Kayak

How to choose a fishing kayak for your budget

Compared to boats, even the most expensive kayaks are a bargain.  Paddle driven fishing are significantly cheaper and can generally be had for less than $1500 including everything you need to get on the water.  Entry level boats like the Bite or Staxx are well under $1000.

Pedal kayaks are typically over $3000.  The Bite FD is a great option as an entry level pedal kayak at $2199.

We hope that helps you make some decisions! Remember, if you need any further advice, you can contact our team of pro anglers on our “Ask a Pro” anytime. See you on the water.