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The Best Lightweight Fishing Kayaks | Join the Light Side

Kayak at Tomales Bay

Modern fishing kayaks have come a long way from their sealskin covered forefathers. No longer do we have to be concerned about sea lice in our hulls or catching a bad case of spekk-finger (an infection from handling pinnipeds). Rather we sit high on aluminum alloy thrones, pedal with our feet, stand up to cast, and keep tasty adult beverages cold and secure in a rotomolded cup holder. I imagine if an Eskimo from back in the day could see any of these vessels they’d probably be very impressed, until they tried to lift it. Lightweight fishing kayaks hearken back to kayaking’s traditional roots as a capable fishing vessel that could be easily transported over land.

The average fishing kayak longer than 12′ weighs right around 86 lbs today. On the top end certain models can even exceed 150 lbs, and that’s before accounting for gear and body weight. That’s a far cry from the 26 lbs Inuits were accustomed to. Going lightweight comes at a cost, but at the same time confers a bounty of advantages. In this article we’ll share the best reasons to go light, as well as a list of the best lightweight fishing kayaks currently available.

The kayaks on our list were selected foremost for their low weight, and secondly for their fishability. There are lighter kayaks available, but we believe that fishing from them wouldn’t make much sense. Finally we tried to include a wide range of fishing kayak styles that can accommodate any anglers needs.

Lightweight Fishing Kayaks

Below are the top lightweight fishing kayaks, ordered by weight. If you want to take a look at more consider checking out our kayak buying guide, which has details and pricing on just about every kayak you can buy in the U.S. today.

NameImageTypeLengthWeightCapacityPrice
Razorlite 393rlSea Eagle RazorLite 393rlPaddle12'3"35 lbs500 lbs$850
Crescent UltraliteCrescent UltralitePaddle10'2"49 lbs350 lbs$699
Feelfree Moken 10 LiteFeelfree Mokken 10 LitePaddle10'4"55 lbs353 lbs$527
Perception Pescador Pro 10Perception Pescador Pro 10Paddle10'6"57 lbs325 lbs$749
Bonafide EX123Bonafide EX123Paddle12'3"67 lbs375 lbs$999
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140Paddle14'68 lbs375 lbs$1,099
Native Slayer Propel 10Natvie Slayer Propel 10 PPedal10'81 lbs400 lbs$2,099

RazorLite 393rl

SeaEagle RazorLite 393el
LengthWidthWeightCapacity
12'10"30"35 lbs500 lbs

The Sea Eagle RazorLite 393rc is the lightest kayak on our list at a weight of only 36 lbs. The Razorlite series is at the forefront of inflatable technology; the entire kayak is made from drop stitched fabric. Drop stitching adds tensile strength to fabric which permits higher inflation pressure, which in turn adds greater rigidity. The Razorlite 393rc can be inflated to 10 PSI, which is comparable to a Zodiac Fastroller rather than the more conventional 3-4 PSI for recreational inflatable kayaks. Along with higher rigidity the Kayak comes with adjustable foot pedals, a rubber skeg, and a ridgid bow and stern for cutting through the water. All of these add up to a yak that will paddle and track as well as heavier rotomolded boats.

While the Razorlite series is not made specifically for fishing it can be easily adapted to do so. A milk-crate in the back with some tube holders and you’re set. With 500 lbs of capacity you’ll be able to load up all the crankbaits you can handle. As far as other gear the Razorlite comes with just about everything you need (including a paddle); and its lightweight precludes a lot of gear needed for handling bigger yaks like wheels, roof racks, and heating pads for your lower back. If anything you might consider adding a sail: with only yourself and a measly 36 lbs extra you’ll be zipping around on a windy day.

Bottom Line: The Sea Eagle Razorlite 393rc is perfect for those looking for a lightweight inflatable kayak that doesn’t skimp on performance.

Crescent UltraLite

Crescent Ultralite
LengthWidthWeightCapacity
10'2"30"49 lbs350 lbs

Crescent Kayaks are known among enthusiasts as being some of the best paddling boats in the business. These boats track and glide over the water with ease. The Crescent Ultralite is no exception and weighs in at just 49 lbs without sacrificing conveniences oft found on heavier and more expensive yaks. The ergonomically designed lawn chair style seat is one of the higher quality seats available in the $500 – $1,000 price range. YakAttack track up front and the Mighty Mounts in the back offer mounting options for rod holders and other accessories. The open front deck is unique for a 10′ kayak and supported by in-deck supports to provide a rigid standing platform. A

The tankwell isn’t huge (but will fit a black pack), and only two scupper holes means it can get wet in the rough. The low sea orientation can also make it difficult to transition between sitting and standing positions. You’ll want to bring a dry-bag to keep your valuables in and should consider adding a paddle-holder to one of the gunwale tracks. All in all the Crescent Ultralite is an excellent option for river, creek, and lake fishers looking for a lightweight and high performance vessel at a lower price point.

Bottom Line: Fast, Light, and value priced. The Crescent Ultralite is like a turbo charged Honda Civic, which is awesome.

Feelfree Moken 10 Lite

Moken 10 Lite
LengthWidthWeightCapacity
10'4"31"55 lbs353 lbs

The Moken people are an indigenous tribe of seafaring people native to the Mergui Archipelago north of Australia. Also known as “Sea Nomads” they’re renown fishermen and mariners. Like its namesake the Feelfree Moken 10 Lite is highly capable, and even at home, in the water. Weighing only 55 lbs and at a price under $600 the Moken is one of the least expensive options on our list. Featuring molded in handles, built in rod holders, under deck storage, and a wheel in the keel, the 10 Lite comes well equipped. The 10 Lite has a molded in seat rather than lawn chair style, but the Kingfisher seat pad offers ample support and padding.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the 10 Lite is the inability to stand, so if getting vertical is a must then you’ll want to look elsewhere. If standing isn’t important to you then the Moken 10 Lite is a great option for rivers, lakes, and bays. We’re also big fans of the camouflage color schemes – especially the lime.

Bottom Line: The Moken 10 Lite is an excellent option for somebody just getting into the sport. Skip the big box brands and grab one of these instead.

Perception Pescador Pro 10.0

Perception Pescador Pro 10
LengthWidthDeck HeightWeightCapacity
10'6"32"14"57 lbs325 lbs

Perceptions line of Pescador kayaks have long been recognized as some of the most well rounded fishing kayaks available. For any gringos reading Pescador means fisherman en espanol, and it lives up to its name. The Pescador Pro 10 is the latest short form iteration in the line and weighs only 55 lbs with a length of 10’7″. The Pro 10 tracks and paddles exceedingly well for a sub 12′ yak, and provides a stable platform for standing on in calmer water. A large tankwell in the back, center console, and bow well provide plenty of storage options for gear. The lawn chair seat is sturdy and comfortable, easily accommodating bigger paddlers.

The Pescador Pro 10 is at home on the lake or in the surf. We recommend upgrading the built in rod holders and grab a few scupper plugs to avoid a soggy bottom. At $750 the Pescador Pro 10 is competitively priced and designed to fill the niche between entry level $500 kayaks and higher end yaks in the four digit range.

Bottom Line: The Pescador 10 Pro offers value in every dimension: comfort, paddling, storage, and fishing.

Bonafide EX123

Bonafide EX123
LengthWidthDeck HeightWeightCapacity
12'3"29.5"15.5"67 lbs375 lbs

Bonafide introduced the EX123 in 2019 and it stands out in the marketplace as a sit in fishing kayak. Sit in kayaks have several benefits: they have a lower center of gravity that enables more efficient paddling and better maneuverability in open seas. They also require less material resulting in lighter weights and lower prices. The EX maintains all of these advantages while adding a few from sit on tops as well. The larger cockpit fits an extremely comfortable lawn chair style seat and has an elevated console perfect for securing valuables, tackle, or mounting accessories to. The trimaran hull offers extra stability that enables standing. It’s not rock solid, but show us any other sit in that you can stand in.

The EX, which stands for expedition, has been titled the SUV of kayaks, and like an SUV is geared for adventure. The rear bulkhead offers ample storage for camping gear and provides extra buoyancy when closed. Two flush mount rod holders and a mesh covered tankwell in the bow offer accessible storage for your rods and tackle. The Bonafide EX123 retails for $1,000 and is a great option for anybody looking to get out on the water for fishing or recreation.

Bottom Line: At only 67 lbs the EX123 is perfect as a “Grab n Go” yak for quick fishing trips without sacrificing comfort or stability.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140
LengthWidthDeck HeightWeightCapacity
14'28"14.5"68 lbs375 lbs

The Tarpon line has near legendary status in the kayak world. They’re known for they’re speed and tracking. The Tarpon 140 measures 14′ long and weighs 68 lbs. As a longer boat the 140 will glide through the water and requires less effort to paddle than its shorter brethren. Ample storage is available above board with a large tankwell in the real and a longer cockpit. The bow hatch opens to provide plenty of room to store your rods during transport, or gear during your trip.

The Tarpon 140 sacrifices stability for speed and paddling; so standing really isn’t an option. Its long length and low seat make this yak perfect for paddling in the surf; if you’re dying to get in the salt than this is a great option. With a weigh capacity of 375lbs you’ll have no problem keeping a few marlins for dinner.

Bottom Line: The Tarpon 140 is long and lean; perfect for paddling through the waves to target some big old pelagics.

Native Slayer Propel 10

Native Slayer Propel 10
LengthWidthDepth @ BeamHull WeightFully Rigged WeightCapacity
10'34"13"62 lbs81 lbs400 lbs

The Native Slayer Propel 10 is the first, and only, pedal kayak on our list. Pedal drives are awesome for fishing: they keep your hands free for casting and force you to never skip leg day. Pedal drives do tend to add quite a bit of weight though. The Slayer Propel 10 weighs in at 62 lbs sans seat and drive, and only 81 lbs fully rigged, making it the lightest pedal drive yak on the market. Replete with t-track, flush mount rod holders, and side pockets for tackle this yak is made for fishing. The hull provides a very stable standing platform and the high positioned seat will offer hours of comfortable angling.

The Propel drive was updated for 2020 to include aluminum construction, streamlined pedals, and a weedguard in front of the prop. It also features instant reverse – just pedal backwards and watch the horizon get farther away. A built in rudder with hand control steering will keep you on course. A large tankwell in the back and 5″ dry hatch offers plenty of accessible storage. The Slayer 10 isn’t the fastest pedal yak out there, and averages ~3.4 mph, but then again what’s the hurry? At $2,099 the Slayer Propel 10 is one of the best priced options for a pedal drive kayak.

Bottom Line: The Native Slayer Propel 10 is the best lightweight pedal driven kayak available.

Join the Light Side

The light side has a lot going for it besides spunky pilots and loquacious translators. Going light is faster, cheaper, and easier than hauling around a miniature aircraft carrier. However, it’s not all nerfherding and womprattin’; going light does have it’s disadvantages as well. Smaller seats, lower capacities, and shorter lengths can equate to sacrifices in comfort, speed, and gear. The following are some of the best reasons for going light.

Car Topping

There are two ways to load a kayak onto a car, which is what the term “car topping” refers to. The most direct method is to grab the kayak by its side handles and do a clean and jerk motion to lift it above your head. Alternatively you can approach your vehicle from the rear and hoist the bow up onto the roof, then push up and forward on the stern, using the roof of your car as a fulcrum. The second method works best with a roof rack of some sort otherwise you run the risk of scuffing your car paint.

The ability to easily car top a kayak is highly dependent on physical strength, and the weight of the kayak. Naturally, lightweight fishing kayaks are going to be easier to lift up; they weigh less and they’re often times shorter than heavier yaks. Length and uneven weight distribution can make relatively small amounts of weight unwieldy. I’m no spring chicken but can easily bench press 150lbs (please no need to clap). However lifting my 17′ canoe, that only weighs 70 lbs, up and over my head is truly challenging. Trying to get it on the truck without scratching anything; near impossible. A lightweight kayak can be car topped easily and will save you the hassle and frustration of trying to load something above your abilities.

Transportation

For those of you who have never had the joy of conducting a portage consider yourself lucky. I remember canoe trips while I was in Boy Scouts that involved portaging monstrous fiberglass canoes over rocky paths. While most of you probably aren’t humping around dams during your trips there’s a fair chance you may have to haul your yak by hand a considerable ways, especially if you showed up to the marina late.

The ability to comfortably transport your vessel is a commonly overlooked advantage. It isn’t until you try going up a steep embankment, or need to go down stairs, that you begin to wish your kayak wasn’t so darned heavy. Lightweight fishing kayaks are far easier to handle, and you probably won’t need to use a wheel cart, which will save you a few for extra lures.

Grab n Go

Kayak fishing isn’t something that you can do impromptu; it generally takes some planning and packing. Even as a practiced yak angler it still takes me around 15 minutes to load everything into the truck, and another 15 minutes to unload and get in the water. Time’s needed to unpack the rods, secure the crate, fix the anchor, adjust the seat, clip the leashes, and so on. Then it’s the same routine getting out of the water and stowing everything away. Altogether that’s thirty to forty minutes of time that could have been spent fishing if there wasn’t so much stuff.

A “Grab n Go” mentality focuses on minimizing loading times and maximizing time on the water. Grab your gear, throw it in the car, and go. Then you can sneak in a quick trip before your boss begins to wonder where you are. By necessity a grab n go approach requires a lightweight fishing kayak; nobody’s just grabbing a 130 lb boat and tossing it anywhere. Except Arnold…maybe Arnold.

There are times when grab n go makes a ton of sense, like when you get out of work early on a cool Summer day. Other times you need to plan ahead and bring a little more kit to to make the most of your day out. Adding a lightweight yak to your arsenal will come in handy when those golden grab n go opportunities arise.

Acceleration and Force

Kayak speed is mostly a function of its propulsive power (i.e. you) and length. In general longer skinnier kayaks are faster than shorter and stockier kayaks. Most lightweight kayaks tend to be shorter in length, so unfortunately you won’t be cruising around as fast. You will, however, have an advantage on acceleration.

Since you and your yak weighs less it will take less effort to accelerate from a standstill. As any paddler can attest those first few strokes take the most effort; paddling once you’re underway is generally easier. A lightweight fishing kayak will save your shoulders and back so you won’t tire out as quickly. Quick acceleration is also great for scooting over to chase down topwater action; like when a fish jumps just a few feet out of casting distance.

Overview on the Best Lightweight Fishing Kayaks

Modern lightweight fishing kayaks are gradually making a return to their forefather’s diminutive weights. More and more manufacturers are innovating on newer designs that cut weight while maintaining comfort and fishability. Let us know your thoughts and your experience on the path to the light side in the comments section!


If you’d rather skip the featherweight class and check out some heavy hitters consider looking at our guide to kayaks for bigger folk.