Best Offshore Fishing Kayak of 2018 & Buying Guide

In offshore kayak fishing, kayakers paddle out in the ocean instead of a small, still body of water, navigating the waves to reel in fish you’ll only find along the coast.  It’s become such a popular sport, professional anglers have emerged and garnered sponsors, organized tournaments, and reeled in some incredible catches—including sharks–all from a kayak designed especially for offshore fishing.

In this buyer’s guide, we’ll answer some common questions about offshore kayak fishing, and compare some of the best models to paddle out on the ocean.

Product

Ranking

Our Rating

Price

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Kayak

Best Overall

Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 Fishing Kayak

2nd Choice

Ocean Kayak Trident 15 Angler Kayak

3rd Choice

Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120

4th Choice

Old Town Predator XL

5th Choice

Buyer’s Guide:

What is offshore kayak fishing?  Can a beginner do it?

Offshore kayak fishing is just what it sounds like: fishing offshore in the ocean, on a special fishing (or angler) kayak, which is outfitted with rod holders, accessory tracks or mounts, storage hatches, and sometimes motors or pedal systems.Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid offshore kayak fishing if you’re brand new to kayaking in general.  


Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Kayak

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Kayak

Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 Fishing Kayak

Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 Fishing Kayak

Even if you have experience on lakes or streams, however, keep in mind it’s a different landscape on the water: tracking and paddling can be much more difficult, and you might encounter some wildlife you wouldn’t find in calmer waters.

For safety, it’s recommended that anyone new to offshore kayak fishing—even if they’ve been fishing in a kayak on lakes and such for a while—head out with a guide who knows the area.  Even if you’re familiar with a particular beach, it’s not likely you’ve spent much time beyond the breakers.

What are some important things to keep in mind before fishing offshore?

The greatest danger is unexpected weather changes, which can hit offshore even when the beach itself looks sunny and pleasant.  Avoid paddling out when a cold front is approaching the coast, even if the storm is predicted to be small or pass by: it doesn’t take much for waters to get rough, and being in a small watercraft makes it all the more dangerous.

Ocean Kayak Trident 15 Angler Kayak

Ocean Kayak Trident 15 Angler Kayak

Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120

Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120

A life preserver should be worn at all times, or at least stored onboard within easy reach.  Keep an emergency whistle to signal for help if you encounter trouble.

If you fall off your kayak or tip over, you can of course try to right the vessel—but if it ever comes between getting yourself back to shore or risking your life to save the boat, leave the kayak behind.  Not even the priciest kayak is worth dying for.

Avoid kayak fishing alone.  This is one some people choose not to follow, and isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, of course; there are ways to fish alone and stay safe, but having a buddy along (either in a tandem kayak, or on two separate crafts) will make you both much safer than going it alone.

Related Post:  Best Kayak for Beginners of 2018 & Buying Guide

There is also the risk of shark attacks.  Unprovoked attacks to your kayak are rare, but possible—but the more likely scenario is that a shark will try to eat the fish you’re reeling in, because its struggling and blood (from the hook) could attract its attention, bringing it closer to your boat.  

Old Town Predator XL

Old Town Predator XL

If you notice a shark nearby, don’t panic: this could cause you to flip the boat or fall off.  Cut your line, then sit quietly and calmly in your vessel until the shark leaves. Most sharks you’ll see will be small, however—three to five feet in length—and are unlikely to bother you, or even give you a second thought if they come close.

Finally, there’s the issue of other boats.  Stay out of high-traffic areas with large commercial and personal boats, and consider purchasing a brightly colored kayak to draw attention to yourself so other boats don’t hit you.  Even a small speedboat or jet ski could cause a kayaker grave injury or death.

Best Offshore Fishing Kayak Reviews

1.  Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 Fishing Kayak Review

We’ve featured the Slayer Propel before, but covered the smaller 10’ model.  It stands to reason the 13’ could perform just as beautifully, and perhaps even better; that extra 3 feet will help when navigating waves.  

This kayak comes equipped with a pedal-propelled motor, so you don’t have to paddle against the tide (or put down your fishing rod when you decide to move).  It can even be pedaled in reverse, a feature that’s sure to come in handy out on the open waters.

Pros

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    Hard shell (polyethylene) is treated for sun and salt, perfect for offshore use.
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    Pedal propulsion system eliminates need to paddle. User can move at 4-5 mph; can also pedal backwards to go in reverse.
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    Bow to stern rail mount system fits multiple brands and sizes of fishing rod mounts; can also fit mounts like GPS and fish tracking systems.
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    Left-handed lever to steer impact-resistant rudder; right-hand rod/cup holder, as well.
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    5” dry storage hatch and rear bungee tankwell.
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    Kayak weight: 89 lbs.
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    Kayak length: 13’2”.
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    Maximum weight capacity: 500 lbs.
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    Available in Copperhead (red) and Lizard Lick (green). Also available in 10’ and 12’ lengths.
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    Made in America.

Cons

  • Expensive.

As predicted, the Slayer Propel 13 is every bit as impressive as the smaller version.  It’s designed to hold up well when exposed to the elements, provides excellent tracking and stability, and can get you to the best spot in the ocean faster than a standard paddle.  The option to pedal backwards is our favorite element: it makes it much easier to fight the tide, and will help you get to shore that much faster when you’re ready to head in.  Another bonus is the mounting tracks, which allow for as many accessories as you need, and the freedom to move them around.

2.  Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Kayak Review

Pros

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    Sit-on top style with comfortable cushioned seat.
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    Adjustable foot brace system.
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    Dry storage hatches in hull and bow.
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    Stern tankwell with adjustable bungee system.
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    Comfortable carry handles on all sides.
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    Features a sliding track for accessory mounts. Also includes cup holder.
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    Self-bailing if it takes on water.
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    Affordable.
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    Kayak weight: 55 lbs.
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    Kayak length: 10’.
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    Maximum weight capacity: 325 lbs.
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    Available in Mango (bright orange), Midnight (blue), Dusk (deep orange and black), and Sonar (green and black).

Cons

  • Paddle not included.

For a lightweight, easy-to-track fishing kayak, consider the Tarpon 100.  Its design is smart and versatile, which makes it ideal for fishers who’d also like to use their kayak for standard paddling.  When you’re ready to leave the surf, it performs just as well on calm lakes and quiet ponds—and transports there pretty easily, compared to bigger and bulkier fishing kayaks.  We don’t recommend this to offshore fishers who prefer paddling out in stronger tides, however, since a sit-on hull might make it harder to brace your body weight properly.

3.  Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 120 Fishing Kayak Review

Another option from Wilderness Systems, the A.T.AK. (“Advanced Tactical Angling Kayak”) 120 features an open platform and specialized hull that makes navigating moving water a breeze.  

It also has plenty of storage and accessory tracks all over the boat (literally), not to mention a mesh seat and foot bracing system—all of which are adjustable—so you can ride with the tide, comfortably prepared for anything to come.

Pros

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    Sit-on style with low profile and rocker hull for moving waters; helps you crest waves smoothly and cleanly, and improves tracking while fighting currents/tides.
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    Outfitted with centered, removable console near bow for mounting accessories like a fish finder or GPS, along with a battery and transducer.
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    Adjustable foot brace system; adjustable mesh seat for quick-drying comfort and various recline angles.
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    Mounting tracks at bow, stern, and mid-ship for accessory holders. Dry hatch and open tankwell storage at stern.
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    Kayak weight: 86 lbs.
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    Kayak length: 12’3”.
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    Maximum weight capacity: 400 lbs.
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    Available in Mango (red and yellow-orange), Midnight (blue and black), Solar (yellow and back), and Sonar (green and black).

Cons

  • On the pricier side.

For kayak fishers who love the challenge of some taller waves and stronger currents, the A.T.A.K. 120 offers precision and buoyancy, but doesn’t skimp on the storage, accessory tracks, or relaxation: its highly adjustable seat and foot bracing system will help with any back or leg cramps you get from long days on the water—and with a kayak this great, every day could turn into a long one.

4.  Old Town Predator XL Minn Kota Review

Pros

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    Features a Minn Kota motor in console for hands-free propulsion; great for ocean use where paddling against current gets tiring, or for trolling while fishing in lakes.
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    Tri-hull is designed for performance and stability on multiple water surfaces/current and tidal strengths.
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    Comes equipped with 6 removable mounting plates, rod tip holders, and rod retainer bungee cords.
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    Stern tankwell and large bow storage hatch.
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    Foot bracing system and stand-up assistance strap.
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    Rudder system and side-mounted paddle storage.
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    Kayak weight: 117.5 lbs.
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    Kayak length: 13’2”.
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    Maximum weight capacity: 600 lbs.
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    Available in Lime Camo (green), Camo (beige), Urban Camo (gray), and Black Cherry (red and black).

Cons

  • Paddle not included.

The Predator XL Minn Kota will get you over those waves at the horizon—and even farther—with its small but powerful motor, nestled in a convenient console so you can turn it on or off without twisting in your seat.  While the boat’s a bit heavy, that’s to be expected with the engine system; even pedal systems add some considerable weight to a kayak.  The price is high, as well, which will cross this option off quite a few buyers’ lists—but if a motor is one of your must-have features, it’s money well spent.

5.  Ocean Kayak Trident 15 Angler Kayak Review

The Trident 15 Angler was created by Ocean Kayak with direct input from professional kayak fishers, so it’s outfitted with everything an angler needs and then some: ample storage, a comfortable chair, and a transducer-compatible scupper for use with a fish finder, which can be attached to the console’s accessory plate for easy access.  Flush-mounted rod holders, a paddle holder, and rod rest complete the convenient layout.

Pros

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    Sit-on polyethylene kayak with low profile; comfortable seat with adjustable foot brace system.
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    Scupper can accommodate transducer, mounted to included accessory plate; two flush rod holders; paddle holder with rod rest.
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    Dry storage hatches in bow and stern; oversized tankwell bungee storage behind seat; accessory track system at bow and stern.
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    Carrying handles on sides.
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    Kayak weight: 91 lbs.
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    Kayak length: 15’6”.
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    Maximum weight capacity: 455 lbs.
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    Available in Urban Camo (gray and black), Camo (standard camouflage), and Orange Camo.

Cons

  • Does not include rudder system or paddle; purchased separately.

Ocean Kayak has gone above and beyond industry standards with the Trident 15: they seem to have listened to their consulting anglers’ advice and put every bit of it into practice.  This kayak boasts a design perfect for offshore fishing, complete with dry and exposed storage and accessory mounts everywhere you need them, and a compact design that can handle the waves without a problem.  The downside is that a rudder isn’t included, although Ocean does sell them for self-installation.

To Conclude:

Fishing from a kayak on a lake, river, or stream affords a unique opportunity: you can approach fish that would be startled too easily by a traditional boat’s motor and size, navigate tighter areas, and get a healthy dose of exercise while you’re on the water.

Offshore kayak fishing, though, is a little more extreme (or a lot, depending on the waves and what you’re hoping to catch).  It’s not for everyone—but for those eager to paddle out past the breakers and explore the ocean, it can be an incredible experience.  The right kayak will keep you safe, prepared, and comfortable, no matter what nature throws at you…or what you throw at nature.