Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today, for those looking to get themselves setup with a nice fishing kayak on a budget, I have had a good look around and come up with my 3 best fishing kayaks under $1000. Kayak fishing is a lot of fun, quite relaxing and at times even a good way to get some exercise as well. I do a lot of kayak fishing around where I live in a nice little estuary that allows me to float up and down with the tide and catch a fish or two.
One turn off for those looking to get themselves into a little kayak fishing however can be the cost. But to be honest, my kayak did not cost a fortune and definitely does what I need it to do in both a river and lake in environment so I wanted to share with you some cheaper options here. So grab yourself a nice cold beverage and a snack and let’s see if we can get you started on a nice vessel for a nice price…
My 3 recommended kayaks under $1000
I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:
|Lifetime Hydros Angler Kayak||$||CURRENT PRICE|
|Lifetime Tamarack Angler 120 Fishing Kayak||$$||CURRENT PRICE|
|Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak||$$$||CURRENT PRICE|
What should you be looking for?
Unlike rods, reels, tackle and other fishing related equipment, there doesn’t appear to be the large range of different variations on what is needed in regards to the types of fish being targeted etc. Sure, there are different types of kayaks but at the end of the day, they are fairly versatile in their abilities and different usage areas. There are however some things to keep in mind as you look into getting yourself a good fishing kayak so let’s run through these below:
Types of Kayaks
In terms of kayaks, there are three main types that you may be interested in looking at. These are:
1. Sit on Top kayak
As the name suggests, these are the style that you sit on top of as you paddle along. These are great for fishing as they are generally wider and more stable than some of the others as well as giving you the ability to swing a rod 360 degrees around the vessel with ease. On the downside, there is no protection from the water (you will get a wet backside) and they are also generally slow moving.
Most move about via the traditional paddle method however the higher end models also have foot peddles and hand held rudders to make fishing a little easier. I use a sit on top model and whilst it does struggle in stronger currents, it is perfect for most fishing needs. And although they are generally a little more than $1000 to buy, longer models can also be used in the open ocean as well.
2. Sit in Kayaks
These are the ones where you sit inside the kayak (via the little ‘cockpit’ at the top). They can be just as effective for fishing as the sit on top models and work well in areas with stronger current. They do tend to be narrower and longer making them a little faster across the water however this makes them a little less manoeuvrable as well.
Most move around with paddles and do hold the added advantage of offering more protection from water spray etc. however they do lack the on top storage and access capability of their sit on top cousins.
3. Inflatable Kayaks
Again as the name suggests, inflatable kayaks are pumped up with air for use and come in both sit on or sit in options. Many do come with fishing capabilities and can definitely be used in this capacity. They are also very good where storage and transportation space is limited (I.e. you don’t have a roof rack or trailer on which to carry the hard plastic versions).
If I am being honest however, I have been fishing with people in inflatable kayaks and they just don’t work as well as the two types listed above – not to mention the fact that fishing entails the use of sharp hooks and knives… My opinion, keep them for recreation purposes where they are a lot of fun but maybe leave them alone as a fishing option (would love however some comments below if you do fish from an inflatable kayak).
In addition to the three main type of kayaks outlined above, there are a number of variations that you can look into as well. So as you start to look into the type of kayak you would be looking to purchase, the first thing to consider is where you will be using them. Think about:
- Water type – Will you be on a lake, in an estuary or on the open sea? Check the recommended usage locations for any model that you are thinking about.
- Current – Estuaries generally are susceptible to tidal currents – if these are strong then a longer, sit in model might suit better if you have to paddle a distance to get to where you want to fish. If the fish are where you launch however, then the stability of a sit on top model will work better.
- Hazards – Some water locations (especially lakes) contain hazards such as rocks and fallen trees etc. which whilst generally do not bother a kayak as they may a faster moving motor boat, they are still something to be aware of. Longer, narrower kayak models are not as easy to turn around between rocks and/or trees in the water as the sit on top flatter models.
- Rapids – Look, if your kayak is built for fishing, it is probably not going to perform too well in any environment where there are rapids to deal with – such as a river, stream and upper reaches of an estuary. In all honesty, I would be looking at converting a more appropriate vessel to allow for fishing if you were looking at spending a bit of time within these areas.
There is more to this but from the point of view of fishing from a kayak, as long as none of the above are too extreme, then you should be ok in any model. At the end of the day, the main question to ask yourself is whether you need to more balance or more speed to be able to manoeuvre around your chosen waterway.
Species of fish being chased
Another consideration to think about is the type of fish that you will be chasing. Again, this is mainly about balance and manoeuvrability. If, for example you are chasing fast moving surface fish with a lure, then you may need to move quickly to get to where they are. Alternatively, those of you looking to drift along in the current with your bait or lure bouncing along the bottom, then slower moving, wider kayaks will suit.
Kayaks, like most other floating devices, come in a range of lengths starting at around 8 ft up to 13 – 14ft . Depending on the environmental and fish factors we have discussed above, you may consider the following:
Short craft (8 – 9ft) – The shorter the craft, the easier it is to turn however not the fastest thing you will ever sit in. It will also not hold a glide over the water for very long and is very susceptible to anything other than flat water. Very good for lakes etc. where waters are not rough and manoeuvrability around trees and rocks etc. is required or estuaries with minor currents (like the one I fish in).
Medium craft (10 – 12ft) – In my research, I have found may articles where this is considered the perfect length. They can handle rougher water whilst maintaining stability with a little more speed. They are a little harder to manoeuvre than the short craft but a little faster with better water glide (a.k.a. tracking) to keep the craft moving forward with momentum. The perfect length for those looking to fish in a number of areas and/or environmental factors.
Long craft (13ft+) – If speed a must, or are you planning to do a bit on the open ocean, then I would suggest a longer kayak option. Manoeuvrability and turning is a problem here (think Titanic) however but if you are chasing fast fish – or need to travel larger distances to get to the fishing grounds – then good length is a must. Longer models can also be fitted with foot pedals for faster movement as well however they are also a bit more on the expensive side (and often over the $1000 mark we are covering here).
Width also plays a role here but to be honest, I have always looked at length as my main factor (other may disagree so please comment below if you do). In short though, the wider the craft, the more stable it will be on the water. Narrower boats tend to be faster and maybe a little more manoeuvrable (longer boats however still will not turn as well as shorter ones).
Ok, if you are looking at a kayak and it doesn’t have at least some rod holders, then it is not a fishing kayak. Remember that with a kayak, there is only really a certain amount of space and fishing does generally need a little bit of equipment such as a rod (obviously), bait and a knife at a minimum. So regardless of the width or length, look for a kayak with the following:
- Rod holders – in my opinion a must for a fishing kayak – even if these are the only fishing related options on the vessel. I mean, where do you put your rod when you are paddling otherwise?
- Storage – preferably with a dry bag but at the very least somewhere to store your extra tackle, water, cell phone and car keys etc. – even the smaller length craft will normally have two of these.
- Bait cavity – These are little sections in the top of the kayak where you can put your bait (some are round for drinks as well). These are not critical (as you can use a bait belt) but very nice to have.
- Netted storage – These are generally located at the very front or back of the kayak where you can put larger stuff such as a life jacket (if not mandatory to wear), tackle bags, drink coolers and so on…
The number and setup of these will obviously vary from kayak to kayak dependent upon the length(where they can fit more in, and price paid). For a good kayak under $1000 however I would be expecting some of the above at the very least.
What do I use?
Ok, so I do a lot of kayak fishing in a tidal estuary where I use a 8.5ft sit on top model with all of the options listed in the previous section above. I paid just under $500 for it and to be honest, it is perfect for what I use it for which is drifting up and back with the tidal current with two small rods running a lure and locally sourced bait (small crustaceans we call ‘yabbies’).
I keep my life jacket in the back netted storage (as we are only required by law to have on one board) as well as a fishing knife. In the first dry pocket storage I keep a small plastic container with some extra tackle as there are some snags in the water and a ‘dry wallet’ with my phone, wallet and keys. In the front dry pocket I keep a ‘keeper bag’.
It has 4 rod holders which I use for my two rods and a net which is needed as one of the species we chase will drop the hook if you try and lift it into the kayak.
The kayak is easy to manoeuvre and will run quite well with the current. It’s downfall however is if I have to paddle against the tide or wind where the kayak does become a bit cumbersome and I get soaked…
My three recommendations broken down
So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following options for under $1000:
1. Lifetime Hydros Angler Kayak
This first one is a very basic model that would work well for those looking to mix fishing with just plain recreational paddling. It doesn’t have the features of many others however its lightweight design and manoeuvrability make it perfect for beginners (or those who need a lighter model for transport purposes). Specifications as follows:
- Length: 8.4 ft
- Rod Holders: 2 flush mounted and 1 swivel
- Dry Storage: none
- Bait cavities: none (space around feet for small bucket however)
- Netted Storage: yes x 2
- Adjustable hard seat back
Why have I chosen it?
I like this one purely for its lightweight design and ease of use for those looking to either get started with kayak fishing and/or just be able to ‘throw’ it on top of the car (it weighs 40lb with a usability capacity of 225lb) for a leisurely recreational paddle. At just over 8ft it is definitely more suited to calmer, inland waters and estuaries with great stability and manoeuvrability. It’s strong blow-moulded high-density polyethylene (HDPE) hull design also means it will stand up to all those minor ‘dings’ that come with fishing in rocky or coral areas.
2. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 120 Fishing Kayak
This next one adds a little more functionality than the one above coming in at a slightly longer 10ft. This added length opens it up being able to handle few extra locations and slightly rougher waters with nice stability without the loss of manoeuvrability. And whilst a sit in model it is also a little ‘deeper’ than the others which provides just a little bit more protection from the elements. Its specs include:
- Length: 10 ft (8ft model also available)
- Rod Holders: 2 flush mounted and 1 swivel (side mounted)
- Dry Storage: 2
- Bait cavities: 1
- Netted Storage: yes x 2
- Adjustable hard seat
- Paddle holder with elastic cord
Why have I chosen it?
This is a good kayak for a good price. Its UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene flat bottom design makes it a master of stability suited to many locations such as estuaries and lakes alike. It is easily maneuverable with a nice tracking run making it not a bad option should the fishing holes be a little further away from the launch point. It is also lightweight (50lb) with good space for fishing and storage. This is a kayak suitable for beginners and experienced fishermen alike.
3. Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
I have chosen this final one based on the fact that is the best I have seen in the easily manoeuvrable 10ft range with all the added extras I like to see in a good fishing kayak. Specifications as follows:
- Length: 10 ft
- Rod Holders: 2 in vessel and 1 swivel
- Dry Storage: 3
- Bait cavities: 2
- Netted Storage: yes x 2
- Adjustable padded seat
- Adjustable foot braces
- Protective thigh pads
- Moulded paddle holder with elastic cord
Why have I chosen it?
As mentioned above, this is a great kayak for a good price. It is perfectly suited to many locations such as estuaries and lakes alike. It is easily manoeuvrable with a lot of extras not usually found on a vessel of this size. Good, solid kayak for beginners and experienced fishermen alike.
And there it is – my 3 best fishing kayaks under $1000. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time