There are fishing kayaks extending well into the thousands of dollars but you don’t have to spend nearly that much to get on the water. There are benefits to those more expensive boats but you would be surprised what you can get out of the best fishing kayak under $1000. From the budget models to some of the best ever built, we cover the whole range.
What Can You Expect for Under $1000?
- What Can You Expect for Under $1000?
- Important Points When Buying a Fishing Kayak
- Comparison Table
- Best Fishing Kayak Under $1000
While the price definitely falls into the category of budget models, you shouldn’t settle on quality. There are plenty of boats available in that price range that will do all that you need and more. Some are exceptional while others are closer to average.
Here are some points to consider:
Purpose Built Fishing
You won’t find a lot of purpose built fishing kayaks under $1000 but there are a few out there. Though these will often be on the smaller and lighter side, they are much more capable than your average recreational craft. They will also have more added features and value while being overall more stable and comfortable.
Most fishing models have a greater weight capacity for gear and hauling on larger fish. If you aren’t a fisherman, these are still a great option for their price. Overall, they tend to be better than the cheaper recreational boats.
These are smaller and often cheaper models that come with just the basics to get you on the water. You won’t find a lot of additional or comfort features like you would on more purpose-built craft. Still, with a little effort you can turn one of these into a fishing beauty. It is how many of us got our start.
Not all recreational models are built the same. The quality can vary greatly and so can the performance. Always do your investigation beforehand to make sure you are getting something usable. Some of the cheapest ones are barely worth the money.
One of the more noticeable upgrade on a fishing kayak is the increased weight capacity for more gear and the ability to haul in larger fish. This can make a two-person tandem a viable choice since it will already have more room and a lot more weight capacity.
There are very few two-person craft built for fishing but whether you want to go it alone or take a buddy alone, a few easy mods can turn one of these into a viable alternative to investing more into a purpose built boat.
There are two types of kayaks when it comes to how you occupy them. A sit-in style is the classic type that puts you inside the plastic shell with your butt at or below water level. These can be more stable and will keep you dryer. They are usually more affordable as well.
Sit-on styles are a plastic shell that has the seat mounted in a small recess on top. Your butt will be above water level. This can make some sit-on style boats less stable overall. This is not true of all as many fishing kayaks are sit- on and are among the most stable. This is best ruled on a one-by-one basis. Sit-ons often cost a little more and you will more prone to getting wet in one.
Important Points When Buying a Fishing Kayak
When you begin breaking it down to the specifics, there are a few points you are going to want to give some thought to. Every model and every brand is a little bit different. To make the most out of your purchase, you want to get it right the first time.
While kayaks come in lengths ranging from 6 feet to 15 feet, for a budget you are going to be closer to the 8 to 10-foot range. This saves a little money and makes them much easier to transport. These will still be very useful and usable craft provided you get one that suits your needs.
The first and most noticeable effect of length is tracking. Though it is not universally true, the longer it is the better it will track. Tracking is simply how straight the bow stays in the water. Better tracking makes for greater speed and easier paddling.
A longer boat will often hold more weight but will weigh more. They are harder to store and transport than the shorter ones. These are the primary concerns with length. How long a craft you are willing to store and transport against how much you weigh and will it support you.
Often width goes hand in hand with length but not always. There is a minimum width a kayak needs to be to accommodate a person and be stable. The wider it is the more stable it will be and the more it will safely hold.
Conversely, a shorter, wider craft will not track as well as one with the same length that is wider. Shorter is better in small water where it maneuvers better. They are also lighter, easier to transport, and easier to store.
While this was covered above, there are a few additional notes about maximum capacity that are worth being aware of. Firstly, the closer you get to the max, the lower the boat will ride in the water and the less stable it will be. It will also track worse and be much slower.
Secondly, if you plan on taking any gear with you on the water make sure you allow for that weight. You always want a reasonable margin between the final weight on the craft and its maximum.
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Best Fishing Kayak Under $1000
1. Vibe Sea Ghost 130
While the price could be considered to be on the lower end for a great kayak, this is definitely not a low-end model. Nothing made by Vibe is. It is a full-featured, large, durable, and very well built. No matter how demanding, this is exactly what you need to fulfill your fishing or exploration needs.
To start with the basics, this is a full 13-foot craft though it is a little slimmer than most at only 33 inches wide. It can hold up a total of 550 pounds but weighs only 75. If you are a fisherman, this is exactly what you are looking for. Not only can it hold you and all your gear but it can handle fighting even the largest fish.
The extras are what you would expect when it comes to fishing. It has two aft rod holders and adjustable rail mounts for forward rod holders. Then there is the large front console, a second mid-ship, and a large cargo area in the back.
It even comes with a foot-controlled rudder which is unheard of for this price. The seat is one of the best you will ever sit in. All around, this is a prime example of what is possible for under a thousand bucks.
2. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-TK181
While not a company with a lot of renown, you can expect that to change in the near future. BKC is a company that worries about value added products and gives you everything you could need up front. In addition to a quality fishing kayak, you also get the paddles and rod holders.
By design the BKC is a shallow riding craft that remains stable at a variety of different weights, anything up to 440 pounds. At 12 and a half feet, it can easily accommodate two adults or just as readily be used by a single person. It is a bit on the narrow side at only 30 inches and comes in a bit heavy at 85 pounds.
The weight and narrowness have two effects. The first is that it remains stable for fishing and the second is that it tracks surprisingly well. This is any easy boat for larger waters but can be a bit difficult to navigate in tight spaces. You can use it on gentile rivers but smaller streams can be a challenge.
There are a total of 3 articulated rod holders on board and 4 flush mounted for backups. You get a reasonable amount of storage in the two midship waterproof compartments and a reasonable aft cargo area. While not the easiest to get to the water, you are definitely ready for some serious fishing when you do.
3. Elkton Outdoors Tandem
If you want to have a blast on the water there are few ways better than with an Elkton Outdoors. This tandem kayak is among the best on the market, period. It is astoundingly stable, you can easily stand on it. For first-timers, this is exactly where you want to spend your money.
To break it down, this is a 12.5-foot craft that is right at 3 feet wide and weighs just a little under pounds. Divided between two people, it can hold a total of 600 pounds. That is more than enough for two avid fishermen, gear, and a huge daily catch.
Where this boat really shines is its use for a single person. There are no holdbacks when paddling alone. It tracks well, is reasonably fast, and light enough to be managed easily. Add a second and it will still work perfectly well and track just the same.
This kit includes everything you need to get on the water fast. It comes with two paddles, two articulated rod holders, 4 flush mount holders, under deck storage for each passenger and a small cargo area. If you can’t get all the supplies you need for an all day fishing trip in here, you probably have too much.
Vibe Skipjack 90
We are back with Vibe with something a little smaller for this second go around. Just because its smaller doesn’t mean it is less. This is still a very good little kayak for fishing or just paddling around. Despite its smaller size, it has about everything you could want out of a kayak while still being much easier to store and transport.
At just 9 feet long and 32 inches wide, you wouldn’t imagine it to be very stable or track very well but the little Skipjack is full of surprises. It can hold a whopping 300 pounds which is great when you have some gear to take along or just a little extra floatation when you are on shorter trips.
The Vibe was designed for fishing so it does have all you would need for that purpose. There are two rod holders aft and locations for more in the center console and on both sides up front. It even has an easy access well right where you need it.
For the avid fisherman, this is a great choice. There are no 9-foot kayaks that track this well or are this stable. With good comfort, plenty of rod holders, and a great layout, you won’t find anything better in this size or price.
4. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-FK184
Our second feature from the amazing Brooklyn Kayak Company is a single person kayak that is easy on you and hard on the fish. It is as well built as any boat on the market and decidedly better than most. You can tell those who worked on it have a love for fishing by the overall design.
At only 9 feet long and 33 inches wide, this is a fairly small craft. Probably not something you want on the ocean but that will fit in any freshwater habitats around with ease. It is light and maneuverable while still having a 330 pound capacity.
It comes with a single swivel rod holder and 4 flush mounted holders for your backups or when trolling. Both the front and console compartments feature true waterproof storage for your valuables and there is a decent cargo area behind the seat. Speaking of which, this is one of the best seats on a kayak of this price.
Being short, you always worry about tracking but this tiny craft will track quite well for its size. More than that, it is nimble and works well at getting into hard to reach spots on isolated streams. Being a lightweight boat itself, getting it to the water is easy. Deciding when to take it out of the water is hard.
5. Lifetime Tamarack
If you see someone transporting kayaks down the road, they are most likely made by Lifetime. There are more of these on the water than any other brand. This partly due to their budget price and partly their overall quality. Of these, the Tamarack is probably about the best.
This is among the smallest fishing kayaks out there at only 10 feet long. It can hold a total of 275 pounds and weighs just over 50. While this does limit the capacity for extra gear, it is often enough for the solo kayaker and does a wonderful job of getting them into hard to reach places.
For the size, this kayak tracks fairly well. It won’t be winning any speed records but it may win several for buyers choice. Any lake you visit in the summer, you are likely to find at least a few of these. Most aren’t even being used by fishermen. It’s just a better buy than the Tamarack without the extras.
What extras? Well, it has two rod holders behind the seat and a Scotty rod holder up front. There is under deck storage below the ample rear cargo area. A second under deck storage is in the console location that can serve as a well or just a location for things you may want in a hurry. All in all, this is a perfect choice for a first time paddler looking to try fishing.
6. Sun Dolphin Excursion 10
Another brand popular with the summer crowd, Sun Dolphin has a presence on most every waterbody all summer long. The difference is that Sun Dolphin has focused more on their sit-in models than anything else. This means they are cheaper and more stable. They are a great choice for young people just get out and enjoy.
At only 10 feet long and 30 inches wide, the Excursion is a very maneuverable boat perfect for small water and small streams. It is surprisingly stable for that width and can cope well with a little rough water but nothing you would call rapids. The weight capacity is a firm 280 pounds but it will ride a little low in the water as you near that weight.
For a 10 foot kayak, the Excursion tracks fairly well. It isn’t perfect but it doesn’t need to be. It is far more suited for a leisurely stroll than a sprint. The shape lends itself best to getting into tight spots and around smaller areas. It does have some rear storage for longer days if you need it.
There is a rod holder up front that is easily removed if you aren’t interested in fishing. Storage is a little light for fishing unless you are a minimalist. And if you are, this is a great choice for you. The small, lightweight form is easy to transport and store while being very enjoyable when you do take it out.
7. Coleman Colorado
Fishing kayaks in an inflatable are rare, this is quite the intrepid and innovative design that is guaranteed to hold everyone and everything you care to put on it. It can comfortably hold two adults with ease and still perform quite well.
The Colorado may be a little shorter than you would imagine at only 10 feet when inflated and when stored it can fit in a duffle bag. Despite that, it is quite roomy with probably the best seats in an inflatable. They are a separate piece from the boat itself and provide plenty of support and cushion for long days fishing.
The tracking isn’t great and it is a little slow on still water. However, fishing is a patient man’s game and the Colorado can get places that normal watercraft simply can’t. When you get there, it has two included swivel rod holders, two rear rod holders, and mounting for another 3 if you need them. It even has mounts for a trolling motor.
The exterior is designed to be puncture resistant and it has a factory guarantee against leakage. Even if you were to puncture one, the boat is built with multiple chambers to keep it afloat. While it may not be the most amazing choice, it is budget friendly and among the easiest there is to get it where you need it.
And that brings us to a close. All of the best fishing kayak under $1000 in the same place. While this is not an exhaustive list, we picked products we believe in that have the support of their companies and the community that uses them. There are a lot of options out there but not all are guaranteed to do what you need. Avoid the budget big box store models and check out what others are saying about the boats they own. Nothing is more fun than getting out on the water but if you can’t stay afloat to fish, what’s the point?