Kayak fishing frees us from the confines of land, allowing access to some of the best fishing spots. Unfortunately, it also presents the chance of capsizing and losing all your gear. If you don’t have a kayak built to hold your weight, that risk will likely become a reality. So if you’re not a lightweight angler, you’ll need a larger fishing kayak.
In this guide, I’ll cover the 12 best fishing kayaks for big guys and gals for 2023. Later on, we’ll discuss choosing the kayak that suits your fishing style.
My Review Process
During the summer, I live and lifeguard at a beachside campground where I kayak fish offshore rock reefs. I also spend time fishing the mangroves on kayaks in Florida and Central America. Unfortunately, I’m familiar with the pain and frustration of using a cheap kayak not meant for a person your size. I’ve learned which kayaks perform well in various water conditions and how important design is to efficient fishing. The kayaks we’re discussing prioritize stability, gear storage, reliability, and comfort.
With those qualities in mind, let’s look at the best fishing kayaks for larger individuals.
The Wilderness Systems Radar 135 is a premium kayak that will grow with your needs. The long outline and flat, spacious deck make this a stable kayak without sacrificing speed and tracking ability. I love having the versatility to stand up and fish the back bays or paddle long distances in open ocean wind and currents.
If you’re unsure whether to get a paddle, pedal, or motor drive kayak, the Wilderness Radar is one of the only fishing kayaks that can switch between all three. This is a kayak you’ll own for years, and it’s great to have all propulsion options available when you want to upgrade. Also, the seat is breathable, supportive, and crazy comfortable, which makes a huge difference when you’re out on the water for hours at a time.
A larger person looking for a fast, sturdy kayak that can handle any conditions should consider the Wilderness Systems Radar 135.
The Tamarack Pro 103 is a great budget option if you’re a big guy just getting into kayak fishing or an experienced angler who wants a backup. You might not be able to stand on this kayak, but it has a stable hull designed to handle larger paddlers. Also, the supportive framed seat with adjustable foot rests are high-end features for this inexpensive price and provide comfort for hours of paddling and fishing.
I’m surprised by how well the Tamarack Pro tracks and maintains speed in calm to moderate conditions for an inexpensive kayak. However, it’s not designed for rough conditions, so be careful if you plan to fish in the ocean. The two built-in rod holders, integrated gear tracks, and gear storage sections are handy for storing some basic fishing gear.
Looking for a stable fishing kayak that won’t break the bank? The Tamarack Pro 103 provides premium comfort and ample storage at a budget price.
If you want a stable and dependable pedal drive kayak, the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 is an excellent choice. It’s a game changer having the use of both hands AND being able to move forward and backward. I find it especially useful to fish around structures and in strong currents.
The reality is, though, pedal drives add moving parts, which means more maintenance and the risk of failure. That’s why I appreciate the quality and reliability of the Pescador Pilot. The pedal drive system is top-of-the-line, delivering smooth and powerful propulsion. And the design is well balanced. While the wide rear and center sections create extra stability for larger paddlers, the pulled-in nose increases speed.
If you’re a larger person who wants the benefits of hands-free fishing and easy long-distance paddling, check out the Pescador Pilot 12.
Reel Yaks 110 provides all the benefits of a foot pedal kayak without the high-end price tag. I love that it comes loaded with awesome features you wouldn’t expect at this price point.
It has 4 gear track rails, 6 flush rod holders, and multiple compartments for customized gear storage and equipment mounting. When I’m fishing on the ocean with wind and current, the hand-controlled rudder system makes it easy to steer and hold direction.
For the money you save, you’ll sacrifice the reliability and performance of the pedal drive system. However, the pedal drive mount is compatible with popular high-end drive systems if you ever want to upgrade.
For tall people looking to save a few bucks for a feature-packed pedal drive kayak, I’d suggest taking a look at the Reel Yak 110.
Imagine cruising effortlessly across the water. Jumping between fishing spots in a kayak without breaking a sweat. Sound good? The built-in motor drive of the Old Town Sportsman 106 is what you’re looking for.
Old Town has been making kayaks since 1940, and the Sportsman 106 lives up to their reputation for quality craftsmanship and design. The low-profile motor system is by far my favorite part of this fishing kayak. It’s built into the hull so it won’t get in your way on deck. Plus, the throttle and steering are hand controlled and unobtrusive. The motor flies on flat, calm water and is robust enough to push through heavy wind and current.
It’s a heavy yak, but if you don’t mind the extra weight, larger kayakers will enjoy an unparalleled level of stability. If you don’t want to sacrifice quality and performance, The Old Town Sportsman 106 is hands down my favorite kayak with a built-in motor.
If you’re hooked on the idea of a kayak with a built-in motor, but the high-end options aren’t in the cards, take a look at the Brooklyn Kayak Company PK12.
The motor system is easy to install and has the power to make this lightweight kayak fly. The hand-powered rudder steering provides quick control. However, the throttle system sticks up through the deck in front of the seat, so there’s a chance it could get in the way when handling fish.
There’s plenty of room for gear with 3 waterproof storage hatches, 2 flush mount rod holders, a cup holder, and a large rear storage section. Also, the stadium-style padded seat design is surprisingly comfortable, and I love that it can recline for relaxed pedaling.
Although the PK12 lacks some high-end design features, it’s a high-quality kayak with a built-in motor that delivers serious value.
The idea of a two-person kayak might concern you as a big guy. Two people, and two sets of gear, all in the water together, is not my idea of a good time fishing either. That’s why I’d recommend checking out the Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122.
With a 770 lbs capacity, even two tall paddlers can feel confident they won't go overboard. One look at this kayak, and you can tell it’s well-designed. There are two-rod holders, two gear track rails, and watertight storage compartments beside both seats.
That means each person can customize their gear layout without depending on the other person to pass around equipment. However, one thing to watch out for is that the dry storage compartments might leak, so pack your phone and wallet in a waterproof case.
The TK122 is a sturdy, well-designed tandem kayak for an affordable price. For a big duo, you’d be hard-pressed to find better value.
The Brooklyn Kayak Company PK14 provides a great balance between speed and stability. While 2 pedal drive systems power the kayak, the long length enhances tracking.
It’s heavy, so you’ll need a second person to lift it onto roof racks. However, much of that extra weight comes from a wide, flat hull which enhances stability. One of the nicest features is the hand-controlled rudder system. It makes steering a long boat moving with the power of two people much easier. And if you’re looking for some added power, you can switch out one (or both) of the pedal drive systems with a compatible trolling motor.
Fishing with a second person on board doesn’t have to be a pain. The PK14 and dual pedal power make fishing as a big pair easier and more efficient.
Standing on the Perception Outlaw 11.5 feels like fishing off a floating dock. It has a wide, flat deck with non-slip traction pads and an extra wide kayak pontoon designed to maximize stability for stand-up kayak fishing. If you want more walking room, you can even remove the seat.
However, keep in mind that with great width comes slow turns. Unfortunately, you won’t be winning any races in this kayak, but that’s ok if what you want is a moving fishing platform. And with 2 double barrel fishing rod holders, 2 gear rail tracks, 3 solo mounts, and a large rear storage area, you’ll have no trouble bringing all your gear.
Larger paddlers who want the confidence to stand and cast will appreciate the excellent stability of The Outlaw 11.5.
Fishing from a low-quality inflatable kayak can be uncomfortable and scary. The hull bends like a deflating air mattress, ineffective strokes make paddling a nightmare, and the fear your lure will sink the ship is hard to kick.
It’s obvious Advanced Elements Straitedge is a different breed of inflatable kayak. The aluminum ribs provide a rigid skeleton that enhances tracking and makes paddling easier. I love that the floor is solid and stable enough to stand on, thanks to the drop-stitch construction.
And between the solid floor and heavy-duty hull material, I’m not nearly as worried about punctures. The aluminum frames for mounting gear in the front and back of the kayak add some weight. But I’d rather have the convenience of ample space to mount rod holders, a fish finder, and other gear.
The Advanced Elements Straitedge is a stable and durable kayak I’d recommend to taller paddlers looking for a single-person inflatable kayak.
The Sea Eagle Fasttrack is a dependable tandem kayak that can hold a heavy load.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this kayak is the heavy-duty construction. The puncture-resistant outer layer protects against fish spines, hooks, and other sharp equipment. The drop stitch flooring with non-slip padding makes it easy to stand and adds confidence in its durability.
Unfortunately, I don’t trust the built-in rod holders. They’re flimsy and definitely not made for trolling. The ability to customize the seating arrangement makes it easy to create extra space between you and your partner while fishing. That extra working room makes a big difference when you’ve got lines in the water and a fish on board.
When you’re out on the water with another person, you want to feel confident you’re on a stable kayak that’s up to the job. The Seaeagle is the tandem inflatable kayak I’d trust to provide that peace of mind.
The Sea Eagle Fish SUP isn’t exactly a kayak. It’s a cross between a SUP and an inflatable kayak. But this hybrid is so cool that I needed to include it on this list.
The deck is long, flat, and stable with non-slip padding like a SUP, but it has a removable swivel seat. That means you can easily walk around deck, have room to handle fish and change tackle, and paddle like you would on a kayak.
I also can’t believe there’s a removable trolling motor mount on the back of this hybrid. It has a 500-pound maximum load capacity, 2-rod holders, a storage box, and 14 D-rings for securing gear. That means even heavy guys can load down this hybrid kayak with all their gear.
I’d recommend this Sea Eagle Fish SUP for anyone looking to stand-up fish who doesn’t want to sacrifice deck space or paddling power.
Fishing Kayaks For Big Guys Buying Guide
There are two schools of thought when buying your first recreational kayak. Either buy a budget kayak to see how you like kayak fishing and if you’ll make use of it. Or, buy a better kayak now that will still suit your needs as you become a more experienced kayak angler.
Going with a cheaper option in the $500 to $1,000 range means you’ll make some sacrifices. For example, that type of kayak might not track well and could be difficult to paddle. Also, it’ll likely lack the stability, built-in storage capability, and component quality you’d get with a higher price kayak.
Spending extra to get an excellent kayak in the $1,000 to $4,000 you’ll enjoy for years isn’t a bad investment. But, if it means you can’t afford to buy other fishing gear, it might be best to save that money.
Let’s take a look at your power options:
2. Pedal & paddle
3. Motor & paddle
4. Pedal, motor & paddle
A pure paddle kayak is likely the cheapest and simplest option. And simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are fewer moving parts that can break, which means it’s cheaper to maintain in the long run and more reliable when you’re on the water.
Unfortunately, you’ll quickly find that a pure paddle kayak isn’t the most efficient for fishing. Hands-free fishing isn’t possible, which can make a big difference depending on where you’re fishing. Paddling is also more strenuous than pedal or motor propulsion, so you should expect a bit of a workout.
However, the downsides to pedal and motor kayaks are that they’re more expensive and have moving parts that make them less reliable.
Depending on where you plan to fish, certain kayak designs may be better suited to your needs.
If you plan to cover long distances in waters with changing winds and currents, you’ll need a kayak that tracks well and is easy to paddle. Kayaks with motor and paddle power make it easier to travel over distance and to battle wind and current. The ability to fish while moving allows you to easily hold your spot around structures. It also makes it possible to hit new spots on the move, increasing your chances of finding a fish.
If you want to stand and sight cast, you’ll need a wide, stable fishing kayak, but you’ll sacrifice speed and turning.
You’ll always need to compromise in some way. So, either choose a kayak specialized for your fishing waters or find one with a versatile design that works well in a variety of conditions.
Kayaks made for big guys can be heavy, making them difficult to load and transport.
Do you need to move the kayak a long distance between your vehicle and the launch spot? Heavy kayaks may require a kayak cart to transport if you don’t have any help.
And, if you plan to load a heavy kayak onto roof racks, you’ll need a second person to help lift it.
Be sure to look at the kayak’s weight and make sure it won’t be too heavy to handle.
Fishermen have a lot of gear, and you’re working on a small space when fishing from a kayak. Key features like flush rod holders, rail track mounts, and solo recess mounts make attaching and accessing gear easier. Dry stern storage hatches, open compartments, live wells, and side saddles help secure your equipment.
Take a look at the kayak’s deck layout and decide if there’s enough space for all your fishing gear.
A surf fishing kayak should provide the stability you need to fish without fear of capsizing, regardless of your size. With the right design and gear storage systems, the perfect kayak helps you catch more fish and enjoy a unique fishing experience.
For an all-around kayak that blends stability, speed, and the versatility of 3 different propulsion systems, I recommend the Wilderness Systems Radar 135. If you’re looking to save some money, the Tamarack Pro is a comfortable budget option. And the Brooklyn Kayak Company PK14 tandem kayak is a dual propulsion powerhouse for fishing with a partner.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.