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Overcast, light breeze, smooth water. I remember when my family and I were at a lake in Utah to catch up and catch some fish. I was younger and smaller at the time, but I still wasn’t small enough to squeeze into the raft that people were piling into to head out to fish. My dad offered to let me head out in his kayak to do some fishing and I gladly accepted! I hadn’t been in a kayak before but figured, how hard could it be?
The first thing I noticed after the kayak dumped me out was how cold the water was. The freezing water was probably a good thing because it slowed the flow of blood from my knee after the sharp rocks at the bottom of the lake gouged out a hunk of flesh.
After that disastrous first experience, it would be a couple more years before I realized that a kayak can actually be an awesome option for fishing, and another year or two before I decided to give it another go: the right way this time.
Why a fishing kayak is actually the best all-around kayak…
If you’re simply looking for a kayak for a 400lb or even 500lb capacity, you may wonder how you ended up on a page for fishing kayaks. Well, the answer is simple! Whether you fish or not, a fishing kayak is the best all-around kayak for big guys and gals! Even the widest fishing kayak pales in comparison to a sit-on-top version. Try to find a regular kayak with all of these benefits:
- They have lots of storage for your lunch, camera, gear, dog, etc.
- They are extremely stable. Need to stretch your legs or back? Simply stand up!
- They have higher weight capacities than similar generic kayaks
- They are easy to get into and out of. Since fishing kayaks are general the sit-on-top variety they are comfortable and perfect for big people or people with limited mobility.
Sold yet? Add to those the fact that fishing kayaks are available in many colors and make much better expedition or exploring kayaks and you’re set to launch! Here are the top 5 best kayaks for people up to 550lbs!
What makes the best fishing kayak for big guys?
One of my biggest mistakes, when I was younger, was that I was too overconfident (dumb). The kayak I fell out of was not a fishing kayak, and it certainly was not made for someone who was already well over 6′ tall and 225 pounds.
After adding a few more inches (and more than a few more pounds), I realized that I needed more than the ultimate fishing kayak, I needed the best fishing kayak for big guys!
Things I considered:
- Weight Capacity: This is the first (and probably most obvious) consideration that any large or heavy guy needs to make. Fortunately, there are tons of high weight capacity kayaks in the 4-500lb range and some that will even support up to 600 pounds! Here is a word of caution though: kayak weight capacity does not refer to the weight of the angler/paddler. Rather, it refers to the total load weight – which is you plus your gear (and hopefully lots of fish). For this reason, I typically recommend that you buy a Kayak with a capacity of 1-200 pounds over your body weight. You probably won’t ever have that much gear on board, but the extra weight capacity will lend itself to stability.
- Kayak Type: While there are at least 6 different types of kayaks, as a big guy, you really only want to deal with two: the sit-on-top recreation kayak, and the kayak/canoe hybrid.
- Stability: Kayak stability typically comes from two things: the overall width, and the weight displacement. The lower you sit in the water, the more stable the kayak is. This makes sit-on-top kayaks less stable (and even less stable as you get taller), but, in my opinion, the trade-offs are worth it. All of the kayaks on our list have a reputation for being stable and easy to fish from, some even stable enough that you can stand to fish.
- Wide, Comfortable Seat: A fishing kayak with a 900lb capacity isn’t going to do anyone much good if the seat is only wide enough for a normal-sized butt. I looked for kayaks with a wide, comfortable seat so that your sore tush or back is never the reason you have to head back to shore.
- Accessories, Options, and Perks: If this is the first time you’ve looked at fishing kayaks, it may shock you to hear this: we chose the most option packed choices for the money. Meaning we chose affordable versions. We took into account things like: tie downs, the options to add a fish finder, etc. However, there are kayaks which have pedal drives, trolling motors, build in fish-finder stands, etc. (check out Hobie’s Mirage Pro Angler for an example..)
- There are other options… While this article is obviously about fishing kayaks for large and heavy guys, you should know that big guys have several other options to fish from. For that reason, we’re going to show you the 7 best big man fishing kayaks and the 3 best kayak alternatives. Let’s check out the line-up!
Overall Winner: The Best Fishing Kayak For Big Guys (for the money)
If you’re looking for the best fishing kayak for the money, Vibe is a name you’re probably used to seeing. Luckily for us, Vibe kayaks also happen to be some of the best fishing kayaks for big guys! The Sea Ghost 110 and its big brother the Sea Ghost 130 (below) are the kayaks that I recommend to everyone who asks me (and everyone who admires mine at the lake…).
What makes it the best fishing kayak for big and heavy guys?
At 11ft, this kayak is the perfect blend of being a stable, high capacity kayak and having maneuverability. It has a weight capacity of 425 pounds, which is enough for anglers up to (in my opinion) the 250-pound range. If you’re heavier, or unusually tall, scroll down a little bit to find the Sea Ghost 130, the highest capacity fishing kayak we recommend!
A lot of stable, high capacity kayaks move through the water like a wet log. They don’t glide, they get tossed around by currents and waves, and they have a way of tiring you out before you even cast a line. The widest fishing kayaks are even worse for this because of the huge amount of area they have in the water. The Sea Ghost line, on the other hand, is stable enough to sit or stand in it, it has a pre-installed rudder system for stability, and has enough storage for all your gear! 2 rod holders and 4 tackle storage areas has always been enough for me (and hopefully you!).
As an added bonus, the Sea Ghost 110 also looks great on your coffee table…
I don’t know what else to say about it, besides “this kayak is awesome!” If you’re serious about getting into kayak fishing (or upgrading your set-up), you can’t do better than this for a paddle powered affordable fishing ‘yak.
Sea Ghost 130
If you’re over 300 pounds and are a looking for a Kayak, you’ll probably want to be looking at options in the 12-14 foot range. This isn’t necessarily because you need extra capacity, but because longer kayaks tend to be more stable and therefore are easier to get into and out of, stand in, and paddle. The Sea Ghost 130 is just the kayak for you. It has all the awesome features of the Sea Ghost 110 while being just a bit longer and having a higher weight capacity. In fact, it has a whopping capacity of 550lbs, making it the best 500 lb capacity kayak on the market!
Best Standing Kayak option for Big Guys
Old Town is the world’s largest manufacturer of canoes and kayaks. They have been refining their craft for over 100 years and that level of expertise is well reflected in the Topwater 120. At 12′ in length and a 500lb weight capacity, it is the perfect kayak for fat guys like me who want to get out on the water. It has three rod holders, an oversize stern tank well in the front, and built-in mounting options for a fish finder. If you’re looking for a 12-foot kayak that is loaded with features and stable enough to stand on (even in open water), then this is the option for you!
Best Ocean Fishing Kayak for Big Guys
While I don’t have much experience fishing in the ocean, I hear this is the kayak to have for it! I do admire it’s extra-wide seat, lightweight, and plethora of gear storage options. In addition to what I know from specs, users report that the yellowfin is fast, stable, and an absolute delight to fish in. Hopefully, I’ll live on the coast one day and have a better idea of this kayak’s abilities but, until then, I’ll just have to trust those who have used it that this is the best ocean fishing kayak for big guys!
The Best Cheap Fishing Kayak For Big Guys
Really the only things I can say about the Bali SS is that it’s cheap and people don’t hate it. I have never actually sat one but from reading dozens of reviews, watching videos, and looking at specs I can tell you that this will do everything that the Sea Ghost will do: just a little less comfortable, and little less stable, a bit lower quality, and a less long lasting. You will be able to get into kayak fishing at less than half the price though and what’s not to love about that!
My first fishing kayak (not my dad’s that I fell out of) was not actually a fishing kayak at all. It was a kids raft from Walmart that I spent at least a hundred hours in and caught tons of fish. So is it a thing of comfortable beauty? Of course not, and it’s not trying to be. So it practical common sense is your thing, then
What length of Kayak is the best for fishing?
There are two ways of looking at this question. First off, what type of water do you plan on fishing? In general, the larger the body of water, the longer you want your kayak to be. The only real advantage that a short kayak has is that they tend to be more maneuverable, and are therefore a better choice if you fish in a lot of small rivers or ponds.
Longer kayaks, on the other hand, have a slew of advantages. They are easier to paddle, can carry heavy loads (duh), track better, and are more efficient.
The second part of this question is: how big does a kayak need to be to support your size? Because a kayak has to displace a certain amount of water to hold a certain amount of weight, longer kayaks naturally have a higher weight capacity. The widest fishing kayaks also will support more weight but we almost always recommend longer over wider.
What it boils down to is, if you are a bigger guy, you will need a bigger kayak. How big? Well that’s the question, isn’t it! If you are over 250 pounds and/or over 6′ tall, I would shoot for something in the 12′ range. With that being said, the easiest way to handle this question would be to say: I’ve put a huge amount of work into researching the best kayaks available, and can tell you that all of these on the list are adequate for most people’s needs. Just remember to overshoot your actual body weight to account for gear/etc. and you’ll be fine!
Whenever I recommend a high capacity kayak to someone, they usually look at the prices and tell me that they saw one at their local sporting goods store (or Walmart) for way cheaper. Typically, their “way cheaper” kayak ends up being an inflatable option. You’ll notice I didn’t include any inflatable kayaks on my list. While they are a fine option if you want to “get your feet wet” and see if kayak fishing is for you, I think they they are a poor option for heavy anglers and are certainly not sturdy or feature-packed enough to make it onto any “best of” list.
The other 3 items you’ll need:
If you’ve decided to pull the trigger on getting yourself a fishing kayak, there are a few things you’ll need to make sure you’re ready to hit the lake! Kayaks are one of the few areas in life where I can say that it is worth it to accessorize. Investing in a few, good-quality items will make your fishing expeditions much more enjoyable and (hopefully) more successful.
A Big Man’s Life Jacket
If you’re just getting into kayak fishing, just train yourself to wear a life jacket from the start. I typically fish in extremely cold water, and I can tell you if you go over unexpectedly, a life jacket will literally save your life…because you are probably not climbing back into that kayak. The Onyx is the perfect option (unless you want to spend 3x the money) for the following reasons:
- It fits up to a 65″ chest! (The Amazon ad says up to 60″ but my life jacket came saying 45-65″)
- It is designed specifically for kayak fishing, so it is minimal and won’t interfere with your paddling or casting
- It adds a good amount of storage space and a spot for forceps, etc. You’ll want a vest anyway, so just get this life jacket which functions as a vest too!
Let’s be serious – you’re a fisherman, not a whitewater kayaker. As such, you probably don’t need a $300 paddle and, if you had one, you probably wouldn’t know the difference. So we want a paddle that does the job as well as possible without breaking the bank. Well, we found one. And bought it. And then recommended it to you. Some key features:
- Its fiberglass-reinforced blades are smoother and more efficient than traditional paddles, helping you paddle faster and further!
- It breaks down easily for storage/travel
- The little notch in one blade is actually a hook retrieval system for when you snag something underwater.
- It’s made right here in the USA
If you’ve never lifted a kayak down from a car rack or carried it down to the water, you may be thinking that you’ll just…carry your kayak down to the water and throw it in. You’re not. Well, I guess you might be, if it’s only about 10 feet. However, most of these big man kayaks weight 65-85 pounds and are awkward to carry, so you’ll probably want something to help move them. Enter the cart:
- The Yak-Gear C-tug has puncture free wheels for years of hassle-free service
- It is made of a high stretch composite so it won’t rust! (It’ll get wet after all)
- It will dismantle in 20 seconds or less
- It will hold up to 300 pounds, perfect for a hefty kayak!
Do you really want a kayak? The 3 Best Alternatives to a Big Man Kayak
While kayaks are a really great option for getting away from the shore, they are not the end-all-be-all for solo or even tandem fishing. There are several other extremely affordable options, all with their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s check them out:
Old Town got a bit glib when naming this item and simply called it the Next Watercraft. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite do it justice! What it is really is, is a kayak/canoe hybrid. Perhaps the easiest way to think of the Next is as a sit-in kayak without a top. As such, it has all the advantages of a lower-seater position (increased stability standing and sitting), while staying big-man friendly.
The main disadvantage of the Next is that it does not have the same type of storage wells and tie-downs found on a kayak. Although, if you prefer fishing out of a vest and tacklebox, this might actually be a plus for you! The price is about the same as the kayaks we’ve recommended, so it all really comes down to preference.
Pontoon boats are well known for being an accessible (read: cheap) option for getting into on-the-water fishing. While I don’t have a love for inflatables, pontoons are an exception because you don’t have to sit on the inflatable part, and they are cheap enough that you won’t want to smash something with a hammer if it turns out to not be the right choice for you.
The main disadvantage of a pontoon boat should be fairly obvious. Just pray that you don’t get a leg cramp…because the only way to straighten it out is to jump into the water! The lack of standing ability is a deal-breaker for some, as is the fishing position. Because of the pontoons, most anglers end up having to lean way over the side or bring fish up between their legs. If neither of those items bothers you, then a pontoon might be for you! And if you want one, this is the best selling, best-reviewed, and best-priced option.
Jon boats are the Toyota Corollas of the fishing world. They aren’t fast, they’re not super comfy, and they certainly won’t win any beauty contests. They do, however, get the job done reliably, and are a very good tool for their intended purpose. If you are looking for the cheapest and most comfortable way to set up a trolling rig, a jon boat might be for you. They are easy to mount a small motor on, which will allow you to putter around in relative comfort, either alone or with a friend. They also tend to be quite stable, which lends itself to standing to fish (or find your lunch box). Just be sure you’re good buddies with the person you go with, because quarters can be tight for casting!
As we wrap up, here’s what I hope you got from this article: there are so many options, that there is a perfect fishing vessel for everyone! If you want a fishing kayak and aren’t looking to break the bank, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than our #1 recommendation, the Sea Ghost 110. If you need something a little bigger or just different, be sure to go back and have another read through to find the best fishing kayak for you. Happy fishing!