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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.
Dual rod holders.
Adjustable foot braces.
Large, easy-access front hatch.
Leak-proof one-piece construction.
Built-in extra buoyancy.
At this price range – I can’t find one.
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.
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.
Flush mounted rod holders and rod stagers.
Scupper holes for fish finders.
Standing/sitting assist strap.
Smooth tracking through the water.
Choice of colors.
The most expensive kayak in the review.
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.
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.
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.
None to speak of.
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.
When I found a Wilderness Systems kayak for under $1000 – you’d better believe I was going to put it in!
The Targa is a compact sit on top kayak that’s 10 feet long, and lightweight at just over 57 lbs.
The sling-style mesh seat is super comfortable, and the spacious cockpit allows plenty of freedom of movement without restriction.
A bow storage area features a removable hood to help keep your fishing gear in place, and there’s even an integrated kayak fishing cooler that’s removable for picnics on the shore.
Large, padded footrests are fully adjustable and designed for comfort and support, and there’s a stern deck bungee cord for lashing extra gear if required. While it’s not marketed as a fishing kayak.
Four rigid carrying handles.
Three molded cup holders.
Wide, padded deck.
No built in rod holders.
No paddle holder.
While the Wilderness Systems Tarpon might be the slightly better sit-on-top kayak, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it under $1000. That’s where the Targa comes in.
However, there’s a slight problem. It can’t really be considered one of the best fishing kayaks because it’s technically not a fishing kayak. It could have done with a couple of flush mount rod holders at least – but you can always add them yourself aftermarket.
The Hoodoo Tempest is a brand-new sit-on-top fishing kayak that is already causing a stir of excitement in the kayak angling world.
And for good reason, as it offers the perfect marriage of performance, fishing features, tracking, and stability that most fishing kayaks can only dream of (at this price point).
There’s a hatch to add a pedal drive at a later date, which means you can spread the cost of your upgrades, as well as a super-comfortable, aluminum-frame seat for a commanding field of view.
An anchor trolley will let you add your favorite kayak fishing anchor, and the stainless rudder system is going to seriously improve your efficiency through the water. It has a maximum weight capacity of 350 lbs.
Adjustable padded seat.
Foot controlled rudder.
Stern tank well with bungee cords.
Bow storage hatch.
Choice of colors.
No rod holders.
Unlike typical sit on top recreational kayaks, the Hoodoo has been designed with fun and fishing in mind. Is it one of the best fishing kayaks ever made? That remains to be seen – but it’s going to be exciting to find out.
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.
Waterproof cargo bags.
Adjustable foot braces.
Single-piece high-density construction.
None that are apparent.
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.
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.
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.
The seating isn’t the best.
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.
As well as their cheaper models (an example is coming up), Lifetime has an excellent line of kayaks that are slightly more advanced, with more fishing features, and at a price that won’t break the bank.
The Teton Pro 116 is a great example, coming in at 11.6 feet long, and offering plenty of value for money.
With adjustable foot braces, a reinforced deck for standing, two flush mount rod holders, and plenty of tackle storage space for all your fishing gear, this barely scratches the surfaces of what’s included here.
Great price point for what you get.
Strap for stand up fishing.
Two, 12-inch gear tracks.
Four carry handles.
Horizontal rod storage cradles.
Scupper holes and side drain plug.
Super stable hull design with good primary stability.
Bow storage hatch and stern tank well with bungee cords.
It’s on the heavy side.
I don’t have enough space to include all the features offered in this affordable fishing kayak, and Lifetime is knocking it out of the park with the Teton range.
Not to mention that super comfortable, stadium style seat! At this price, it’s well worth considering as the best fishing kayak for the money, and I think the smart color scheme will turn heads on your next fishing adventure.
Another awesome inflatable kayak I like to include in reviews, the Elkton Outdoors Steelhead offers a 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.
Tough, rugged construction.
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.
Very high weight capacity.
Fishing rod holders not included.
As an inflatable, this is one of the best fishing kayaks 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.
Coming in at just 9.5 feet, the Pelican Sentinel is one of the more compact fishing kayaks out there, which makes it ideal fishing kayak 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.
Perfect beginner kayak.
Super portable and lightweight.
Molded carry handles.
Might be too small for some – and the weight capacity is low.
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.
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.
Great price point.
Solid, durable construction.
Fade-resistant, UV-protected hull.
Wide, super-stable design.
As basic as they come.
It’s certainly not the best fishing kayak ever invented, but the Lifetime Muskie is 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 on all your fishing trips.
How to Choose the Best Fishing Kayaks 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 budget fishing kayaks.
What Can You Get for Under $1000?
When it comes to choosing the 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.
Seating, like pedal power, can really drive up the price of the best 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.
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.
Stuart is passionate about travel, kayaking, camping and the great outdoors in general. He's not quite as enthusiastic about angling as his father was, but out of the two of them, he's yet to hook his ear lobe while fly-fishing, which he sees as an absolute win.