Fishing kayaks are one of the most popular types of recreational kayaks you can buy. The issue with any type of kayak, though, is that they’re often a very expensive purchase, with costs often reaching thousands of dollars.
This not only puts off beginners who may want to try out this hobby but also makes it difficult for other paddlers to buy a replacement or upgraded kayak.
While you may think that a cheaper kayak won’t have as many features as some of the higher-end ones, nowadays brands are making more budget kayaks that have everything you will need to have a great fishing experience.
With that in mind, we’ve made a list of the best recreational fishing kayaks that are under $1000. We have also added a buyer’s guide at the bottom to show you all the important things you need to keep in mind when looking to buy a new kayak.
Table of contents
- Vibe Sea Ghost 110
- Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120
- Old Town Topwater 106 Angler Fishing Kayak
- Perception Outlaw 11.5
- Sea Eagle 350FX Fishing Explorer
The Sea Ghost is built for adventure as well as fishing. This 1 person sit-on-top kayak is 11ft long. It offers several features that would be very useful to any angler, whether they’re a beginner or a seasoned pro.
A big selling point of the Sea Ghost is the stability it offers. Constructed out of single-piece polyethylene, the length, as well as the weight (62lbs) of the kayak, allows for incredible stability while you are fishing.
You won’t have to worry about tipping over or falling off when you are reeling in tough fish. You can even stand up in the kayak without worry due to the slip-resistant deck platform.
Vibe Sea Ghost offers lots of snazzy features
Not only is this kayak stable but it is also very fast and nimble, thanks to the sleek hull design. You won’t get tired out from paddling quickly thanks to the Sea Ghost’s innovative toe-controlled rudder system. This unique feature will save you energy during long paddles, windy days, and strong currents.
The hull design also means that this kayak moves very quietly in the water, ensuring that you don’t scare away any fish by paddling through the water.
Gear is a very important part of fishing, though it can be very inconvenient if you don’t have anywhere to put it while you’re paddling. With the Sea Ghost though you will have many spots to put away your gear.
This kayak features two flush-mounted fishing rod holders, a universal mount for a fish finder transducer or other accessories, and two side bungee paddle parks. As well as all this, the Sea Ghost offers six top-loading gear tracks for ultimate customization on the kayak.
Another important feature on any fishing kayak is the storage options. The Sea Ghost has an array of choices. It has waterproof cargo bags in the hull, two tackle tray holders, a massive front cargo space, a huge rear storage area with bungee cord tie-down, and a tackle toss tray, and this isn’t even everything.
With all the features that come with this kayak, the Sea Ghost proves that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a fishing kayak when cheaper ones can do the job just as well or even better.
Pros and cons
- Super comfortable – with adjustable foot and back braces, a duel position seat, and the toe controlled rudder, the Sea Ghost ensures that after a long day on the water you won’t be all sore and stiff
- Very customizable – anglers can adjust this kayak to fit their fishing style
- Heavy – though the weight helps with stability, it can make it harder to transport to and from the water, as well as store.
Wilderness Systems makes high-quality kayaks that paddlers in the kayaking community know well and trust. This budget sit-on-top fishing kayak is no exception.
At home on rivers, lakes, or oceans, the Tarpon is an excellent choice for anglers who like to fish in a variety of locations.
Fast, efficient, and with great tracking ability, the Tarpon has been designed for ease of use and to be very comfortable on the water. When out on the water for a long time, you don’t want to be aching or sore, but with the Tarpon this won’t be an issue.
The Tarpon 120 specializes in comfort
Featuring what they call “the most comfortable kayak seat out there”, the AirPro seat is fully adjustable. What’s more, the mesh fabric covers and ergonomic 3D foam allow for greater airflow to keep you cool while supporting the lower back.
There are also large padded adjustable footrests for support and comfort, and they allow paddlers of any height to use this kayak.
In terms of storage, the Tarpon comes with many spaces to suit all your needs. There is a large rear storage well for crates, coolers, fishing equipment, or anything else you want to take on the water.
There is also a front storage hatch that offers dry storage. The dry tec removable dry box is perfect for storing wallets, phones, keys, and other valuables. There is also a sectioned storage tray to organize smaller items like sunscreen, fishing lures, and snacks. There is also a fishing rod holder at the rear of the kayak.
The Tarpon also allows for some customization that may appeal to anglers. The sidetrack accessory rails allow you to add more fishing items to your kayak to make your experience even better.
While the Tarpon has a few less features than other kayaks on this list, it is still a very sturdy and quality kayak that will suit all of your fishing needs.
Pros and cons
- Maneuverable – the Tarpon tracks well and turns very easily in the water
- Comfortable – provides a very comfortable ride no matter how long you are on the water for
- Heavy – weight 62lbs it can be difficult to transport and carry
Old Town is another very popular kayak brand. With their huge range of high-quality but inexpensive kayak options, it’s easy to see why. The Topwater 106 fishing kayak packs incredible fishing performance into a lightweight and nimble package.
The sleek design of the hull, which is just over 10ft long, allows you to quietly glide through the water without disturbing any of the fish below.
The pontoon-style DoubleU hull design also offers a huge amount of stability and precise handling. This means that even when standing up you won’t have to worry about tipping the kayak or falling out. EVA foam deck pads offer supreme traction and comfort while standing.
The Topwater has a couple more standout features that make it a solid buy. It comes with three-rod holders and tackle storage. Plus the kayak’s revolutionary universal transducer mounting system makes it easier than ever to mount your favorite fish finder.
Storage galore in the Topwater 106
The Topwater is also packed with storage options to suit all of your needs. It offers an oversized stern tank well and an impressive hull capacity to maximize storage.
The rear of the kayak has a large amount of bungee cord storage as well. There is also onboard tackle and rod storage, allowing you to comfortably take four or more rods with you.
For comfort, the Topwater has a breathable mesh-constructed Element Air seat that offers high/low positioning for maximum comfort while paddling, peddling, or angling. This is also quite a long kayak at 10ft, meaning that paddlers of any height should be able to fit inside comfortably.
The Topwater is an all-around good fishing kayak that will make any experience on the water a comfortable and easy ride.
Pros and cons
- Very stable – whether standing up or sitting down you won’t have to worry about tipping or fallout off of the kayak
- Good handling – even in choppy waters, this is still a very maneuverable kayak
- Paddle sold separately – buyers may not be aware of this when they purchase the kayak
Perception Kayaks is the brand that is most accessible to beginner paddlers. All of their products are very high-quality and durable, but they’re also very easy to use which is a big draw to those who are trying out kayaking for the first time.
A lot of their kayaks are also very affordable, meaning that almost anyone can buy and use their products.
Perception describes the Outlaw as “The ultimate sit-on-top fishing kayak”, and with all of the features they have added specifically for anglers, they might be right.
Room to stand and fish in the Perception Outlaw
A big draw to this kayak is that it allows you to easily stand up or sit while fishing. If you prefer to stand while you fish then the seat can be removed to provide you with extra room, while the wide deck and large standing platform means that you will be very stable while reeling in your catch.
If you would rather sit then the seat can be adjusted to a very high elevation, allowing you to sit high above the water and giving you a better vantage point over the kayak.
There are several spots on this kayak that allow you to mount your various fishing accessories. 2 double-barrel rod holders can accommodate up to 4 fishing rods.
These allow for quick access when you need them but also keep them out of the way when are paddling. 3 solo mount recesses enable you to easily add mounts and accessory holders, though these are sold separately.
For storage, if you choose to remove the seat then you can add a 35-liter cooler, which itself could be used as a seat. Like a lot of kayaks, the Outlaw features rear bungee cord storage, and there is also a covered bungee cord storage area in the front.
To hold all of your smaller items and valuables you can make use of the molded-in trays, as well as cup holders, to keep everything within reach.
The Outlaw is a great all-around fishing kayak, and while paddlers of any skill level will appreciate, beginners may especially like it because of how easy it is to use and maneuver.
Pros and cons
- Replaceable skid plate – these let you drag the kayak along the ground without fear of damage
- Removable seat – lets you have even more standing room up on the deck
- Slightly slower than other kayaks – due to the shape of the hull, which has been designed with stability in mind, this kayak is unable to pick up that much speed when paddling. For beginners, this may not be an issue though
This kayak is different from others on this list as it is inflatable, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks in performance, durability, or stability. Some paddlers prefer to buy inflatable kayaks as they offer a few unique advantages that hard-bodied kayaks do not.
The biggest selling point of an inflatable kayaks is that they are the easiest kayaks to transport and store. The 350FX kayak is 11ft long when inflated, but once deflated it can fit inside of a large bag that comes with the purchase.
The 350FX can inflate very quickly, once you have unpacked it will take just 7 minutes to inflate fully, meaning you will be out on the water in no time.
The Sea Eagle 350FX is strong and sturdy
Many people who have never used an inflatable kayak before may have some worries about their durability given that they are filled with air. But inflatable kayaks are often just as sturdy as their hard-bodied counterparts.
The 350FX features a removable inner inflatable floor reinforced with a top layer of an additional 1000 denier fabric to protect against sharp fins, hooks, and abrasions. There is also a strip of non-slip EVA foam padding for extra comfort and secure footing while you’re standing up.
At the front and rear of the kayak are customizable spray skirts. These skirts are a good place to store some of your items under. They also allow you to store your rods, hooks, and lures, a feature unique to Sea Eagle.
For comfort, there are adjustable footrests designed to keep you comfortable for hours. The seat is also inflatable and provides enough support for your back while you fish.
If you want to try out inflatable kayaks for the first time, or you are looking to upgrade from one you already own, then the 350FX may be the best choice for you.
Pros and cons
- Very easy to store and transport – the biggest advantage of any inflatable kayak, this is the perfect option if you don’t have the space to store a large, hard-bodied kayak in your home
- Built-in 40 inch fish ruler – a very unusual feature, you can now measure any of your catches straight away thanks to the ruler on the side
- No dry storage – if there is any gear that you want to keep dry when you take it one the water, you might want to invest in some waterproof bags
When buying a kayak for fishing, there are some specific features that you should look out for.
When going fishing, you will most likely be taking a lot of gear out onto the water with you. Keep in mind, if you keep your catches then you will be bringing even more back to shore.
With all of this in mind, you will want to make sure that the kayak you buy has plenty of storage areas to keep your cooler, rods, and any other equipment. Also, not all kayaks come with dry storage areas so this is an important thing to consider as well.
While all kayaks have a maximum weight capacity, fishing kayaks will have a lot more on them while out on the water. Because of this, you will want to buy one that can hold a lot of weight.
Remember to include your own weight when adding up how much gear you can store on the kayak. It’s very important that you never go above the maxim weight capacity, even reaching it should be avoided if possible.
The heavier the kayak is the harder it will be to control in the water. It can even go under if it is too heavy no matter how buoyant it is.
As an angler, you may spend hours or even all day on the water. Therefore, you will want to make sure that the kayak is comfortable to sit, stand, and paddle in for hours on end.
Most fishing kayaks come with several features that help improve the comfort of the ride. Take a look at these and see if they will help you before making your purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Type Of Kayak Is The Most Stable?
Pontoon hulls are the most stable kayak hull type. This kind of hull is used mainly in sit-on-top recreational kayaks that are more suitable for calm waters. They do however have the disadvantage of making the kayak slow and harder to maneuver.
Is A Shorter Kayak Better?
It depends on what you want your kayak to do. Longer kayaks cruise more effectively and offer more storage space, but shorter ones offer more maneuverability and can turn much faster in the water.
Last update on 2023-09-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API