The Inuits, a group of native Arctic peoples, are largely credited with the invention of the kayak. The “Qajaq”, as they called it, roughly translates to “hunters boat”. Inuit hunters used their crafts to silently stalk seals and spear them from a distance. While the original inhabitants of Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia can lay claim to the kayaks origin America is the leader in terms of modern fishing kayaks. The majority of fishing kayak brands, such as Hobie, Native, and Bonafide, all call the good ol U.S. of A. home. Despite their large numbers though America isn’t home to the only players in the game. Foreign kayaks from around the world have been giving American brands a run for their money.
When it comes to kayak fishing there are basically two major ecosystems you can target: salt and freshwater. The United States has an abundance of both and kayak design generally reflects that. Longer skinnier kayaks take on coastal waters while heavier and more stable yaks dominate lakes and rivers. European, African, and Australian anglers generally have less freshwater and more coastline. In fact the EU, Africa, and Australia all have far more coastline that the US. For that reason foreign kayaks tend to lean more towards seafaring designs. We’ve put together the list below to make it easier for our fellow anglers abroad searching for a new ride.
We found 47 different models of fishing kayaks made outside of the United States. Recreational, whitewater, and other types of kayaks have been purposefully excluded. We’ve also excluded brand-less kayaks that are manufactured in China. Data for foreign kayaks is tough to find. If you know of a brand that we missed please let us know and we’ll happily update the list.
Click on the kayak picture to learn more about a specific model.
A Note about Currency
We’ve done our best to try and find the MSRP for each model on our list. The listed prices represent the best and most current pricing data we could find. We’ve also listed all prices in the manufacturer’s home country currency (when possible). This makes for an ugly column of data, but better represents each craft’s true cost to consumers. Prices inflate as products are moved across borders due to transportation and excise costs. Since we know most of you aren’t trading FX daily we’ve included a currency converter below for your convenience.
High End Foreign Kayak Brand
The coast of South Africa is a pretty gnarly place. Great white sharks are frequent visitors and some of their favorite snacks are other sharks. Yellowfin Tuna, Skipjack, Cape Salmon, and Dorado are just a few of the lekker vis swimming around the Cape of Good Hope. So if you’re going to go kayak fishing in some of the wildest seas in the world you’re gonna want a kiff boat that’s fast.
When it comes to speedy yaks there’s nothing faster than racking kayaks. So if you set out to make a fast fishing kayak it helps to have some high octane paddling in your genes. Stealth Kayaks founder, Brett Challenor, applied the knowledge he gained from racing for South Africa towards a fast, stable, and versatile kayak that could hold its own against some of natures gnarliest fish. Today Brett, his father Bruce, and the entire Stealth team are known for making some of the coolest yaks outside of the U.S.
Unlike the majority of kayak producers today Stealth eschewed plastic in favor of a lighter and stronger material: fiberglass. Fiberglass boats are ideal for ocean environments; they can hold up to the toughest waves and are incredibly strong for their weight. However, they aren’t easy to make. These kayaks aren’t made in an easy-bake oven; they’re lovingly hand-crafted layer by layer to perfection. Stealth only makes around 600 kayaks each year. Although expensive they are one of the absolute best options for high seas anywhere.
Stealth has a wide range of different models but they’re all long, skinny, and fast. Their shortest fishing model, the Fisha 4.6, measures 460 cm Molded in seats provide the perfect paddling position along with sufficient comfort for longer trips. A center hatch allows on water access to cavernous storage perfect for storing rods or your latest catch. In between your legs sits one of the coolest features we’ve seen on any yak: a livewell with automatic water exchange. Big fish need big bait and nothing works better than live bait. The livewell keeps your dinner’s dinner ready for baiting up quick.
The more we learn about Stealth the more we’re jealous of all the bra’s in SA who get to use them. Stealth Kayaks has an international presence and can be sourced fairly easily through Europe and Australia. Tracking them down in the U.S. is difficult, but not impossible. If you’re on the coast and feel like getting on some big fish then check out a Stealth – you won’t regret it.
Affordable Foreign Kayak Brand
As much as we love the greatest and latest in kayaks they aren’t the most approachable for beginner paddlers. Fluid has been helping new whitewater, polo, and angling paddlers get on the water quickly and affordably since 2002. They got their start in an old factory building in Parys, South Africa. After fabricating a custom built rotomold oven they started cranking out models to serve the vibrant whitewater scene in South Africa. Their commitment to function over form and affordable prices have garnered them popularity across international markets.
Fluid has a small but growing lineup of angling kayaks that are suitable for budget conscious fishermen looking to get on the water. Their flagship angling model, the Chumani Angler, is a great option for fresh and salt water. It features a narrow rotomolded body with three rod holders, a sizable tankwell, and molded skegs to provide great tracking and a straight glide. Molded in handles and two hatches round out the Chumani to make it an attractive offering for paddlers around the world.
Foreign Kayak Brands to Pay Attention To
If you’ve ever been to Europe then you’re probably familiar with how small things tend to be when compared to their American counterparts. Cars, houses, and apartments are all pretty tiny. It makes sense since people have been living there for thousands of years; space is at a premium. That makes storing and transporting a kayak all the more difficult. Point 65 saw this problem and decided to do something about it.
Point 65’s solution to the problem of boat storage is a modular kayak system. Their kayaks can be broken into halves or thirds simply by flipping a few switches. Reassembly is just as easy. The advantages of their modular approach to kayaking are numerous. In essence they offer close to the same portability of inflatable kayaks with all the advantages of rotomolded plastic. We really like the fact that single-seaters can be easily upgraded to tandems with just a simple addition.
The Point 65 lineup is diverse and caters to a wide range of paddlers. Modular sit insides, sit on tops, and even a paddleboard can all breakdown easily. While all of Point 65’s kayaks deserve a writeup we believe the Kingfisher deserves special attention. The Kingfisher is Point 65’s, and Sweden’s, one and only pedal driven kayak. The Kingfisher breaks apart into two sections that are about 5′ long and ~35 lbs each. Two clicks of the Snap-Tap system and the Kingfisher is ready to live up to its name.
The Kingfisher has a lot of the same qualities of its Western yak cousins. A height adjustable lawn-chair style seat sits atop a wide-open platform. The trimaran hull provides incredible stability for standing and two generously sized hatches allow for ample gear. The Impulse drive is a high quality pedal system that retails for $800 and can be purchased separately. Point 65’s Kingfisher is perfect for cruising around any of Sweden’s 97,500 lakes or for frequenting European still-waters. We think you’ll enjoy the Kingfisher so much that after a few trips out you’ll be whispering “Jag älskar dig” to your boat.
New Zealand is an isolated country that looks like it’s close to falling off the map. Located approximately 4,000 kms from Australia it takes Kiwi’s approximately 4.5 hours to fly and see their closest neighbors. That’s almost as long as it takes to cross the continental United States by plane. Fortunately one of the benefits of being out in the middle of nowhere, or wops wops as the natives say, means there’s plenty of water nearby to fish.
Grant Montague, the Founder of Viking Kayaks, figured to take advantage of the abundance of big fish in his backyard. He worked with local kayak fishos to design a vessel that could handle anything the Tasman Sea or South Pacific could throw at them. After a little R&D in his shed Grant emerged ready to pillage and conquer with his new brand, Viking. To date Viking has conquered the open seas and is one of the best known brands of paddling pelagic anglers worldwide.
Viking Kayaks are designed to tackle big water in precarious conditions. They’re longer, leaner, and the seat is just a little lower to the gunwales to promote more efficient paddling. Viking’s also innovated a couple fantastic features that add greater versatility to their crafts. The center console is modular and can be swapped out for a flat deck version that can make bringing your little bugger along a treat. A fitted “breadbox” slides into the tankwell and makes storing your catch a breeze. Finally we’re really big fans of their protected rudder design. It sits even with the keel so there’s no worry about damaging it in saltwater flats or over oyster beds.
The Viking lineup is small and focused – they do fishing kayaks and that’s it. 3 different solo models and 1 tandem offer superior seaworthy vessels at really great vessels. The most expensive option, the Viking Profish Reload, retails for just $1,499 which puts it in the mid-tier category for price. If you want to strike out for big waves and even bigger fish then definitely consider a craft from Viking.
Interested in sourcing some pedal kayaks while your overseas? Check out our complete guide to leg powered boats!