Help deciding on my first fishing kayak


I just found your forum and need some help. I currently have a bass

boat and an aluminum jet drive for the “skinny water”. I fish for

about anything that swims but mainly go for bass, crappie and striper.

I’ve decided to get into kayak fishing to get a little exercise while

enjoying my hobby. I had no idea how many different types of kayaks

there are. I’ve been to one shop with a very helpful salesman who

answered a lot of my questions. I could use some more advise though.

I live in central NC and will be using this boat in slow moving rivers

and back water lakes mainly. I could also see using it in the salt

marshes and rivers at the coast occasionally.

I need something that I can load on top of my Tahoe by myself. I have

absolutely no experience in a kayak so I need something stable and

easy to paddle.

I thought I had decided on a Wilderness Tarpon 120 and still haven’t

ruled that out. I also like the Native Ultimate 12. I’ll be using it

year round so the drier ride of the Ultimate is appealing but it looks

more like a canoe to me. Opinions on these two or others are welcome.

I’d like to keep the total cost of the boat and accessories under $1000.

Thanks in advance for any info.


For the purpose you describe
the Ultimate will do fine. Dry ride year around. The Tarpon 120 is a good craft. Others to look at include the Native Watercraft Manta Rays, Heritage Redfish, and the Hurricane Phoenix kayaks. You may also want to look at a solo canoe, maybe the Wenonah Vagabond.

fishing kayak
i have a 11.5 caster sit=on-top and it is great for fishing


– Last Updated: Feb-19-08 3:48 PM EST –

Look at a Phoenix 130. It's light at 46lbs and it's built of a much stronger plastic. The way the scupper system is built you can expect a dry ride all the time. I load mine with a 5 gallon livewell, 3 lb anchor, 4 rods, tackle, and me (230lbs) and have no water in the footwells ever.
If you're fishing mostly lakes and creeks you don't need anything long. Get a rudder too, you'll appreciate being able to control your drift while you fish. Don't let the rudder keep you from learning how to paddle properly though. A lot of people get rudders to compensate for poor paddling skills.

Also, you said you were new and want something stable. This is my advice from kayak fishing for 7 years and selling kayaks for 3 years...
Stability can be expected in all kayaks. Don't make a mistake like a lot of folks and buy into the idea that the wider it is, the more stable it is. It's true and bogus at the same time. They will be stable, way more than you'll ever need. But wider also effects how it paddles. It will be a barge to get going and maintain speed. And besides, when you get past the need for training wheels you can't take them off a kayak... if you catch my drift.
Stick to something 28" wide. Most fishing kayaks are in this area. Stability is largely due to how the volume is distributed in the hull. Look for something with a flat bottom. That will have more primary stability (that initial rocking you'll feel). Something that has more volume in the rails will have more secondary stability (it will be tippy at first but will catch on it's edge).

The Phoenix 130 has a lot of primary stability. The Phoenix 160 has more secondary. I prefer the Phoenix 160 as a standing kayak.

Expect to spend right at $1000. Don't cut yourself short, especially on a paddle and life jacket.

an idea
mad river canoe company makes a hybrid canoe/kayak called the synergy, it is very comfortable and I think it is reasonably priced. I sat in one at an outfitter and really liked it, it just didn’t have enough weight cap for my big azz.

WS Tarpon 120
Pedigreed fishing kayak for the purposes you state. There are many others that will be suitable as well.

  • Big D

Thanks for the input everyone. I’ll be picking up my Tarpon 120 tomorrow.


I did it!
Picked up the Tarpon 120 today. Guess I’m part of the club now.

Can’t wait to get on thewater tomorrow for a test ride.

Thanks for all of your help.

Congrats. Have fun, be safe, and wear
your PFD.

I just ordered
my new malibu x factor, can’t wait for it to get here!

will be happy with either the w 120 or the Nu 12-14.5…don’t put too much stock in the “Stable” claims of the 30+" kayaks once you have 20 min in the boat you find that “Stable” is over rated and slow…both of your picks are great…now go pull the trigger…if it were me I’d go with the NU 14.5 for the stand and sight casting ability…but thats just a personal prefference to fishing style

I have a T120 and find it to be an awesome all around boat. It has advantages over some of the larger boats. If you want to keep water out of the cockpit, put those little foam practice golf balls like you get at Wal-Mart in your scupper holes. I keep them in mine unless I’m fishing in conditions where I think I might take waves. No wet butt and feet for me!

I use an America Angler
I purchased an Islander America Angler 10 it is the same mold as the perception america 10 that is reviewed here on this site. It is an extremely stable, reasonably priced kayak that I have grown to love. I replaced the seat with a custom molded one that I made, that was mainly because of multiple back surgeries. The Yak rides high in the water and comes with two built in rod holders. Take a look at the reviews Happy Paddlin

MonRiver JOE

Malibu X factor
bigpapi, please let us know about your X factor after you’ve paddled it a while. I had an interest in that one, but decided on a WS Ride 135. There were no dealers close to me for me to try one out. I am happy with my Ride 135. It is much lighter, but it is still a hoss to carry to the water. I built a yak cart out of PVC and load it in the back of my truck bed.

I have one, but mine’s an 11 footer
I didn’t know they made it in a 10’. Mine is also a pre-Islander angler version. “Islander” wasn’t put on them until this year. I put one rod holder on the back deck myself because it didn’t come with one. The only difference between mine and the old Perception model is that the stern is not sealed. Could really use some floatation.

I like mine for fishing, very stable, tracks very well. One thing I’ve found very annoying however, is that the material is so cheap that it oil cans right in front of the seat where the channels end. They simply didn’t extend them far enough into the bow for enough rigidity. Still, it doesn’t seem to cause any problems.


Enjoy your new ride. You will see and notice things that you never have from your motor driven boats. As a friend of mine says, “Power your boat with carbohydrates not hydrocarbons.”

Please be sure to write back in and let us know how you enjoy it, and also ask any questions that come up as you learn.

  • Big D

Got a 13’ model
A good boat for fishing. Now that I’ve gotten used to smaller, tighter fitting kayaks, it feels a bit sloppy to me. But I use it often to put people new to kayaking on the water because it is so easy to paddle and use and comfortable to fish from.

  • Big D

I will, it will arrive thursday, but with all the bad weather we have been having, I probably won’t get out until next week. We are having 2-4 inches of rain in the next day and a half. I may have to paddle to work at this rate. Heck, my backyard might have enough water to paddle in. as soon as I get a chance to play, I will let yall know.

fishing yak

– Last Updated: Mar-18-08 3:54 PM EST –

OK Caper

Very good kayak to fish from. I now have 2 OK Capers, 1 T-120, and 1 Caster 11.5. The Capers are by far the best for fishing. They weigh around 45#. I weigh 200# and I have never got wet in this Kayak, been out fishing around 200 times. I fished lakes and slow rivers.