6 Best River Fishing kayaks in 2023

Best River Fishing kayaks

Kayakers and anglers worldwide are getting ready to hit the river as the weather begins to warm up. We have what you need if you’re seeking the best river fishing kayaks to up your fishing game. We’ll offer you an overview of our top choices, including the Old Town Topwater 106, our top option due to its small, maneuverable size and exceptional stability on moving water. So grab your fishing gear and head outside to pull in some fish!

Essential Features For River Fishing Kayaks


Any kayak’s size should be considered, but it may be much more crucial for the best river fishing kayaks. This is because rivers can be trickier to manage than lakes or other bigger bodies of water where there is an excellent room for maneuvering.

As a result, a kayak with a shorter hull may be more practical because they are simpler to turn and manage in confined situations than longer, narrower boats. If you’re on a multi-day touring excursion, longer kayaks can be suitable for vast, slow-moving rivers. However, a kayak between 10 and 12 feet in length may be better for fishing on smaller rivers.

Additional Stability

In choppy waters, secondary stability is what keeps a boat stable. You are initially stable when you first get in your kayak and paddle on flat water. Both of these factors will be combined to construct best river fishing kayaks. This is necessary for them to tackle both flatwater rivers and gentle rivers with a moderate current or riffles.

To handle waves, river kayaks may have hulls that are more rounded or have many chine patterns. Recreation kayaks typically feature flat bottoms to be as stable as possible on flat water. Additionally, you might discover that river fishing kayaks feature extra rockers to help you comfortably navigate riffles and waves. Pontoon-style hulls, which can offer good stability on both flat and choppy glasses of water, may be found on some river fishing kayaks.

Gear Storage

When selecting the best river fishing kayak, having enough storage room for your necessary fishing gear will probably be crucial. More miniature goods and valuables (such as your phone and keys) can be safely and dryly stored in dry storage.

Make sure the kayak has enough space and storage capacity to hold everything you intend to bring if you expect to fish for a considerable time. Most fishing kayaks include gear tracks, which are helpful for a river kayak. This can save you from drilling into the boat’s hull when installing extra accessories like a fish finder, rod holders, or a camera mount. You can feel your kayak is customized by adding extra attachments, allowing you to add whatever you need.


Many fishing kayaks feature standing platforms that make it simple to stand up and cast farther and more accurately. Fly fishing might benefit significantly from standing platforms because you could find it simpler to cast when standing than while seated. Standing on flat, cushioned decks can be safer. Additionally, the cushioning can provide traction and noise reduction, allowing you to approach more quietly, significantly, if you drop something.

The type of river you intend to fish on will, however, likely determine whether you want to stand or not. Try standing on your kayak in swift-moving water is generally not a good idea. You might want to keep as near the deck as possible in water moving more quickly. This can need adjusting your seat to the lowest setting.

Comparison Table:

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120

The Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 is a fishing kayak with many features that work well on rivers and other moving water. It’s a shorter version of the well-regarded ATAK 140 while being a touch longer than other kayaks on our list. It is handier and easier to navigate in smaller bodies of water.

For day outings, this might be an excellent river fishing kayak. With an AirPro Max seating system that offers high, low, and reclining options for a personalized ride, boosting your visibility and stability, it is made with comfort in mind. The hull is designed with more rockers to accommodate moving water and is stable in various glasses of water. You can cast while standing up, thanks to the stand-assist strap.

This boat has an expansive back cargo deck and a detachable console, giving it a tonne of space. The secondary transducer scupper is made for side-scan sonars, and gear tracks can make it simple to add your accessories. The Helix Motor Drive and the ATAK 120 are compatible devices (sold separately).


  • is effective in transporting water
  • excellent alternatives for mounting accessories
  • Supper of the secondary transducer
  • a comfortable chair


  • Insufficient deck cushioning

Perception Pescador Pro 10 


Perception Pescador Pro 10 

With many features crammed into its small, light hull, the Perception Pescador Pro 10 delivers outstanding value. This sturdy kayak is built in the USA, is easy to handle, and is perfect for small rivers. Additionally, it can be excellent for newbies because it’s simple to control. But it’s not designed for standing.

This boasts a large rear tank well with bungees for anchoring your crate or more relaxed, two molded rod holders, a mesh-covered bow storage compartment, and a storage area. There is a paddle park where you may secure your paddle while fishing and a cup holder for your beverage.

The 5-inch deck door in the stern provides access to the hull’s interior, and the tackle storage compartment can be configured for a fish finder (not included). Additionally, there are gear tracks for other accessories. The seat’s breathable mesh-covered structure and elevated position for better sight make it comfortable for all-day fishing. You can use the adjustable foot braces to assist steady oneself while sitting in the proper position for paddling.


  • portable hull
  • the ability to navigate small rivers
  • auxiliary tracks
  • a storage console to handle


  • lacks a standing deck

 BKC TK181 Tandem 


BKC TK181 Tandem

This BKC TK181 tandem fishing kayak, is made portable for two people to carry and simple to control when paddling. It can function well in rivers, as well as in oceans and lakes, and it has a high level of stability. There are three swivel rod holders, four flush-mounted rod holders, and seven fishing rod holders. Therefore, there is enough room for you and your fishing buddy to store your rods conveniently. This can be paddled alone as well.

There are two comfortable chairs with individually adjustable backrests. The seats might not be cozy or provide appropriate support for lengthy trips. This two-person kayak is perfect if this is your first kayak because it also comes with two paddles. Each paddler has a storage hatch with inserts to keep small objects dry, secure, and accessible. A small cooler or crate can be secured using bungees in the rear cargo well.


  • ample storage for fishing rods
  • two insert-equipped hatches
  • Solo paddling is possible.
  • suitable for lakes and rivers


  • Poor quality seats

BKC FK184 Solo Fishing Kayak

BKC FK184 9'

With all the features you should need for a river fishing excursion and a paddle so you can be out on the water as soon as it arrives, the BKC FK184 may be the best fishing kayak for beginners. It is also less expensive than others, making it ideal for a beginner kayak.

It is ideal for rivers and streams because of its short 9-foot hull, which is made simple to turn and handle in smaller quantities of water. But don’t be fooled by its diminutive stature; this sturdy kayak can hold 330 pounds. There are five fishing rod holders, a waterproof center door, a watertight bow hatch, and a rear tank well with bungees for security. Although its padded seat and backrest are customizable, you might wish to spend more money on a better seat for longer excursions. The sturdy, molded footrests can help you balance yourself for better paddling form.

The hull has strong stability and is built to tolerate currents. However, it’s made stable enough to stand on while fishing; if you’re a beginner, you could find that standing is more complex than you’d like.


  • exceptional dexterity
  • properly manages currents
  • There are many fishing features.
  • plenty of dry storage


  • Unsuitable for standing

Pelican Basscreek Angler 100 XP

Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayak by Pelican

The Pelican Basscreek Angler 100 XP might be an excellent river fishing kayak if you’re on a tight budget. It has multi-layer RAM-X material that resists abrasion and impact. Additionally, the UV-resistant coating adds to the item’s resilience and longevity. Despite being inexpensive, this straightforward, functional kayak has a lot to offer regarding river fishing features. Its multi-chine hull, for starters, can aid in stability on undulating water. It’s not intended for standing, though.

A swivel rod holder and two flush-mount rod holders provide enough for three fishing rods. There is also a quick-lock bow hatch to protect your equipment and a 4-inch dry hatch. The characteristics of this boat also include sliding foot bracing and a bungee-rigged rear cargo deck.

This portable and lightweight kayak make it simple to carry and move around. It incorporates carry handles at the bow and stern to make getting in and out of the kayak even simpler. Although the Ergofit G2 seat has padding and a backrest, the seat pad is flat against the deck rather than elevated, making it less comfortable for extended fishing trips.


  • inexpensive fishing kayak
  • several-chine hull
  • fisherman’s holders
  • a pair of storage hatches


  • basic chair

Old Town Loon 106 Angler

Old Town Loon 106 Angler

A sit-inside fishing kayak that can be used for river fishing in all types of weather and situations is the Old Town Loon 106 Angler. This boat, which is 10 feet, and 6 inches long, is lightweight and straightforward to manage.

The ACS2 seat is one of the Loon’s most outstanding features. This seating system has many adjustment points and superior padding, so you may find the ideal position that suits your comfort level and paddling style. Additionally, the cockpit has quality thigh pads and a movable foot bracing system.

The removable work deck, which features a USB connector for charging your phone or other devices, is another fantastic addition. There is no battery supplied. With a big stern hatch and bungee rigging in the bow and stern for additional items, the Loon has plenty of storage for fishing equipment.

For river fishing, this kayak also has a built-in anchor trolley system that can assist you in maintaining your position in light currents or breeze so you can more precisely target fish. Behind the cockpit, there are flush-mounted rod holders as well.


  • Lightweight
  • seated fishing kayak
  • Pre-installed anchor trolley
  • The flexible seating system


  • not designed to stand


Can Kayaking on a River Be Dangerous?

You should check out the river before you launch and always wear your PFD because it might be. Knowing the safe river flow levels for your specific river may help you anticipate when paddling might be too risky.

What Actions Are Proper Near Rocks?

Try edging your boat downstream to avoid getting swept by the current. If you sense that your boat is getting stuck, you may need to push off the rock using your hands.

How Should a Kayak Be Anchored in a River?

An anchor trolley system with a conventional anchor connection can be used to drop an anchor. Another option is a stake-out pole, also known as an anchor pole. It would help if you dropped your anchor upstream where you wish to be.


Several excellent river fishing kayaks are available, but the Old Town Topwater 106 is our top choice due to its incredibly sturdy pontoon hull, which is excellent for standing. It also boasts great storage and accessory mounting possibilities, a comfortable seat, and a small, maneuverable hull perfect for narrow river situations. The Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 is our preferred runner-up. If you want to go fishing seriously and have a lot of gear, this boat is perfect. It is a solid, effective option for river fishing because it has an extra rocker to manage moving water.

The sort of river you intend to fish in and the strength of the stream will probably determine the ideal kayak for river fishing. Remember that if you wish to fish in swift rivers and streams, you’ll need a boat with more rocker and secondary stability (or an inflatable boat). Before deciding, consider what you want from a river kayak because some of these models might not be appropriate for the fishing circumstances you have in mind.

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