|Best Overall||Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120||Check Price||
A high-performance kayak with a modern cockpit and premium features.
|Best Inflatable||Advanced Elements StraightEdge Angler||Check Price||
A lightweight and inflatable kayak that’s roomy and comfortable for all-day fishing.
|Best Budget||Perception Pescador 12||Check Price||
Premium features and performance for an affordable price.
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If you’re interested in taking up kayak fishing, but you don’t want to break the piggy bank, then you’re probably searching for the best fishing kayak under $1,000. And you’ll be pleased to know you can easily get on the water for that amount. I’ve owned and tested many of the best budget kayaks on the market and used that experience to compile a list of my top picks. Each of these kayaks will allow you to effectively fish and have excellent features for their price.
- Best Overall: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120
- Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak: Advanced Elements StraightEdge Angler
- Best Tandem Fishing Kayak: Old Town Twin Heron Angler
- Best Beginner Kayak: Vibe Sea Ghost 110
- Best Budget Kayak: Perception Pescador 12
Best Fishing Kayak Under $1,000 Overall: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120
- Weight: 63 pounds
- Length: 12 feet, 3 inches
- Width: 31 inches
- Weight capacity: 350 pounds
Why It Made the Cut
This best fishing kayak under $1,000 overall features a legendary hull design with a modern cockpit and premium features for the best value in fishing kayaks.
- Efficient hull
- Ergonomic cockpit
- Premium seat
- Difficult to fish standing
- No built-in rod holders
My pick for the best overall value in fishing kayaks is Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120. The Tarpon was one of the first true fishing kayaks when it was released over a decade ago. Today, anglers get the same efficient and sporty hull with modern upgrades to the topside. At 12-feet, 3-inches long, the Tarpon 120 has a long waterline for improved tracking without making the boat difficult to turn. The cockpit features a large bow hatch, small stowbox in the deck, and gear tracks on each gunwale. The best feature is the Tarpon’s AirMax Pro XX seat, Wilderness System’s premier low-profile seat with an internal frame that provides support and keeps your butt out of the water. The main con of the Tarpon 120 is that it is difficult to stand and fish due to its narrow width. Despite that con, the Tarpon 120 is a high-performance fishing kayak for paddling purists and hardcore anglers alike.
Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak: Advanced Elements StraightEdge Angler
- Weight: 41 pounds
- Length: 9 feet, 8 inches
- Width: 35 inches
- Weight capacity: 400 pounds
- Folded size: 32 x 18 x 11 inches
Why It Made the Cut
With the best inflatable fishing kayak, the StraightEdge Angler, you can put your kayak in a broom closet and carry it on the bus.
- Rigging accessories
- Limited range
If you’re short on storage space and transportation options, the Advanced Elements StraightEdge Angler is the perfect solution. At 41 pounds and just under 10-feet long, this inflatable kayak can fit into a carry case no bigger than a large rolling suitcase. When you’re ready to fish, inflate the kayak and install rod holders, electronics, and other accessories. The boat has a metal support for rigidity and performance. You can put your durability concerns aside. The StaightEdge Angler is constructed of heavy-duty PVC, reinforced for abrasion and puncture resistance. There’s room for tackle and gear with a comfortable seat for all-day fishing.
Best Tandem Fishing Kayak: Old Town Twin Heron Angler
- Weight: 60 pounds
- Length: 13 feet, 6 inches
- Width: 31.5 inches
- Weight capacity: 450-500 pounds
Why It Made the Cut
This best tandem fishing kayak has room for two anglers, kids, or the family pet and is just as capable as a single-seater.
- Easy to carry and cartop
- Paddles tandem or solo
- Rod holders and accessory mounts
- Limited interior storage space
The Old Town Twin Heron Angler paddles well as either a tandem or solo kayak. You can remove the front seat and fish solo thanks to a special planing hull that allows one angler to paddle from the rear. Or install the bow seat and take another paddler. Four flush mount rod holders are included, so it’s ready to fish right away. At just over 13-feet long, there isn’t a lot of space for extras, but the performance and features at this price can’t be beaten.
Best Beginner Kayak: Vibe Sea Ghost 110
- Weight: 84 pounds
- Length: 11 feet, 6 inches
- Width: 33 inches
- Weight capacity: 425 pounds
Why It Made the Cut
The large bow, cockpit hatches, rudder, and comfortable frame seat make the Sea Ghost 110 the best beginner kayak.
- Bow and cockpit hatch
- Frame seat
- Small tankwell
One of the most feature-rich kayaks for around $1,000, the Vibe Sea Ghost 110 is perfect for beginners looking for a kayak to grow with them. The short waterline and low weight make the boat easy to maneuver and transport. A comfortable frame seat is elevated and adjustable to ease pressure on your back and legs. The large bow hatch and cockpit hatch provide plenty of internal storage and make the Vibe Kayak easy to rig. Gear tracks, bungees and rod holders make the Sea Ghost ready to fish right out of the box. It includes a rudder, which improves tracking and keeps the 11-foot kayak traveling straight.
Read Next: Best Fly Fishing Combos for Beginners
Best Budget Kayak: Perception Pescador 12
- Weight: 64 pounds
- Length: 12 feet long
- Width: 32.5 inches
- Weight capacity: 375 pounds
Why It Made the Cut
This best budget kayak has premium features and performance for an affordable price.
- Low price
- Rod holders and gear tracks
- Dry bow hatch
- Molded seat
In the field of bargain kayaks, winning the best budget kayak award is an honor. Perception Kayaks is one of the most experienced and respected value kayak brands, and the Pescador 120 is their flagship fishing kayak. For under $800, anglers get a sporty 12-foot kayak with a seaworthy and efficient hull. On the topside, the Pescador Kayak has a dry bow hatch, gear tracks to add rod holders and accessories, molded rod holders, and a large tankwell to store tackle and gear. The only downside is the molded-in seat with closed-cell foam padding, which is wet and small for larger paddlers. For a more comfortable ride, shell out a couple hundred more dollars for the upgraded Pescador 120 Pro.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Fishing Kayak
Just because you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars doesn’t mean you can’t get a great fishing kayak. Fishing is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities, and the kayak segment is leading the charge. As a result, manufacturers are fighting over new anglers by designing great boats for less than $1,000.
This is great news for anglers looking to get into a great kayak ready for fishing. Whether you’re looking for an all-around fishing kayak, a versatile inflatable, easy-to-use beginner boat, or a fishing kayak for two anglers, there is a great fishing kayak under $1,000.
How will you use the kayak?
When choosing any fishing kayak, the first consideration is how you plan to use the kayak. If you want to cover long distances in rough seas, you want a fast and sleek kayak. A wide and stable standup kayak should be on the menu if you’re fishing sheltered waters. An inflatable fishing kayak may be the answer if transporting and storing the kayak is a challenge.
What accessories do you need?
One way kayak manufacturers cut costs on a sub-$1,000 kayak is by limiting the accessories. Fewer rod holders, gear tracks, and bungees add up to fewer dollars on the price tag. Another place to save is on the seat. Budget fishing kayaks usually have a basic seat with a lighter frame and fewer adjustments. Manufacturers leave off rigging features like rudders and routing for electronics to further save money. For anglers looking to skip a few bells and whistles, you can buy a reliable, comfortable, and efficient kayak at an affordable price.
Read Next: Best Fishing Kayaks for Every Type of Angler
To pick the best fishing kayak under $1,000, I paddled and fished the best boats in the category in conditions appropriate to their class. For this budget-minded review, I didn’t just pick the cheapest kayak on the water. I looked for the best kayaks at the best price with features and designs that hold their own with more expensive models. While rigging options and features are limited in this price range, these boats seem to squeeze out the most bang for the buck. Most of the kayaks in our review are the little brothers and sisters of more expensive models in the companies line up. By cutting out a few bells and whistles, manufacturers can cut the price on a great kayak.
Q: Which is safer: a sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak?
For years, paddlers have argued this question. Sit-inside kayak fans appreciate the enclosed cockpit to protect them from the weather and lower center of gravity, which makes the boat more stable. But sit-on-top kayaks take the safety award. If you fall overboard, a sit on top kayak’s flat, open deck is easier to re-enter. Many sit-on-tops for fishing are more stable than a sit-inside kayak making it more difficult to fall overboard.
Q: What is the most stable kayak for fishing?
The simple answer to what is the most stable kayak for fishing is a wider kayak is more stable. Adding inches to the width is not only an easy way to make a kayak more stable, but this also makes the kayak slower and harder to turn. Instead, kayak designers use tunnel or catamaran hulls that place more volume on the outer edge of the hull, while pontoons and channels help the boat paddle straight. But that’s only half the story. There are two types of stability: primary and secondary. Primary stability keeps the boat flat on the water. Secondary stability determines how far the boat can lean to one side before it flips over. Boats that may seem tippy at first may have more solid secondary stability to allow the boat to roll with waves without flipping over. So, if you are fishing mostly calm water, then a boat with a tunnel hull and solid primary stability will allow you to stand and fish with confidence. On rough water, a boat with a rounded hull and hard chine improves secondary stability to keep the boat upright and riding over the waves.
Q: Which is more stable: a kayak or canoe?
A kayak’s width and hull design make it more stable than a canoe.
Winning the award for best fishing kayak under $1,000 overall, the Tarpon 120 offers a lot of kayak at a great price. Building on the sporty and fast hull, the latest model has modern features like waterproof hatches and a comfortable low-profile seat with an internal frame. For right around a grand, the Tarpon 120 offers one of the most respected fishing kayaks at a respectable price.