Opinion: the best kayak for fishing in Alabama
Rule #1: Try before you buy!
Simply put, the $300 kayak you bought at a yard sale in Dothan eight years ago is better than the $2000 kayak sitting on the store shelf in Montgomery.
The kayak you have is the best kayak for you because it is the kayak you are going to use.
When should you upgrade your kayak? Only upgrade your kayak when you notice you are missing something on the water or when you think your kayak is discouraging you from getting on the water. If you think a new kayak is going to have you enjoying more time on the water, then maybe it really is time to upgrade. Our free time is valuable; some may say it is invaluable.
Are you missing a more comfortable seat? Many don’t miss a more comfortable seat until they sit in a newer seat. A comfortable seat is the #1 component of a kayak that determines how much time you will spend on the water. Hours in an uncomfortable seat just leads to an unpleasant fishing experience and a sore back the next day. Be careful about sitting in a new kayak. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. That is, you just don’t know how comfortable another seat can be until you sit in it; and then you’ll want one.
If you think a new kayak is going to have you enjoying more time on the water, then maybe it really is time to upgrade.
Are you missing a more stable kayak? Many anglers don’t know how stable kayaks can really be until they take a different kayak for a demo. I claim that given some time, angler can stand in any kayak for as long as they want to. They’ll adapt to the boat by developing a few extra muscles and brain-motor neuron paths. They’ll make the boat they have work. Only upgrade to a more stable boat if you need more assurance that you will not flip you kayak. Trust me, losing gear is expensive. If you truly need a more stable kayak, you can spend the money to find ones that 6-foot 6-inch 350-pound anglers can stand, jump, and reenter without much effort.
Many makers of the top end fishing kayaks allow you to jump off the kayak and re-enter without worrying about the kayak flipping.
Are you missing a name brand’s recognition? It happens. We get kayak envy. For that, I recommend some stickers and a visit to your local kayak shop for a demo. Or attend a local organization or club’s outing and try our new boats.
But once you get that new kayak you’ll realize the fish actually don’t care what type of boat you were in or how expensive your rod and reel were. You will catch more fish if you go kayak fishing more and a new kayak may encourage you to do that. But, it is unlikely that a new kayak is going to put you in places that you couldn’t access in a previous kayak.
The fish actually don’t care what type of boat you were in or how expensive your rod and reel were.
My point is simple: the kayak you have is the best kayak because it’s the one you will use. If you walk into the garage or shed and see your kayak and for some reason it doesn’t encourage you to go fishing, then perhaps consider if a new kayak will really help you get out on the water more. Know that your new kayak will likely cost a lot of money and be longer and heavier than your current one. And at the end of the day, the fish won’t care the name brand of the boat you are going to use.
All that said, a kayak from Craigslist or a big box store will work just fine on most all large bodies of water in Alabama, even the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps only anglers that fish tiny creeks will want to get a kayak a little more resistant to deteriorating over time after the abuse of rock beds and trees.
That said, we encourage you explore buying local from the outfitters and deals of Alabama and buying kayaks specifically designed for kayak fishing. Many such deals and kayak companies are listed on our resources page.