For many anglers, fishing on a river is a lot more appealing than fishing on a lake. However, it also requires a different type of kayak – one that can handle moving water and provide you with the stability you need when casting. With the right kayak for river fishing, you’ll discover that fly fishing can be incredibly exciting and enjoyable.

A good river kayak should have many of the same qualities as standard flatwater angler kayaks – stability, comfort, and useful fishing accessories. To help you make the right choice, this article will take a look at the best fly fishing kayaks available and explain everything you should consider when buying one.

How To Choose The Best Fly Fishing Kayak – Buying Guide


Where Do You Fish?

This is a very important question to ask yourself during your search because a river kayak will behave itself differently than a lake model. For fast-moving water, a more covered deck could be a better option since it will help protect you from splashing. If the water is slow and calm, a sit on top is better because it will allow you to turn around and even stand up when fishing.

Shape And Size

If you predominantly fish in rivers, you should look for a boat that is shorter and wider to provide you with more stability. The additional balance will help you confidently maneuver fast currents. Since you will be paddling a medium distance, a short to medium kayak length will give you the speed and efficiency that your arms will appreciate.


The stability of your kayak is particularly important if you’re mostly going to use it for fishing. The combination of a moving river and the motion when casting a rod can easily destabilize a regular kayak. Because of this, we advise that you look for a wide model that comes with a flat hull for primary stability.

Standing Up

If you’re the type of angler who prefers standing up when casting and reeling, you need a kayak that allows you to do this without tipping. While this isn’t completely universal, we advise that you look for a kayak that is at least 33 inches wide.

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Fishing requires patience, which often means spending long hours on the water. Because of this, the kayak you choose needs to be comfortable for an entire day of fishing. It’s ideal if the model you choose comes with a padded adjustable seat and foot braces that will provide a comfortable leg position.

Storage And Weight Capacity

Regardless of the type of fishing you enjoy, your kayak needs to have a good weight capacity and enough space for storing fishing equipment. Because of this, we like it when a river kayak comes with several storage compartments to easily organize bait, kayak fishing rods, and tackle boxes.

Deck Design

For fly fishing, sit on top kayaks are the ideal choice because they feature an open deck instead of a cockpit. The main benefit of this type of deck is all the additional storage space that you’re getting. In addition, there will be a lot more space for your legs. On the other hand, a closed deck won’t be as comfortable but will give you better water protection.

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Q: Can A Fish Pull You Out Of Your Kayak?


Yes, a fish can theoretically pull you out of your kayak. Luckily, this only happens if you’re not careful or your kayak is not set up correctly. To prevent this, the first thing you should do is balance the kayak properly. If the weight is distributed evenly, you won’t have to worry about losing your balance even when standing up as the kayak won’t rock to one side.

If you’re after large fish in the ocean, it’s also a good idea to add an anchor to the kayak setup. In relation to this, make sure that the anchor you choose can cope with the currents of the water.

Q: Where Do You Put The Fish That You Catch?


There are two options for storing fish, and whether you’ll use one or the other generally depends on the set-up of your kayak. If you have room on-board, the best option is to use a cooler. While you can buy special fish coolers, you can also use a regular cooler if you pack it with enough ice or keep it cold in some other way.

As an alternative, you can also use an insulated bag on your deck. The bag will sit in front of you, so it may be easier to get in without having to stand up.

Q: Can I Put a Motor On My Fishing Kayak?


Yes, if your kayak comes with a space for a motor mount. However, make sure that the motor is compatible with your kayak model. If there isn’t a dedicated space for mounting a motor, we don’t recommend using aftermarket mounts as this can damage the kayak in the process.

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Fishing in the middle of the river is fun, dynamic, and allows you to have a much bigger catch compared to standing on the shore. Because of this, it’s much better to jump in a kayak and get closer to the action. With the help of our river kayak reviews, we’re certain that you’ll be able to find the best fly fishing kayak to make every fishing session a success.

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