I know from experience that you don’t want to rock the boat when you’re kayak fishing. Kayaks are generally a little easier and lighter to transport than a boat, but sturdiness is also something you don’t want to overlook. I’ve had a couple close scares moving from one side of the kayak to the other, especially while I was still trying to figure out what works.
Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of the trial-and-error when it comes to finding the best fishing kayak for big guys (and gals), so you don’t have to. Whether you’re looking to catch some peace and quiet alone while you fish or bring along your spouse or buddy, one of these kayaks is sure to meet your needs.
Of course, since these kayaks are designed for larger guys, each fishing kayak has a 450 lb capacity or more and if you scan the list below you’ll see we also have kayaks with weight capacities as high as 770 pounds.
We’re going to take a minute and break down what you need to know before purchasing a fishing kayak but if you’re more of a straight-to-the-point kind of guy, you can skip ahead to our recommendations here:
- Best Overall: Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Fishing Kayak With 500 Pound Weight Capacity
- Best Pedal Fishing Kayak: Perception Pescador Pilot 12 With 475 Weight Capacity
- Best Tandem Kayak: BKC TK181 12.5′ Fishing Kayak With 600 Pound Weight Capacity
- Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak: Elkton Outdoors 10′ Fishing Kayak With 450 Pound Weight Capacity
- Highest Weight Capacity Solo Kayak: Reel Yaks 11′ Pedal Fishing Kayak With 500 Pound Weight Capacity
- Highest Weight Capacity Tandem Kayak: BKC TK122 12’6″ Fishing Kayak With 770 Pound Weight Capacity
- Best Budget Fishing Kayak: Sevylor Coleman Tandem Fishing Kayak With 470 Pound Weight Capacity
What’s the Difference Between a Fishing Kayak and a Kayak?
At first glance, there’s a few obvious differences between a fishing kayak and one designed for other recreational purposes. Fishing kayaks are often covered in contact-points where you can attach gear and have plenty of rod holders for your poles. These obvious things aside, you’ll also notice that fishing kayaks are wider.
The major advantage of fishing kayaks being wider, especially for fat guys, is that the wide design provides more stability in the water. This is something you’ll really need as you maneuver in the boat, put tackle or bait on your hook, and store fish in your cooler.
Additionally, the hull of the kayak is what’s considered “pontoon-style”. A pontoon-style hull has plenty of stability for the bigger fellow, plus there’s plenty of storage space. It’s really a win-win and I’d even recommend fishing kayaks to larger guys who enjoy kayaking, but not necessarily fishing, for that reason.
Most of the time, you’ll also notice that fishing kayaks are designed for you to sit on them rather than sit inside of them. Even though the elevated seat does give you a little more space, it reduces how stable the kayak is. On the other hand, it gives you more space to move around in the actual kayak, as well as plenty of space for gear. Plus, fishing kayaks are designed wider to offset this feature.
What Fat Guys Should Look for in a Fishing Kayak
Instead of trial-and-error, I find the best way to find anything for big guys is doing some research before jumping right in. A high-quality fishing kayak is going to last for years, so it’s something you want to really think about if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Let’s get into that.
Where Do You Want to Fish At?
The whole point of a fishing kayak is to get to your favorite fishing spots. Do you fish in a lake, or do you prefer to travel down the river? How calm or rough the water is a big factor in what you’ll need as far as the shape and design of the kayak. You can find plenty of budget-friendly fishing kayaks, especially if you plan on using them on a calm lake. While a narrower design is better for slicing through water and moving more efficiently, a wider design provides more stability.
You’ll find that even though there are variations between different models, fishing kayaks are usually made a little wider for better stability. While it won’t slice through the rapids, they do generally move pretty well. The added stability is also really important for a fishing kayak since you’ll likely be moving around the boat as you reel in your fish.
Pedal or Paddle?
Kayaks don’t generally have motors. Instead, you’ll push yourself through the water either using pedals or an oar, depending on which you pick.
Kayaks with pedals have the advantage of not requiring a big, bulky oar to sit across your lap while you’re trekking through the water. Instead, you’ll be able to navigate or even keep your rod cast as you move along. However, it’s important that you have enough room for your legs and knees as a bigger guy. Having a brace along the sides of the chair is also really helpful, especially for longer excursions where you’ll be doing a lot of paddling.
The disadvantage of pedaling depends on the person. If your legs cramp frequently or you have back problems, pedaling might not be the best option. It also affects the amount of room you have to walk around in the boat, so that’s something to consider as well.
If you go with more traditional oars, they are a little more bulky. However, you can buy high-quality oars that are more comfortable to use and some people prefer pushing themselves around this way. Something to consider is the price, since on average kayaks that come with built-in pedals are significantly more expensive. Also, remember that you don’t necessarily need the pedals, especially if you have built-in rod holders to hold your poles.
Hardshell or Inflatable Fishing Kayak?
Even if you’re a bigger guy that needs something with a higher weight limit, the decision to choose a hardshell kayak or an inflatable really comes down to preference. Both come with a higher weight limit and both are available in fishing varieties that have the wide, stable design and rod holders that you want.
Inflatable kayaks have the advantage of being made of lighter materials. Additionally, you can take them to your location before inflating them if you have the gear handy, which makes it a lot easier if you have to trek through the woods to get to your favorite fishing spot. Storage and transportation is also easier because of the small size. However, you’ll want to remember that you’ll need to inflate and deflate, which can take a little time if you don’t have the right kind of pump. You also have to be sure to get the right pounds of pressure per square inch for the inflatable to work properly.
Since they are lighter, inflatable kayaks are easier to carry even when inflated. If you have a heavy hardshell kayak, you might need to bring along a buddy to help you get to the water. Inflatable kayaks are also durable because they’re made of puncture-resistant materials and have redundant air pockets for extra security. However, they aren’t all meant to take a beating from the rapids (you’ll need something with a Class 3 or Class 4 rating to be safe in rougher water in an inflatable kayak).
After you’ve decided which of these you prefer, you’ll also want to consider the materials that the kayak is made of. Hardshell kayaks are often made using fiberglass, plastic, or wood, as well as composite materials like Kevlar. Inflatables, on the other hand, are often made of plastic polymers and synthetic rubber fitted around a frame that adds stability to the boat.
The material you choose will affect factors like overall durability and the weight of the kayak. It also affects the overall cost. Since inflatable fishing kayaks are made of more affordable materials, they are the cheaper of the two options. However, remember that not all inflatables are created equally and you don’t want to go with something with the lowest possible price tag.
If the main purpose of your kayak is fishing, then you want features that make every excursion out a little better or a little easier. These types of features really come down to what you need/want in a fishing kayak. For example, you’ll want to consider things like how much storage space you have and how many pole/rod holders you’d like on the boat. Many fishing kayaks come with storage compartments in the bow and stern. Some even have a removable gear box that you can put a fish finder in if you’d like! This will stop you from having to wear a fanny pack to keep all the things you need handy- though you can still rock one of those for your personal items like your phone if you’d like to!
Do You Need a One-Person or Two-Person Kayak?
The advantage of a one-person fishing kayak is that you can get out on the water whenever you want. Even if you don’t have features like adjustable seats, you don’t have to wait around for a friend. Kayaking and fishing can be two relaxing activities that people use to unwind, however, you can easily make friends that enjoy this same relaxing style of fishing and bring them along.
However, if you would like to bring along a friend, your spouse, or even your dog, a two-person kayak might be the better investment. The key to this is buying a kayak that has adjustable seats, so you can center them instead of having to choose to sit in either the front or rear of the kayak (which makes steering difficult and paddling inefficient).
Sit-On or Sit-In Style?
Kayaks are designed for you to either sit on top of or sit inside of them, depending on the model. With sit-on kayaks, there’s the major advantage of them being easy to get in and out of since you’re right on top. There also isn’t a designed seat, so you can sit whichever position works best.
However, with a sit-on style, your center of gravity is at a higher point. This makes them a little more unstable than a sit-in kayak, where your center of gravity is closer to the water. Many manufacturers make sit-on kayaks a little wider to counteract this, which adds to your stability.
Sit-in styles also have the advantage of protecting your legs from water and the wind, especially if you add a spray skirt. This is especially beneficial if you’re the type of fisherman that likes to take advantage of the whole fishing season- even on those days when it gets a little chilly.
Dimension of the Kayak and Cockpit
The dimensions of the kayak and cockpit on the inside really affects how much space you have to move around. Bigger people naturally need a little more room to stop from feeling too crowded. When you’re fishing, this space is also important as far as the amount of room that you have for your gear and equipment.
If you aren’t sure what you need as far as cockpit dimension, think about going to your local sporting store or kayak shop and sitting in a few models. Even if you purchase online later, you’ll still be able to gauge the types of dimensions that work (and don’t work) for your body shape.
Kayaks are available in different lengths as well. While 10′ kayaks are common, some are 12′ or longer. I find that the longer models have a little more leg room, which is something I appreciate as a bigger guy.
When you’re considering weight limit, keep in mind that you need to consider your own weight plus the weight of all your gear. If you’re going to be fishing with a child, a dog, your partner, or a friend, you’ll need to consider that in your overall weight limit as well. Fortunately, there’s plenty of great fishing kayaks that have a high weight threshold- so there’s no reason you can’t get out on the water.
Something to keep in mind is that you actually want a kayak with a greater weight threshold than you need. As a general rule, you should only use about 70-80% of the manufacturer-recommended weight limit. Even though a kayak does support a higher weight limit doesn’t mean that it won’t effect factors like maneuverability and speed as you go through the water. Plus, a quality kayak is something that’s going to last for years so you’ll want a little wiggle room in case of weight gain.
Finally, you’ll want to consider factors like how comfortable you’re going to be sitting in the kayak. I’ve found that even when fishing kayaks have higher weight limits, they still don’t always have the most comfortable seats for a bigger guy. Check out features like the amount of support offered by the seat, how much padding there is, and the width.
Some kayaks can be customized by adding your own seat after-market, so that might be an option to look into, especially if you plan on spending a long time out in the water. Factors like the design of your personal flotation device (PFD) also affect how comfortable you’ll be while sitting, especially since you’ll be wearing it the whole time your on the boat. You can find out more about this, as well as a few other things you should know if you’re new to kayaking, in this video.
There’s no reason that bigger guys can’t share a fishing kayak. Even if the other person weighs less than you, this can be offset by storing more of the heavy gear like coolers on their side of the kayak. It’s really all about balance! Also, don’t forget to communicate when you need to move around!
Can Big Guys Use Inflatable Kayaks?
Yes, there’s no reason that fat guys wouldn’t be able to use an inflatable kayak. Inflatable kayaks are made of extremely durable materials and stitching. What it really comes down to is the size and shape of the inflatable fishing kayak, as well as the manufacturer-recommended weight limit.
Can One Person Use a Two-Person Kayak?
It really depends on the style of kayak. As someone who is a little heavier, adjustable seats are an absolute must.
A traditional tandem kayak has two seats, one in the front and one in the rear. When one person sits on either side of the fishing kayak, it keeps it balanced. If a single person sits in the front or the back, the heavier side is going to sink a little while the other end rises up like a teeter totter. It also makes it hard to steer!
If you’re looking for a fishing kayak that you can use with your partner or a friend, as well as something you can use by yourself, then you’ll need to be able to position the seat in the center of the boat.
Best Fishing Kayak for Big Guys
Whether you’ve read the background information or jumped to this part, let’s take a closer look at some of the contenders for best fishing kayak and some of the benefits for each.
Best Overall: Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Fishing Kayak With 500 Pound Weight Capacity
- Weight limit of 500 pounds, great for fat guys
- Very stable, you can easily stand up
- Body constructed from a single piece of molded materials, super rugged and durable
- Loaded with storage space for fishing gear
- Works as a solo or tandem kayak
While this is sold as a tandem kayak, it’s actually one of my favorite kayaks to take out fishing by myself. It comes with two seats, but there’s also a middle seat for bringing along a kid or pet. I find it’s great for stretching out and that the stability of the kayak let’s me paddle by myself just fine. It’s also one of the few kayaks I could stand up in while I was fishing.
There’s also plenty of space for gear. This kayak from Driftsun comes with built-in cupholders, rear storage and a bungee area, and two watertight storage areas. There are mounting points for accessories and the rod holders are adjustable so you can turn them flush against the boat while you’re moving and keep them upright while fishing. Plus, the two rod holders that it comes with have caps, so they don’t get filled with dust or gunk when the kayak isn’t being used.
The paddles included with this feel lightweight but strong and they feel pretty comfortable in my hands. They are definitely better than what I’m used to getting included with kayaks. Plus, the handles molded to the side of the kayak are really nice for getting it to the water, too!
You can check out the unique footrests, read more reviews, and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Pedal Fishing Kayak: Perception Pescador Pilot 12 With 475 Weight Capacity
The Pescador Pilot 12 has a weight limit of 475 pounds for a single person, so there’s plenty of room for your gear. It works using an easy key system that you use to either pull the rudder up or put it back down in the water. This makes it really easy to get in and out of the water, plus you don’t have to worry about balancing to get out until you’re on the shoreline.
I also really liked that the seat was made from mesh material. It allowed a little airflow, which was something I appreciated with my PFD making me a little sweaty. The seat is also adjustable- it slides forward and back in the kayak, so bigger guys or taller guys can have a little more leg room to pedal if they need it.
What’s cool about this fishing kayak from Perception is that it’s super easy to maneuver. There’s a knob on the side of the boat that you turn to adjust the propeller and turn the boat. Plus, the super quiet operation while you pedal won’t scare away your fish!
I also loved some of the storage features. It’s super easy to set up electronics like your fish finder, as well as space the wires can be routed through. There’s also extra storage area in the cargo and contact points for attaching gear.
Where I found this kayak disappointed, though, was the rod holders. This comes with 4 rod holders molded into the boat, but they just didn’t feel like they secured the pole as well as I’d like them to.
You can see all the color choices, read more reviews, and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Tandem Kayak: BKC TK181 12.5′ Fishing Kayak With 600 Pound Weight Capacity
Unfortunately, once you get into the tandem kayaks with higher weigh capacities, finding one loaded with all the features you need gets a little harder. This kayak from the Brooklyn Kayak Company doesn’t disappoint though, with a weight capacity of 600 pounds.
If you need a little more than 600 pounds to work with, I recommend trying a tandem kayak minus all the fishing extras. While you won’t have rod holders attached to the boat, going with something that has more storage space will help you meet your fishing needs without them.
This fishing kayak comes loaded with extras, including four trolling rod holders, two rod holders for actively fishing, two aluminum paddles and paddle parks, bungee tie downs, and watertight storage compartments. You can’t really go wrong with all the extra room there is for gear.
I didn’t necessarily like that the seats cannot be moved to different positions in this kayak, though. You can sit in the back and try to paddle, but it won’t be as easy to steer from a non-central position.
You can see all the storage space, read the reviews, and check out the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak: Elkton Outdoors 10′ Fishing Kayak With 450 Pound Weight Capacity
While this inflatable fishing Kayak is made for two people, it has adjustable seats and works great for a solo-rider, too! What’s nice about the inflatable design when you go fishing alone is that it’s much easier and lighter than getting a hardshell kayak to the water if you can’t just drive up to it. Plus, this comes with everything you need to inflate it, including instructions for the proper PSI and a pressure gauge right on the included pump.
This is another fishing kayak loaded with rod holders- this one comes with two angled holders, two vertical holders, and two full-action holders! There’s also a mesh storage area to keep things like wet clothing secured. However, I didn’t necessarily like that the kayak lacks any waterproof chambers to store those things you don’t want getting wet.
There are also included paddles, paddle holders, and even a carrying bag so it’s easy to get from Point A to Point B- especially since this weighs less than 30 pounds. I also liked the comfortable seats, which are padded with EVA foam and a little softer than some others I’ve sat on.
Even though the EVA seats were comfortable to sit on, I found they didn’t let me sit high enough out of the boat to comfortably maneuver and paddle. No worries, though! This issue is something that’s easily fixed by adding a cushion under the seat.
You can check out the two-in-one design, learn what makes this so durable, and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Highest Weight Capacity Solo Kayak: Reel Yaks 11′ Pedal Fishing Kayak With 500 Pound Weight Capacity
This is another pedal fishing kayak that has a high weight limit and really stable design. It’s great for sitting or standing and the seat sits on top of the kayak. You’ll appreciate that as you’re trying to get in and out, as well as when you have your knees out a little wider while pedaling.
The unique design of the propeller on this is super quiet, which helps you sneak up on the fish at your favorite fishing spot. There’s also less chance of getting stuck on stumps and reeds when your in low levels of water.
Something else that really sets this apart is the grip tape on the deck. I really appreciated that when I tried to stand up because I didn’t slide or slip as I figured out that sweet spot for balance.
The stadium-style seat was pretty wide, but it could be an issue for some bigger guys because it doesn’t have an open design. That aside, this fishing kayak also came with plenty of extras, including six rod holders, rails for mounting additional rod holders and fishing accessories, storage space, a bottle holder, and more. It also has those caps on the rod holders that I liked on an earlier model I tried.
You can check out the unique hull design, read more customer reviews, and see the current price on Amazon here.
Highest Weight Capacity Tandem Kayak: BKC TK122 12’6″ Fishing Kayak With 770 Pound Weight Capacity
The major selling point of this tandem fishing kayak is the high weight capacity. At 770 pounds, it’s the highest on the list. It’s really durable and ready to tackle rivers and lakes, even if the water’s a little choppy.
There is some storage space including a watertight area and some bungee tie downs. The kayak also has four different rod holders, two of them mounted flush and the others being upright.
It also doesn’t have quite as much storage space or extra features as some others. However, if you’re looking for something that you can take out on the water with somebody else, the high weight limit definitely makes it a contender if that’s what you need.
The major thing that I don’t like about this model is that you can’t adjust the seats. It only works as a tandem kayak if your bigger because even with the high weight capacity, it’s likely to be a little harder to steer if you’re sitting in the back of the kayak by yourself and it’s sinking into the water.
You can check out the seat positions for this tandem kayak, read more reviews and check out today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Budget Fishing Kayak: Sevylor Coleman Tandem Fishing Kayak With 470 Pound Weight Capacity
While you don’t want to go with one of the cheapest models you can find, the Sevylor Tandem Fishing Kayak really gets the job done. It has a 470 pound weight limit and adjustable seats, so even if you’re going out on the water alone, it’ll get you where you need to go.
This kayak has plenty of storage space, including a mesh storage pocket and added D-rings. I also really loved that this had two adjustable rod holders, which I haven’t seen even on some of the higher priced models. This kayak is budget-friendly, but still made with quality and that’s really something that you can’t beat.
Even though this is an inflatable, it’s made with thick, durable materials and has a multi-chamber air system to keep you afloat even if the boat is punctured. Plus, it’s easy to install a trolling motor if you’d like because it comes with the hardware for this.
The biggest problem I had with this kayak was getting in and out of it. The boat sits a little deep. Plus, while I got this to ride as a solo rider, it’s just over 10-feet long so it might not be a good choice if you actually want to use it for tandem kayaking purposes.
You can check out the adjustable rod handles, durable design, and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Hopefully, you’ve found some suggestions here that won’t rock the boat when it comes to kayak fishing! As you look for the best fishing kayak, remember to consider things like stability, leg room, and how easy it will be to get in and out of the boat. As you look at weight limits, remember that you should stick to about 70-80% capacity for the kayak to slice through water as it should.
Finally, don’t forget about fishing extras like storage areas, D-rings, and rod holders. The amount of space you need really depends on your fishing style and the type of gear you bring along.
Hopefully, this article has helped you narrow down some of your options when it comes to fishing kayaks so you can find the model that best fits you without as much trial-and-error as I had.