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Best Kayaks for Bass Fishing Reviewed: 2022 Picks and Buying Guide

Written by: Pete D
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If you’ve ever wanted to slip quietly across a big pond, slide over a downed tree that stops bass boats, and hammer largemouth on the other side, a fishing kayak might be just right for you.

Innovations in hull design and drive options like pedals and in-board motors have transformed kayak angling, and for bass fishermen everywhere, it’s time to seriously consider investing in a ‘yak.

If you’re in the market for a new bass fishing kayak, we’ve got you covered.

Below, you’ll find reviews of the best bass fishing kayaks for 2022, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed quickly:

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Best Bass Fishing Kayaks Reviewed

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 - Best Pedal-Driven Kayak for Bass Fishing

Length: 12’

Weight: 132.5 lbs.

Beam: 36”

Capacity: 500 lbs.

Hobie’s Mirage Pro Angler 12 has won an ardent following among anglers, a testament to smart design, fishing-friendly features, and a pedal drive that’s probably the best in the business. And while this kayak is relatively expensive, it’s definitely a case of “you get what you pay for.”

At 12-feet long and 36-inches wide, the Mirage Pro Angler offers a very stable hull. If you’re concerned about tippiness, don’t be, and for bass anglers who want to stand and sight fish or just have more height for casts, taking to your feet in this ‘yak is a breeze.

The deck just forward of the seat has been treated with a non-slip coating, and whether you’re fighting or reaching out with a landing net, you’ll find the Mirage Pro Angler wants to stay stable.

Hobie’s amazing 360 pedal drive is a powerful fin system that delivers unparalleled speed and maneuverability. Seriously, this system allows you as much control as a bow-mounted trolling motor without the need for a battery. The fins fold up on impact, keeping them out of harm’s way in shallow water and among obstacles like stumps and blow downs, and there’s just nothing critical I can say about this system.

Should you wish to take to the water without it, it’s also very easy to remove and reinstall.

Hobie carefully thought through fishing storage, too. You’ll find the usual hatches fore and aft, and they’re easy to open, close, and access. There’s even a built-in tackle organizer in the hatch next to your seat.

Accessory rails run down the cockpit to either side, making mounting electronics, rod holders, and other accessories a snap. 

And the stern well is generous, offering additional space for an organizer, crate, or cooler.

And for anglers who’ve suffered from an aching back after a day on the water, you’ll find that the seat is carefully designed to offer plenty of support and cushion.

Overall, this is definitely a premium kayak.

Keep in mind, however, that the Mirage Angler Pro 12 weighs in at a hefty 132.5 pounds. Loading this kayak overhead is going to be a real struggle for most people, and even loading it into a truck bed may challenge anglers who aren’t at peak fitness.

That’s something to consider carefully before you buy.

But for many, the stable hull, amazing drive, excellent storage and organization options, and comfortable seat may outweigh - literally - the hulking mass of this ‘yak.

Pros:

  • Exceptionally stable
  • Non-slip deck
  • Awesome pedal drive
  • Lots of storage
  • Excellent hatch design and placement
  • Comfortable seat 

Cons:

  • Heavy!
  • Expensive!

Vibe Sea Ghost 130

Length: 13’

Beam: 33.5”

Weight: 92 lbs. (71 lbs. for the hull only)

Maximum capacity: 550 lbs.

In direct contrast to the budget-busting Hobie, Vibe’s Sea Ghost 130 demonstrated that you can still get a lot of ‘yak without mortgaging your house, and if the prices of some of the premium kayaks on our list have you rethinking your plans, Vibe’s excellent ‘yak is something to seriously consider.

Vibe’s experience on the water really shows in the design of the Sea Ghost 130, and for anglers who are comfortable with a paddle or don’t want the complication and cost of a drive system, this is a very fine bass-fishing platform.

At 13-feet long and 33.5-inches wide, this well-designed hull isn’t quite as stable as the Hobie. That’s to be expected, and adding more beam to this ‘yak would make it a real beast to paddle. Stability is still very good, and you don’t need to worry about rolling this kayak, even if a sudden storm blows in while you’re on a big lake.

Storage and organizational opportunities are superb on the Sea Ghost 130, and it’s clear that Vibe understands what bass fishermen need. 

For starters, you’ll find a hinged dry-storage console with electronic mounting options just fore of the seat, and it’s among the best you’ll find at any price. Apparently, Vibe has thought of everything, and even the lid of the console is magnetized so it can be opened without losing precious lures resting on top.

I’m amazed by how well-thought-out it is and stunned that other companies aren’t following suit.

Mounting tracks are located to either side of the cockpit, offering customizable placement of rod holders and other accessories, and the front hatch is easy to access and use.

The Sea Ghost 130 has a well-designed, supportive, and comfortable seat, and all-day comfort is all but assured.

For paddling anglers, Vibe’s Sea Ghost 130 is an exceptional option, and with the seat removed, its total weight should be something that most anglers can manage.

This is a great bass-fishing kayak, and if you can live without an expensive pedal drive, you won’t be disappointed by what it has to offer.

https://vimeo.com/320365664#at=1

Pros:

  • Very stable
  • Great seat
  • Awesome storage options
  • Great hatch design and placement
  • Plenty of accessory mounting positions
  • Relatively light

Cons:

  • No drive options--paddle only

Perception Outlaw 11.5 - Best Budget Kayak for Bass Fishing

Length: 11’ 6”

Weight: 77 lbs.

Beam: 35”

Capacity: 425 lbs.

Perception’s Outlaw 11.5 breaks a lot of rules traditional fishing kayaks follow, demonstrating that innovation doesn’t need to break the bank. If you're looking for a capable bass fishing kayak that you can lift, load, and store easily while still delivering top-notch performance, the Outlaw deserves consideration.

The Outlaw’s 11-foot, 6-inch hull sports a 35-inch beam, making it extremely stable. That reduces paddling efficiency quite a lot, but the trade-off is that you can take to your feet, cast, and fight with no concerns whatsoever that you’ll take a spill. And if you do get caught out on big water with the wind rising and the sky darkening, you’ll know you can safely make the paddle home.

The Outlaw 11.5 forgoes the typical hatches at bow and stern. At the front, you’ll find a molded well covered by a bungee net. This system works well for storing items like tackle boxes and parking your paddle while you fish, and it saves a lot of weight.

More on that in a moment.

The deck is clear and clean, offering great non-slip material that really works to prevent your feet from sliding on a wet, bloody, or slimy deck. There are no storage modules or fancy pods, but you’ll find small molded compartments for must-have items, two short mounting tracks that also serve as carrying handles, and cup holders on either side of the seat.

In the stern, the well is sized for crates, coolers, and organizers designed for kayaks.

The Outlaw’s seating is excellent, offering all-day comfort.

These innovative design decisions add up to a kayak that’s short enough to load in a truck bed and light enough to lift onto the roof of a car or SUV. At just 77 pounds, it’s substantially less bulky than the competition, and if that’s a factor in your decision-making, look no further.

Perception’s Outlaw 11.5 is a fantastic small kayak for bass fishing that’s priced to be within reach of most anglers, and even if you can afford some of the more expensive options on our shortlist, give this little ‘yak a second look.

Pros:

  • Relatively inexpensive!
  • Extremely stable
  • Great seat
  • Innovative storage options
  • Relatively light!

Cons:

  • No drive options--paddle only

Wilderness Systems Radar 135 - Most Versatile Kayak for Bass Fishing

Length: 13’ 6”

Beam: 34”

Weight: 95 lbs. (without drives)

Maximum capacity: 475 lbs.

Wilderness Systems Radar 135 is a tremendous option for bass anglers who want drive options including electric, as well as carefully considered storage options.

At 13-feet, 6-inches, the Radar 135’s 34-inch beam provides plenty of stability, especially since that width works in tandem with a very stable hull shape. You’ve got nothing to worry about on windy days in either chop or swells, and taking to your feet will be no problem at all.

Anglers who’d like to sight fish for bass or just gain a bit more room for casting will love the Radar 135, though the Hobie and Wilderness Systems ATAK are probably slightly more stable overall.

Wilderness Systems has a well-earned reputation for hatch design, and the placement and execution of the Radar 135’s access points really drive this fact home. Just forward of the seat, they’ve placed a large rectangular hatch that’s both very accessible and water tight, making it perfect for must-haves like a smartphone.

On the bow, you’ll find the usual hatch to access the hull, but in this case, it’s unusually well-designed and easy to use.

Two cockpit-mounted pod systems offer lots of possibilities. Both can take electronics like fish finders, and for paddle-minded anglers, they make a lot of sense. But each can also be swapped out with a drive system; the smaller switches out for the Helix PD; the other swaps out for the Helix MD.

With either drive system installed, the other pod offers electronics mounting options, making this a very versatile system that’s clearly thought out.

The Helix PD is a prop pedal drive that’s powerful enough to really get the Radar 135 moving. Paired with a hand-controlled rudder system, the Helix PD will tame even the largest lakes, making short work of long trips to the best spots. Maneuverability is also excellent, though not quite on par with the awesome Hobie.

Your electric drive option is the Helix MD, essentially a tiny inboard electric engine driving a propeller. Developing power equivalent to a 1 HP outboard, to say this thing really scoots is an understatement! Capable of nearly 6 mph and maximum running times of more than 8 hours, the Helix MD is impressive.

The Helix MD drops into the space accessed by removing the front pod. An in-built lithium-ion rechargeable battery provides plenty of juice for all-day excursions if you're careful with the throttle, and for bass anglers who routinely work big lakes, the Helix MD sure is nice to have.

It’s not quite as quiet as a high-end trolling motor, though, so be careful about spooking pressured bass.

We’d be remiss not to mention that the Helix MD is ridiculously expensive, wearing a price tag that’s 40% higher than the kayak itself. The Helix PD isn’t much better, costing about what you pay for the bare hull.

That puts the pedal-drive equipped Wilderness System’s Radar 135 in the same neighborhood as the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler, and the electric motor is even more. Only you can decide if it’s worth it.

The Radar 135 has an exceptionally comfortable, adjustable seat that fishes really well.

And the rear well is big, offering lots of storage options.

Wilderness Systems’ Radar 135, purchased without drive options, is as solid as the Vibe Sea Ghost 130. With the pedal drive in the mix, it’s a worthy competitor for the Hobie. And with the electric motor, it’s probably in a class all its own.

Pros:

  • Exceptionally stable
  • Lots of storage
  • Removable, modular electronics pods
  • Good hatch design and placement
  • Comfortable seat that’s easy to adjust
  • Awesome pedal drive
  • Excellent motor drive

Cons:

  • Super expensive drive options!

Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. 140

Length: 14’ 1”

Weight: 95 lbs.

Beam: 34”

Capacity: 550 lbs.

Wilderness System’s ATAK 140 is one mean fishing machine, and it’s clear at first sight that it was designed with anglers in mind. If you’re a fan of great storage and organizational options, comfortable seats, and super-stable kayaks, you should take a close look at the ATAK 140.

At just one inch over 14 feet, the 34-inch beam of the ATAK 140 provides plenty of stability. Even on big water, you won’t need to worry about swells and chop or about leaning too far to either side. The engineers at Wilderness Systems have really dialed-in this hull design, and if you’re a fan of sight fishing for bass, rest assured that standing to cast and fight is intuitive. 

You’ll find non-slip material has been applied to the deck of the cockpit, providing very sure footing.

The cockpit also holds a modular, removable pod to which your fishfinder, GPS, or other electronics can be attached. It’s a great organizational feature that simplifies set up and just makes a lot of sense.

And of course, ruining the length of the cockpit on either side, you’ll find two mounting rails for accessories like rod holders.

The bow hatch is well-placed, easy to open and close, and watertight. Wilderness Systems gets hatches right, and these may well be the best in the business. You’ll find a second large hatch in the stern, as well as a relatively spacious stern well that just asks to be filled with more storage options like crates or organizers.

Seating in the ATAK 140 is superb. The seat is adjustable to three positions, and it can be pushed to the rear, creating more deck space to stand and fish or work with tackle. It’s plenty supportive of your lower back, and the cushioning is just right for long fishing trips.

Overall, this is an exceptional kayak for anglers who choose to paddle, and you sacrifice nothing in terms of quality to more expensive pedal-driven designs.

Pros:

  • Exceptionally stable
  • Non-slip deck
  • Lots of storage
  • Removable, modular electronics pod
  • Excellent hatch design and placement
  • Comfortable seat that extends usable deck space

Cons:

  • ???

Old Town Sportsman 106 Powered by Minn Kota - Best Motor-Driven Kayak for Bass Fishing

Length: 10’ 6”

Weight: 104 lbs.

Beam: 37”

Capacity: 525 lbs.

Old Town has been making canoes since before most of us were alive, and that experience has translated extremely well into kayak design. Their Sportsman 106 is a bass-fishing beast that’s a direct competitor with the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 and the Wilderness Systems 135 Radar.

How does it stack up?

At just 10-feet, 6-inches, this ‘yak sports a 37-inch beam. That makes it perhaps the most stable option on our list. If you’re skittish about kayaks because you’re worried about tippiness, this might be the best option for you. And for bass fishermen eager to take to their feet for sight fishing and casting, this is a platform that’s very hard to beat.

At the bow, you’ll find a well-designed hatch with bungee tie-downs. It’s easy to access and just as easy to use. You’ll also notice two mounting tracks running the length of the cockpit. Finally, at the stern, the large well is spacious enough for storage accessories designed for kayaks.

Old Town equips the Sportsman 106 with an excellent, comfortable seat that provides a great mix of support and cushion. Fish all day - your back won’t complain!

But what really makes this kayak shine is the Minn Kota motor. Offering 45 pounds of thrust, this bad boy gets the Sportsman 106 moving in a hurry, making large lakes feel small. The throttle control is the traditional motor-boat style handle, and the large rudder gives you plenty of control of your heading.

No battery is supplied with this ‘yak, so charging times and run times will depend on what you equip.

But make no mistake, this Minn Kota is more powerful and quieter than the Radar 135’s Helix MD. It may just be the best motor-powered kayak on the market.

Of course, that beam and all those features add up to a real beast, and paddling this kayak is going to be something of a chore. It also weighs in at more than 100 pounds, making it a bear to lift and load.

That’s something to consider carefully, and if you’re not particularly fit, you might want to give powered kayaks a pass.

Pros:

  • Exceptionally stable - probably the best on our shortlist
  • Non-slip deck
  • Incredible, industry-leading electric motor
  • Lots of storage
  • Comfortable seat 

Cons:

  • Heavy!
  • Expensive!

Buying Guide: What to Look For When Buying a Bass Fishing Kayak

Stability

While stability is always something to consider when choosing a kayak, for angling, it’s pretty much the place to start. Fishing demands a lot from you and your ‘yak, whether you’re casting, standing, or struggling with a real monster! And if you happen to break your line, or the fish spits out your lure during a hard fight, you’ll put that stability to the test.

  • Stability is critical- Think of a fishing kayak as a platform to do a lot more than paddling. You’ll be retrieving gear from hatches, casting, fighting fish, leaning over the gunnels, and maybe even dropping your catch in a live well in the stern. Some anglers, especially fly fishermen, prefer to sight fish or need to cast while standing.
    With all that movement, and much of it with a high center of gravity, you can see that you’ll be placing exceptional demands on your kayak.
  • Primary stability - This is a measure of how hard it is to rock a kayak up onto its edge. A ‘yak with high primary stability will give you the sense of solid footing, whereas a boat with low primary stability will feel tippy.
    For touring and whitewater kayakers, low primary stability can be a good thing, allowing them to lean into waves, for instance. But for angling, a solid feel underfoot is critical.
  • Secondary stability - This is a measure of how hard it is to overturn a kayak when it’s keeled over due to a “failure” of primary stability. Essentially, this tells you how hard it is to roll your kayak once you have it rocking up on edge.
    For angling, high secondary stability is important. Flipping your ‘yak loaded with tackle is never a good thing.
  • Broaden your expectations - Sea kayaks are long and sleek--an ideal shape for long paddling expeditions because they’re hydrodynamically efficient. But for fishing, wider is generally better. While that may make your kayak a bit slower and demand more from you as a paddler, that extra beam translates into greater stability.
    Purpose-designed angling kayaks tend to be a bit paunchy, but embrace the bulge!

Portability, Weight, and Encumbrance

You’ll be lifting and loading your ‘yak every time you take to the water, and for most of us, that can be a pretty intense overhead lift! Make sure you can handle the weight.

  • Transporting - You won’t feel those pounds on the water, but when you’re lifting and handling a kayak during transport, you’ll feel every ounce. Keep in mind, too, that the longer your ‘yak is, the more unwieldy it’ll be at a given weight. 
  • Try before you buy - If possible, we recommend that you try lifting and loading a few kayaks to get a feel for how you manage a given weight and length. Experimenting now can give you a good sense of what’s too much for you and your level of fitness.

Propulsion: Paddle vs. Pedal vs. Motor

While any angler might have a long paddle to and from their fishing spot, on big water, that’s all but guaranteed. Moreover, when things turn to the worse--say, in bad weather--speed can be essential.

Three propulsion options are common for kayaks, and each has strengths and weaknesses:

  • Paddles - Paddles have a lot of benefits
  • Inexpensive - Paddles range in price, but inexpensive, effective options aren’t hard to find.
  • Low- to no-maintenance - They’re pretty much grab and go.
  • Indispensable - As any experienced kayak angler can tell you, they’re more than just a way to get a kayak going. From push pole to lure retriever to makeshift anchor, a paddle is indispensable in the hands of someone who knows how to use one.
  • Stealthy - While not everyone agrees, many fishermen find that a paddle is the ultimate stealth option for creeping up on the fish.

But they have downsides, too. In the wind or current, prepare to juggle your rod and 

paddle as needed. It’s happened to me on breezy days, and it’ll happen to you, too. 

And unless you’re strong and fit, sustained hard paddling to escape a storm or fight the tide can get really, really tough.

Don’t ask me how I know!

Keep in mind that whatever your propulsion system, a paddle is essential equipment. Pedal drives and motors fail; paddles don’t.

Be safe and bring a paddle.

  • Pedal drives - These are an option on some premium kayaks, and unsurprisingly, they don’t come cheap.
  • Expensive - Expect to pay a premium for a pedal-driven kayak. This is a top-shelf option that’s going to come with a top-shelf price tag. If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive way to start fishing your local lake, river, or estuary, you may balk at the prices of pedal-driven ‘yaks.
  • Powerful and effective - Using a basic rotary pedal system powered by your legs, a pedal drive transfers power either to a prop or a pair of fins that propels your kayak forward (and some offer reverse, too!). Because they take advantage of your powerful leg muscles, more than a few kayakers find that they can go farther, faster with a pedal drive than with a paddle.
  • Hands-free - Don’t underestimate this advantage. This is a real godsend in the wind, and it can mean the difference between casting and paddling.
  • Minimal routine maintenance - You’ll need to take care of your drive, even if that only means giving it a quick rinse after every fishing trip. 
  • Motors - Some kayaks offer the option of an electric motor that mates with the pedal drive’s fins or prop, offering sustained, fast propulsion.
    Very Expensive - As you’d expect, these systems are pricey, especially when you consider that they’re added to the cost of the already expensive pedal drive.
  • Very effective - These systems are remarkably effective, and the thrust they can produce is far greater than you can manage yourself. It’s also sustainable as long as the battery lasts, which can be quite a while.
  • Heavy - These systems add more weight to your ‘yak, and while that won’t make much difference on the water, it will make carting your boat and gear to and from the water more of a challenge.
  • Maintenance - Expect some maintenance of the battery and motor, and of course, the need to keep that battery properly charged.

Storage

More is almost always better! If you’re new to fishing, you may underestimate how much gear you’ll be packing. Line, lures, rods, fishfinders, batteries, coolers, livewells, sunscreen...you get the idea!

Look for kayaks that have ample stern wells, easily accessible hatches, and plenty of space for accessories. Some even come with removable trays and other cool features that allow you to stow and organize your gear.

Seat Comfort 

After spending hours on your ‘yak, you’ll really appreciate a well-designed seat.

The best seating systems are easy to install and remove, offer quick adjustments for seating positions and height, and really put comfort first.

They offer support for your lower back and plenty of ventilation to keep you cool.

Final Thoughts

We can’t tell you which kayak is right for you, but we can assure you that any of the ‘yaks on our shortlist will serve you well and provide an awesome platform for bass fishing excitement.

With options to paddle, pedal, or drive, all your bases are covered, and every kayak on our shortlist will allow you to stand, cast, and fight with no worries about tipping.

Each of these kayaks offers amazing storage and organization options, too, as well as seats that your back will thank you for buying.

As always, we hope that this article has helped you make the right choice for your needs and budget, and we’d like to remind you that we’re always here to answer your questions.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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