Best Fishing Kayak: The Bass Boat of Kayaks

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot

With dedicated fishing features only comparable to a full-scale bass boat, the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot is hands-down (and hands-free) the best fishing kayak you can buy.

The fishing experience for kayak anglers is unparalleled in the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot. It uses the same Spot-Lock technology developed by Minn Kota that revolutionized bass boats, turning a kayak into a hands-free fishing machine.

I love that this kayak is not trying to be everything to everyone. It is unapologetically built for fishing and every single detail has been thought out for that purpose.

Let's dive into the features that make the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot the top fishing kayak.

Best Fishing Kayak: Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot
The Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot is the Best Fishing Kayak

Quick Specs

  • Style of Kayak:Sit-on-Top
  • Number of Paddlers: 1
  • Propulsion: Motorized
  • Material: Single Layer Polyethylene (Hardshell)
  • Size: 12ft long x 37 in wide
  • Assembled Boat Weight: 152 lb.
  • Weight Capacity: 558 lb.

Minn Kota Electric Motor with Spot-Lock Technology

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot Minn Kota
Seamlessly integrated Minn Kota Electric Motor with Spot-Lock Technology

With a seamlessly integrated Minn Kota Electric Motor with Spot-Lock technology, you can move this kayak in ways you never thought possible.

We are talking about the ability to make 360 degree turns on a dime and lock the position with a single click on the iPilot remote.

This makes the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot function like a bass boat. The level of control while remaining completely hands-free is next level. Using the trolling motor, you can stand up and be constantly fishing without worrying about paddling.

The motor also combines with adjustable foot braces to extend hands-free fishing and add exceptional maneuverability.

The motor packs 45 lbs. of thrust to propel, maneuver, and anchor the kayak. In other words, this kayak will get you to where the fish are fast and hold you there!

The saltwater-ready design mounts in seconds. The motor is also removable and there is a floor plug used to keep water out when you want to paddle.

However, keep in mind that this electric motor does have a little pep and requires some balance when starting from a full stop.

This is actually worth practicing a little with before heading out with all your gear. The learning curve is not too steep, but it is a new feeling to get used to.

iPilot Remote for Hands-Free Fishing

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot
iPilot Remote for Hand-Free Fishing

Like full-size fishing and bass boats, the Minn Kota Electric Motor is controlled using the Bluetooth-connected iPilot remote and steered with a foot-controlled rudder. This frees up your hands to focus on the task at hand: fishing. These footrests also increase comfort when using the pedal system.

With the remote, you can easily hold your position with the GPS-enabled spot lock feature, maintain direction with the AutoPilot heading feature, increase or decrease your speed with up and down arrows, and steer the kayak using directional arrows.

If you would prefer to use your smartphone, you can even download the MinnKota iPilot app to operate the kayak with a mobile device.

Wide Cockpit & Casting Deck

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot Cockpit
Wide Cockpit for Comfort and Stability

One of my favorite things about this kayak is how wide it is. The Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot is 37 inches wide, which is a little wider than a standard kayak. For comparison, most recreational kayaks are about 28″ wide, and touring kayaks are typically between 23 and 26 inches.

This extra width contributes to the stability of the kayak. You feel like you have plenty of space to easily move around and stand up.

The ultra-stable double U hull design has a lifetime warranty and provides the perfect platform for sitting or standing up to use as a casting deck.

Fishing from a stand-up position is what really gives this kayak that bass boat experience. The wide, open deck even has foam floor pads for comfortable stand-up fishing.

Flush-Mount Rod Holders

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot
Integrated Fishing Rod Holders at the Bow and Stern

A fishing kayak would not be a fishing kayak without integrated fishing rod holders. Rod holders are essential to accomplish that hands-free trolling that this kayak is best for.

The AutoPilot does not disappoint on this front. The kayak has four flush-mounted rod holders: two in the stern and two that are forward-facing.

The positions of these rod holders were chosen so that they are there when you want them, and out-of-the-way when you don’t.

One minor issue is that the front rod holder is a little close to the deployment pull string for the motor. This rod holder can get in the way a little when you are trying to deploy or un-deploy the motor.

Accessory Tracks for Customization

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot Accessory Track
Four 18″ Accessory Tracks for Customization

Fishing these days has become very high-tech and you need a spot to affix all that gear! Whether you want to bring along a fish finder or mount a GoPro, the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot makes it super easy for four 18″ accessory tracks for easy on/off mounting.

The kayak is also equipped with shallow water anchor mounting inserts.

Storage

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot Accessory Track
Plenty of Storage for Fishing Gear

If there's one thing that fishing always needs, it's plenty of storage for all your fishing gear. Kayaks are notoriously tight on storage space, so let's see how the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot stacks ups.

The Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot has more purpose-built storage areas than you would typically see in a kayak. There is a storage compartment under the seat designed specifically to hold tackle. This compartment even comes with a custom Old Town tackle box.

Right beside the seat, there is a dry box storage hatch where you can easily store your iPilot remote and other small items when not in use. I like this little hatch a lot because it is really easy to access, but completely out of your way when closed. There is also a cup holder for your 5 am fishing coffee.

For larger gear and bags, there is ample rear storage with an open area that is secured with bungee cords. Because this is such a stable kayak, you can pack a lot in this area without the risk of tipping.

And last, but certainly not least, tournament-ready channels secure your fish measuring board with in-hull storage when not in use.

Like with other features on this kayak, the storage options on the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot are thought through for fishing. You are not going to fit two weeks of camping gear on this kayak, but it certainly has enough space to properly pack for a wide variety of fish, while still leaving comfortable space in the cockpit for yourself.

Other Features

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot Seat
Comfortable Seating
  • Large Fishing Rudder: Extra-large rudder system provides excellent boat control in forward and reverse
  • Dedicated Tournament Catch Tray Channel: This is a feature you will only find on a truly dedicated fishing kayak! The kayak has tournament-ready channels to secure your fish and a measuring board with in-hull storage when not in use.
  • Comfortable Seat: The sit-inside seating system is very comfortable with a backrest. The seat is fully adjustable and made for a breathable material for all-day comfort.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a kayak specifically for fishing trips, this is the kayak for you. You will simply not find the kind of purpose-built fishing features on any other kayak on the market.

In so many ways, the fishing experience in this kayak leans closer to a bass boat than traditional kayaking. I love the middle ground it finds and it is seriously fun to drive, troll, and fish with.

Deb Sauvé Avatar
About Deb Sauvé

Deb is a Canadian outdoor enthusiast, journalist, and photographer. Raised in rural Northern Ontario, Deb is no stranger to extreme environments, remote fishing spots, and great lakes boating.

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