Spring is coming this month, and kayak anglers welcome the warm weather and hot fishing action. Kayak fishing continues to grow in popularity, and it’s a great time to be in the market for your first kayak — or to upgrade from an entry-level model. Many exciting new fishing kayaks are available to suit any angler’s needs. The mild weather also provides a great opportunity to get on the water and sample some great new kayaks at the many available demo days.

Purchasing a kayak is not difficult, but there are some important considerations that help you make the right decisions. Kayak fishing offers a level of excitement that can’t be found fishing from conventional power boats. The combination of manual power, the ability to access secluded waters and fishing right at the water’s surface all combine to add a thrill factor that hooks many new kayak anglers every day.

However, choosing a brand and model of fishing kayak should not be done lightly. What’s best for you and your particular style of fishing will likely not be the same for others. While pedal kayaks like Hobie have been around for well over a decade, nearly all other major kayak brands now offer pedal-drive models. Hobie relies on its patented Mirage Drive system that was designed for propulsion similar to a penguin’s wings, and the other manufacturers use differing forms of propeller-driven systems that are similar to trolling motors. Therefore, the first decision to make when selecting a kayak is whether you prefer to paddle or pedal. 

Pedaling a kayak is generally more fishing-friendly and allows anglers a virtually hands-free fishing experience. You use larger leg muscles, and many anglers find that they can pedal farther and longer than with a traditional paddle. Unless you are just anchoring to fish a particular spot, pedaling provides more actual fishing time since it’s impossible to cast and paddle at the same time.

But paddle kayaks are the least expensive, and most manufacturers offer entry-level models. However, getting a cheap new kayak is often not the best choice. Entry-level models are generally not as comfortable, and don’t offer as many standard features that make fishing easier and more enjoyable. If you really think you are going to like the sport and stick with it, you are often better advised to look for a higher-end model on the used market. Oftentimes you can save a ton of money and get a much better kayak that’s in great shape. 

The golden rule of purchasing any kayak is to actually test drive, or “demo,” the brand and model you are considering purchasing. In fact, it is best to demo as many different kayaks as you can to see what works best for you. Some dealers also offer a rental option so you can actually try out a particular kayak for a day of fishing. This is best done once you have whittled down your choice to a couple of models. If you don’t like that particular model, the only cost is for the rental. However, if you decide to purchase one, the rental cost is often deducted from the purchase price. It’s a great way to make an informed purchasing decision.

All of the major kayak dealers in the state offer demo days where they bring out a wide variety of the brands and models they sell. You can try out as many as you want, and it’s a great opportunity for side-by-side comparisons. New models generally come out at the end of the year, so the demo days are packed full of the latest and greatest that the manufacturers have to offer. Demo days typically start in early spring and go through the summer. Check out your favorite dealer’s web page and they usually have an events calendar listing of the dates for their upcoming demo days.