Perception Fishing Kayaks Review 6 Great Options

If you fish, and are considering giving kayak fishing a try, then you owe it to yourself to check out the line up of Perception fishing kayaks. Unlike some of their competition, like Brooklyn Kayaks that are made in China, Perception Kayaks are high quality American kayaks made in Greenville, South Carolina along with their sister company Wilderness Systems Kayaks. Perception fishing kayaks feature the latest in technology and innovation with over 40 years of experience behind every kayak they make.

Kayak fishing bridges the gap between bank and or wade fishing, and fishing from a boat. Much less expensive than your typical fishing boat and at the same time allowing you to fish formerly inaccessible areas as a wade or bank fisherman. Even some areas inaccessible to boat fisherman.

I’ve been kayak fishing for nearly 25 years now. I use my kayaks for fishing everything from creeks and streams to bays, lakes and even to carry big shark baits off the beach in the surf.

They are a very versatile fishing tool, and the variety of models, features and accessories just keeps growing.

Perception fishing Kayaks have been among the leaders in the kayak industry driving these innovations.

Young lady with a nice slot redfish caught from her fishing kayak

In Short:

Perception Fishing Kayaks have 6 models to choose from giving you options for whatever type of fishing you are going to be doing. 1.) Perception Outlaw, 2.) Perception Sound, 3.) Perception Pescador, 4.) Perception Pescador Pro, 5.) Perception Pescador Pilot, and 6.) Pescador Showdown. Each has its own features and benefits, as well as price point. Perception has been around since 1977 and a leader in the kayak industry, so you can be sure you are getting a high quality American made kayak at a fair price.

Best Perception Fishing Kayaks

Pescador 12.0Pescador Pro 12.0Outlaw 11.5Showdown 11.5
Perception Pescador 12.0 fishing kayak side viewPerception Pescador Pro 12.0 fishing Kayak side view
GOOD STARTER KAYAKBEST ALL-AROUND KAYAKSTABLE PLATFORMMOST ADVANCED
SALT – FRESH – SURFSALT- FRESH – SURFSALT – FRESHSALT – FRESH
BEST PRICEBEST VALUEMODERATE PRICEHIGHEST PRICE

Fishing Kayaks


My first exposure to kayaks was watching on TV while people in plastic boats ran down rivers with huge rapids They would flip over, right themselves again, and it looked exciting and a little dangerous and a lot crazy. And, those kayaks are still around and people are doing even crazier stunts with them.

Eventually, someone decided to try fishing from a kayak. Now, those “sit in” white water kayaks weren’t to handy for fishing out of. There was limited space for rods and gear, and sitting in one for long periods wasn’t the most comfortable. So, kayak designers set about to build a kayak specifically with the fisherman in mind.

Michael Neumann going over a waterfall in his kayak
Photo Credit: icelandmag.is

Fast forward to today, and there are numerous manufactures and models of fishing kayaks. Everything for small kid sized kayaks to large fishing kayaks designed for open seas.

So many choices, so many options, and so many price points. Where do you start? That will depend entirely on you, your style of fishing and, of course your budget.

The folks at Perception Kayaks, having been around for over 40 years, have been industry leaders in the development and manufacture of quality fishing kayaks and accessories. Perception Kayaks have introduced more people to the sport than potentially any other brand in the world.


Perception Fishing Kayaks


Perception Kayaks is the industry-recognized pioneer of plastic roto-molded kayaks which makes their claim much more credible. Perception Kayaks was Started in the early 1970s in South Caroline by Bill Masters with a $50 investment. In 1977 Perception became the first company manufacturing rotational molded (roto molded) plastic kayaks.

Before plastic was used in boat manufacture, kayaks were made of fiberglass or composite materials.

Then plastic came along and offered several benefits that revolutionized the kayak industry and gave people the choice between plastic or composite kayaks.

building a rotomolded kayak - Perception fishing kayaks

For one, plastic is durable making shipping, storage, and bouncing off rocks in rivers and scraping across the sand at the beach less of a problem. Secondly, plastic is easily manufactured, allowing for mass production and distribution making kayaks readily available and more affordable than ever before. As a result, there was an explosion of kayaking as a sport in the 1990s and early 2000s.

In 2005 Perception Kayaks was purchased by Confluence Outdoor. Confluence Outdoor (formerly known as Confluence Watersports) is an American manufacturer of kayaks, canoes, and related accessories. The company comprises eight separate brands which each specialize in paddling sport boats or accessories. In 2019 Confluence Outdoor was purchased by Pelican International.

Perception fising kayaks - Perception Kayaks Logo

Perception is a company of passionate kayakers that proudly design, mold and hand-assemble every Perception kayak in Greenville, South Carolina. In every model and size, Perception kayaks are known for personal touches that make kayaking fun for paddlers of all experience levels.

Almost anyone that paddles knows the Perception name and its storied history. Their kayaks are known for their comfort, versatility, durability, and safety; they are also some of the easiest-to-paddle kayaks in the industry. Their fishing kayaks are no exception and currently include the following five models.

  1. Perception Outlaw Fishing Kayak
  2. Perception Sound Fishing Kayak
  3. Perception Pescador Fishing Kayak
  4. Perception Pescador Pro Fishing Kayak
  5. Perception Pescador Pilot Fishing Kayak
  6. Perception Showdown Fishing Kayak

Perception Kayak Features

  • Leak-proof one-piece construction
  • Built-in buoyancy
  • Assured on-water security
  • Permanent U.S. Coast Guard compliant hull identification number
  • Back-friendly seats
  • Superior cushioning
  • Best-in-class ergonomic support
  • All-day comfort
  • Large open cockpit
  • Easy on legs
  • Easiest to enter/exit
  • Steady on-water feel
  • Most secure paddling experience
  • World-class design and engineering
  • The Highest UV, impact and abrasion resistance
  • Proprietary high-density polyethylene
  • Industry-leading rotational molding process
  • Wear-proof colors and graphics
Peception Fishing Kayaks - Perception Showdown Fishing Kayak
Perception Showdown 11.5 Fishing Kayak

Perception Outlaw Fishing Kayak


The newest generation in affordable fishing, the Outlaw 11.5 boasts a wide-open deck, an expansive standing platform, seriously elevated seating, and intuitive features throughout, disrupting the notion that an incredibly unique angling platform needs to break the bank.

The Outlaw also integrates industry-firsts including a stowaway seat for complete deck walkability and space for up to a 35L cooler. Two “double-barrel” rod holders offer the ultimate multi-rod setup.

Elevated seating allows for the highest fishing vantage ever in a kayak, and the ergonomic and comfortable seat extends time on the water and transition easily from sitting to a standing position. With room to accessorize and several unique attachment points, rigging has never been easier.

At 35 inches wide the Outlaw is a very stable fishing platform and the raised seat makes casting and land fish easier. The Comfortable, and folding seat, gives you all day comfort. Designed primarily for calm rivers and lakes, it would not be my first choice for running shark baits in the surf off the beach.

Perception fishing kayaks - Perception Outlaw fishing kayak
Perception Outlaw Fishing Kayak side view
Perception Outlaw Fishing Kayak best use chart

Outlaw Features

  • Designed to accommodate small to XL paddlers
  • Optimized and elevated seating console – frame seat folds and is removable
  • Stow position for seat is useful for transport and storage
  • Large bow and stern tankwells provide ample storage for crates and fishing gear
  • Molded-in trays and cup holders keep important items and refreshments within easy reach
  • Large stern deck surface for DIY addicts who want to customize their boat
  • Mesh cover with paddle park over front storage area
  • Transducer scupper on hull for fish finders
  • 2 “double-barrel” rod holders
  • Traction pads provide added grip and deaden sound for fishing
  • 3 Solo Mount recesses enable you to easily add mounts & accessory holders (sold separately) without drilling
  • Unique molded-in bow and stern handles
  • Side handles double as gear tracks
  • 35L cooler storage area that can also be used as a seat

Perception Sound Fishing Kayak


The best value in sit-inside kayak fishing for large paddlers with a 335 lb capacity. The Sound is a very light, portable and value priced fishing kayak option.

The Perception Sound kayak makes paddling and fishing easy with the perfect combo of comfort, features and portability. The 10-foot-6 sit-in design protects from the elements while its lightweight makes it easy to carry.

Built to explore quiet, slow-moving waters, the Sound’s tri-keel hull creates ultimate stability and smooth steering to track straight and stay on course with minimal effort. Value-packed and feature-rich, the Sound includes a dashboard with mounting points for accessories, two molded-in rod holders and a spacious rear storage zone with bungee cord security.

The Sound seatback adjusts up and down using a butterfly clip on the back; it also adjusts fore and aft via side straps allowing you to achieve a very comfortable, customized fit and optimal back support.

Proudly designed, molded and hand-assembled in the USA, the Sound 10.5 kayak is backed by a 5-Year Warranty.

Perception Sound Fishing Kayak best use chart

The Sound dashboard includes two mounting points for our Solo Mount accessory system. Screw the Perception Solo Mount Base (sold separately) into the molded recess – no drilling or tools required. Then, pair with a wide variety of RAM® accessories and mounts designed to hold phones, tablets, cameras, fishing rods, fish and depth finders, cup holders and much more.

This kayak would not be recommended for surf fishing as the open cockpit design could take on water and sink.

Specifications:

  • LENGTH: 10′ 6″ / 320 CM
  • WIDTH: 29.5″ / 75 CM
  • BOAT WEIGHT: 46 LBS. / 23 KG
  • DECK HEIGHT: 15.75″ / 40 CM
  • COCKPIT LENGTH: 56″ / 142 CM
  • COCKPIT WIDTH: 23.75″ / 60 CM
  • MAX CAPACITY: 335 LBS. / 152 KG
Perception Sound Fishing Kayak
Percepton Fishing Kayaks - Perception Sound Kayak side view

Perception Sound Features:

  • Large rear open storage for easy access to cooler, fishing crate and gear.
  • Bungee cord lashes to secure gear of any shape or size.
  • Two molded-in rod holders for hands-free storage while paddling.
  • Extra cushy ergonomic Zone Seat with adjustable backrest for optimal support and comfort.
  • Convenient drink holder keeps your favorite beverage from spilling.
  • Leg padding along cockpit edge for comfort and support.
  • Quick-adjust footrests accommodate paddlers of all sizes.
  • Screw the Solo Mount Base (sold separately and shown at left) into these circular recesses to mount accessories and
  • RAM mounts – no drilling or tools are needed.
  • Molded-in dashboard and Solo Mount recesses make for easy gear storage and accessorizing.
  • Optimized design and construction makes this boat easier to carry at only 46 lbs.
  • Unique tri-keel hull for easy loading/launching and ultimate stability.
  • Front and rear molded-in handles provide comfort and lockable security.

Perception Pescador Fishing Kayaks


Perception Pescador 12.0

The Perception Pescador series of sit-on-top kayaks are designed to be the best all-around boats for the money.

Unmatched stability, speed, and straight-tracking performance make it fun for even new paddlers to explore lakes, ponds, and flat-water rivers.

Ready to fish right out of the box, the Pescador is loaded with features, including spacious open storage, covered dry storage, and two rod holders.

Multiple gear tracks and Solo Mount recesses make it easy to add accessories like cameras, speakers and fishing rod holders.

Giving you more comfort for your money, the Pescador’s seat outperforms comparable models with thick ergonomic padding and an adjustable seatback for personalized support.

One online reviewer even stated: “The seat alone is worth buying this kayak.”

The longer length of the 12.0 model remains maneuverable while adding speed, cargo space, and stability—perfect for accessing quiet waters beyond the reach of other boaters.

The two molded-in rod holders are compatible with the Rod-X Pro accessory (sold separately).

Proudly designed, molded and hand assembled in the USA, the Pescador Pro kayak is backed by a 5-Year Warranty.

A good all around fishing kayak. Not as stable as some of the other Perception models, and the seat is less comfortable as well.

You could use in the surf on calmer day, but it is more prone to tipping over.

Perception Pescador 12.0 moss

Specifications:

  • LENGTH: 12′ / 365 CM
  • WIDTH: 32.5″ / 82 CM
  • BOAT WEIGHT: 64 LBS. / 29 KG
  • DECK HEIGHT: 14.5″ / 37 CM
  • MAX CAPACITY: 375 LBS. / 170 KG
Perception Pescador 12.0 best use chart
Perception Pescador 12.0 fishing kayak side view

Perception Pescador 12.0 Features

  • Easily replaceable skid plate lets you drag without fear of damage
  • Large rear open storage for easy access to cooler, fishing crate and gear
  • Bungee cord lashes on rear to secure gear of any shape or size
  • Paddle attachment point keeps both hands free for fishing
  • Comfort Seating System with thick ventilated padding and adjustable seatback for superior support, fit and comfort
  • Convenient drink holder keeps your favorite beverage from spilling
  • Gear tracks for accessorizing your boat, and two molded-in rod holders for hands-free rod storage
  • Molded-in Solo Mount recesses on the center console for additional accessories
  • Quick-adjust footrests accommodate paddlers of all sizes
  • Dry front storage compartment with large hinged hatch for easy access.
  • Four molded-in handles (front, back, and sides) for easy transport and lockable security

Perception Pescador Pro 12.0

The Perception Pescador Pro series of sit-on-top fishing kayaks are outfitted with the features and performance serious anglers demand.

Fast, stable, and designed to track straight in variable conditions—it’s the total package for effortlessly covering water on your favorite lake, pond, or flat-water river to find the fish. All in a boat that’s lightweight for easy transport and storage.

The sit-on-top design offers generous storage and accessory mount options that make it easy to outfit the boat for all-day excursions.

The removable and adjustable camp chair is the most comfortable seat found on any fishing kayak. One online reviewer even stated: “The seat alone is worth buying this kayak.”

The longer length of the 12.0 model remains maneuverable while adding speed, cargo space, and stability—perfect for accessing quiet waters beyond the reach of other boaters.

Proudly designed, molded and hand assembled in the USA, the Pescador Pro kayak is backed by a 5-Year Warranty.

Wider and more stable than the Pescador, the Pescador Pro has a much more comfortable seat and would be better at handling the surf zone.

Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 top view

Specifications:

  • LENGTH: 12′ / 365 CM
  • WIDTH: 32.5″ / 82 CM
  • BOAT WEIGHT: 64 LBS. / 29 KG
  • DECK HEIGHT: 14.5″ / 37 CM
  • MAX CAPACITY: 375 LBS. / 170 KG
Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 fishing Kayak side view

Perception Pescador Pro 12.0 Features

  • Front & rear easy carry handles for easy transport plus molded-in carry handles on either side. Handles can also be used to secure your kayak with a lock.
  • Easily replaceable skid plate on the rear of the boat lets you drag your kayak without fear of damage.
  • Large front and rear open storage for cooler, tackle, and other gear.
  • Secure gear of any shape or size with flexible bungee cord lashes.
  • 5-inch deck plate behind seat for access to deck accessory mounting zone.
  • Two molded-in rod holders for hands-free storage while paddling. Can be used with the Rod-X Pro accessory (sold separately)
  • Removable Pro Seat features 2-level seat adjustment and breathable mesh for ultimate all-day comfort on the water or by the campfire. Seat can be lowered for relaxed paddling or raised for optimum casting.
  • Fish finder console with battery zone and drill-free transducer mounting.
  • Molded-in side carry handles for easy transport. Additional handles can be found on bow and stern.
  • Gear tracks for adding accessories without the need to drill holes.
  • Quick-adjust footrests accommodate paddlers of all sizes.
  • Convenient drink holders keep your favorite beverage from spilling.
  • Easily removable stretch-mesh bow storage cover for sleek security that also acts as a paddle park.
  • Additional rod tip recess for a clean deck

Perception Pescador Pilot 12.0

The Perception Pescador Pilot 12.0 kayak’s superior stability and fishing performance make it the ultimate boat for paddlers of all abilities.

The Pilot Drive propeller system effortlessly propels the boat, even in reverse, while leaving both hands free.

The spacious, sit-on-top design with generous storage and accessory mounts make the kayak easy to customize. Superior stability even allows anglers to cast from a standing position.

Boasting more performance, comfort, features, and storage than any kayak at this price, the Pescador Pilot sets the new standard for value and innovation.

A full day on the water demands ultimate comfort, and the Pescador Pilot is built for just that. The roomy captain’s chair features zonal mesh to promote cooling airflow where you need it most. On-the-fly seatback adjustment tilts back for relaxed pedaling or forwards for sportier pedaling.

Propel your exploration and fishing to a new level with the most value-packed pedal kayak on the planet.

The Pescador Pilot Pedal kayak is proudly designed, molded and hand assembled in the USA and is backed by a 5-Year Warranty.

A fishing kayak for the serious caster. The pedal drive allows you to have both hands free for fishing and no worries with paddling.

The pedal drive works great offshore as well, just be careful on the way back to the beach that you don’t hand up on the drive mechanism and damage it.

Specifications:

  • LENGTH: 12′ 5″ / 381 CM
  • WIDTH: 33.75″ / 85.73 CM
  • BOAT WEIGHT: 85 LBS. / 38 KG
  • DECK HEIGHT: 16″ / 41 CM
  • MAX CAPACITY: 475 LBS. / 216 KG
Perception Pescador Pilot Kayak best use chart
Perception Pescador Pilot 12.0 fishing kayak side view

Perception Pescador Pilot 12.0 Features:

  • Low-profile one-handed rudder control with 360-degree turning radius. Easily add fish-finder electronics and drill-free transducer mounting.
  • Mounting point and hull access for Power-Pole anchoring system (sold separately).
  • Bungee cord lashes secure gear of any shape or size.
  • Large front and rear open storage for cooler, tackle, and other gear.
  • Four molded-in rod holders for hands-free storage while paddling.
  • Convenient attachment point for storing a paddle.
  • Removable Captain’s Chair features on-the-fly front/back adjustment and breathable mesh. Chair is removable for simple transport and comfort that goes anywhere.
  • Shallow recesses near the seat serve as a temporary resting spot for small items like pliers, baits and weights.
  • Convenient drink holders keep your favorite beverage from spilling.
  • Gear tracks for adding accessories without the need to drill holes.
  • Lightweight, removable Pilot Drive pedal system delivers unmatched efficiency and performance. Pilot Drive quickly lifts and stows in hull for zero draft in shallow water.
  • Easily removable stretch-mesh bow storage cover for sleek security and additional paddle park option.
  • Front and rear soft-touch carry handles for easy transport.

Perception Showdown Fishing Kayak


You asked, we listened. Propel your fishing to the next level with the highly requested, pedal-powered evolution of the Outlaw — the Showdown 11.5 pedal kayak. Developed to excel on lakes, rivers, and quiet coasts, the modernized Showdown pedal drive kayak boasts a host of impressive premium features.

An elevated framed mesh seat provides a greater line of sight and promotes airflow to keep you cool and comfortable no matter how long you’re on the water. Silent traction pads provide added grip for stability while also dampening sound for fishing.

Generous storage and accessory mounts ensure that your gear remains safe, secure, and organized while allowing you to enjoy hands-free fishing. This sit-on-top fishing kayak is yours to customize.

The Perception Showdown is an awesome fishing platform with a wide deck that allows you to stand up and fish without worrying about tipping over.

With a 450 lb carrying capacity and removable storage pod, you can load up everything you need for a full day, or several days, of fishing.

Specifications:

  • LENGTH: 11′ 6″ / 351 CM
  • WIDTH: 36″ / 91 CM
  • BOAT WEIGHT: 90 LBS. / 41 KG
  • MAX CAPACITY: 450 LBS. / 204 KG
Peception Fishing Kayaks - Perception Showdown Fishing Kayak
Perception Showdown Fishing Kayak side view

Perception Showdown Features:

  • Enjoy effortless, rudder-controlled pedaling. The Showdown 11.5’s pedal system makes maneuvering in shallow water an absolute breeze.
  • Fishing enthusiasts will appreciate premium features that make enjoying a day out on the water just that much better, including a pair of double-barrel rod holders, molded-in rod notches, integrated gear storage recesses, and a bow storage pod.
  • Ergonomic side carrying handles and a molded-in handle at the stern and bow make transporting this rugged pedal kayak easier. The side handles also double as gear tracks, allowing for greater customization.
  • Exceptionally durable and stable, this sit-on-top kayak boasts an impressive 450 lb weight capacity. The wide flat deck platform, enhanced with silent traction pads, safely allows you to stand up to cast lines and reel in fish safely.
  • Elevated to promote a greater line of sight – the supportive, breathable mesh seat offers all-day comfort, no matter how long you’re on the water. The elevated seat also makes transitioning from seated to standing easy on this super stable fishing kayak.
  • The removable and portable bow storage pod is a convenient way to pack up for a day on the water. With zippered internal storage compartments it’s a safe place to store electronics, gear, and other personal items.

Perception Kayaks VS Wilderness Systems Kayaks


Perception and Wilderness Systems Kayaks are both owned by Confluence Outdoors and both manufactured in same facility in Greenville South Carolina. So, you might wonder if they are the same. Well, let’s take a look side by side at the Perception Pescador 12.0 and the Wilderness Tarpon 120 and see what the differences are, if any.

Looking at the pictures, you can see these are very similar kayaks. Functionally, both are great kayaks.

I have a Wilderness Tarpon 120 that I acquired over 20 years ago and it still serves me well. The Perception Pescador 12.0 looks very similar to my old Wilderness Tarpon.

Ken Kuhn fishing Copano Bay from his Wilderness Systems Radar 135 Kayak

There are some feature differences between the two. The Perception Pescador 12.0 is 32.5 inches wide compared to 31 inches for the Wilderness Tarpon 120, and weighs 1 pound more. It also has a 375 lb capacity versus 350 for the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120.

Perception Pescador 12.0 Kayak
Perception Pescador 12.0
Wiilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Kayak
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120

The hull configurations are nearly identical except for the molded in handles of the Perception Pescador 12.0. The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 does have a few added features not included on the Perception Pescador however. Things like a mesh cover for the cargo area instead of the standard bungee cords.

The Tarpon 120 has a removable dry box for storing things like wallets, cameras, phones and keys. Magnetic water bottle strap, quick park paddle holder and molded storage compartments for smaller items. And, it has an optional rudder kit. Now, these extra features come at a price.

The base price for the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is roughly $300 more than the Perception Pescador 12.0. The choice is yours whether those added features are worth the extra money.


Perception Fishing Kayaks Final Thoughts


If you are in the market for a fishing kayak, I recommend you at least take a look at the Perception fishing kayak line up. They are American made with the latest technologies and advanced features in the industry. As a bonus, they come at a more moderate price point than some of the other brands you may come across.

And, if you’re like me, you like to save money and get a great value whenever you can. So, whether is fishing a mountain stream or heading offshore, there is a Perception fishing kayak for you. You can check them out or find a dealer near you by going to their website: pelicankayaks.com. The most important thing is, get a kayak you’re comfortable with and go fishing. 😉

Young lady with a nice Snook caught while kayak fishing at night

As always, stay safe, enjoy the journey and please try to leave it cleaner than you found it. If you have any comments, questions, ideas or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you asap. You can follow up on Facebook: Rex The Beach Angler, Instagram: thebeachangler7, Twitter: @AnglerBeach, and YouTube: Man Art Creations.


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