Anyone that has ever been in a kayak knows it’s not always easy.
With a minimal surface area beneath you, kayaks are known for rocking and rolling considerably, especially as soon as you get choppy or rough water.
So, for anyone trying to get out on the water for some fishing, this could spell disaster, if you were to accidentally overturn your kayak.
Kayak outriggers, or stabilizers, as they’re commonly known, help minimize this rolling and vulnerability by adding extra buoyancy and equilibrium to your kayak. Essentially, they work by attaching side floats to the kayak, which gives the kayak extra flotation on the water.
As a result, your kayak will have more surface area on the water, making it more stable, especially when trying to navigate through longer stretches of rougher water.
Top 5 Best Kayak Outriggers and Stabilizer Systems
Whether you’re a new or experienced kayaker, outriggers are the perfect solution to help you get a better handle on your kayak, which is also ideal for giving kids that extra support on the water when paddling solo.
For anglers hoping to enjoy an afternoon on the water, they give extra support when rigging up lines, changing positions, and reeling in fish.
Below, we’ll dive into our top 5 list of the best outriggers for kayaks to check out in 2022.
Best Overall - Scotty #302 Kayak Stabilizer System
Unlike permanent stabilizers, Scotty #302 Kayak Stabilizer System was built to keep you secure on the water, without the bulk of hard PVC. These consist of two pontoon-style stabilizers that work to balance the kayak at the rear of the boat.
The kit includes everything you need for installation, including 2 x 28” anodized arms, 4 locking deck and side mounts, and rod holders for your next excursion on the water.
The inner bladders (the pockets that hold the air) of the device add over 30 pounds of extra buoyancy to your kayak, which easily can be inflated with an air compressor, a bicycle pump, or a few (maybe more) deep breaths.
And the best part is that the system can easily be adapted to fit on most kayaks, without drilling holes into them, making installation and removal effortless.
Once installed, you’ll be able to stand, sit, and maneuver on your kayak, without dumping yourself and your gear into the lake.
These stabilizers are also designed to help minimize any drag in the water, so you’ll never feel weighed down by your side floats.
Sitting at 30 inches long and 8 inches in diameter, these pontoons are manufactured from a tear-resistant PVC outer shell, keeping you balanced on the water, even if your line hits a snag and jars positioning.
The Scotty system comes with two No. 280 rod holders, to help you stay in your element at all times, even when you’re out on your kayak.
Best Value - Lixada Kayak Stabilization System
If you’re on the water in a kayak, you need a stabilizer that works in all weather conditions.
The Lixada Kayak Stabilization System is the perfect solution to your kayak outrigging needs. Measuring at 34.6 inches long, these white, PVC pontoons are geared for balance and stability on the water.
With two easy-to-inflate pontoons, this system was built with versatility in mind.
In fact, this stabilizer system is designed with a double valve system, so getting them inflated takes only a few deep breaths. And deflating them is as simple as pulling out the second valve, once you’re done for the day.
Also features a secure locking ferrule at the end of the sidekick arms, allowing you to feel confident in the water, no matter how choppy things get. On top of that, you’ll also get a sidekick mount bar, and all other mounting hardware to get your outrigger attached to your kayak, and get out on the water in no time.
You’ll be able to fish confidently on the water and bring in the big one, without worrying about how your balance is going to hold up against the weight of your next big fight.
Best Premium - Spring Creek Manufacturing Hydrodynamic
If you’re looking for the ultimate safety while you’re out on the water, look no further than this float stabilizer system for kayaks. This stabilizer system is made in the USA, bringing fantastic quality to any watercraft.
Made of lightweight and durable polyethylene plastic, this outrigger is the ultimate in terms of stability and dependability.
Available in three color varieties (red, yellow, and grey), each float weighs a minimal 5 pounds, and offers a 27-pound float buoyancy. Plus, the hydrodynamic design helps you navigate the water smoothly, with minimal drag and uncompromising stability.
Featuring a universal crossbar, you’ll never compromise on the fit of your stabilizers, with each one extending about 20” on either side. And, it’s designed to fit most canoes and kayaks.
On top of that, you’ll be able to choose from four different sizes, with the 30”, 36”, 40”, or 45” varieties, depending on the amount of extra buoyancy you want or need.
Finally, installation is easy with their clamp style set-up; every kit includes the universal receiver crossbar, 2 telescoping arms, 1 set of clamps, and 2 stabilizer floats.
YakGear Kayak & Canoe Outriggers (Generation 2)
Whether you’re worried about rocking in the water or toppling over entirely, the YakGear Kayak and Canoe Outrigger has got you covered.
In fact, this is one of the best outrigger systems in terms of safety and security, so you’ll be protected when dealing through choppy waters, handling a tough fight with a big bass, or simply taking a relaxing paddle down the river.
These outriggers are installed with the Railblaza Starport base that directly mounts on to your boat.
The base lays flat on the kayak permanently, meaning you won’t have to constantly struggle with installation as the base can remain attached at all times, making transportation quick and simple.
Simply detach the outriggers from the base and you’re done.
Both outrigger arms are made of high-quality stainless steel, sitting at 30-inches in length.
You’ll also be able to customize your fit completely with the adjustable arms, raising or lowering either to suit your preferences.
Pactrade Marine Boat Kayak Canoe PVC Outrigger System
Every kayak enthusiast knows that water can be unpredictable. And sometimes, what was a calm afternoon can quickly turn into rough, choppy waters, leaving you struggling to keep yourself and your craft upright.
If you’re looking for an outrigger that can handle the ocean, river, or any body of water in between, the Pactrade Marine Boat Outrigger System is exactly what you need.
This system is built tough with stainless steel mounting hardware and 2 deck mounts made of high impact fiber-reinforced polypropylene. The lock nuts allow easy adjustments, with a red release button to lock and unlock your system quickly.
You’ll receive 2 durable PVC floats in red and off-white, measuring at 27.5” long. These durable PVC pontoons are built with durability and stability in mind, so you’ll never have to worry about damaging them if you run into a rock or dock.
Simply put, these outriggers are designed for whatever you throw at them.
Things to Consider Before Buying Kayak Outriggers
If you’re ready to take the plunge into kayak outriggers, namely, so you won’t take a plunge into cold water while fishing, there are a few different things to consider.
And by considering these factors before making your purchase, you’ll ensure that your kayak will have the best stabilizers that perform exactly the way you need them to.
After all, these stabilizers do more than just look pretty, they have to handle whatever the water throws at them.
Outrigger Flotation Styles
Currently, there are two main configurations when it comes to kayak stabilizers.
First, there are inflatable pontoons. Typically, an inflatable pontoon consists of two different parts of the float.
The exterior is a tough exterior membrane, designed to protect against damage and punctures. The inside of the float is a softer bladder that gets inflated and holds air. This air is what gives your kayak stabilization by acting as a floatation device.
Alternatively, you can purchase a kayak stabilizer that consists of a solid floatation device.
These floats are normally made of a buoyant, yet rigid PVC material, which improves durability and strength. However, the size of solid outriggers like this often make transportation bulky.
Size Options for Kayak Stabilizers
Just as there are many types of kayaks on the market, there are also many different sizes of outriggers available as well.
On average, kayak outriggers are between 30 to 36 inches long, although there are many outriggers and stabilizers on the market that are either a bit shorter or longer.
Before purchasing your set, take into the amount of stability you need for the size of your watercraft.
The larger the measurements of your outriggers, the larger the surface area of your boat will be. The larger surface area means a better prevention of side-to-side tipping of the kayak. In other words, your craft will act more predictably with the stabilizers attached than if you were using the craft without them.
You’ll also want to consider how much buoyancy each pontoon adds to the kayak.
Although some kayaks have predrilled holes for stabilizer kits, there are several designs on the market that will require you to manually drill into the frame.
These installation kits can be permanent mounting systems, where the mounting bar stays attached to the kayak indefinitely, or it can be an easier locking-combination side and deck mounts, allowing the stabilizers to be removed after use.
Both methods of installation have their own benefits and drawbacks, but it’s something to consider before your purchase.
Always make sure that any stabilizer systems you purchase lines up with your pre-drilled holes, that is, if your kayak comes with holes upon manufacturing.
Personally, I recommend looking for universal or adjustable installation bars. These are designed to fit on multiple brands and styles of kayaks, with adjustable bars offering a custom fit for your boat.
Making a DIY Kayak Outrigger
If you're handy and in for a DIY challenge, it is possible to fabricate your own outrigger system for kayaking yourself. It does take some time and effort, but if you'd like to save yourself some money and learn from the experience, it is a cool project to take on.
You'll have to get your hands on plumbing pipes, clips and some bolts. For more information, we recommend watching the video below from Rikkie Carette, who built a very solid rig himself.
Frequently Asked Questions about Kayak Outriggers
Below, we’ll go over a few of the most frequently asked questions surrounding shopping for, buying, and using outriggers or stabilizer systems for kayaks or canoes.
What do kayak outriggers do?
Kayak outriggers are similar to any other traditional outrigger systems, offering balance and stability to the user.
Typically, they work by adding two pontoons on either side of the kayak, helping extend the buoyancy on your boat. These pontoons act as stabilizers to the kayak, making it less likely to rock or tip over.
If you’re considering an outrigging system for your kayak, keep in mind that the placement of your system matters.
To have the most stability and balance on your boat, allowing you to sit and/or stand without repositioning, you’ll want to place the outrigger toward the back of the boat.
This way, the pontoons won’t be in the way of paddling, nor will they become entangled with your fishing line.
Do kayak outriggers work?
Simply put, yes, kayak outriggers do work, and depending on the system you purchase, they will work very well!
Outriggers are designed to increase the buoyancy of your kayak and simultaneously displaces the center of buoyancy further away from the centerline of the kayak.
Therefore, when installed properly, they’ll increase your boat’s stability making fishing and other water activity safer and easier.
However, there are many different types of outriggers on the market. So, choosing one that suits your specific kayak or watercraft needs is crucial.
How long should my kayak outriggers be?
Anyone who’s tried fishing in a kayak understands that stability isn’t always an easy feat.
That’s why outriggers are helpful when out on any body of water, because they help you maintain your balance, instead of ending up in the water, swimming with the fishes.
For the average kayak, you’re going to want an outrigger that’s 30 to 36 inches long.
This length offers enough buoyancy, without causing too much drag or adding too much weight to your craft.
Are outriggers necessary?
Fishing in a kayak can be a bit troublesome in the fact that kayaks are narrow, and therefore, prone to tipping over.
Without using outriggers, casting can feel a little loose causing much rocking and movement to the kayak. On top of that, the low positioning of the kayak also lower your center of gravity, making it more difficult to maintain balance to begin with.
Things can get further complicated when you hook a fish, and need to steer with one hand, while trying to fight with that monster bass with the other.
Outriggers help alleviate these issues by increasing the surface area and buoyancy of your boat. So, although outriggers aren’t a completely necessary component to kayak fishing, they can make things easier on the water.
What angle should outriggers be?
If you’re installing or using kayak outriggers, knowing how to use them is the most important step.
In the water, you want floats to sit just at the surface for optimal stability and the least amount of drag as possible.
Side floats or pontoons should usually be attached to the arms at a 90-degree angle. In other words, you’ll basically want to keep them parallel to the hull of the boat.
Although many outriggers are adjustable, it’s easiest to ensure proper placement before getting out on the water; adjustments mean having to reach backward in the kayak, which can make keeping your balance easier said than done.
How do you install outriggers?
Knowing how to install an outrigger depends entirely on the stabilizer you’ve purchased, and also on the make and model of your kayak.
Some installation and mounting kits are easier to install than others. But at the end of the day, the functionality and performance are what’s most important.
The first thing to do before rigging your stabilizer is ensuring the fit against your kayak.
The majority of outrigger systems will come with comprehensive installation guides, so make sure to read through them before attempting installation.
Many times, installation will involve drilling into the kayak to install the mounting hardware.
Therefore, take the time to properly measure where they need to be installed as you don’t want to drill multiple places, putting holes in the hull of your craft.
Do I need any other equipment for my kayak?
Although other equipment isn't a must (nor is an outrigger), there are lots of convenient tools and gadgets that can further elevate the effectiveness of your kayak fishing venture.
With limited space, you'll often find tools such as lip grippers and hook removers useful. You can never go wrong with a rod holder or anchor either. One thing that'll especially increase your odds of hooking something is getting a kayak fish finder. You need something portable and compact with excellent water resistance, so getting something specialized for kayaking is essential.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Next Kayak Trip
Whether you’re new to the world of fishing from a kayak, or you’re an experienced angler looking for a leg-up on the next adventure, kayak outriggers can easily increase the stability of your ride.
By increasing the surface area of your boat, you’ll feel confident changing positions on the water, especially when trying to cast out the fishing line.
For many anglers, using a set of side floats not only helps with positioning within the boat, but it also helps them feel less rocky on the water. Outriggers also help control side-to-side rolling and minimize movements, which is important when you’re fighting a big game fish.
Hopefully, this guide has helped answer any questions about kayak outriggers you had, so you can make your next purchase confidently, getting you back out on the water in no time! Don't forget to check out these hot kayak fishing tips to maximize your chances of landing big game.
If you don't have a kayak in the first place, you may also check out the best inflatable fishing pontoon boats.