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Picking a Kayak for River Float Fishing

Updated on January 26, 2012
Best river shoes ever??? Quite possibly
Best river shoes ever??? Quite possibly
One of our many float trips
One of our many float trips

Picking a Kayak

River float fishing has been one of my favorite activities since I was a child. My family and friends all enjoy float trips and many of us love fishing almost as much. Naturally, the two activities go together quite well in the right setting. Every year as summer approaches we pile in to canoes every weekend and spend countless hours cruising down the river, fishing, and enjoying life.

This past year was different for me however. Some friends that regularly float with us purchased a couple of small Pelican kayaks and allowed me to use them pretty much every trip. I found that I enjoyed the kayak almost as much as the canoe and have decided that this year I want to get my own. With spring quickly approaching, I've found myself window shopping kayaks like a mad man. If you are reading this then I am bringing you along on my journey of trying to determine which kayak I should buy.

The Pelican Kayak I used all summer
The Pelican Kayak I used all summer

Why Not Buy the Same Kayak?

The small Pelican kayak I used all summer was great. It was easy to maneuver up stream or down, and the small dangerous spots were not nearly as challenging as a canoe. Even in the occasional small rapid spots with little room for error were no great challenge, and I only had to worry about my own personal safety. When i want to spend more time in an area fishing, I didn't have to feel pressured for time as I could quickly zip back up to the rest of the group quickly and without great effort.

However, sitting down inside the small kayak was a bit of a challenge for a big fella such as myself. Putting my legs on the outside presented a much more comfortable and stable ride, however it didn't leave much room for moving around inside so I was basically stuck in the same position the entire time. I have come to the conclusion that I definitely want to get a sit on top kayak.

The next problem with the small compact Pelican was that while it was ideal for getting around and fishing, it wasn't great for carrying much gear having the gear easily at my disposal. I worked around this by storing most of my stuff on some ones canoe and carried a small tackle box, pliers, and a knife I could clip on the bungees stretched across the front. Ideally though, I would like to get a kayak that I could store all of my gear and be able to easily maneuver through my fishing gear easily.

You can see my gear strapped to the front of the kayak, my awesome shoes again, and a baby small mouth bass I caught while floating in the kayak.
You can see my gear strapped to the front of the kayak, my awesome shoes again, and a baby small mouth bass I caught while floating in the kayak.

So Here's What We Are Looking For

  • A sit on top kayak
  • A good fishing kayak
  • A kayak with good storage space
  • A comfortable kayak

Below are the kayaks I have looked at so far.

A Red Eared Sunfish
A Red Eared Sunfish

Pelican Castaway 100

This kayak was the first one I really looked at, and it has a lot of promise. Because I didn't know much about kayaks when I first started looking, I went to the same store that my friends bought the little Pelican and I found this one. It's almost the same kayak, but its from Pelican's fishing editions of their sit on top kayaks.

I imagine it probably floats similar to the kayak that I am familiar with, but is sit on top, and offers some additional storage space and a fishing rod holder.

  • 10ft. - its small and probably easily maneuverable
  • 43lbs. - its light and probably easy to move around or carry
  • Adjustable back rest - on a long trip comfort is paramount, not sure about the hard seat
  • 1 bungee storage area at the back
  • Fishing pole holder on a swivel
  • Fishing pole holders behind the seat that stand poles upright
  • Paddle tie downs

Another Baby Small Mouth Bass
Another Baby Small Mouth Bass

Pelican castaway 130

The Pelican Castaway 130 is one kayak that really caught my eye because of all of the extras it has. Its bigger and has more storage than the smaller ones which is pretty awesome, Its 3 feet longer which makes it nearly as long as a canoe. Its also 24 lbs. heavier and with the extra space comes more room for storage which could weigh it down further. So it won't be as easy to throw around and carry when needed, but appears to offer much more room and storage.

  • 13ft. - 3 foot longer than the kayak I'm used too
  • 67lbs. - Considerably heavier than the kayak I'm used too as well
  • Adjustable back rest - Again has the hard seat and i don't know how comfortable it is
  • 1 bungee storage area on the back - plenty of room for a soft cooler and then some
  • Fishing pole holder on swivel
  • Fishing pole holders behind the seat that stand straight up
  • Paddle tie downs
  • A small tackle box holder conveniently located between the legs
  • A cup holder also conveniently located between the legs
  • A dry storage area - Possibly could do away with the need for a dry bucket
  • A storage box on the front - Could also take some of the need for a dry bucket or trash
  • Adjustable foot rests

Malibu Kayaks Pro Explorer Fish and Dive Model Sit on Top Kayak

The Malibu Pro Explorer Fish and Dive Model Sit on Top Kayaks have a lot of appeal for the same reason as the Pelican 130, lots of extras. Obviously, I don't have a clue how this vessel will float but then again I don't really know about the Pelicans for sure either. This kayak looks like it would need some kind of seat and back rest purchase. It also lacks the fishing pole holder with the swivel, which to me sounds really useful. It appears to make up for this though by having a trolling motor mount, which is very cool.

  • 12.6ft.
  • 55lbs.
  • 1 bungee storage are on the back
  • A dry storage area
  • An additional storage area in the center
  • A storage box on the front - appears to be quite big
  • Fishing pole holders behind the seat that stand straight up
  • Paddle tie downs
  • Trolling motor mount

Small Mouth Bass
Small Mouth Bass

Future Beach Angler 160

The Future Beach Angler 160 has a ton of extras too. Its quite a bit heavier than some of the other options. And again I don't know how it will float. And although it doesn't come with a fishing pole holder on a swivel and a cushy seat, these are both options that can be added.

  • 13.4ft.
  • 74lbs.
  • A comfortable looking back rest
  • Bungee storage at the rear
  • 2 dry boxes
  • Large storage at the front
  • Fishing pole holders behind the seat that stand straight up
  • Paddle tie downs
  • 2 cup holders
  • Optional fishing pole holder on a swivel
  • Optional comfortable seat

Rock Bass
Rock Bass

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 Sit-On-Top Kayak

Similar to Pelican, Wilderness Systems does various editions of the same kayak, but unlike kayak it appears that it is the exact same kayak with plus or minus one thing. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with this at all, but just felt it should be pointed out. These are the most expensive kayaks to make the list, but they also look very sharp. The camo patterns they offer are very cool. This kayak appears to have everything that the other kayaks offer except a tackle box between the legs and a fishing pole holder on a swivel, which may be an option. For the larger price tag I would expect more though. Its also the longest and heaviest kayak on the list.

  • 14ft.
  • 75lbs.
  • Comfortable looking back
  • Comfortable looking seat
  • Adjustable foot rests
  • Bungee storage on the front
  • Bungee storae on the rear
  • A dry storage area
  • A large storage container on the front
  • Fishing pole holders behind the seat that stand straight up
  • Paddle tie downs
  • Cup holder

Feature
Pelican Castaway 100
Pelican Castaway 130
Malibu Kayaks Pro Explorer Fish & Dive
Future Beach Angler 160
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140
Length
10ft.
13ft.
12.6ft.
13.4ft.
14ft.
Weight
43lbs.
67lbs.
55lbs.
74lbs.
75lbs.
Comfortable Looking Back
X
X
 
X
X
Comfortable Looking Seat
 
 
 
 
X
Comfortable Foot Area
X
X
X
X
X
Bungee Storage Area Front
 
 
 
 
X
Bungee Storage Area Back
X
X
X
X
X
Dry Box
 
X
X
X
X
Front Storage Box
 
X
X
X
X
Fishing Pole Holder on Swivel
X
X
 
 
 
Fishing Pole Holder Upright
X
X
X
X
X
Paddle Tie Downs
X
X
X
X
X
Tackle Box
 
X
 
 
 
Cup Holder
 
X
X
X
X

Help Me Decide

Which Kayak Do You Think I Should Buy

See results

Wish Me Luck!

Well, I thought writing this might help me come to a conclusion, but to be honest I think I'm more confused than when I started. They all look like great choices and I wish I could try each one before I make my choice.

I welcome and encourage any comments, suggestions, or opinions that anyone wants to leave in the comments section.

Although I haven't come to a conclusion at this time, when i do have my new kayak I will come back and update this hub with which one I chose and how it works out for me.

Comments

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    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      4 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks Edward! I'm sure that it will!

    • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

      Ed Palumbo 

      4 years ago from Tualatin, OR

      Philbert, That's good news! I hope that kayak serves you well for years to come.

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      4 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thank you Edward! Same to you!

      And if anyone's interested, I'm still floating the same kayak I ended up buying and it was worth every penny!

    • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

      Ed Palumbo 

      4 years ago from Tualatin, OR

      I share your interest in kayaking. Enjoyed your Hub and wish you a fine year ahead.

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks Keith! I'll check it out!

    • profile image

      Keith 

      6 years ago

      Coosa Elite by Jackson. The best!

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Yeah it's a blast. I enjoy the mobility i have over a canoe. Especially when I'm fishing.

    • profile image

      Gusser 

      6 years ago

      I'm 63 and enjoy kayaking, when I'm not sluming it in one of my other boats.

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      So in the end I didn't end up buying any of the kayaks I talked about in this hub. I bought the Pelican sit on top fishing model castaway 116. It is the size in between the 100 and 130. http://www.pelicansport.com/index.php?language=en&... I chose it because they had it in stock at the store I visited and I was having trouble finding anyone carrying the 130. The only difference is that it lacks the dry storage behind my seat. I paid $400 after tax. I've already taken it out on the water twice and I couldn't be happier with my purchase.

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thank you Marlene!

    • MarleneWheeler profile image

      MarleneWheeler 

      6 years ago

      Great hub, you guys must have had a great time, pictures look fantastic; kayaks are too small for me and all that upper body workout. Voted up

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thank you Gusser! I didn't consider that. I will have to do that!

    • profile image

      Gusser 

      6 years ago

      Sit on top is great in warm water. Sit inside is better for colder Temps. Get 1 of each

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