Fishing from a Kayak. It might seem a bit eccentric, a little quaint, something of a history exercise for getting in touch with ancient fishing methods that peoples as diverse as the Eskimos and the Native American Nations used to hunt and feed. But what may come as a surprise – and what many people don’t know – is that kayak fishing is a remarkably efficient and satisfying way to make a catch.
What fishing from a kayak has going for it is, primarily, stealth. A kayak has no engine, is designed to silently glide through the water and, once an ideal spot has been reached, can sit stably while you fish for you’re a totally unsuspecting catch. Another great thing about kayak fishing is kayaks come pretty affordably, and most fishing tackle is perfectly suitable for the kayak fishing, whether it be a spinning rod and reel combo or a more advanced baitcasting reel.
Our Top Pick:
There are several types of fishing kayaks you can potentially go for such as so-called “Sit-in” and “Sit-on-top” Kayaks, as well as pedal-driven models. There is also the question of a kayak paddle, with different weights and sizes demanding a different paddle. Pretty much all kayaks can be used for fishing in-shore as well, and you needn’t break the bank to get started. In that spirit then, read on for our list of the ten best cheap fishing kayaks for under $1000.
The 10 Best Cheap Fishing Kayaks Under $1000:
1. Intex Excursion Pro K2 | The Best All-rounder
|Max Load (lb)||400|
What makes this kayak a great all-rounder is its adaptability. Not only does it have separate directional skegs for shallow and deep water, but it also has spring-loaded valves for speedy inflation/deflation, removable seat boosters, and adjustable footrests to make it fit any body size. This is a very affordable fishing kayak and an excellent choice for any first forays into the world of kayak fishing.
It comes with a sturdy carry bag and deflates down to a very manageable size. In combination with its noted adaptability, this also makes it a great choice for fishing adventures where you don’t know what’s coming up. This is a very important point when it comes to inflatable kayaks. Some have a tendency to wobble a little and yield to pressure. Not so here; this kayak holds rigid and firm when inflated correctly.
In terms of downsides, the Intex Excursion can be a little cramped a full capacity and the so-called “dry bag” – although sturdy and durable – is not actually watertight. This shouldn’t cause too many problems but could be annoying when loading it into a vehicle after a fishing trip.
2. BKC TK122 12.9′ Tandem | Stability at High Weight
|Max Load (lb)||770|
What marks this out as an excellent fishing kayak – as well as the reason it makes our list – is its impressive stability even when carrying a full load of passengers and lots of heavy tackle. Even on choppy water conditions, this kayak holds good. In terms of seating the TK122 comes with what are known as two “universal sit in deluxe” seats. And deluxe, they are. These fully ergonomic seats even come with memory foam! Underneath each seat on this model, you’ll find a storage hatch. And at the back, there is also a rear cargo area, with bungee cords, which is impressively spacious. These storage areas are also fully watertight, which is a big bonus for avoiding corrosion of your tackle or stowing water-sensitive items like mobile phones.
It also has a particularly deep interior, which accounts for its stability. This about 8” but is still classified as a Sit-on kayak, allowing you stability whilst retaining a handy vantage point. It isn’t, however, the best kayak to stand up in. There isn’t a great deal of flat deck to stabilize yourself on. There have also been numerous reports of anglers taking out this otherwise excellent kayak finding that only a little rough handling will be enough to snap the latches on the dry box.
3. BKC RA220 11’6” Single | Best Single Kayak
|Max Load (lb)||440|
The best thing about single-person kayaks – besides the total tranquillity you reach alone in the middle of a still body of water – is that they will move faster and turn easier. This model positively glides through the water aided by a foot-operated rudder. Unlike the previous entry on our list, this remarkably stable kayak accommodates standing up exceptionally well, which is great for those long casts. Being able to cast these longer distances, of course, gives this kayak a longer range than others. Much like the Intex Excursion above, this is another very comfortable kayak, with a stable and removable mesh chair.
Another very useful and slightly ingenious feature is the removable waterproof pouches within the storage compartments. Not only will these facilitate an easy transfer of your catch or equipment after a fishing trip but, once you removed them, you have access to the interior hull of the kayak, giving you a massively expanded amount of storage space.
It has to be said however that, for all this kayak’s excellent handling and stability, it does sink a little into the water at heavier loads. At a capacity of around 200 lb (around half its total capacity), this becomes a slight issue. The point in the hull just below the compartment also appears to be made from a thinner and weaker plastic so exercise caution in rough or shallow water.
4. Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe | Best Inflatable Sports Kayak
|Max Load (lb)||650|
Sports kayaks aren’t normally sold specifically for fishing purposes but there are a few situations where this type of inflatable kayak, that can handle rough waters and has a bit of yield and the buoyancy to keep you afloat. Perhaps you’re seeking out a particularly grand fishing spot somewhere downstream? Perhaps your kayaking adventure has more to it than just fishing, and you’d like to get a little white water action in too? Or perhaps where you intend to fish is just a bit lively? This is the kayak for all of these situations.
Coming with not one but two rear skegs, this kayak handles well and is speedy and maneuverable. If you’re traversing large distances – perhaps down along the river to your ideal fishing spot or over a large lake – this is definitely a bonus. This kayak is also billed – above all else, in fact – as one that can handle rapids. Sea Eagle claims this kayak can handle up to Class III white water, so it’s ideal for the more adventurous anglers out there. As a natural corollary of this, it’s also pretty durable, the material is tough enough and yielding enough to survive some knocks on rocks or some scrapes on the river bed (although don’t go deliberately testing this out!). Another bonus is undoubtedly the price, you’ll nearly always find this kayak for well under $300, making it a great one to try out at first if you’re new to either angling or kayaking.
A major drawback that has been widely reported, however, is that the seats on this kayak do not offer much support, and have a habit of giving way when their occupant leans back to hard, so definitely lookout for this. Also, while it may back compact and portable (as well as very easy to inflate/deflate) it can be a little burdensome on your back, especially when hiking through rural terrain. For the price and the versatility however, this kayak is a relative winner.
5. Driftsun Teton 120 | Best “Adventure-ready” Kayak
|Max Load (lb)||500|
Although marketed as a recreational and not a fishing kayak, all this would seem to mean for anglers is that this kayak is kitted out for real fishing adventures. Certainly the main thing to recommend this excellent kayak is the wealth of features designed specifically for fishing, and fishing in various locations. The kayak, which you’ll usually find just shy of $800, is fitted out with no less than four rod holders, a rear tank well storage space with bungee ropes, two watertight storage compartments, removable seats, self-bailing scupper plugs, and even cup holders! And as if to complement this “adventure-ready” design, the hull of this hard kayak is exceptionally tough and UV resistant, meaning you can really take this kayak anywhere. As you might expect, this kayak also handles very well, even on choppy waters, and there’s little chance of instability as you fish from the adjustable, removable but ultimately firm seats.
Given this impressive durability and stability then, it’s something of a surprise and a disappointment to learn that you can’t actually stand up in this kayak with any ease, and you can probably forget all about those long-range casts that require a higher vantage. That said, with the range of water conditions this kayak can perform in, it’s not as if you can’t simply paddle within range of whatever you wish to catch. There have been reports that the front handle has broken quite easily, but this will not disable the kayak and, in any case, is a minor design flaw (though do take note, Driftsun!)
6. Vibe Sea Ghost 110 | The Best for Long Trips
|Max Load (lb)||550|
This fast, tough and durable sit-in kayak has been designed for those long days on the water. No angler needs telling how, sometimes, fishing can be an endurance run, reeling in measly catches (or nothing at all!) for hours on end until something to proud of takes a bite. If you have the mental discipline and endurance to truly stick it out, this is the kayak for you.
What makes this kayak excellent for this purpose is that it seems to have been designed with the conservation and replenishment of the angler’s energy in mind. This is evident from the toe controlled rudder system, which changes the direction of the kayak with the slightest movement of the angler’s foot. The seats are also excellent, offering firm support and comfort – they can literally be sat in for hours with no aches in lower back creeping up. This kayak also has more storage compartments than most, specifically a large central control, an oval hatch in the front, a hatch at the rear. If you want to stock up on victuals for a whole day on the water, this kayak has the means of storing them. As a nice added bonus, this kayak is also pretty suitable for standing up, keeping stable as you make those longer casts.
In terms of downsides, this kayak doesn’t come with a paddle, which is pretty annoying if you’re eager to get started, and also there have been reports of it arrived with the rudder lines not properly run.
7. Lifetime 10’ | Best Small Tandem Kayak
|Max Load (lb)||500|
When including the best small tandem kayak on our list, the inevitable downsides were always going to be a problem with space, both for people and things. Expectedly, this otherwise excellent little fishing kayak does not manage to circumvent these problems. This kayak is only 10 feet long and if you seat more than one person things are going to be cramped. There isn’t a great deal of storage either, making it unsuitable for long trips or big catches.
However, having gotten that out of the way, we can stop worrying about problems that were always inevitable with a tandem kayak of this size and start praising how much of an excellent seaworthy and affordable little number this actually is. You’re most likely to get it for under $500 and, for that price, there’s a lot to recommend it. This kayak is both durable and maneuverable, and you should find yourself gliding through the water with ease unheard of with larger models. And although lacking in storage volume, it’s capacity is a very respectable 500 lbs, meaning you can rely on it to be stable even when carrying two passengers and as much equipment as you might need.
8. Perception Pescador Pro | The Best for Calm Water
|Max Load (lb)||375|
There are some fishing kayaks that promise to do it all, but this is not to be trusted. Whilst there’s a lot to be said for a good all-rounder kayak, the “jack of all trades, master of none” does nevertheless always apply. That isn’t to say that a kayak that promising performance in multiple environments will be bad in any of them, just that it is unlikely to excel in any of them.
With that in mind, it’s well worth looking into kayaks that are specialized, and if you know where you plan to fish, you can get the kayak that’s right for you. This lightweight sit-on-top kayak from Pescador, for example, won’t perform terribly well in choppy rivers of the open sea, but if you plan to fish on calm lakes or slow-moving rivers, this kayak is optimal. This is a comfortable kayak with good protection against leaks. You can expect it to glide silently through calm waters, giving you a stealthy jump on your catch. On the calm waters for which it is designed, furthermore, you can expect to be able to stand up with a sure footing, allowing you those longer-range casts. It’s also made entirely in the USA, which is always nice. It will be a little cramped with two passengers but, used within its proper sphere, this is a great kayak.
9. Sevylor Coleman Colorado | The Best for Hazardous Waters
|Max Load (lb)||600|
Sometimes the angler needs to chase down his catch into the more difficult to reach spots, tucked away along the waterways and bays of the land. This fishing kayak is decked out in army khaki, suggesting heavy-duty durability and, while you should certainly not be fooled into thinking this model is invincible, it has some handy safety features and is stable enough for some venturing into hazardous waters.
For one thing, its combination of inflatable PVC and tarpaulin is durable and leads to stability on the water. It’s always able to cut through the water at speed, which is a just as well as it is fully compatible with a trolling motor. This kayak handles well and is comfortable and spacious – it will easily fit two fully grown men. Perhaps the most useful safety feature is the multiple air compartments, meaning if a sharp rock or a rough riverbed pierces your kayak (which is actually pretty unlikely in the first place) you won’t lose your buoyancy. It’s also very affordable into the bargain.
In terms of drawbacks, the rod holders are very poorly positioned and get in the way if you decide to paddle. There have also been some reports of leakage problems, but thankfully Sevylor’s customer service has also attracted praise so this should be something you can deal with without too much hassle.
10. Lifetime Tamarak Angler 100 | The Best for General Stability
|Max Load (lb)||275|
This lightweight one-seater kayak is quite simply a standout for performing within its field. Via the simple mechanism of a deep and flat hull, this is – when within capacity – a remarkable stable kayak that tracks and handles exceptionally. You can expect to be paddling gracefully through even choppy waters and windy conditions.
For its size and capacity, both the storage and the legroom is more than ample and, even with an admittedly awkward fitting seat, you can expect to be fishing in comfort and be able to stand up without any fear of capsizing. This kayak is also tough and durable and can certainly take a few knocks. For a single angler on a budget, expecting to fish in all but the roughest condition, there might well be no better kayak out there.
How to Buy a Fishing Kayak
Selecting a fishing kayak proceeds from – as with all fishing decisions – deciding what you want to catch and where you want to catch it. There are of course great all-rounder kayaks, but if you have a clear idea of your fishing environment, you’ll want to go for the kayak that best suits it, be it calm water, rivers, choppy water, open or enclosed spaces.
Types of Fishing Kayaks
There are several types of fishing kayaks, but it’s important to note that the vast majority you will come across will be sit-on kayaks. These are simply the kind most suited for most types of fishing. With that in mind, however, the main kayak types are:
As mentioned above these are the most suited for most types of fishing. They allow your kayak to sit sufficiently low in the water to achieve stability whilst also offering you a suitable vantage point from which to cast your line.
These aren’t ideal for more most fishing purposes, being prone to flooding (nowhere for the water to go) and lowering your vantage point. However, they can be considerably cheaper.
Peddle Driven Kayaks
These kayaks are a good deal more expensive but can be great for covering long distances and conserving your energy for long days out on the water. That said it might be worth keeping a peddle handy to lower the water disturbance when you approach your spot.
How to Select a Kayak Paddle
A good kayak paddle will be lightweight and ergonomic, allowing for ease of use and smooth action. They come in all materials and sizes and, generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Length is of paramount importance and a good rule of thumb is to make sure it is in harmony with the width of your kayak.
The following table may be of use:
|Kayak width (“)||Under 23||23 – 28||29 – 33||34 >|
|Paddle length (cm)||210 – 220||220 – 230||230 – 250||240 – 260|