Anatomy Of A Fishing Kayak

An annotated guide to get you started on a fishing kayak

There are few experiences more enjoyable that paddling out on a sunny day, casting a line from your kayak, and catching some fresh fish for dinner. But before you hop on a fishing kayak, use our annotated guide to know what to look for:

Hobie Quest Fishing Kayak Gear guide

Pictured: At 11 feet, the Hobie Quest 11 sit-on-top, fishing oriented kayak is made of polyethylene. ($1000; 58 lbs; hobiecat. com)

1. Style
Fishing kayaks come in two styles: sit-on-tops, like the Quest 11 you see here, and cockpit-style multi-sport models. The sit-on-tops are easy to get in and out of, allow anglers to maneuver more easily while fighting fish, and are frequently stable enough to stand in. Multi-sport kayaks look like a cross between a kayak and a canoe with a partially covered deck and an extra wide and long cockpit that keeps out most of the spray but is still roomy for entry and exit.

2. Width
For casting and fighting fish you want a nice stable platform at least 30 inches wide, especially if you plan to stand. Narrower boats will paddle faster and handle choppy water better, but require a higher level of balance for standing.

3. Hatches
These watertight storage areas for keeping gear out of the way and dry. Like the boat pictured, most fishing kayaks have one in the bow and one in the stern.

4. Accessories
Here's where fishing boats stray from pure paddle-craft. Consider things like paddle holders, rod holders and cockpit hatches as required features. Then further pimp your ride with bait wells, rear storage extras, anchors and other handy add- ons.

5. Seat
Expect comfort with lots of padding and some adjustability for your keister. Seats with height adjustment make it easier to stand up and get out.

6. Handles
Like the four built into the sides here—bow and stern and either side of the seat—handles make moving your boat easier. The more grab spots the better.

7. Rudder
An optional feature on most fishing yaks, rudders become invaluable on boats over 12 feet and in windy conditions when they help with tracking and turning. Controlled by foot pegs inside the boat, they store on the stern deck when not in use.

8. Transportation
Weighing anywhere from 50 pounds to more than 80 (the Quest is 58), kayak fishing boats are not known for the lightweight attributes. Consider how you will get them to the water: grab handles are good, stern wheels are better.

9. Material/Construction
Like the pictured boat most kayak fishing boats are made of a tough molded plastic.