Best Personal Watercraft for Fishing in 2024

With an intimate connection to the water and ever-increasing focus on true fishing amenities, PWC have become a viable choice for inland, coastal and even offshore anglers.
Sea-Doo FishPro Trophy 170 running out to fish
The Sea-Doo Fish Pro Trophy is just one of many personal watercraft that can be used for angling. Courtesy Sea-Doo

Thanks to their affordable pricing and overall ease of use, personal watercraft have always made an intriguing option for fishing. Until recently, however, outfitting a craft with basic fishing necessities — like a cooler, rodholders, and GPS/Fishfinder — has required owners to turn to the aftermarket and, in many cases, make significant modifications to their craft.  

A new school of fishing-friendly craft is changing the game. Combining large, ultra-stable platforms with those basic tools an angler requires, and in some cases even going so far as to include features like livewells and pedestal fishing seats, this new generation of craft has proven that personal watercraft are ready to take on everything from skinny, coastal waters to inland lakes and rivers, even venture offshore in search of true trophy fish. Proof? Summer 2023 saw the first swordfish caught from a PWC, miles off the Louisiana coast. 

And when not casting a line, these same PWC still provide every bit of a PWC’s renowned fun and versatility, ready for everything from a spirited solo ride to a long-distance touring adventure, even towing tubes and wakeboards. 

Article at a glance:

6 Recommended Jet Skis for Fishing

Just like in the broader boating market, some PWC models offer just the most basic fishing amenities, while others offer gear to satisfy the hardcore angler. When choosing our recommendations we took into account not only the extent of a craft’s fishing features, but also stability, price and overall versatility.

Review the best jet skis for fishing:

Best Jet Skis for Lake & Inshore Fishing

Three models — two from Sea-Doo and one from Yamaha — made our list of favorites for lake and inshore fishing. All are based on stable platforms, making them a good match for lake and inshore conditions. Key available features include rod holders, coolers, and GPS/Fishfinders.  

Read More: How To Fish From A PWC

Sea-Doo Fish Pro Sport 

Original fishing PWC still offers stable hull, core fishing standards.

Sea-Doo was the first, and remains the only PWC manufacturer to offer dedicated fishing models. The Fish Pro Sport arguably offers the best bang for the buck for lake and inshore fishing, featuring a hull that is rock steady at rest, ready to run in a variety of water conditions and a core collection of standard fishing essentials. The latter includes a 7” Garmin EchoMap GPS Fishfinder at the console, 13.5-gallon cooler w/cutting board and tool pocket aft, and five rodholders that can be placed in various positions. Ergonomic touches abound, including a flatter saddle design that makes it easier for an angler to move about the craft, gunwale footrests, and an adjustable trolling mode. Strip away cooler and rod holders and the Sport is also equally adept at cruising and watersports towing. A 170hp Rotax offers plenty of punch without the increased fuel consumption of a supercharger. 

Pricing and Specs

Starting MSRP:$17,399
Dimensions:Length 146.8”; Width 49.4”; Weight 852 lbs.
Engine:170 hp Rotax 1630 ACE
Seat/Weight Capacity:3/600 lbs.
Fuel/Storage Capacities:18.5 gal./39.6 gal.
Key Fishing Features:Garmin 7” fishfinder, rodholders, 13.5 gal. fishing cooler, trolling mode

What we like:

  • Fishing-focused trio of cooler, rod holders and GPS/Fishfinder. 
  • Bench seat combines comfort with a low profile that allows easy movement about the craft. 
  • Excellent stability at rest, ideal for stand-up casting.

What could be better:

  • As with similar craft, aft weight placement can impact handling.

Make sure your Engine Cut-Off Switch lanyard is attached to your person. They’re required on all personal watercraft and boats under 26 feet.

Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Yamaha VX w/RecDeck/JetFish Package

Versatile midsized model, with choice of fishing-oriented accessories.

A combination of affordability, versatility — and a choice of fishing-focused accessories — make Yamaha’s mid-sized VX an excellent choice for both all-around PWC enthusiast and dedicated angler. Yamaha’s TR-1 HO engine combines solid power delivery with fuel-efficiency, a good combo for those who like to explore their local waters and beyond. Optional accessories, however, turn it from all-around PWC to a true fishing model. Start with the RecDeck. An extended platform that mounts atop the existing aft platform to offer increased space, it can function as a casting deck alone but also the foundation for a choice of Yamaha’s JetFish accessory packages. The basic JetFish package includes a 45-liter Engel cooler and two track-mounted rodholders, along with tie-down and rod-retention straps. The Premium JetFish package mounts that cooler atop a versatile multi-use rack with integrated rodholders. The rack can anchor other accessories, from gear bags to lounge seat. Complement either JetFish package with an optional Garmin Striker GPS/Fishfinder.  

Pricing and Specs

Starting MSRP:$11,399
Dimensions:Length 132.7”; Width 48.8”; Weight 719 lbs.
Engine:1049cc Yamaha TR-1 High Output
Seat/Weight Capacity:3/NA
Fuel/Storage Capacities:8.5 gal./30.1 gal.
Key Fishing Features:Optional RecDeck, JetFish Packages (cooler, rodholders, GPS Fishfinder)

What we like:

  • Solid all-around model, affordable price.
  • Choice of fishing accessories let buyers purchase what they value. 
  • RedDeck adds a boat-style telescoping boarding ladder.

What could be better:

  • May feel more crowded, aft weight placement may affect handling.

Sea-Doo Fish Pro Scout

Affordable choice, based on GTI hull platform, with core fishing amenities.

Sea-Doo’s entry-level model, the Fish Pro Scout, is based on the more recreationally focused GTI hull platform and features a 130hp variation of the Rotax 1630 ACE engine. Somewhat low slung, it offers above-average stability at rest, ideal when fishing. Key features include a large swim platform with LinQ accessory mounts for a 13.5-gallon cooler with recessed top work surface, three repositionable rod holders, trolling slots, and tackle and bait storage. A 6” Garmin GPS/Fishfinder resides in driver’s view in front of the handlebars. The craft also features a trolling speed-control mode, flatter-profile fishing bench seat, and Sea-Doo’s Intelligent Debris-Free Pump System, which allows for simple, reverse flushing of the jet pump should it become clogged with the weeds common to shallower fishing waters.

Pricing and Specs

Starting MSRP:$11,399
Dimensions:Length 130.6”; Width 49.2”; Weight 785 lbs.
Engine:130hp Rotax 1630 ACE
Seat/Weight Capacity:3/600 lb.
Fuel/Storage Capacities:18.5 gal./42.5 gal.
Key Fishing Features:Garmin 6” Fishfinder; 13.5 gal fishing cooler, rodholders; trolling mode

What we like:

  • Affordably pricing, includes standard cooler, rod holders and GPS/Fishfinder.
  • Lower-profile saddle makes it easy to move about the craft when working a fish.
  • Stable platform allows stand-up casting, eases catch and stowage.

What could be better:

  • Aft weight placement of cooler/gear can impact handling.

Best Jet Skis for Offshore Fishing

Sea-Doo Fish Pro Trophy

Ultra-stable platform, with all the amenities the serious angler demands.

Based on Sea-Doo’s flagship GTX hull platform and featuring a naturally aspirated, 170hp Rotax engine, the Fish Pro Trophy is the most complete, fish-ready PWC currently on the market. Equally at home in both inshore and offshore conditions, it offers top-notch stability running through choppy waters and a rock-steady presence at rest. The latter allows the Trophy’s extended aft deck to double as a casting platform, as well as secure gear like the standard 13.5-gallon fishing cooler plumbed to double as a livewell. Highlights include a 7’ Garmin touchscreen GPS/Fishfinder, raw-water wash down, and innovative rear saddle design that allows it to easily convert into a raised, pedestal fishing seat. Additional features include a quick-release anchor; debris-flushing pump system ideal for skinny, weed-prone waters; heavy-duty dual-batteries with 650-watt voltage generator; and a trolling-specific speed control mode.

Pricing and Specs

Starting MSRP:$20,499
Dimensions:Length 146.8”; Width 49.4”; Weight 938 lbs.
Engine:170hp Rotax 1630 ACE
Seat/Weight Capacity:3/600 lb.
Fuel/Storage Capacities:18.5 gal./39.6 gal.
Key Fishing Features:Garmin 7” touchscreen GPS/Fishfinder, rodholders, 13.5-gallon cooler/livewell, pedestal fishing seat, washdown, anchor, weed-free pump system

What we like:

  • Long list of standard features, ready to satisfy the most hardcore angler.
  • Excellent stability, particularly at rest.
  • Naturally aspirated engine improves fuel efficiency, extends range.

What could be better:

  • Significant weight aft, particularly with a loaded cooler, can affect handling.

Get a comfortable U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket designed for use on a PWC, and make sure you wear it every time. It’s the law, even for adults.

Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Yamaha FX HO w/RecDeck

Flagship hull, naturally aspirated engine and choice of fishing packages.

Equipped with a new 1.9-liter, naturally aspirated engine and Yamaha’s big-water-ready FX hull design, the FX Cruiser HO combines power, fuel efficiency, and stability into an attractive package that can both run offshore and offer at-rest stability once arrived at your favorite fishing hole. Optional equipment is a must to get the most out of the craft. Start with the RecDeck, a broad aft platform that integrates neatly with the swim platform and serve as the mounting point for a wide range of accessories. Choose the FX Premium JetFish Package for one-stop shopping. It includes a multi-use rack, cooler, a pair each of rack-mounted rod holders and cupholders, fishing rod retention straps and assorted tie-downs and eyelet mounts. A choice of Garmin GPS Fishfinders is also available, from a smaller Striker to larger, 6” EchoMap.

Pricing and Specs

Starting MSRP:$15,699
Dimensions:Length 140.9”; Width 50”; Weight 827 lbs.
Engine:1898cc Yamaha High Output
Seat/Weight Capacity:3/NA
Fuel/Storage Capacities:18.5 gal./44.5 gal.
Key Fishing Features:Options include RecDeck platform; JetFish Packages (cooler, rodholders); choice of Garmin GPS Fishfinders

What we like:

  • RecDeck includes pull-out boarding ladder, options beyond fishing, including rear-facing lounge seat.
  • FX hull tracks straight and true in rough water.
  • Naturally aspirated engine improves fuel efficiency, extends range.

What could be better:

  • Cooler only; livewell option would add versatility.
  • RecDeck and accessories add considerable weight aft, affecting handling.

Kawasaki Ultra 160LX-S

Midrange model with flagship features, aft-deck mounting system.

Kawasaki’s Ultra 160LX-S combines the high-end features of its flagship model with a more fuel-efficient, naturally aspirated 160hp engine. It’s important to note Kawasaki does not offer any fishing-specific features on its Ultra 160LX-S, but we’re including it here thanks to the fact its impressive rough-water handling and stability make it a good candidate for venturing offshore. A non-supercharged engine is rated at 160hp, and blends performance with fuel efficiency. A sizable aft deck platform also offers a track system that makes it possible to mount a variety of accessories, including rodholders and a cooler which could hold a day’s catch. It’s up to the owner, however, to piece together what they need from the aftermarket.

Pricing and Specs

Starting MSRP:$17,199
Dimensions:Length 140.9”; Width 47”; Weight 964 lbs.
Engine:1498cc Kawasaki
Seat/Weight Capacity:3/NA
Fuel/Storage Capacities:21.1 gal./44.5 gal.
Key Fishing Features:Aft platform track mounting system

What we like:

  • Proven hull design offers a stable, predictable ride in all water conditions.
  • Naturally aspirated, 160hp engine is fuel efficient, offers extended range.
  • Track system on aft platform can anchor cooler, other gear.

What could be better:

  • No specific fishing features are offered, leaving owners to piece together their own fishing solutions.
  • Tiered, bolstered saddle impacts movement about the craft when not underway.

8 Things to Consider When Buying a Jet Ski For Fishing

  1. Size and Stability: Three-passenger craft work best thanks to their added size, but don’t overlook stability, key for standup casting or trying to bring larger fish over the side.
  2. Rodholders: Carrying fishing rods can be cumbersome. Look for multiple rodholders, typically portable so they can be repositioned depending on the task at hand.
  3. Spacious Aft Platforms: Many anglers will never leave the saddle, but large aft platforms make good casting decks, as well as offer space to mount additional gear.
  4. Cooler: It’s essential to have a place to store your catch. Coolers can also carry snacks and drinks, and in some cases, be converted to livewells. Bonus points for a cutting board atop the lid.
  5. GPS/Fishfinder: Like any good fishing boat, a PWC equipped with a fishfinder will allow you to make the best use of your time on the water.
  6. Flatter Saddle Design: Contoured saddles are great for cruising, but anglers will benefit from a flatter saddle profile that offers increased freedom of movement around the craft. 
  7. Non-Supercharged Engine: Speed is fun, but when fishing is the goal better to choose the increased range and fuel-efficiency provided by a naturally aspirated engine. 
  8. Space for Extras: Don’t overlook the need to store tools, tackle, and other gear. Some cooler mounts or designs will include pockets for tools. Also consider ease of access to your craft’s storage compartments. 

Read Next: What To Look For in a PWC (New or Used)

Personal watercraft are the motorcycles of the sea. Never assume other boaters can see you, so avoid high-traffic areas when you can and always ride defensively.

Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Other FAQs about Fishing PWC

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about both PWC and fishing-specific PWC, including longevity, care and maintenance, and best engine/hull designs for fishing use.

  1. How long do PWC normally last?

Data analytics leader J.D. Power lists the average lifespan of a PWC engine at 300 hours. Like any vehicle, proper care and maintenance — including cleaning, performing regular oil changes, and flushing engines after use in debris-filled or salty waters — will extend the lifespan of your PWC. We’ve seen properly maintained PWC run for decades. 

  1. Can all personal watercraft be used in fresh and saltwater?

Yes, PWC can be used in both fresh and saltwater, but saltwater use requires a little more care. As many PWC use the water they’re running in to cool the engine, it’s essential to flush saltwater and other debris from the engine cooling system as well as exhaust to prevent internal corrosion and keep cooling passages open. Quick-connect flush fittings, common on most modern PWC, make it easy to attach a garden hose and perform a simple flush but always follow manufacturer recommendations, as typically the engine has to be running when cooling water is being introduced.

  1. What brands make the best fishing PWC?

Many PWC enthusiasts have their favorite brand, but when it comes to fishing it’s safe to say Sea-Doo offers the most options, with three Fish Pro models aimed at various price points and targeting recreational to serious anglers. Yamaha’s approach to fishing is to offer a variety of fishing accessories, including extended platforms, coolers, rodholders and fishfinders. Kawasaki currently has the least fishing options available, but a track system on larger craft can be used to anchor coolers and rodholders.

  1. Are fishing PWC worth it?

It all depends on your interest. Fishing-specific models, or those equipped with fishing options, are certainly worth it for the serious angler, as they offer commonly used equipment, like rodholders, fishfinders, coolers, etc. Remember, below the fishing extras remains a standard PWC, ready to deliver plenty of fun on the water.

  1. Do PWC handle well in choppy waters?

Modern, three-passenger hulls from Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Kawasaki all handle choppy water quite well, delivering mostly dry, stable and predictable handling, even in coastal and, within reason, offshore conditions.

  1. What engine size is best for a fishing PWC?

Engine size is only important if you value speed. Most fishing-oriented PWC tend to avoid supercharged engines in favor of naturally aspirated engines that offer better fuel efficiency and, in turn, increased range.

  1. What kind of PWC hull do you want for fishing?

While any hull is suitable for fishing, deep-V hull designs better handle rough conditions. Ideally, look for a deeper-V hull that also provides excellent stability when at rest, key for standing, fighting aggressive or larger fish, or moving about the craft when not underway. 

  1. Are the terms Jet Ski, Sea-Doo and WaveRunner interchangeable? 

Though personal watercraft are often lumped under the term “jet ski,” the name actually refers to craft made by Kawasaki. BRP manufactures the Sea-Doo brand. Yamaha’s line of PWC are referred to as WaveRunners.