The Most Stable Fishing Kayaks for Confident Fishing

Wesley Littlefield


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After freshwater kayak fishing for many years, I can honestly say stability is one of the most important aspects of a fishing kayak, but you already know that; that’s why you’re here.

You want to know what the most stable fishing kayak is; I’ll tell you upfront if you’re on your lunch break and in a hurry.

It’s the Ascend 133X Tournament because it’s designed for fishing and ridiculous stability, plus it’s reasonably priced!

Keep reading for the rest of this rock-solid list! I promise they won’t sink.

Top 3 Most Stable Fishing Kayaks

Here are the three most stable fishing kayaks I tested available online today:

Ascend 133X Tournament
Best Overall
Ascend 133X Tournament
Old Town Sportsman BigWater PDL
Best Pedal
Old Town Sportsman BigWater PDL
NRS Pike
Best Inflatable
NRS Pike


Testing Procedures

Testing for the most stable fishing kayak was pretty simple. I tried standing in all the kayaks I tested; if I couldn’t stand in it, there was no way it was making the list. 

Next, I leaned to one side as I would netting or grabbing a fish. If it felt like I couldn’t lean very far without falling in, that kayak didn’t make the list.

Lastly, if it passed the other two tests, I intentionally tried to flip it to see just how stable it actually was. 

I also looked for several other key attributes since I was testing fishing yaks and not just recreational kayaks- 

  • Fishability: Since it’s a fishing kayak, it better make fishing even more enjoyable, if that’s even possible! A fishing yak should have features specifically designed to make anglers’ lives easier while on the water.
  • Comfortability: Whether I’m sitting or standing for long hours, I want to be as comfortable as possible, and the best fishing kayaks offer unmatched comfortable chairs and decks.
  • Maneuverability: Fishing kayaks are not known for their handling capabilities. However, you shouldn’t feel out of control while paddling one.

    This is one area that is sacrificed the most with wide, stable yaks, but I tried to compromise as much as possible.
  • Stability: How stable a kayak primarily depends on two things, the hull design and the width of the kayak. A wider, catamaran-style hull is more stable than a narrower, round hull.
  • Price: While high-end kayaks are crazy stable, they also come at a crazy price, so I tried to compromise and find reasonably priced kayaks that were still incredibly stable.

MOST STABLE FISHING KAYAK OVERALL

Ascend 133X Tournament with Yak-Power

Ascend 133X Tournament fishing kayak with yak power

Specs

  • Length: 13′
  • Width: 36.5″
  • Weight: 125 lbs
  • Max Capacity: 550 lbs

Pros

The incredibly stable catamaran hull allows you to easily stand up and fish
Built for fishing, loaded with thoughtful features
Lots of storage areas for all your fishing gear
High maximum weight capacity so you can deck it out
Built-in carrying handles at the front and back make carrying it much easier

Cons

Heavy, you won’t want to cartop this yak
Only one dry storage compartment, so you don’t have a lot of room for your valuables

Why We Chose It

The Ascend 133X is the most stable fishing kayak designed for the tournament angler at a surprisingly affordable price, considering all the great features that come standard.

This is one of the market’s widest, most stable rotomolded kayaks at 36.5 inches. Which means I was able to stand up and fish from it without any trouble.

I never felt like the kayak was about to capsize when I leaned over the edge, and it handled some big boat waves very well. 

I also thought the padded adjustable seat was comfortable. It sat high enough that standing wasn’t a chore, and I could stretch my short legs to the adjustable foot braces.

Since the wires for powering a fish finder or trolling motor have already been run, you don’t have to drill holes and try to plug them properly, which is a HUGE bonus in my book, though I do like rigging my kayaks.

This kayak’s fishability is off the charts when you get the Ascend 133X Tournament Fishing Package.

I’m a huge fan of the gear tracks to mount extra fishing rod holders or a fish finder; there’s also a place for a trolling motor to be mounted at the front of the kayak and a Power Pole Micro at the stern.

If you’re like me and bring more gear than you need, don’t worry; with a 550-pound weight limit and plenty of storage, you can get as much fishing gear as you can cram onto this large fishing kayak.

As great as this kayak is, there are a couple of cons I must mention. The first is how stinking heavy it is.

It weighs over 100 pounds, making paddling more strenuous and hauling it a tougher task. If this kayak is too heavy, check out the slightly smaller Wilderness Systems Atak 120 fishing kayak.

The Atak is nine inches shorter, one inch narrower, and holds 150 fewer pounds. It is also more expensive, but it only weighs 85 pounds instead of 125 pounds. You won’t be giving up much stability with the Atak 120 to gain that weight reduction.

I’m also not a fan of the dry storage option. An extra dry bag for storage is definitely needed because there’s only one dry storage compartment, and it’s small.

The Ascend 133X is the most stable kayak for fishing and has all the fishing features any angler needs at a ridiculously low price compared to high-end stable kayaks.

MOST STABLE PEDAL FISHING KAYAK

Old Town Sportsman BigWater PDL 132

Old Town Sportsman BigWater PDL 132

Specs

  • Length: 13′ 2″
  • Width: 36″
  • Weight: 122lbs
  • Max Capacity: 500lbs

Pros

Nearly hands-free pedaling with instant forward and reverse
Stable enough to stand and fish and a comfortable seat
Good dry storage area to keep your valuables and a large bungee storage compartment to secure the gear that can get wet
Designed for fishing with angler-friendly features

Cons

Expensive, as most pedal-drive fishing kayaks are
Heav, so you’ll likely need a kayak trailer
Not a shallow water pedal drive kayak

Why We Chose It

The Old Town Sportsman Big Water PDL 132 is the most stable pedal fishing kayak because of its width, hull design, level of comfort, and fishability.

Old Town is a well-respected company in the watercraft industry. They’re known for making high-quality kayaks and kayaking gear. When you purchase an Old Town kayak, you can trust it will last your lifetime.

The Old Town Sportsman BigWater is no exception. It’s extremely wide, making standing to fish even more manageable, or if you’re not comfortable standing, the extra stability will keep you feeling safe even in rough waters and wakes.

This large kayak has all the storage space you’ll need for your fishing gear, including bungee and dry storage, to keep it secure.

I think I would have to literally bring every piece of fishing gear I own to max out the storage on this giant yak.

Since it was designed for anglers, it has all the features you’ll need, like a comfortable seat, gear tracks, and flush-mount rod holders.

I love this pedal drive system because it has instant forward and reverse, so you can hold your position when working a bait or quickly get lined up to make the perfect cast.

It is a little stiffer than the Mirage Drive on the Hobie Mirage Lynx, but the Hobie doesn’t have instant forward and reverse.

The Sportsman Big Water is also speedy because of how efficient it is, considering it’s the size of a small barge. You can pedal at a relaxed pace much faster than you can paddle.

As much as I loved testing this kayak, I found a few downsides I just couldn’t overlook. The price, the weight, and the pedal design.

Let’s start with the pedal drive system.

You can’t pedal in water two feet or shallower because you risk damaging the prop or getting stuck on the bottom.

Thankfully, Old Town made the PDL simple to lift if you run into a shallow stretch, so it doesn’t keep you from fishing shallow. The Hobie Mirage Lynx does allow you to pedal in shallow water without sacrificing stability.

The weight is another issue, and while you can lessen it by removing the PDL, seat, and all your gear, it’s still incredibly heavy, so you’ll want a kayak cart and trailer to transport it.

Lastly, pedal kayaks, in general, are expensive. Be prepared to spend thousands of dollars on just about any pedal yak on the market.

If you’re not willing to spend a mortgage payment on a kayak, the Reel Yaks 11′ Fishing Kayak is one stable option that almost compares.

The Old Town Sportsman BigWater is the most stable pedal fishing kayak you’ll find online and a great kayak for big guys and gals too.

MOST STABLE INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK

NRS Pike

NRS Pike

Specs

  • Length: 12’ 8”
  • Width: 38”
  • Weight: 48 lbs
  • Max Capacity: 375 lbs

Pros

Lightweight, so it’s easy to transport and maneuver
Designed for angling by a trusted brand
Extra wide and stable enough to stand and fish

Cons

No dry storage hatch
It’s an inflatable kayak, so you must inflate and deflate it after most trips

Why We Chose It

The NRS Pike is the most stable inflatable fishing kayak on the market. This kayak has single-handedly changed my mind about inflatable kayaks. 

The lightweight design makes transporting it so much easier than a hard plastic kayak. While testing, I was nearly convinced to trade in one of my kayaks for this one because of the drastic weight difference.

The drop in weight doesn’t come at the expense of durability either because NRS uses high-quality PVC material that can withstand hitting rocks and sticks, which you inevitably will while fishing.

I thought it wouldn’t handle very well, and boy, was I wrong. The rigid keel insert allows you to track straight on flat water, so you won’t be wasting energy on unnecessary paddle strokes.

Now for the stability, at 38” wide, it’s unbelievably stable, like stand-up paddleboard (SUP) stable; you’ll have to try to flip it in order to get it to tip.

That’s also thanks to the 4″ drop-stitch deck with EVA foam pad and the 10.5″ side tubes.

Unlike the Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler Pro, which has aluminum accessory rails, the NRS Pike has 5 YakAttack accessory mounts that will hold a camera, fish finder, rod holder, and paddle holder and still have room for your tackle box. In the tank well. 

I also like the seat height of the NRS Pike much more than the low-sitting seat of the StraitEdge Angler Pro because it’s much more comfortable and easier to stand.

As great as the NRS Pike is, it has a couple of downsides that will deter some yak anglers from purchasing it.

The first is zero dry storage, so you’ll need to purchase a dry box or bag to keep your valuables that can’t get wet. 

The other con is that it is inflatable. So you’ll have to watch the PSI of the tubes, and inflatable yaks tend to need more maintenance than a hard-shell kayak.

The NRS Pike topped our list of best inflatable fishing kayaks and is the most stable inflatable kayak because of its hull design and width.

MOST STABLE TANDEM FISHING KAYAK

Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 160 Tandem Inflatable Kayak

Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 160 Tandem Inflatable Kayak

Specs

  • Length: 16′ 4″
  • Width: 38″
  • Weight: 50 lbs
  • Max Capacity: 800 lbs

Pros

Versatile, solo or tandem kayak, so you can bring extra gear or a friend
Lightweight but high-weight capacity
Comfortable padded seats
Designed for fishing, not just a tandem recreational kayak
Stable enough to stand and fish from

Cons

No dry storage
Low sitting seats

Why We Chose It

The Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 160 is huge! Like… cruise ship huge, okay maybe not that big, but it is a very stable tandem kayak perfect for two people to fish from.

It has plenty of room and stability for two paddlers and all their gear since it’s over 16 feet long and has a weight capacity of 800 pounds. I told you it was like a small cruise ship!

The inflatable design with a drop-stitch floor lends itself to improved stability. 

Even though the seats are low, they’re one of the most comfortable seats you’ll find in an inflatable kayak because they’re an aluminum frame, adjustable, and padded.

I thought it was pretty fishable since there are several locations to mount a fishfinder or additional rod holder around both seats. 

They clearly put more thought into the design than just slapping a few “fishing features” on a recreational yak, but I think the Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122U has better fishing features, and it’s a hard shell polypropylene kayak, so it is more durable. 

However, It’s not as stable, and you’re losing a lot of storage space with the BKC TK122U.

During my tests, I found a few cons that I should make you aware of; while it’s very possible to stand and fish, it was challenging to initially stand because the seats sit so low, which made me not want to stand much.

I also didn’t like that it didn’t have any dry storage, but there were plenty of storage areas. You’ll find the covered bungee storage area at the bow and stern (front and back) to store dry boxes and bags, as well as your fishing gear.

Even with the cons, the Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 160 is a very stable two-person fishing platform. However, if an inflatable kayak doesn’t work for you, I recommend looking into the BKC TK122U.

BUDGET-FRIENDLY STABLE FISHING KAYAK

Perception Outlaw 11.5

Perception Outlaw 11.5

Specs

  • Length: 11’ 6”
  • Width: 35”
  • Weight: 77 lbs
  • Max Capacity: 425 lbs

Pros

Under $1,000
Stable enough to stand on and fish
A comfortable chair and excellent chair height for a paddle kayak
Designed for fishing with many angling-specific features

Cons

No dry storage
The side handles are the gear tracks

Why We Chose It

The Perception Outlaw 11.5 is the most stable and comfortable fishing kayak I’ve ever used that costs less than 1,000 dollars. I’m still shocked it doesn’t cost more.

There’s plenty of deck space on this 35” wide kayak to stand, and I didn’t feel like I was going to tip. 

Usually, inexpensive kayaks skimp on a comfortable seat; well, the Perception Outlaw is the exception! This seat is like having a lazy boy in your boat, and the seat height makes standing so easy without making it hard to paddle.

While I wouldn’t say this kayak is decked out with fishing features, it has more than many others that claim to be fishing kayaks, like gear tracks, built-in rod holders, and plenty of storage space.

However, this kayak isn’t perfect; it has a couple of cons. 

The biggest is it doesn’t have dry storage, so if you need an inexpensive yak with dry storage, I recommend checking out the BKC FK184 found on Amazon because it’s similarly priced and has the same features, but it’s not as stable, nor does it have as comfortable of a seat height. 

The other drawback is the side handles double as gear tracks, so if you have stuff attached to the gear tracks, the handles will be harder to grip.

Besides those minor issues, the Perception Outlaw 11.5 is the most budget-friendly, stable fishing kayak on the market.

As you could tell, I’m a huge fan of how high the seat sits and the chair quality, considering the price is under $1,000.

Buying Guide: The Best Fishing Kayaks

Wesley standing in a kayak, with his catch, a bass fish

There is no such thing as the single greatest fishing kayak. Let me clarify.

One angler may love one feature while another may hate it. That’s why you often see kayak reviews drastically different regarding the same kayak.

To help ease the frustration and confusion, I keep a few factors in mind when purchasing a stand-up fishing kayak.

Kayak Stability

Kayak stability is the most important feature for safety. You might have heard of primary stability and secondary stability. Primary Stability- how stable the kayak feels in flat water.

Secondary Stability- how stable the kayak is on its side. As in the case when you’re leaning over the edge to land a fish.

It’s best to have primary and secondary stability as high as possible. This is primarily determined by the hull design.

A catamaran or pontoon hull will be the most stable.

Kayak Maneuverability

If you’re fishing open flat water, maneuverability won’t matter as much as it does to someone who fishes rivers and creeks.

The length, width, and hull design all contribute to kayak maneuverability.

Often shorter and narrower kayaks maneuver better than longer, wider kayaks.

This means you’ll need to compromise.

Kayak Fishability

fishing kayak out on water

What the heck does that mean?

I simply mean, how easy is it to fish out of? Not all kayaks are designed as fishing kayaks.

Most sit-on kayaks are much easier to fish out of than sit-inside kayaks.

Sit-on-top fishing kayaks are also typically more stable than sit-in kayaks. That’s why they’re the first choice of many kayak anglers.

Fishability also includes the number of gear tracks and options to mount additional rod holders and fish finders.

Some kayaks have a hull designed to accept a transducer for sonar, which makes it easier to fish.

Kayak Customizability

If your fishing style is cookie-cutter, then a customizable kayak isn’t that important.

However, if you’re like most anglers, you have a unique way of fishing, and your kayak should reflect it.

My kayak is so customizable I can change it up depending on the species I’m targeting that day.

Kayak Price

Having options usually comes at a price. That also goes for stability, maneuverability, and fishability.

Higher-end kayaks will have better features like a more comfortable seat and multiple places for a depth finder.

However, you don’t need one of the top fishing kayaks to catch fish and have a good day on the water. So don’t get caught up believing you can’t catch fish in a cheap kayak.

Stay within your budget. You can always upgrade later.

You’ll Also Need

Now that you have your kayak picked out, you’ll need a few other items to stay safe and have an enjoyable time.

There are too many to list in this section, but if you need some kayak rigging ideas to make your kayak more fishing-friendly, feel free to steal any of the ones mentioned in that article!

Paddle

fisherman out on water in his kayak with a fishing paddle

Your paddle is a critical piece of equipment. Even when I have my trolling motor mounted to my kayak, I still take my paddle, and it’s paid off on several occasions.

Getting the correct paddle can make all the difference. That’s why we wrote the article the best fishing kayak paddle.

I won’t repeat it all here, but just know that it’s better to have a paddle a little too long than too short.

PFD

If you see me kayak fishing, I have my lifejacket on my person. I don’t leave it sitting behind me or on the floor of my kayak.

I’ve heard too many horror stories of someone deciding not to wear their life vest and then they don’t make it home to their family.

If you’re going to splurge anywhere, I recommend getting the best kayak fishing PFD because it’s not that much money and could potentially save your life.

Tackle Box

yakattack fishing kayak crate

I tried using my regular tackle box in my kayak, and it didn’t work very well because I didn’t have enough room for it.

That’s when I decided the best kayak fishing tackle box is compact but holds enough for whatever the day might bring.

Thankfully, a decent tackle box isn’t that expensive.

I believe having a quality tackle management system is the key to keeping organized in your kayak. Mine is never set in stone because I’m constantly finding ways to improve it, like with a kayak crate.

Fishing Pole

Unlike a tackle box, you can use just about any fishing pole from a kayak. Fishing rods with long handles are more difficult to use, however.

That’s why I recommend getting as short of a handle as you can stand.

I still prefer my handles to be long enough for both hands to have room when I’m casting, but any longer, and they only end up getting caught in my PFD. Check out our best kayak fishing rods article for some suggestions.

Kayak Outriggers

If you find that your kayak still isn’t stable enough, you can always add kayak stabilizers to it, which will drastically increase the stability.

However, they will negatively affect how well your yak handles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you’ll find some of the most commonly asked questions we receive at Anglers.com about stable fishing kayaks.

What is the most stable kayak for standing fishing?

The most stable kayak for standing and fishing is the Ascend 133X Tournament.

The Nucanoe Unlimited and Frontier 12 are also incredibly stable fishing kayaks, but they’re much more expensive than the Ascend 133X Tournament.

Which type of kayak is most stable?

The type of kayak that is most stable is a fishing kayak. They’re designed primarily with stability in mind.

How stable is a fishing kayak?

A fishing kayak is very stable. You should be able to stand and fish on one with decent balance.

Are bigger kayaks more stable?

Bigger kayaks are generally more stable. However, the hull design also plays a part in stability, so kayaks that aren’t as wide can be more stable because of their better design.

Last Cast

I prefer to fish from a stable kayak rather than a fast kayak.

This is why I wouldn’t hesitate to fish from the Ascend Tournament Sit-On-Top Kayak with Yak-Power because it is the most stable fishing kayak in this price range for any type of fishing.

If you’re looking to keep your hobby budget-friendly, the Perception Outlaw 11.5 is under $1,000 but still very stable and fishable.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have about stable fishing kayaks and kayak fishing in general in the comment section below!

4 thoughts on “The Most Stable Fishing Kayaks for Confident Fishing”

  1. Avatar

    Did you even look at the Bonafide SS127?? I can hardly believe that it didn’t even make the list…. One of or the most stable kayaks out there in my opinion. Just asking…

    1. Wesley Littlefield
      Wesley Littlefield

      Absolutely! I love the Bonafide SS127 and the Nucanoe Unlimited! The problem is that these kayaks are typically only found at specialty shops that the average person wouldn’t know to visit.

  2. Avatar

    Why don’t you help and educate people about kayak specialty shops so they can actually be educated about the kayaks before they purchase one. There are way to many big box stores selling garbage kayaks that are putting people in bad situations that some people don’t make it out of. Most of these stores don’t even have a sales person that has enough knowledge about kayaks to help anyone make a logical decision. To many people dround every year because they were in the wrong kayak for their application and not educated on safety.

    1. Wesley Littlefield
      Wesley Littlefield

      Hey, Josh that’s also the purpose of these articles. We don’t want to see anyone get hurt or worse while enjoying the outdoors, that’s why I always recommend wearing a lifejacket and educate people as best I can through these articles.

      Even when people know about kayak shops, they tend to be more expensive (yes, they’re also better gear/kayaks most of the time) and budget is a huge factor for a lot of people.

      If you have a local kayak shop, you should absolutely support it! I’ve bought two from mine!

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