Today’s paddlers and anglers have technology at our fingertips we could only dream about a few years ago—thanks to our handheld GPS and computer systems (commonly known as smartphones).
(photo courtesy of the Paddle Logger folks)
Here are 20 of the best apps canoeists, kayakers, paddleboarders and kayak anglers can download for use on the water. Whether you want a free app or are willing to pay for premium content with no ads, here's the detailed information you need to choose the one(s) best for you.
We've split our choices into four categories to make it easy for you to scan: Paddling-specific, fishing-specific, apps paddlers and anglers will find useful, and weather and river flow apps. You'll note that some are available for both Android and Apple devices and others for one or the other.
Here we go…
The apps in this section are designed specifically for those like us who use human-powered boats. We've listed them in order of their star ratings on Apple, Android or both.
(After looking through this list we can see there need to be more paddling-specific apps for Android users!)
Kayak Tracker is an Apple-only app that tracks your kayaking experience including distance, duration, stroke rate and average speed. It also displays heart rate and even altitude. You can compare your sessions to check progress or simply keep track of where you've paddled.
While the name is "Kayak" the app can, of course, be used for canoeing, paddleboarding and any other water sport—even windsurfing and sailing.
Kayak Tracker is free with in-app premium offers, available for iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac. It has a 4.8-star rating from 1K+ users.
Kayakers, canoeists, kayak anglers—any paddler can take advantage of these apps (photo courtesy of @liquidlogic)
Paddle Logger is an Apple-only app for iPhone or Apple Watch. It's designed to accomplish three tasks very well:
- Track your performance—data like speed and heart rate. If you're training for a competition you can compare sessions easily.
- Track and save your routes along with photos.
- Share your paddle trips on social media or through texts with your family and friends.
PaddleLIVE service, included with a Paddle Logger subscription, has important safety features. It's designed for you to let your loved ones know where you're paddling and how long you expect to be on the water. You can send your float plan to others and set up automatic alerts with your current location in case something goes wrong. This is especially a great idea for those who often paddle alone.
Paddle Logger currently has a 4.7-star rating from over 5K users. It's a free app with several levels of premium upgrades.
Apps can help you track routes, find access points and know distances (photo courtesy of Brandon Born)
Available for Apple users, the Paddle Paddle app tracks your route, speed (both max and average), pace (including any pauses) and the weather. You can set a target and the app will let you know your ETA.
All your canoeing and kayaking adventures can be stored for use later, including sharing as an infographic image. It has Strava integration (more on Strava below) and also HealthKit integration if you use your paddling trips as workouts.
Paddle Paddle has a 4.7-star rating from 220+ users on Apple. It's a free app with in-app paid update offers. (The Paddle Paddle app for Android is a video game, not the same paddling app, FYI.)
The Go Paddling app has over 25,000 locations available for its users with launch points that include reviews from fellow paddlers. Some have called it the "AllTrails" of paddling apps, but others have had a less-than-stellar experience using it.
Google Play has a rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars from 770+ users. It has over 100K downloads, though, so they must be doing something right.
Go Paddler is a Europe-based app designed as a coaching analytics tool for competitive canoe racing. In that sense, most of our audience won't see a need for it, especially since it's priced at 10 Euros/month after the free 30-day trial.
We still wanted to list it here, though, for you to see what's out there. If you're in a canoe or kayak club or want to get serious about competitive racing, by all means, check it out!
Go Paddler is available for both Apple and Android devices.
Fishing apps can help kayak anglers in so many ways (photo courtesy of @bonafide)
Some of these focus on the fishing experience itself (although none are specifically for kayak fishing), while others focus on fishing conditions and regulations.
The Fishbrain app, with a 4.7-star rating from 37K+ Apple users and 3.7 stars from Android users. The app has some powerful features making it a great tool for kayak anglers:
- Access to 14 million fishing spots, including those near you. You can even select a spot based on fish species.
- Depth maps let you "see" underwater structures with contour lines.
- Fish catching logs from app users who share only as much as they want to about their catches.
- Fishing forecast feature helps you identify weather conditions in advance.
- Find local bait shops, ramps, marinas and fishing license vendors.
- Digital logbook allows you to keep track of all the data you care about.
Download the free version of Fishbrain from the App Store or Google Play. In-app upgrades are available.
The FishWeather app includes 50 thousand weather stations all over the world. In looking at the website, most users are fishing big saltwater areas—the oceans and large bays like Chesapeake. If you're an ocean-fishing kayak angler, this is the perfect app for you in planning and executing your fishing trips.
Wind direction, water conditions, current conditions and the forecast are all part of the data this app delivers. The premium paid versions offer even more, of course.
FishWeather is available for both Apple (4.5 stars) and Android (3.4 stars).
FishTrack is another app designed for saltwater anglers. Its features include water data like satellite imagery, water temperature charts, chlorophyll density, currents and tides, moon phase and marine weather forecasts.
You can use it to mark your favorite fishing spots and plan routes and waypoints. It includes offline access, which is always handy.
This is another app where the Apple ratings are much higher than those on Google Play (4.6-star vs 3.4). As usual, the basic FishTrack app is a free download while a paid premium version is also available.
Many apps work on Apple Watches, phones and tablets (photo provided by Kayak Tracker)
FishRules (by Fishbrain) keeps up-to-date on fishing regulations for both saltwater and freshwater around the US. The app uses your phone's GPS and calendar to show you the rules you need to keep in mind, with an offline planner included. It also has a Quick Fish ID feature to help you identify what you catch. The Pro version helps you manage your fishing trips with more.
If you already use Fishbrain, FishRules can now be integrated. It's available for both Android and Apple. Ratings are 4.2 stars by Apple users and 3.7 stars by Android users (maybe Android users are just more particular?).
Fishidy is a fishing maps app that encourages the community of local anglers to contribute fishing info so everyone can enjoy success. It includes detailed maps with contours, launch sites and navigation, the ability to capture your favorite spots and best catches and current weather conditions.
Fishidy has a free and premium version and is available on both the App Store and Google Play. iOS users give it a 3.5-star rating while Android users give it a 2.3-star rating.
The FishVerify app is specifically designed to help you identify your catch whether you're fishing saltwater or freshwater. The app goes further, though, to include local regulations, current marine weather conditions and automatic charting of the GPS location of your catch.
It also includes slot limit and bag limit for each species, and the current state records. You can keep and display your fishing license and boat permits within the app as well.
FishVerify currently has a 4.3-star rating by Apple users and a 3.6-star rating by Android users.
Easily find new fishing spots with access points (photo courtesy of @nativewatercraft)
Another very powerful fishing app (especially with the premium levels), Anglr is available for both Android and Apple. It has just a 3-star rating on Google Play while it has a 4.2-star rating on Apple, though, so it could be a better choice if you're an Apple user.
Anglr is designed for both the new and experienced angler to make the most out of your fishing trips. The developers even have features for high school fishing teams, which is pretty cool. As of this writing their Features link is going to a 404 page, so we can't elaborate on those.
Anglr has a free version for Android and Apple devices as well as in-app paid upgrade options.
Other Apps Paddlers & Anglers Can Use
While not designed specifically for either paddling or fishing, the apps in this section have features we can take advantage of. They're especially valuable to have if you'll use them for other activities too.
Strava "enhances the experience of sport and connects millions of athletes from around the world." This app is marketed to hikers, runners and bikers but works with many other sports as well, including kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding.
It's designed to track and analyze your activity with the usual features like heart rate, distance and speed. It's highly marketed as a social network and can be used with a friend group or local paddling club to share experiences, kayaking routes and more.
There's a free version of the app as well as in-app upgrade options. Strava is available for Android (4.5-star rating) and Apple (4.8-star rating).
Anytime you’re on multi-day wilderness trips, always bring a paper map with you too! You just never know when high-tech gadgets will fail you (photo courtesy of Caleb Young)
Polaris Hiking Offroad Marine
The Polaris Hiking Offroad Marine app is an advanced GPS that keeps you oriented on whatever adventure you're currently on, including canoe or kayak trips ("marine"). It doesn't have the paddling-specific benefits like many of the apps above (saving routes, tracking time and speed, et cetera) but maybe you don't care about those details. If not, this is an easy-to-use, powerful app for what it does.
Polaris Hiking Offroad Marine is well-liked by Android users, with a star ratings of 4.5. There's the free version with paid upgrades offered.
Navionics Boating app is marketed to boaters for cruising, fishing, sailing and diving…which, of course, can include canoeing and kayaking. It provides marine charts, contour maps, length and time involved for trips, weather and tide information and marker placement—although most of it requires a subscription. There's also an active community element to the app.
Navionics Boating has a 3.8-star rating on Google Play from almost 40K users and a 3.1-star rating on the App Store from 1.6K users. There are free and paid versions.
River, Weather & Tide Apps
The rest of the apps we'll cover here are for river canoeists, kayakers and kayak anglers, and for weather and tides. None are designed specifically for paddlers but can certainly be a great way to keep track of these important factors that will impact a paddle trip.
RiverApp is a great app for paddlers to keep track of river conditions. It tracks current data from various public services in 20 countries to check river levels, flow and temperatures. It's easy to check out whitewater sections for current navigability, to save data history and to take advantage of the app's community. It also includes maps of rivers and river sections in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
RiverApp is available for Android (4.2-star rating on Google Play) and Apple (4.1-star rating on the App Store). It's a free download with in-app upgrades available.
RiverFlows is an Android-only app for kayakers, canoeists, anglers and others that do river tripping. It shares data from river gauge sites about river and lake levels in the US.
RiverFlows has a 4-star rating on Google Play from almost 600 users, with 50K downloads and counting. From what we can tell there's just a free version.
River flow is super important to understand, and an app can help (photo courtesy of Scott Beutjer Fishing)
River Data is an iOS-only app for kayakers, canoeists, anglers and other river users that does basically the same thing as RiverFlows for Android. The app aggregates water level and flow data from USGS (United States Geological Survey) water monitoring sites.
River Data has a 5-star rating on the App Store, though from just three users. There's no free version, but the app is just $2.99 to purchase.
Windy.app is a specialized weather app for water and wind sports like canoeing, kayaking and kayak fishing. It's especially great for paddling on big water like the ocean, the Great Lakes and other major water bodies because it includes wave direction and height. Maps from all over the world are included along with detailed weather forecasts and tides.
The World Meteorological Organization awarded Windy "Best Specialized Weather App in its category: Outdoor Activities, Leisure and Sports."
Windy.app is available free for both Android and Apple devices. It has a 4.8-star rating from 205K users on Google Play and a 4.7-star rating on the App Store from 65K users. Must be good!
Tides Near Me
Tides Near Me is an app offered for Android and Apple devices that—no surprise—gives paddlers and anglers data about nearby tides and currents on the world's ocean coastlines. It's searchable by country and, if you're in the US, by state. It uses data from nearby tide stations. The app also provides you with sun and moon rise and set.
The Tides Near Me app has a 4.8-star rating from both Apple and Android users, over 160K of them. It looks like a must-have app for ocean paddlers! It's free to download with no subscription options that we can see.
Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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