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The 5 Best Kayak Outriggers [Guide for 2020]
When I say “outrigger“, you may be somewhat confused by what I am referring to. However, after you read this post about the 5 Best Kayak Outriggers, any confusion will vanish! Just to be clear, many people use the term “outrigger” and “stabilizer” synonymously. The differing terminology isn’t important, but your understanding of this awesome kayak fishing product does!
This KayakFishingCorner.com post contains all of the important details about the 5 Best Kayak Outriggers along with in depth explanations about how to use them and why they are an essential item in any serious kayak fishermen’s collection of gear! Let’s get started!
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Top 3 Kayak Outriggers – 2020 Guide
Stainless Steel Mounting
|Hard Plastic||Heavy Plastic|
|Buoys||Molded PVC; Yellow||Hard Plastic; Gray||Inflatable; Gray|
|Extra||Two Year Limited Warranty||Stainless-Steel Installation Hardware Included||Adds 30lbs of additional buoyancy|
|Buy on Amazon||Buy on |
The 5 Best Kayak Outriggers: Shortcut to 2020 Guide!
Let’s move on and do a little item by item comparison. The detailed product reviews that KFC has written below assist you in your comparisons of the different types of kayak outriggers. Remember, no two kayak fishermen are exactly alike, and one particular outrigger may be better suited for a particular kayak fisherman’s style, where another may be a better fit for a particular body of water (e.g.: wavy, ocean, etc).
Parts of a Kayak Outrigger
5 Best Kayak Outriggers – In Depth Reviews
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|Sneak Peak at the Brocraft Kayak Outriggers/Stabilizers System|
|– Aluminum Arms; Stainless Steel Mounting|
|– 32″ Long Arms|
|– Molded PVC; Yellow Floats|
|– Ratcheting and Adjustable Arms|
|– Two Year Limited Warranty|
This is one of the most popular outriggers for kayak fishermen – regardless of skill or experience level! It has been on the market for a number of years now and the manufacturer has adapted the design to work out any kinks. This is evidenced by their two year limited warranty – an eternity when compared to other kayak fishing products!
Material. This outrigger weighs just under 9 lbs. This light weight is attributable to the usage of aluminum (as opposed to a heavier metal). Lightweight arms are an important consideration as the lighter they are, the easier they will be to lift from, and lower into, the water.
Aluminum is rust resistant, so the arms will keep their shine for years to come (assuming you protect against corrosion, of course). The buoys are made of molded PVC, which is an ideal material to ensure that they hold up against dents and dings without jeopardizing their buoyancy.
Arm Length. The arms on this outrigger measure 32″. The longer the arms, the more surface area created, and the more surface area created, the greater the level of balance obtained. Of course, there is a drawback to having too long of arms, as longer arms would cause for maneuverability issues. KFC prefers outrigger arms that measure anywhere from 25″ to 35″, and this model falls right in the sweet spot!
Buoys. The molded PVC buoys are actually in two pieces per arm, resulting in four total buoys. This is a novel bit of engineering and is actually a great design as it allows for a buoy to be easily replaced in the unlikely event that it becomes damaged of compromised. KFC likes the bright yellow coloring of the buoy because it helps create greater visibility on the water. Many other outriggers are black or gray, and the Brocraft model has a serious advantage on this front.
Adjustments. This model of outrigger is highly customizable, with arms sitting in a ratcheting-based mechanism (made of high quality stainless steel). We’ve found that adjusting the arms while on the water is quite simple (doesn’t require any special tools). The arms can be set to any number of angles, allowing the fisherman to assert just the right amount of pressure against the water, or to lift the arms completely up and out of the way with ease!
Bonus. The two year limited warranty is really, really impressive. As earlier stated, you simply don’t find this long of a warranty in the kayak fishing space. KFC interprets this to mean that the manufacturer is seeing a very low return ration on this particular outrigger – meaning that very little is going wrong and very few warranty claims are being made. Featuring aluminum arms and stainless steel mounting gear, its easy to see that the outrigger is made of high quality materials!
|Sneak Peak at the Kayak & Canoe Outriggers (Generation 2)|
|– Hard Plastic Arms|
|– 30″ In Length|
|– Hard Plastic Buoys; Grey Color|
|– Ratcheting for Customization|
|– Stainless-Steel Installation Hardware Included|
This “Generation 2” model has set a high bar for outriggers that may follow it. It was clearly built with a kayak fisherman in mind. KFC really likes the customizable angles at which the outrigger arms may be set. Also, the installation was very easy – and we are by no means the most handy of handymen! For instance, if you can install a kayak motor mount, then you can definitely install an outrigger with no problem!
Material. The hard plastic material certainly differs from the aluminum design of the outrigger showcased above. The hard plastic results in an outrigger coming in at just about 6 pounds. Don’t let the word “plastic” deter you from seriously considering this outrigger. We’ve found that it is very rigid and is more than capable of standing up against large waves and swift currents. Weight is a particularly important consideration, especially for those who kayak fishing in a pedal kayak!
Arm Length. At 30″ in length, this outrigger’s arms are completely adequate in terms of being long enough to create the desired level of balance, while being compact enough to avoid maneuverability concerns. Remember if your kayak is ~24″ across, you’ll have expanded your width from 24″ to a whopping 84″! The larger the width, the easier it is to stand and cast!
Buoys. The buoys on this model are designed as single pieces, as opposed to the dual buoys on the prior model. There isn’t much difference, in effect, among the two designs. However, we like the ability to replace a damaged buoy with ease.
It is easier to find replacement buoys for other outriggers, as this particular models are customized to their particular outrigger. Now, that being said, the buoys on this model are quite durable, so as long as you don’t subject them to needless abuse, you shouldn’t have to worry about replacement for a long time! The buoys are dark grey in color, which is a negative when compared to the more brightly colored models. The more you stand out on the water, the safer you are from neighboring vessels!
Adjustments. As you can see from the photograph above, this outrigger is highly adjustable. Again, we found that the adjustment was quite easy – no special tools required. Once you find the desired angle, it is easy to “lock” the outrigger at the particular point.
Also, you can adjust the arms to be set at different angles. Perhaps you are only casting to one side of the boat, and therefore want your outrigger to be adjusted upon the surface of the water on that side. It is very easy to do, and the other arm can be set however you see fit!
Bonus. We like that the Stainless-Steel Installation Hardware has been included with the product. The installation of the outrigger to the hull of the kayak is where the “rubber meets the road” in terms of kayak fishing. If you have a weak connection point, you are very likely to damage your outrigger or your kayak. Stainless-steel not only looks good, it will hold up to the constant flex experienced while an outrigger is “at work”.
While the outriggers that KFC highlights in this post have quality mounting gear, there are many types of outriggers that do NOT have such gear. Stay away from cheap outriggers – they will fail on you. Better to buy a quality outrigger once, knowing that you won’t have to replace it every season!
A rather unique style of outrigger, given its inflatable nature, this offering by Scotty scores high in terms of its functionality and convenience! Kayak fishing gear can become quite, how do we say this, crowded! Any time we can find a particular piece of gear that can be compressed to a smaller size (e.g.: deflated), we consider it very, very strongly!
|Sneak Peak at the Scotty #302 Kayak Stabilizer System|
|– Heavy Plastic Arms|
|– 32″ in Length|
|– Inflatable Buoys|
|– Pre-Set Ratcheting|
|– Enhanced Buoyancy|
Materials. This model of outrigger, similar to the one showcased above, features heavy plastic materials. Again, the name plastic should not worry you. We have tested this outrigger and the arms are of equivalent strength to the metallic based models. One added bonus of the “heavy plastic” vs “metallic” materials is that the heavy plastic does not have corrosion concerns. While corrosion is easily protected against, the heavy plastic models don’t present that concern in the first place.
Arms. Measuring 32″ inches in length, this outrigger’s arms are perfect for helping you keep your balance while on the water. While anything from 25″ to 35″ is acceptable, the sweet spot is truly 30″ or 32″. We tend to go with the slightly longer arms (e.g.: 32″) because of the incremental bit of stability provided. We find that the additional length provides a greater benefit to overall stability than decrease in overall maneuverability.
Buoys. Did you notice that this outrigger has inflatable buoys! This is our favorite feature and is the reason we included this model on this list of the Top 5 Kayak Outriggers. The buoys are made of heavy duty material so they can be inflated and deflated time and again without concerns about stressing or compromising the material.
We have used a small hand pump, and also a small air compressor, to inflate the buoys. Inflation and deflation occur quickly and easily. When you are done, you just deflate the buoys which can be stored away in an area a fraction of the side of the buoys in their inflated state. One downside – buoys are colored light gray. We’d rather them be right yellow, orange or green to add to our visibility on the water!
Adjustability. One of our main complaints is the relatively limited number of “pre set” angles to which the outrigger arms can be set. While there is a decent variety, it can sometimes be hard to find the exact perfect angle that you are looking for. Of course, the fact that the arms are adjustable at all is actually a huge bonus, because many outriggers actually lack an adjustability component whatsoever! Please, please, please do not buy an outrigger than you cannot adjust. You will quickly become frustrated and we suspect that you’ll uninstall the outrigger shortly thereafter!
Bonus. There is not doubt that the enhanced buoyancy offered by the inflatable outriggers is a HUGE bonus (30lbs of extra buoyancy per outrigger)! The combination of the space saving feature offered by the deflatable buoy and its enhanced buoyancy makes this outrigger a serious consider in any serious kayak fishermen’s decision making process when it comes to buying an outrigger of their own! This model works particularly well on lightweight fishing kayaks!
Another fantastic choice in terms of outriggers designed for kayak fishermen, that’s why we have included this model our list of the Top 5 Kayak Outriggers! You can tell by the bowed arms that the manufacturers put serious consideration into the engineering behind this model. Let’s take a closer look!
|Sneak Peak at the Lixada Kayak PVC Inflatable Outrigger|
|– Metallic Arms|
|– Nearly 40″ in Total Length|
|– Inflatable Buoys|
|– Not Adjustable|
|– Smartly Designed|
Materials. This kayak outrigger’s arms are made of aluminum alloy, a great metal for enhanced strength and durability. The outrigger mounts to the kayak with the included Stainless-Steel hardware.
Length of Arms. The two rods are designed to be connected to measure approximately 40 inches in length. They are 1.3″ thick. While this is shorter than the “sweet spot”, it is an acceptable departure from our rule, as the “one-piece” design of the outrigger affords enhanced balance with shorter than average arms.
Buoys. Readers – Please BE ADVISED. This outrigger is sold in two separate pieces. In other words, you need to buy the arms and there buoys separately. The product is marketed this way because the outrigger can function with a number of different colors of buoy (bright blue being our favorite). The buoys are inflatable which, as mentioned above, is an ideal feature in terms of its space saving capability. While the buoys are not included, the stainless-steel mounting hardware is.
Adjustability. This is NOT an adjustable outrigger. Because of that, we suggest that our readers only put serious consideration into this outrigger if they predominantly fish in calm waters. The calmer the waters, the more effective a “fixed” (as opposed to adjustable) style of outrigger will be.
Engineered Design. If you take a close look at the arms of the outrigger, you can see that the portion of the arm furthest from the kayak’s hull is actually angled downward. This is a great design feature! Why? The downward angle is built to apply additional pressure to the surface of the water, giving the outrigger extra “power” and ability to enhance the balance of the kayak fishermen! This is a feature worthy of including this model on our Top 5 Kayak Outriggers list!
You guessed it! We have saved one of the best of the Top 5 Kayak Outriggers for last! Those KFC readers who have been involved with water sports, boating and fishing for any significant period of timer are sure to recognize the “Hobie” name. They have been around for quite some time and have an outstanding reputation for quality water related products!
|Sneak Peak at the Hobie Sidekick Ama Kit|
|– Anodized Aluminum Construction|
|– 78″ in Total Length|
|– Inflatable Buoys|
|– Not Adjustable|
|– High Efficiency Buoy Design|
Materials. Hobie’s aluminum construction provides a ton of strength and rigidity without needlessly adding weight. The stainless-steel mounting material comes with the product and we found the instructions and overall installation to be quite easy to follow. Note that the outrigger “arm” comes in 3 pieces, one for each side, and a middle piece. These are easily adjoined by snapping together and inserting the ball joint into the prefabricated holes.
Length of Arms. The center bar (goes across the inside of the hull of your kayak) measures 24″ in length. The other 2 arms are 27″ each. This results in an overall length of 78″. The 27″ arms are in the sweet spot in terms of KFCs desired length, and the ability to “fix” each of the bars together lends additional strength to the outrigger.
Buoys. This model of outrigger, like some of the ones showcased above, has inflatable buoys. They are made of a high durability material that can be inflated and deflated season after season without wear. We’ve had luck using a small hand pump, or even an air compressor, to inflate the buoys in no time. When you want to deflate, you simply open the valve, let the air run out, and then roll our fold the buoys into the desired size for storage. We love kayak gear that can be folded down into smaller sizes! You can even find foldable and portable kayaks these days!
Adjustability. While the buoys are height adjustable, because of the bar, the arms of the outrigger are not adjustable in the technical sense. In other words, this outrigger does not have the ratcheting design like some of the others previously showcased. This is one of the drawbacks of this particular model, and it is better suited for calmer waters.
High Efficiency Design. If you look closely at the buoys, you can see that they have been exceptionally thoughtfully designed to tilt upwards at the front and rear. This is FANTASTIC for reducing the “drag” created by larger buoys, all while ensuring that there is no downside in terms of reduced buoyancy. It is this wise engineering from Hobie that has earned this outrigger a spot on our Top 5 Kayak Outriggers list!
Top 5 Kayak Outriggers – How to Decide Which is Best for You?
Again, no two kayak fishermen are the same, that is the beauty of our sport! Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions when evaluating which style might be best. Each question is summarized below and is covered in detailed in the following sections!
Each of these questions are asked time and time again by our readers. The answers to each of the above will be very determinative in helping you make the right selection in terms of your kayak outrigger! Remember, what may be right for one kayak fisherman may be very wrong for another! Let’s take a look at some specifics below:
The ideal length for a kayak outrigger arm is between 25″ and 35″. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule if the outrigger is “fixed” (one long bar instead of two independent arms).
If you purchase an outrigger with arms measuring less than 25″ in length, your outrigger is not going to create sufficient surface area to do you much good.
If you purchase an outrigger with arms measuring greater than 35″ in length, you run the risk of decreased maneuverability our to your kayak’s increased overall width.
As with most things in life, you want to strike a good balance between not too long and not too short. In KFC’s experience, the sweet spot is between 25″ and 35″ per arm.
You want your outrigger to be made of one of two things: Aluminum or Hardened Plastic.
Each of these materials has the strength and rigidity to stand up to large waves, while being light weight enough to ensure that the arms are easy to deploy and retract with ease.
Heavy Plastic does have a slight advantage over aluminum here because heavy plastic doesn’t have any corrosion concerns. While you can easily protect your aluminum based kayak outrigger from corrosion, having a heavy plastic model is just one lesser step in terms of maintenance.
Inflatable vs. Molded.
Inflatable buoys and molded buoys (sometimes referred to as “floats”) are equally effective in creating the buoyancy that you are looking for out of your outrigger.
If you are looking to save on space, you’ll want to go with an inflatable model because you can simply deflate the buoys and roll or fold them into a much smaller size where they can conveniently be stowed away.
However, our experience is that the molded buoys are just a bit more durable than their inflatable competitors. They are usually quite a bit cheaper as well. If you will be kayak fishing in areas where there are sharp rocks or other obstacles, you may want to lean towards getting an outrigger with molded buoys.
You won’t have much use for a kayak outrigger if you aren’t sure how to properly attach it, much less use it! We’ve created the below checklist to act as a short guide. It should have you up and running in no time! You can learn more about how to use a kayak outrigger, here!
- Pick a spot on the kayak where you want to locate your kayak outrigger
- We think the best location is between roughly 2/3rds and 3/4ths of the way towards the back of the fishing kayak.
- Placing the outrigger near the back of your boat ensures that the outrigger’s pontoons will remain out of the way of your paddling stroke.
- Placement towards the rear also results in less risk of entanglement of the fishing line and other pieces of gear.
- Finally, installing the outrigger towards the back allows for more stability, as kayak fishermen usually stand close to the back of the fishing kayak, right in front of the kayak’s seat, while they are casting their lines.
- Once you’ve decided on a spot, safely secure the kayak outrigger to the hull of the fishing kayak.
- The best way to do this is to use the mounting hardware that came with your outrigger. If done correctly, it should look something like the example below:
- After installation is the best time to attach your pontoons to the arms of the kayak outrigger.
- It is critical that your pontoons are safely attached to the outrigger arms.
- No matter what, do not let them become detached while you are out on the water, they’ll float away and you’ll have trouble reattaching them.
- Next, adjust the height (or angle) of the kayak outrigger arms.
- The desired angle is based on the type of water condition you are facing.
- Angle them upwards if you only want them to engage when the fishing kayak is leaning far one way or the other.
- Tilt them nearly parallel with the water (like the example below) if you want them to move in evenly along with the fishing kayak.
- You can also adjust them slightly downward if you want to put pressure on the water. This creates the most level of resistance, but can also slow you down!
- Do not angle the outrigger at too steep of an angle downward, because doing so will put a lot of strain on the connection point. It may even result in damage to the kayak’s hull!
Fixed vs. Adjustable.
There are several different high quality examples of each of the Fixed and Adjustable variety. While you are generally going to be fine whichever model you choose, the adjustable model does have more versatility and does allow you to fish a greater variety of water conditions.
Most “adjustable” models are built with a ratchet style connection point. The ratchet allows you to adjust the angle of the kayak outrigger’s arms to your exact preference. For example, you’ll want a steeper angle to apply the most pressure against the water, and a shallower angle to apply the least amount of pressure against the water (e.g.: when you only want the outrigger to kick in during a near-tip-over-emergency)! Also, speaking of emergency, please promise us that you will add to your safety on the water by purchasing a fishing kayak life jacket!
Fixed models of outrigger are perfectly suited for calmer waters, however. KFC readers should not be deterred from an outrigger merely because it is “fixed”. Sometimes a “fixed” model is a simpler design, which means there is one less part to experience what and tear!
Top 5 Kayak Outriggers: Conclusion
Whew! That was a lot! We hope this guide on the Top 5 Kayak Outriggers has been a helpful guide in terms of teaching you everything there is to know about kayak outriggers. Whether aluminum or hard plastic, adjustable or fixed, inflatable or molded, you can see that there is a style of outrigger for every different style of kayak fishing!
Top 5 Kayak Outriggers: Comments
KFC readers!!! Please share your opinions with us! Do you use a kayak outrigger when you are kayak fishing? What has your experience been like? Do you happen to own any of the Top 5 Kayak Outriggers showcased in this article? What about another type of outrigger that you’d like to share with the group? Please comment below and share your thoughts, tips and opinions with this kayak fishing community! We love hearing from our readers, and we read and reply to all comments!