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A red Old Town Predator PDL kayak with a Humminbird Helix 9 fish finder in front of it

Kayak Fishing 101: Buying Your First Kayak

By: Katie Backa

After months [or minutes – no judgment] of contemplating, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge, and get your very first fishing kayak.


Now where the heck should you start?!?

The first thing you’re going to figure out is your budget…

It might not be the most fun part of the journey, but it is pretty important. If you’ve got tons of credit or tons of money in the bank, you’re good to go! But if you’re a bit limited in your funds, that’s something you’ll want to understand BEFORE you go looking for the kayak of your dreams.

But don't worry if you've only got a little bit to work with!!

Join local Facebook kayak fishing pages in your area, and you'll find lots of used high-end kayaks for sale at a reasonable price.

Just make sure that if you go the used route, you REALLY inspect the entire rig before you hand over any cash.

Honestly, you may even want to consider taking an experienced kayaker with you to help look things over.

Either way - the biggest red flags you're looking for are CRACKS and HOLES in the hull (the bottom) of the boat - these are a hazard and a deal-breaker.

Next, you're going to want to research different types kayaks to get an idea of what you'll need...

What type of water will you be fishing?

If you're primarily going to be fishing lakes and ponds, any type of kayak should work.

If you're going to do a lot of river and stream fishing, you want to keep that in mind; rather than choosing a heavyweight pedal drive like the Old Town Predator PDL, you might want to choose something lighter and easier to drag down to a river bank, like an Old Town Sportsman 106.

But if you're going to do a lot of ocean fishing, you might want to consider something built for just that, like the Old Town Sportsman Salty PDL 120.

Consider how you want to propel your kayak...

There are three primary options for propelling your kayak:

Here in Texas, the winds are fairly high most of the time, so it's much easier to have a pedal or power driven kayak.

Not to mention, the new Old Sportsman Autopilot 136 is crazy slick with its spot-locking Minn Kota motor!

I mean seriously...who doesn't wanna ghost ride their whip?!?

Think about what will fit your body type...

Most of the larger fishing kayaks on the market have a pretty high weight capacity to accommodate anglers of all different sizes, but you also have to keep in mind how much gear you'll be carrying with you.

On an average tournament day, I carry roughly 75 lbs. of gear - which sounds like A LOT of gear - but in reality, that's about average for a lot of competitive kayak anglers.

The last thing you want to do is buy a kayak with an inadequate carrying capacity, and find yourself taking on water in the middle of a lake!

You'll also want to consider your height - so you're not trying to fish with your knees in your chest...

How will you be transporting your kayak?

If you drive a big old truck with a full size bed - you can haul most kayaks in the back without any extras.

But if you drive a smart car - you're not going to have the easiest time roof-loading a 130 lbs. worth of kayak.

Luckily, trailers are a very common kayaking accessory! Just remember to price those out in advance to stay within your budget.

Say it louder for the people in the back...DEMO DEMO DEMO!!!

"What the heck is a demo??"

I'm so glad you asked!!

Kayak shops like Angler's Pro Tackle give you the ability to "try before you buy" - and you should absolutely take advantage of that.

Typically, you'll choose 2 or 3 of your favorite options, the shop will load them up, and someone will meet you at a nearby lake to test each of them out.

This is incredibly important, because what *looks* awesome, might not *feel* awesome - and most shops have a "no return" policy on kayaks.

Don't forget the essentials!!!

The list of extras for kayak fishing is ENDLESS...if you can think it up, someone probably has it...but at the end of the day, you'll only have to buy FOUR accessories.

The PFD is absolutely non-negotiable.

I'm a trained swift water rescuer and diver, and I still wear a vest on the water 100% of the time.

Life on the water is incredibly unpredictable, and you ALWAYS need to be ready for the unthinkable.

The whistle (or other noise-making device) and 360 light are usually required by law, but even if they're not, both are lifesavers you shouldn't leave home without.

Last but not least, a paddle!!

No matter what kind of kayak you choose, you should always have a paddle with you; they're invaluable if your pedal drive or motor breaks!!!

Whatever choice you make, make the best choice for YOU...

It's incredibly easy to get caught up trying to "keep up with the Joneses" - especially once you start joining kayak fishing groups on Facebook...

Inevitably, you'll be given a laundry list of advice about what's "the best" on the market - and unfortunately, you might even run into some people who feel the need to talk smack on your budget-friendly choice...

But unless what you're being told is an actual safety concern??

Don't let it bother you.

For every jagoff that gives a snarky reply, there's at least 3 cool humans that will help you out if you have any questions or concerns.

That being said - please feel free to reach out to me if you need any help, or even if you have new ideas for content that you'd like to see here!

I hope that helps shed a little light on something that may seem a little overwhelming!!

Stay safe out there, guys!!


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