Best Fishing Kayaks for Big and Tall Anglers: 2024 Reviews and Buying Guide

Larger anglers can find some kayaks a tight squeeze, and with limited capacities, there are plenty of ‘yaks out there that just can’t provide enough buoyancy for big anglers and their gear.

But don’t let that keep you off the water.

If you know where to look, you can find kayaks that offer capacious seating, plenty of legroom, and more than enough buoyancy.

And if that’s something you need, we’re here to help!

Below, you’ll find reviews of the best kayaks for large anglers, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed on what you should be looking for in a good kayak:

Related:

Best Fishing Kayaks for Big Guys Reviewed

Old Town Sportsman BigWater 132 PDL

Old Town Sportsman BigWater PDL 132 Pedal Fishing Kayak (Marsh Camo)

Amazon 

Length: 13’ 2”
Weight: 96 lbs. (hull only)
Beam: 34”
Capacity: 425 lbs.

Old Town has been making canoes for longer than most of us have been alive, and that exceptional experience translates more or less directly into kayaks. Their Sportsman BigWater 132 PDL is an exceptional kayak for larger anglers, offering comfortable seating, plenty of beam, and lots of legroom.

At 13 feet, 2 inches, this BigWater provides enough buoyancy to float 425 pounds of angler and gear. That’s fairly impressive, and big fishermen shouldn’t worry about riding too low in the water. The beam measures a generous 34 inches, and in conjunction with a well-designed hull, provides exceptional stability in calm water.

The lawn-chair style seating is comfortable, and it provides plenty of lower back support. A breathable mesh design keeps you cool, too. And since the seat is adjustable, you can get the right position for your legs, no matter how short or long they may be.

But you’re not looking for a quiet paddle around a lake - you’re after fish. And the BigWater is ready.

You’ll find that the BigWater provides plenty of storage. Expect a large stern well, a sealed bow hatch, and space under the seat in all but its most rearward positions. Three pre-mounted rod holders give you options for storage or trolling, and the BigWater comes standard with mounting tracks ready for a variety of accessories. There’s even a universal transducer mount just begging for a fishfinder.

And while you should always have a paddle with you, Old Town’s PDL drive is excellent. It’s fast and quiet, allowing stealth approaches to pressured fish, and it enables instant reverse, allowing you to stop quickly should the need arise.

Faster by far than a paddle, and far less work when you’ve got a long way to go or a current to fight, the PDL drive is a big selling point for the BigWater and something I’d personally look for, big or small, tall or short.

Our only disappointment with the BigWater is the rudder. It’s just not as well made as it should be, and if it breaks, you’ll need to use your paddle to steer. That’s not the end of the world on a lake, pond, or river, but if you’re an inshore fisherman with salt in your blood, there are probably better kayaks for you.

Overall, this is a good kayak for larger, heavier anglers, though there are better ‘yaks on our list.

Pros:

  • Plenty of capacity for heavier anglers
  • Great seating with plenty of room for long legs
  • Excellent pedal drive
  • Very stable
  • OK storage
  • Good accessory mounting options

Cons:

  • Rudder quality is lacking

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak with Pedal Drive | Adjustable Lawn Chair Seat and Tackle Storage Areas | 12' | Sunset (9351587042)

Amazon 

Length: 12’ 5”
Weight: 85 lbs. (hull only)
Beam: 33 ¾”
Capacity: 475 lbs.

Perception’s Pescador Pilot 12 is an amazing fishing machine with the capacity and leg room for larger anglers. Popular with fishermen on lakes and ponds, as well as in the salt, it’s a capable kayak that hits all the high notes.

This 12-foot, 5-inch hull measures 33 ¾ inches at its widest, providing exceptional stability and plenty of space. Perception rates this ‘yak for 475 pounds, and heavier anglers should have no trouble with buoyancy, no matter how much fishing gear they decide to bring along.

Perception supplies this ‘yak with an excellent seating system that provides lots of breathable mesh as well as tons of support for your lower back. It’s also adjustable on a sliding track, allowing you to position the seat to exactly what you need for your legs.

The Pescador Pilot 12 provides plenty of storage for your gear and tackle, including four pre-drilled rod holders and mounting tracks to either side. Anglers who like to troll will find this setup useful.

The front storage is secured by a mesh cover rather than a sealed hatch, but that allows very easy access on the water as well as a convenient place to stow your paddle. The stern well is big, and it’s been designed to accommodate a fish crate or box as well as bags and other tackle storage items.

Perception also equips the Pescador Pilot 12 with two sealed hatches just forward of the cockpit. These provide a great place to store a phone, your keys, or even a small battery to run your electronics. This option is really well thought out, and you’re going to appreciate its easy access and security.

And of course, the Pescador Pilot features a powerful pedal drive that makes short work of crossing a big lake. That’ll make pretty much anywhere accessible without arriving with your arms feeling like limp noodles. And if you fish in an estuarial environment, a river, or near the beach, you’ll appreciate your ability to effortlessly fight a current.

The included rudder works well, though it’s a bit stiff.

For big or tall anglers, Perception’s Pescador Pilot 12 is worth a close look.

Pros:

  • Plenty of capacity for heavier anglers
  • Exceptionally comfortable seating that’s adjustable for long or short legs
  • Excellent pedal drive
  • Very stable
  • Good storage
  • Good accessory mounting options

Cons:

  • Cheap rudder controls

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120 - Sit on Top Fishing Kayak - Premium Angler Kayak - Adjustable and Designed Seat - 12 ft - Midnight

Amazon 

Length: 12’ 3”
Weight: 86 lbs. (hull only)
Beam: 35”
Capacity: 400 lbs.

Wilderness Systems is well known for their innovative incorporation of tech, as well as exceptional storage solutions. Their ATAK 120 is an amazing kayak, and though we might prefer the 140 for heavier anglers, it’s currently unavailable, with no news about when (or if) it will be on the market again.

The ATAK 120’s hull measures 12 feet, 3 inches with an ample beam of 35 inches. In concert with a well-designed hull, this creates almost unbeatable stability. On calm water, it’s probably the most stable ‘yak we’re reviewing today, and it’s positively confidence-inspiring for anglers.

Wilderness Systems rates the ATAK 120 for a 400-pound capacity, and that should be enough buoyancy for big anglers and their gear. The ATAK 140 adds another 150 pounds of capacity on top of that, making it the better choice if you’re nearing that 400-pound mark.

And while all the kayaks that made our shortlist offer excellent organization and comfy seats, Wilderness Systems really gets these details right, providing the standard against which others should be judged.

The seat is comfortable and adjustable via a pair of sliding tracks. Short or tall, you’ll find the right seating position for all-day comfort. The ATAK 120’s seating system also offers a high and low position as well as a reclining back.

Those are details that really tell when you talk about comfort, and the adjustable height means that you can lower your center of gravity while under way and raise it for easier casting and fishing.

That’s as good as it gets in the kayak world!

Wilderness Systems’s attention to storage space is second to none as well. Just fore of the cockpit, you’ll find a modular, removable pod for mounting fishing electronics. Most transducers can be mated to the bottom of this drop-in unit, making installation a breeze. It can also be swapped for a Helix motor drive unit, turning the ATAK 120 into a motorized fishing machine.

The Helix MD is an electric-powered prop fed by an onboard battery. Developing power equivalent to a 1 HP outboard, it pushes the ATAK 120 to nearly 6 mph with maximum run times of more than 8 hours. That makes this kayak a real game-changer in terms of range, and if you regularly make exhausting paddles to where you plan to fish or fight heavy currents, you’ll love this excellent - but expensive - option.

The bow hatch is sizable, offering plenty of accessible storage with an excellent lid design. Behind the seat, the stern well is pretty big, and it offers a small hatch through which you can feed your rods, keeping them in the hull when launching in heavy surf.

You’ll also find two mounting tracks for additional electronics - or as a primary mounting point if you run the Helix drive. Wilderness Systems includes a transducer scupper, too, a nice touch given the omnipresence of fishing-finding tech in modern angling.

The only flaw we can find with the ATAK 120 is the lack of standard rudder. Yes, you can purchase one from Wilderness Systems, and yes, a rudder isn’t strictly necessary on lakes or ponds.

But if you’re an inshore angler, a rudder is all but a necessity, and the need to buy one on top of an already high price tag is painful.

Pros:

  • Good capacity for larger anglers - but look for the almost impossible to find ATAK 140
  • Superb seating system that’s comfortable and fully adjustable
  • Excellent after-market motor drive
  • Extremely stable
  • Excellent storage
  • Good accessory mounting options

Cons:

  • Rudder not included
  • The Helix MD is very expensive

Wilderness Systems Radar 115

Wilderness Systems Radar 115 - Sit on Top Fishing Kayak - Premium Angler Kayak - Helix PD™ Pedal Drive System - 11.6 ft - Steel Gray

Amazon 

Length: 11’ 8”
Weight: 85 lbs.
Beam: 34.5”
Capacity: 450 lbs.

Wilderness Systems’ Radar 115 is a great choice for larger anglers who need maximum performance in a smaller package. Without an expensive after-market drive, it’s also pretty budget-friendly, making it an all-around great buy.

Measuring in at 11 feet, 8 inches, The Radar 115 offers a substantial 34 ½ inches of beam. Not only does that make it quite roomy, it guarantees exceptional stability. Rivaling the ATAK 120 on this front, if you’re new to kayak fishing and worried about happiness, the Radar 115 is an outstanding choice.

Rated for 450 pounds, the Radar 115 is more buoyant than the longer ATAK 120. Most big anglers should find this capacity more than sufficient for themselves, their tackle, and their gear.

The Radar 115 comes equipped with the same exceptional seating system you’ll find on the ATAK 120. Adjustable via sliding tracks, capable of reclining, and built for all-day comfort, it’s a real winner in our book. And of course, the two position height adjustments are simply fantastic.

As we mentioned above, Wilderness Systems really knows hatch placement and design. Just to the fore of the seat, you’ll find a water-tight hatch that’s perfect for stowing a smartphone and wallet. The bow hatch is big enough to be usable, seals tight, and allows access to the hull for storing long or ungainly items like rods, a drag chute, anchor, or spare paddle.

Two pod systems multiply storage and drive possibilities. For anglers who are content with a paddle, they allow mounting options for electronics that save the rails for other uses like rod holders. But each can also be swapped out with a drive system, giving you the possibility to arm your ‘yak with a powerful - albeit expensive - Helix PD or Helix MD.

The Helix MD is the electric drive option we reviewed with the ATAK 120. The Helix PD is a powerful, fast, efficient pedal drive that really gets the Radar 115 moving. And if you’ve ever struggled fighting a current with a paddle, the Helix PD puts an end to that. 

Much faster than a paddle - and with less effort needed to make headway - it’s a great (albeit expensive) addition to the Radar 115 that makes long trips a breeze.

And with a drive pod in place, you still have a storage pod to use for your fishing electronics, and that kind of forward thinking is part of what sets Wilderness Systems apart from its competitors.

Like the ATAK 120, if you want a rudder, you’ll need to buy one from Wilderness Systems. And as we said above, that’s a shame - and we’d love to see one come standard.

But notwithstanding that, the Radar 115 is an exceptional kayak for big or tall anglers, and it offers compact performance that’s easy to love.

Pros:

  • Excellent capacity for larger anglers
  • Superb seating system that’s comfortable and fully adjustable
  • Exceptionally stable
  • Lots of storage
  • Removable, modular electronics pods
  • Good hatch design and placement
  • Awesome pedal drive
  • Excellent motor drive

Cons:

  • Drive options are very expensive
  • Rudder is not included

Vibe Kayaks Shearwater 125 - Best Kayak for Big or Tall Anglers

Length: 12’ 6”
Weight: 82 lbs. (hull only)
Beam: 35”
Capacity: 475 lbs.

Vibe’s Shearwater 125 isn’t just great looking; it’s an amazing fishing kayak with everything a big or tall angler needs.

Measuring 12 feet, 6 inches with a generous 35-inch beam, the Shearwater 125 is exceptionally stable, rivaling the rock-solid Radar 115. Wherever you fish, that’s something you’ll appreciate.

The Shearwater 125 is rated for a maximum capacity of 475 pounds, making it among the most buoyant kayaks on our list. Big anglers will find capacity to spare, enabling them to load up as much gear as they want without worrying about foundering. 

Vibe’s seat systems are well-designed, and in this case, you get an easily adjustable model that slides on tracks to provide enough legroom for even the tallest fishermen. Its mesh is quite breathable, and all-day comfort is pretty much guaranteed.

Gear rails, bungee storage on the bow, a large well with a tight-sealing hatch at the stern, and two pre-mounted rod holders behind the seat make storage a snap.

And a storage tray mounted under the seat is an idea every kayak manufacturer should adopt, and it’s far more useful in the real world than anything else I’ve ever seen. From tackle to essentials like pliers or a knife, there’s space for the stuff you need ready-to-hand.

The pod system is ingenious as well, offering three options: a flat deck for fly anglers, a water-tight storage locker for gear hounds, or an aftermarket Vibe X-drive pod that gives you peal power.

Vibe’s X-drive is much easier on your wallet than the Helix PD, and it provides plenty of speed and power, bringing out of the way spots into easy range. And since Vibe supplies a rudder as a standard item, the Shearwater 125 is ready to go where currents and tides necessitate greater control.

Vibe’s Shearwater 125 delivers more bang for your buck than any other kayak on our shortlist, and for big and tall anglers, it’s a perfect fit.

Pros:

  • Exceptional capacity for larger anglers
  • Adjustable seat provides plenty of legroom for tall anglers
  • Exceptionally stable
  • Lots of well-thought-out storage
  • Removable, modular pods for customization
  • Good hatch design and placement
  • Excellent pedal drive
  • Rudder included

Cons:

  • ???

Hobie Pro Angler 14

Length: 13’ 8”
Weight: 120.5 lbs.
Beam: 38”
Capacity: 600 lbs.

Hobie’s Pro Angler 14 is an amazingly capable fishing kayak for big and tall anglers, and if you regularly hit the salt it may be the best kayak for you, if your budget can reach that far.

At 13 feet, 8 inches, the Hobie is the longest kayak on our short list, offering a very wide 38-inch beam. Not only does that provide plenty of space for big fishermen, it’s the right width for that length to create a very stable kayak that can handle swells and choppy water without getting tippy.

The downside of this length and beam is weight. At a whopping 120.5 pounds for the empty hull, this behemoth is going to be all but impossible for most anglers to handle by themselves when it’s time to remove or replace this ‘yak on a roof rack.

Large anglers are going to love the 600-pound capacity of the Pro Angler 14, and this ‘yak will handle beautifully without feeling overburdened. 

The seating system is also perhaps the most comfortable option out there. Highly adjustable, it offers multiple seat height options and the kind of all-day back-friendliness that every angler wants but that few seating systems can deliver for larger fishermen.

The Pro Angler comes with Hobie’s amazing MirageDrive 360, a blade-powered pedal drive that’s probably the fastest, most efficient, and most robust option on the market. Its blades can turn through a full circle, providing unrivaled maneuverability when used in conjunction with the (standard) rudder. The blades also fold on impact, keeping your propulsion system intact if you happen to run aground.

All told, the MirageDrive 360 is truly exceptional, making the Hobie Pro Angler 14 an inshore fishing machine.

Hobie knows what anglers need, and you’ll find tons of storage options. In addition to a huge, water-tight bow hatch, you’ll find an extra-large cockpit hatch and a capacious stern well (with its own twist-off hatch). Two Hobie H-rails run the length of the cockpit, making electronic or rod mounting a snap.

If you can handle the weight of this kayak, it’s an exceptional fishing platform with capacity to spare for larger anglers.

Pros:

  • Massive capacity for larger anglers and any gear they may want
  • Extremely comfortable seating system that provides plenty of leg room
  • Exceptionally stable
  • Lots of storage
  • Good hatch design and placement
  • Amazing pedal drive
  • Rudder included

Cons:

  • Super heavy!

Buying Guide What You Should Look for in a Fishing Kayak for Big or Tall Anglers

Size matters: capacity and seating

choosing kayak size for big guys

Kayaks are rated by their manufacturers for a buoyancy maximum listed in pounds.

Exceeding that number is never safe, and at best, it will make your ‘yak handle like it’s on dry ground and sit so low in the water that you’re soaking wet.

Completely unsafe, and utterly no fun, an overloaded kayak is an accident waiting to happen.

Larger anglers need to pay special attention to capacity, and typically, any kayak with less than 400 pounds of buoyancy is a bad idea. Keep in mind that the kayak needs to keep you, your tackle, and your gear afloat, including any drive options you may be adding to the bare hull.

Those numbers add up quickly, and it can be tough for a 300+-pound angler to find a kayak with enough capacity.

Add to that seating issues for larger or heavier anglers.

A seat that feels comfortable for a 120-pound fisherman might be murder for a 350-pound angler, and attention to details like lawn-chair style seating, mesh backs, and full adjustability can make all the difference for your ability to stay on the water for long adventures.

Look for fully adjustable seating, especially if you have long or short legs. Not only will you be more comfortable, but you’ll also have more control of your kayak.

Stability

Hull design, in conjunction with a wide beam, increases a kayak’s stability. 

Fishing kayaks, by design, are engineered to be exceptionally stable since you’ll be leaning, reaching, casting, and fighting from them. And rest assured, the ‘yaks on our shortlist are rock solid.

All of them are capable of sufficient stability to allow you to take to your feet for fly casting or sight fishing, and with a little practice, you’ll find models like the Hobie Pro Angler 14, the Vibe Shearwater 125, and the Wilderness Systems’ Radar 115 are amazingly stable when you stand.

All of the kayaks on our shortlist are stable enough for choppy water and small swells, and I wouldn’t hesitate to fish from any of them in the salt.

Storage

Anglers need plenty of storage, and you really want it to be ready-to-hand. Locking, waterproof bow storage is great, but unless it’s exceptionally well-executed, it’s a pain to use on the water.

Instead, you’ll learn to love underseat storage, as on the Vibe Shearwater 125, capacious stern wells, integrated rod holders, and pod storage options. 

And, of course mounting rails for rod holders and electronics are simply awesome.

Drive options

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.

Weight

Weight may not seem like a big deal. After all, in the water, it’s not going to make much difference.

But before you get your ‘yak wet, you’ll need to load it and unload it and probably get it from your vehicle to the water, too. And trust me, there’s a big difference between lifting a 55-pound suitcase into a trunk and loading an 85-pound kayak overhead!

Most of the kayaks on our list weigh-in around that 85-pound mark, and for all but the strongest, most fit fishermen, that can be a challenge. When you step up to the massive Hobie Pro Angler 14, you’ve really moved beyond what one (fit) person can handle.

That matters, and injuring yourself or being unable to load your ‘yak at the end of the day is not a recipe for fun.

Our Pick for Big and Tall Anglers: Vibe Kayaks Shearwater 125!

While any of the ‘yaks on our shortlist offer what a big or tall angler needs, the Shearwater 125 is an amazing value that delivers exceptional performance.

Light enough to load and unload alone, it offers tremendous stability in all conditions, a very comfortable seating system, and plenty of legroom for even the tallest fishermen. Add to that an affordable aftermarket pedal drive, innate storage options, and a price tag most people can live with, and you’ve got a real winner on your hands.

 Give it a try - you won’t regret it!

As always, we’re here to answer any questions you might have, so please leave a comment below.

About The Author
John Baltes