The Best Fishing Kayaks Under $1000 – The Essential Budget-Friendly List 2021


Kayak fishing is on the rise, and it’s largely thanks to the pastime becoming more affordable.

If you previously believed that owning your own kayak was beyond your reach, then I’ve got some good news for you.

Today, they’re more accessible than ever.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of the best fishing kayaks under $1000.

Of course, prices are subject to change, and you should strike while the iron is hot to get the best deals at the time of writing.

Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.

The 9 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $1000 in 2021

Perception Pescador 12 Fishing Kayak

The Perception Pescador is one of the most popular fishing kayaks out there, thanks to how much bang-for-buck you’re getting in the package.

And being from one of the best fishing kayak brands in the world certainly doesn’t hurt, either. 12-feet in length, this is a sit-on-top kayak that boasts a large stern tank well with bungee tie-down, perfectly designed to fish calm coastal waters, rivers, inlets, lakes, and ponds.

It’s also suitable for larger paddlers, with a max weight capacity of 375 lbs, a spacious, comfortable seating area with ventilated padding and extra support.

And with gunwale-mounted tracks, you’ve got plenty of scope for adding aftermarket accessories at a later date, while the replaceable skid plates and molded handles ensure it’s super-easy to transport.

Pros

  • Dual rod holders.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Large, easy-access front hatch.
  • Drinks holder.
  • Leak-proof one-piece construction.
  • Built-in extra buoyancy.

Cons

  • At this price range – I can’t find one.

Takeaway

Easily one of the best affordable fishing kayaks on the market, the Perception Pescador is a great mid-range option for confident beginners and intermediate paddlers.

And if you’re looking for even more kayaks that won’t break the bank, check out this extra review of budget kayaks for the angler. Honestly, we spoil you for choice.

Jackson Kayak Bite Angler

Jackson Kayak Bite Angler 2021

Based out of Tennessee and established by a world-champion Olympic kayaker, since 2004 Jackson Kayak has gone from strength to strength in the angling market.

The Bite model happens to be the cheapest option in their catalog, just about fitting in with our criteria, yet not compromising the build quality in order to offer a premium-fishing kayak for under $1000.

11.6 feet in length, it has a weight capacity of 400 lbs, and features fully adjustable frame seating for superior comfort.

Packed with features, you have a stable, roomy deck from which you can enjoy standing casts and reels, an abundance of storage options fore and aft, and molded inserts to accept accessory brackets. And that’s barely scratching the surface of what the Jackson Kayak Bite offers.

Pros

  • Premium-quality construction.
  • Flush mounted rod holders and rod stagers.
  • Scupper holes for fish finders.
  • Standing/sitting assist strap.
  • Smooth tracking through the water.
  • Choice of colors.

Cons

  • The most expensive kayak in the review.

Takeaway

Wow, there’s far too much going on with this kayak to fit in here, and I don’t think I’ve managed to do it justice. There’s a reason why Jackson Kayak has risen to become one of the premium fishing kayak suppliers in the world, and even being at the more pricey range of our review – this is still a steal.

Old Town Topwater 106 Fishing Kayak

Old Town Topwater 106 Fishing Kayak

I’ll be honest with you, I couldn’t decide which of these top three kayaks was the best, so I put them in no particular order.

However, I made a special attempt to find and include the Old Town Topwater 106. Because if you can get it, then you should.

The oldest kayak and canoe company in the world knows how to make these craft, and for under $1000, the Topwater is a fish-hunting machine.

The specially-designed Air-Element seating has high and low positions for relaxing and fishing, while the EVA deck pad offers stable standing casts and reels.

The universal transducer ensures you can easily add one of these awesome fish finders for kayak, and the double-U hull design ensures you’re not going to rock the boat when you’re hauling in a monster. This is a really great kayak all round.

Pros

  • Name to trust in kayaking.
  • Three rod holders included.
  • Large stern tank well with bungee.
  • Bow storage hatch.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Gunwale track mounts for accessories.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

Anyone who reads this site regularly will know I’ve got a soft spot for Old Town craft, and the Topwater 106 is no exception. If I had a budget of $1000, this is probably the fishing kayak I’d go for, although the next entry might have me changing my mind.

Vibe Yellowfin 100 Fishing Kayak

Vibe Yellowfin 100 Kayak

When it comes to affordable fishing kayaks, Vibe is up there with the very best. They manufacture my favorite fishing kayak of all time (so far), which is, unfortunately, a little too pricey to include here.

Still, I’m a big fan of their designs, and the Yellowfin 100 is one that fits snugly into this review. Offering a maximum capacity of 375 lbs, there’s plenty of storage space on board, including a stern tank well with bungee and a bow and center storage hatches.

The Vibe Hero seat offers unbeatable comfort, and it’s packed with fishing-friendly-features, including four flush-mounted rod holders, gear racks, and tackle tray holders. Compact at 10 feet long, this is a “throw-and-go” fishing kayak that will get you out on the water in no time.

  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Tackle toss tray.
  • Drinks holder.
  • Waterproof cargo bags.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Single-piece high-density construction.

Cons

  • None that are apparent.

Takeaway

Vibe created the first true sub-$1000 fishing kayak back in 2013, which opened the door for more quality fishing kayaks at affordable prices, allowing more keen anglers to get involved.

As far as I’m concerned, they’re pretty damn awesome – and the Yellowfin is up there with the very best at this price point.

Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Inflatable specialists Intex have a reputation for making affordable play boats, but the Excursion Pro is a serious contender to being one of the most affordable and best fishing kayaks out there.

Made from a tough and durable laminate PVC with polyester core, the outer layer is unaffected by oil, gasoline, sunlight, and saltwater.

Able to accommodate high-pressure inflation, the craft is super-stable as a result, and a million miles away from old-school splash-around inflatables for the beach.

For fishing, it includes two integrated, recessed rod holders, and even a removable, adjustable mounting bracket to add fish finders, GPS, and more.

A tandem kayak, you can go out with a buddy or alone with extra room for all your gear, with an impressive total weight capacity of 400 lbs.

And with the oars and pump included, you probably won’t find a better deal to get you out on the water in a heartbeat.

Pros

  • Tough, durable construction.
  • Carry bag and repair kit.
  • Two removable skegs.
  • Easy to inflate and deflate.
  • Storage in bow and stern.
  • D-rings for attaching extra gear.
  • Adjustable bucket seats.
  • Very highly rated.

Cons

  • The seating isn’t the best.

Takeaway

With an astonishing amount of good reviews, at this price point, this is hands down one of the best inflatable fishing kayaks under $1000. And the fact you can pimp it out with accessories makes it a no-brainer for inclusion here.

Ascend 10T Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

Ascend 10T Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

Ascend Kayaks are part of the White River Marine Group – one of the largest companies specializing in fishing and recreational boats in the world, and includes retailers like Pro Bass Shops and Cabela’s in North America.

The 10T is an impressive sit-on-top kayak that boasts a super-stable hull design for those standing casts and reels, with a non-slip mat on a unique, rotomolded, custom-crafted tunnel hull.

The seating system is designed to be comfortable while affording plenty of storage possibilities, and can be totally removed if you want to bring a seat onshore. (You could also try one of these portable fishing chairs instead.)

Gunwale and center console accessory tracks allow full customization, while dual, flush-mounted rod holders help you set up your tackle as well as keeping unused rods out of the way.

And there’s an abundance of storage fore and aft, with powder-coated steel D-rings to help secure your gear.

Pros

  • Great price point for what you get.
  • Extra-wide transom and bow.
  • Super stable in the water.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Weatherproof storage hatch.
  • Drinks holder.
  • Scupper drain plugs.
  • Bow and stern carry handles.

Cons

  • I can’t find any.

Takeaway

While Ascend kayaks might not have the prestige of some of the more popular and famous kayak brands just yet, this is a top-quality effort that is certainly keeping everyone else on their toes – especially when you consider what you’re getting at this price.

And check out this article for more of the best stand-up fishing kayaks, if you’re looking for super-stable craft that are designed for standing casts and reels.

Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak

This is another of my favorite kayaks to include in reviews, thanks to its effective, highly portable design and solid-drop stitch floor that is capable of standing casts.

Specifically designed as a fishing inflatable, it has plenty of features to reel in anglers, including four fishing rod mounting brackets at convenient locations built-into the gunwales.

Adjustable foot-rests accommodate paddlers of different sizes, and fore and aft storage offers plenty of room to stash your gear and equipment, with bungee covers and multiple universal hard mounting points.

The EVA seat is padded and adjustable, and there’s a self-draining floor to keep you dry should you happen to take on water – which is inevitable.

Made from a reinforced, layered, 1000 Denier PVC, this is an exciting, highly-durable craft that can handle almost anything – including peppy rivers with some extra chop.

Pros

  • Tough, rugged construction.
  • Removable skeg.
  • Bow spray shield.
  • Pump, paddle, and carry bag included.
  • Capable of handling class III rapids.
  • Highly versatile and portable.
  • Bow, stern, and side carry handles.

Cons

  • Fishing rod holders not included.

Takeaway

One of the best fishing inflatables out there, the fact that it comes in under $1000 ensures I can happily include it in this review.

But I think the Steelhead’s versatility is the real plus point here, and you can easily switch from fishing a calm lake to handling choppy whitewater for a more adrenaline-fueled angling adventure. Just make sure you’re wearing a pair of decent fishing gloves to keep your hands protected while paddling.

Pelican Sentinel 100X Kayak

Coming in at just 9.5 feet, the Pelican Sentinel is one of the more compact fishing kayaks out there, which makes it ideal for beginners, or anyone short on storage space in the garage.

It’s also one of the lightest at just 44 lbs (if not the lightest for a hardshell), so it’s highly portable and ideal for grab-and-go fishing adventures at the last minute.

It still manages to pack in some impressive features considering its size, including a removable “ExoPak” for storage in the bungee tank well, two, flush mounted rod holders, an adjustable padded seat, and a center console with smartphone holder.

The hull is built using a twin-arched multi-chine, so it’s highly stable for super-easy boarding, and an excellent choice for inexperienced or reluctant paddlers.

Pros

  • Perfect beginner kayak.
  • Accessory eyelets.
  • Rod tie-downs.
  • Storage bungees.
  • Super portable and lightweight.
  • Drain plug.
  • Molded carry handles.

Cons

  • Might be too small for some – and the weight capacity is low.

Takeaway

I would recommend the Pelican Sentinel to folks who have never used a kayak before and are just starting out. It also makes a great option for younger paddlers, and for anyone who is concerned about stability in the water.

Yet its portability ensures it should also attract the attention of experienced kayak anglers who want to sneak in a spot of angling at the last minute. Try it with one of these travel fishing rods for those clandestine fishing weekends.

Lifetime Muskie Angler Kayak

Lifetime Muskie Angler Kayak

Known for their no-frills, no-nonsense rotomolded plastic kayaks, Lifetime aren’t going to set the fishing kayak world alight, but they sure do offer the most affordable craft on the market.

The Muskie is no exception, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper fishing kayak out there – that’s actually any good, of course.

This package comes with a padded seat and paddle, and includes a decent articulated rod holder on the starboard gunwale, along with two, flush-mounted holders to the rear.

Molded footrests allow comfortable use for paddlers of different sizes, and you can find two storage hatches on board, one in the center console and the other to the stern – with a bungee tank well to boot.

Pros

  • Great price point.
  • Solid, durable construction.
  • Fade-resistant, UV-protected hull.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Wide, super-stable design.
  • Lightweight.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • As basic as they come.

Takeaway

While it might not win any awards for reinventing the wheel, this is a no-nonsense fishing kayak that’s highly affordable and accessible to anyone who wants to try the sport without blowing the bank.

And although it’s UV protected – you are not, so make sure you go out with one of these awesome fishing hats to keep your dome safe.

How to Choose the Best Fishing Kayak Under $1000

Below, you’ll find a handy buyer’s guide for helping you to make the right decision when you’re in the market for a budget-friendly fishing kayak.

angler fishing from kayak in sunset on lake

What Can You Get for Under 1K?

When it comes to choosing the best fishing kayaks under $1000, there is obviously one key criteria for them to be included in this review.

They have to actually be under $1000.

Unfortunately, this automatically rules out pedal-driven craft – which are arguably the most popular type of kayak for anglers available.

At the time of writing, and scouring the interweb though I might, I could not find any legitimate pedal drive kayaks under $1000. The technology is still pretty expensive – as you might expect.

If you fancy spending a bit more (or sometimes a lot more) then head over to this article on the best pedal kayaks on the market.

And while some kayaks might have the option of adding a pedal drive later – just be prepared for both the expense and the likelihood of needing some solid DIY skills.

A quality pedal drive system actually costs more than many kayaks.

So, what’s left? Thankfully, the kayaks in this review still have plenty of features to keep anglers happy, so let’s take a look.

person standing up while fishing in kayak

Types of Kayak

First, you’re going to need to choose the type of kayak you’d most prefer, and there are a number of different options, all with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Sit-In versus Sit-On-Top Kayaks

Sit inside kayaks tend to be more preferable for distance kayaking, touring, and whitewater.

However, they do have some plus points when it comes to fishing, and you can check them out by reading this article on why you should choose a sit-inside kayak for angling.

For the most part, however, sit-on-top kayaks are king when it comes to this sport, given their excellent primary stability, scope for accessories, and overall space for gear and equipment.

Inflatables versus Hardshells

The main advantage with inflatable kayaks is how portable they are. I’m lucky enough to have two, and they really can go just about anywhere at the drop of a hat.

However, they’re nowhere near as good as hardshells when it comes to performance – including speed, tracking through the water, and distance paddling.

When it comes to fishing kayaks under $1000, you’ll find a nice mix of both, so what you choose will be up to your own circumstances and preferences.

And don’t forget about storage – as the best inflatable kayaks for fishing are excellent if you’re short on space in and around your home.

Solo versus Tandem

Having a solo or tandem kayak isn’t just about fishing or not fishing with a buddy.

Many anglers choose to have a tandem model even if they’re going solo – as it offers more space for gear and equipment, as well as the option to take a long a four-legged-friend in place of a human.

For under $1000, it’s nearly always the inflatable versions of tandem kayaks that are at this price point, although there are exceptions.

Check out this article for more of the best tandem fishing kayaks on the market, especially if you’d prefer a hardshell model.

two men fishing from kayak in river

Seating

Seating, like pedal power, can really drive up the price of fishing kayaks. Aside from the propulsion system, it’s here where the money can be spent or saved when it comes to manufacturing and purchase.

Expensive kayaks will have a cockpit that’s almost as comfortable as your favorite living room armchair, with an adjustable frame, padding, and moisture-wicking technology.

Budget kayaks will cut back on these expenses, which will save you money, but you won’t be nearly as comfortable when you’re out on the water.

I would encourage you not to scrimp on kayak seating, as it can really make the difference between being comfortable and miserable – particularly for those long fishing hours we all like to clock up.

Fishing-Friendly-Features

Obviously, the higher up the price scale you go, the more storage and accessory options your kayak will come with as standard.

High-end models over $1000 will require very little by the way of upgrades, whereas the cheaper models might leave a lot to be desired when it comes to those all-important fishing-friendly-features.

That’s not to say the kayaks in this review are going to leave you short-changed. Far from it, as I’ve specially chosen them because they have plenty of decent FFFs to keep anglers happy.

Look for craft with quality rod holders, either flush mounted, articulated, or otherwise.

Tank storage wells offer a great place to put extra gear, like one of these awesome kayak storage crates and tackle boxes, or even a kayak fishing cooler for keeping some cold ones on ice.

Accessory tracks will help you add useful extras if you need to, like additional kayak fishing rod holders, fish finders, flashlights, and more.

Certainly, the very best budget kayaks under $1000 will be designed to help you upgrade over time, so you don’t have to blow your budget from the get-go.

But if you’re still stuck, or just need some more info, take a look at this article for more help when it comes to choosing the right fishing kayak for you.

And check out the video below for some “poor man’s fishing kayak upgrades” for some advice on how you can pimp your ride on the cheap.

Size and Weight

When it comes to sub $1000 fishing kayaks, don’t expect the big boys on the block.

For the most part, these kayaks are going to be on the small side, usually around 10 feet in length, weighing somewhere between 44-80 lbs or thereabouts.

That makes them ideal for easy storage and transport, and many keen kayak anglers often choose one of these kayaks as a backup to their main craft.

And don’t forget about the weight capacity – as smaller, more compact craft won’t be able to carry as much as the heavy-duty vessels.

Bear that in mind when you’re trying to overload the thing with all your gear and the kitchen sink.

Cost versus Skill/Experience

One final piece of advice I always like to leave with people in the market for a fishing kayak – is to suit the price you pay with your skill/experience level.

If you’ve never been kayak fishing a day in your life, there’s no need to splash a huge chunk of cash for all the bells and whistles.

Safety should be a priority, too, and you need to make sure you’re capable of handling the craft you’re purchasing, or whoever you’re purchasing it for is capable of handling it.

You can always upgrade further down the line, but by starting at a comfortable level, you can gain experience, find out if you enjoy the sport in the first place, and save money in the long run.

And remember to always wear a quality fishing PFD when you’re out there.

man enjoys fishing from kayak

Summary

In a review of the best fishing kayaks under $1000, you might find some surprises, especially as the sport becomes more accessible and affordable to all.

You only have to see how many kayaks have been completely sold out over the past few years to understand that.

So, now’s your chance to grab a quality craft while you still can. Let me know which model you’ve gone for and why.

Best of luck in reeling in a bargain, and happy kayak fishing!.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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