As the weather begins to warm up, more and more anglers are hitting the water to go bass fishing. This time of year also brings an increased number of posts to social media groups with new and existing kayak anglers asking, “What is the best kayak for bass fishing?” This question typically results in numerous brand and model recommendations that can be quite overwhelming for a new kayak angler. The goal of this article is not to recommend a specific boat or company, but to focus on helping match a style of boat to both fishing conditions and technique.
Style of Fishing
When folks are looking for a bass fishing kayak, I personally always recommend that they consider their primary style of fishing. If you like to flip and pitch into cover, then you’ll want to focus on a boat that has lower side walls and stability that allows you to set the hook and pull the fish out of cover. A boat with a comfortable, high seat will allow an angler to easily stand and have a higher vantage point for sight fishing.
If you like to power fish and cover water, a pedal drive is a very valuable tool for bass fishing. Using your feet to propel the boat keeps your hands free so you can focus on casting. If you are going to use a paddling kayak, having one that tracks well is key, so you don’t have to use your paddle as often to correct your position.
A big consideration when it comes to an angler’s style of fishing is the kayak’s rigging potential. If you prefer to keep it simple, a good seat and some basic rod holders might be enough. Anglers that want to add electronics, rod holders and other accessories should consider boats with tracks or flat spaces. Personally, I’ve had great success with the RAILBLAZA electronics mounts and accessories because of their versatility. I always consider a boat’s layout before buying – for example, where I will put my soft plastics binder and how far of a reach it will be to my rods on the back of my crate.
Which body of water will you be bass fishing on primarily? For open lakes or open water, selecting a boat that has a pedal drive would be a good option, since you can use your legs to cover water or hold position in the wind. Often these lakes are deep enough that you don’t have to worry about the drive getting bogged down in grass or hitting bottom. For fishing smaller shallow lakes or backwaters, you might consider a traditional paddling kayak, since you’ll draft shallow enough to go over or through the grass. If you plan to purchase a kayak that uses a paddle for propulsion, consider boats that have the option to add a rudder – this will help you control the boat in the wind on open water.
Over the years, one of my favorite types of bass fishing has become scenic creeks and rivers. A traditional kayak paddle is the preferred type of kayak in this environment. Selecting a boat that has a comfortable seat and is stable and maneuverable is key. I typically look for a kayak in the 10-to-12-foot range, as it can help when trying to turn the boat in tight spaces.
Overall, you can make just about any kayak work out on the water. However, there are certain features and considerations that will make your time enjoyable for bass fishing. The way is the sport continues to grow, there are more and more companies offering quality customizable boats. Having a boat that is comfortable and matches your goals on the water is key to an angler’s success.
About the Author
Tim Hotchkin is an Arkansas resident who has been fishing his entire life, thanks to his grandfather and uncle. He started out wading creeks and fishing ponds to catch bass, and later found that kayaking gave him the ability to easily travel from one favorite spot to another. He enjoys kayak fishing because it allows him to really get close to nature. You will often find him fishing in tournaments through Natural State Kayak Anglers.