Best River Fishing Kayaks for 2021 with Buying Guide

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Looking for this year's best river fishing kayaks?

For anglers who like paddling and kayaking, the best river fishing kayak is a must-have piece of equipment. In recent years, river fishing has become more popular.

In order to discover which river fishing kayaks are the best, you need to know about a few important aspects that set them apart from the others.

River fishing kayaks in this guide can help you catch some big fish, whether you're an experienced angler seeking to take on some rough waters or a novice just learning the ropes.

Learn more about the best river fishing kayaks and the attributes that set them apart from the rest of the pack by reading this article.

Top 10 Best River Fishing Kayaks in 2021

To choose easier for you, we've narrowed down our list of the top 10 river fishing kayaks for 2021.

1. Sun Dolphin Journey 10

Weight: 44 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 250 lbs

Features: Portable accessory carrier | 2 flush mont & 1 swivel rod holder | Adjustable padded seat | Adjustable footbrakes | Multiple storage compartments

The Sun Dolphin sit-on-top kayak is one of the best river fishing kayaks on the market. It's simple and lightweight, but highly sturdy and solid.

Although this kayak is billed as a SOT, it is more lower and closer to the water than the other kayaks on this list. The contoured thigh pads will assist you keep your balance as well as making it easier to navigate. For little inlets and slow-moving rivers, this 'yak is the best choice. It's not the quickest model on the market, but it's really easy to track with it.

The three rod attachments (one swivel and two flush mounts), the adjustable foot bracing, and the wide cockpit make this kayak one of the best river fishing kayaks.

A small anterior deck equipped with bungees and two self-bailing storage compartments provide enough storage space aboard.

2. Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak

Weight: 72 lbs | Length: 12′ 3″ | Width: 36″ | Max Capacity: 650 lbs

Features: Built-in dry storage | 4 inset rod holders | 2 adjustable EVA padded high-back seats | 2 double sided paddles | Front & rear bungee storage

This tandem river fishing kayak from Elkton Outdoors makes fishing with a companion a breeze. You'll have plenty of area to spread out when you cast out at little over 12 feet.

This is a long kayak, but it is broad enough to provide good stability and balance on slow-moving rivers, making it a good choice.

Dry storage hatch, front and back extra storage compartments, and a middle platform for coolers or other bulky stuff are all included.

Two adjustable rod holders, cup holders, and cushioned backrests are just some of the features that make this river fishing kayak so popular with paddlers.

3. Pelican Sentinel 100X

Weight: 44 lbs | Length: 9′ 6″ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 275 lbs

Features: EXOPAK removable storage compartment | Vertical rod holders | Adjustable footrests | 2 paddle holders | Smartphone holder

Pelican's Sentinal 100X kayak is a great option for anglers searching for a high-performance kayak at a reasonable price.

Just under 10 feet long, it is one of the smallest kayaks on our list. In terms of mobility and agility, it's a terrific option.

However, the flat bottom hull of this type ensures that it remains stable. Just bear in mind that once you're out on the lake, you won't be able to stand up or move much.

This fishing kayak's other top-ten features include rod tie-downs and flush mount pole holders, a comfortable seat and a storage box for beverages and your smartphone.

You'll have plenty of room for all of your stuff in the tank well, which comes with a detachable ExoPak to make loading and unloading a simple.

4. Perception Outlaw 11.5

Weight: 77 lbs | Length: 11′ 6″ | Width: 35″ | Max Capacity: 425 lbs

Features: 2 double barrel rod holders | 3 solo mount recesses | Molded-in trays & cup holders | Elevated seating console | Large rear & front tank wells

Those who like to stand while reeling in the fish will find this kayak to be their best option. These features aren't available in some of the less costly alternatives, despite the hefty price tag they carry.

The spacious deck is significantly preferable, and the mesh seat can be quickly stowed away for even more room. Moreover, the deck's quiet traction pads make it rock-solid when it comes to stability.

There are double barrel rod holders, draining scupper holes, and two cup holders for when four o'clock rolls around (or whenever the desire hits you, we're not judging). Anglers will enjoy the convenience.

A trolling engine may be added to the rear of this top fishing kayak if necessary, although it's not recognized for its speed or maneuverability.

In addition to the enormous stern tank well, there are two trays in the front where saddlebags may be attached if desired.

Some fishermen claim to have taken this kayak down Class II rapids while standing in it, although it's better used for river fishing in calm water.

5. Aquaglide Chinook 100

Weight: 23 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 36″ | Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Features: HexShell 600-denier ripstop polyester | Thick cushioned seat | Quick release fin | Front & rear deck bungees | Duffle carry bag

Aquaglide's Chinook 100 is another excellent river fishing inflatable. It weighs only 23 pounds and is made of ripstop polyester, which is known for its toughness and UV protection.

In addition to being able to paddle alone or with a friend, the kayak has lots of storage space in the front and back for all of your personal items. Kayakers should be aware that this vessel does not have a dry storage hatch, but they will be able to fit anything they need in dry bags.

The squishy foam chairs, each with two rod holders, allow anglers to cast out in comfort. On calm water or slow-moving rivers, where this vessel works best, standing is not suggested, although it may be done if necessary.

Other notable features include a detachable bottom for additional stability and a quick-release fin for simple tracking.

If you're just getting started with river fishing and don't need the most up-to-date features, this is the kayak for you. If you're looking for something light and compact, this is an excellent choice.

6. Riot Kayaks Escape 12

Weight: 72 lbs | Length: 12′ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 300 lbs

Features: Easy access storage hatches | Pilot rudder system | Integrated console w/ cup holders | 5 rod holders

Riot Kayaks has a 12 foot kayak on our list of the best river fishing kayaks for a good reason. It has all the bells and whistles, including a pilot rudder and an anchor trolley.

In addition to the five-rod holders and the adjustable sliding foot braces, this kayak's molded cup holder and console make it a standout among the others.

With a large back deck for coolers and other gear, as well as a dry storage hatch at the front, this top fishing kayak has a lot of storage space.

You'll still have excellent balance and stability even if you're standing up in this kayak, despite its length. However, you should avoid attempting any rapids with it.

7. Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Weight: 33 lbs | Length: 10′ 7″ | Width: 36.5″ | Max Capacity: 470 lbs

Features: 18-gauge PVC construction | Multiple air chambers | Interior mesh storage pockets | Berkley Quick Set rod holders | Sevylor trolling motor fittings

Fishermen looking for a high-quality tandem fishing kayak should check out the Coleman Inflatable Kayak. This is an excellent low-cost alternative to some of the more costly river fishing kayaks. With its lightweight design and ability to fit in your trunk when deflated, it's one of the most convenient options on our list. These features make it one of the most versatile river fishing kayaks for individuals with limited storage space.

This top fishing kayak features all the essentials for a fantastic day on the water, making it ideal for anglers. There are plenty of D rings for attaching additional gear if you need it, as well as adjustable hands-free rod holders, paddle holders, and mesh pockets on the sides and backs of the seats. This will be useful since the kayak doesn't have any dry storage.

Using a mix of nylon and tarpaulin, the boat is built to withstand the rigors of slow-moving waterways.

8. Lifetime 10 Foot

Weight: 73 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 36″ | Max Capacity: 500 lbs

Features: 3 fishing pole holders | Multiple footrest positions | Rear storage hatch | 2 paddles included | Padded backrests

Lifetime's 10-foot sit-on-top kayak is a favorite choice for two anglers. With its sturdy design, ample storage for all your fishing gear, and the option to mount a motor, it checks all the boxes for river fishing.

You may stand up without worry of tumbling over because of the flat bottom hull. Those who like to sit may do so on two well-padded chairs with back pockets and various footrests that allow even the tallest of paddlers to stretch out fully.

The three molded rod holders, paddle holders, and a dry storage compartment at the back of this kayak make it one of the best river fishing kayaks. When you've had a fantastic day on the water, there are even a few drink holders to help you celebrate.

9. BKC PK11

Weight: 60 lbs | Length: 10′ 6″ | Width: 34″ | Max Capacity: 420 lbs

Features: Pedal-driven propeller system | Front watertight hatch & rear cargo area | Extremely stable | Flush-mounted rod holders

The Brooklyn Kayak Company's sit-on-top kayak is one of the best river fishing kayaks on the market.

Top-notch features like pedal drive and hand-operated rutter make this machine one among our top choices, but they don't come cheap. Those who are seeking for a cheap river fishing kayak should continue reading.

There are three flush-mount rod holders and a lot of storage space on this river fishing kayak, making it a strong candidate for the best river fishing kayak award. Your belongings will be well-protected from the elements thanks to two dry storage compartments and an additional rear bungee cargo box.

Although it can tolerate moderate swell, this premier fishing kayak performs best on calm rivers and lakes.

10. Perception Pescador Pro 12

Weight: 85 lbs | Length: 12′ 5″ | Width: 33.75″ | Max Capacity: 475 lbs

Features: Pilot drive pedal system | Adjustable lawn chair style mesh seat | Large front & rear open storage | Gear tracks, fish finder consoles, & 4 rod holders

The Pescador Pro 12 offers everything you need to catch some keepers, whether you're new to river fishing or an experienced fisherman. You can start fishing as soon as you put it in the water since it's fully loaded with all the extras.

The best kayak for fishing is very stable and even enables you to throw while standing. If you want to customize this bad boy even further, you may do so with the included fish finder console and two rod holders.

This sit-on-top fishing kayak has a lot of storage space, which is a plus for anglers. Coolers, tackle boxes, and other camping goods may be stored openly in the front and back of the vehicle.

While paddling, you'll stay cool on the mesh seat, which has a high and low setting. When you return to firm ground, you may fold it up and use it as a camp chair.

You'll get the most out of this kayak if you're paddling on calm rivers and other waterways.

Features of the Top River Fishing Kayak

For river fishing, kayaks are constructed in a unique way. The best river fishing kayaks will generally have some (or all) of the following attributes, although this list is not comprehensive:


In the river fishing sector, SOT versions are more frequent since they are broader, making them more solid and easier to stand on. It's also common for them to have a lot more room for items like cup holders, rod holders, and fishing gear.

You may want to check out SIK if you're looking for something that can handle some real white water.


You can fish from the deck of a kayak since it is flat and stable. On top river fishing kayaks, this is becoming more common, and many decks have traction mats for extra stability.

Rod Holders

While it may seem like a luxury, having a place to store your paddles while you're out on the water is a must. Swivel or flush mount rod holders may be seen on many fishing kayaks.

It's important to check that your 'yak has a place to put your fishing rod while paddling or additional eyelets to connect your own.

Rounded Keel

How much of the kayak's hull is above the water is known as the keel (or rocker). Turning will be easier if your keel has a larger arch, or a more rounded shape. More speed and better tracking may be achieved by having a lower keel.

When it comes to river fishing, this isn't a must-have feature, but most fishermen like to be able to maneuver rather than be able to go fast.

Peddle Drive

Peddling when reeling in a fish is an excellent way to enhance your river fishing experience. There are times when this isn't an essential function, but it may be a game changer if you're on calm, sluggish seas.

Anchor Trolly System

On the other side, an anchor system in your river fishing kayak is a need if you want to remain put. Anchoring your boat in a calm stream can protect you from drifting away as you search for your prey in whitewater rapids.

Important Factors to Consider When Purchasing a River Fishing Kayak

In the past few years, fishing kayaks have witnessed an increase in popularity, and there are now several good models on the market. Some are specifically designed for fishermen, while others are better suited to kayakers.

Choosing the best river fishing kayak requires careful consideration of a number of factors, including the following.


If you're going to go river fishing, you'll need a 'yak that can handle the stream's many curves. So the best river fishing kayaks will be shorter ones.

Short kayaks are simpler to control than long kayaks in terms of tracking and speed. Choose one that is long enough to fit your person!


The best river fishing kayak should be stable. You'll need something that lets you stand up and move about without falling.

Find a kayak with a broad beam and a flattened hull. For river fishing, stability and maneuverability are more important than speed.


Before buying a river fishing kayak, be sure you can tow it. Will it fit on your vehicle or do you need a trailer? Consider the weight of the object and if you can carry it into the water by yourself.

River fishing kayaks are generally shorter, but not always lighter. Check the specifications before you buy.


River fishing kayaks need a lot of storage space. The coolers, tackle, poles, and other necessities will need to fit in a 'yak.

Dry storage compartments and roomy bungee-rigged decks are common features of the best fishing kayaks. You don't want to overburden your boat, so keep an eye on the weight capacity of the boat.

If you want to take your river fishing kayak on overnight outings, you'll need a lot of storage capacity to keep your camping gear safe and secure.

Extra Attachments

Your kayak should have adequate room for all of your fishing gear, whether or if you're a professional fisherman or merely think of yourself as someone who is well-versed in the current techniques.

However, this isn't a regular feature in the best river fishing kayaks and isn't included in the price of the kayaks.

Frequently Asked Questions on River Kayak Fishing

If you still have questions about river fishing kayaks, you can find more information in these frequently asked questions.

What are the best kayaks for fishing small inland waters?

You'll want something that's comfortable and sturdy, but yet has decent mobility. For tiny interior waterways, we suggest either the Lifetime 10 Foot or the Sun Dolphin Journey 10.

What’s the best river fishing kayak for beginners?

To get started with river fishing, you should search for a more basic model that is stable and has enough of storage room. Aquaglide Chinook 100 is the one we'd suggest if we had to choose. It offers a lot of room for your stuff and is short enough to effortlessly navigate calm waterways. As an added bonus, this best river fishing kayak is lightweight and inflatable.

Which river fishing kayak is the most stable?

Most kayaks for river fishing have a high degree of stability. A boat with a flattened hull that is short and broad will do the trick. The Perception Outlaw 11.5 is our top pick for stability. To help you keep your balance, the broad decking and quiet traction pads are there for you.

What are the best kayaks to use for camping along a river?

If you're going to be camping near a river after a day of fishing, you'll want something nice and sturdy that can handle all of your stuff. The Sevylor Coleman Colorado or the Perception Pescador Pro 12 are good options. Both of them work nicely in slow-moving rivers and can be towed ashore easily when it's time to call it a day.

Are sit-on-top kayaks safer?

However, sit-on-top kayaks are not inherently safer than their sit-in equivalents, despite the fact that they are simpler to get out of. For river fishing, though, they are favored since they are more sturdy and let you to stand up when casting and reeling in the fishies.

Wear your personal flotation device (PFD) at all times for your own safety and the safety of others.

Now that you've learned about the greatest river fishing kayaks and some of the best models on the market in 2021, the only thing left to do is choose the one that's right for you. Once you've done that, you'll be hauling in fish in no time at all! Wishing you the best of luck!

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