February 13, 2023
Smaller kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are ideal for backwater pursuits. They’re lighter, easier to launch and reload and, of course, are less expensive than full-size craft. Smaller, lighter kayaks are easier to slide down a bridge embankment or other tricky launching spot—and to drag back up.
However, you may want to invest in larger pedal- or electric-powered rigs rather than paddle-only. The pedals or compact motors free your hands for fishing, and also make it possible to travel much farther in a shorter time than paddling. These rigs are heavier and more expensive, but well worth it if you travel any distance in a kayak. If you have to cross open water to get to your fishing spot, the longer, wider and therefore more stable models are obviously better choices. Here's a look at three top options for backcountry fishing.
If you want a full-featured ’yak and expect to trailer it, Vibe’s Shearwater 125, with a fully-equipped weight of 109 pounds, is a good choice. Options include a Bixby jet drive that mounts on the transom as well as pedal drive assembly. The Summit Perch option raises the angler 16 inches off the water, thereby improving sight-fishing opportunities for those with good balance. $1,699 | vibekayaks.com
Weighing just 62 pounds (without the drive unit) the Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 10 is said to be the lightest 10-foot pedal-drive fishing kayak on the market. It’s 32 inches wide and includes a prop-drive pedal system that quickly fits in place on the centerline. The modified tunnel hull adds stability when standing to cast or spot fish. $2,299 with pedal-drive | nativewatercraft.com
The Hobie Mirage iTrek 11 is an inflatable board-style ’yak that is ridiculously light at just 28 pounds (without the drive unit), yet can carry up to 400 pounds of angler and gear. The 40-inch beam width offers amazing stability. The boat includes Hobie’s MirageDrive GT with Kick-Up Fins and integrated rudder for dual steering, plus an elevated, breathable seat. It’s stable enough for standup fishing (per the company) and the stowage pack easily fits into the trunk of a compact car. You can literally launch this boat anywhere. $2,800 | hobie.com
WHEN PRICE IS NO OBJECT
Apex Watercraft builds a carbon kayak—with a five-figure price tag—for those looking to go ultra light.
The Tyr Fishing Kayak from Apex Watercraft ($10,999; apexwatercraft.com) is an amazing carbon-fiber 'yak that’s 12 feet, 10 inches long and a full 3 feet wide, yet weighs a scant 42 pounds. Neodymium "super magnets" are inlayed within the gunwales for holding tools and lures, and the molded, padded seat swivels for easy entry and exit. A custom vinyl wrap is standard. The transom is cut out to allow water to flow through, but there's a mount for an electric motor if desired. This is definitely not a starter kayak, and we certainly wouldn't want to drag it across an oyster bar, but if you’re looking for the latest and greatest, and don't mind dropping enough money to buy a decent used car on a kayak, by all means check one out.