There’s this feeling of utter joy when you discover a beautiful new fishing kayak.
Which quickly turns to despair when you read the price tag.
Some fishing kayaks can cost exorbitant amounts of money, which can discourage beginners from getting into the sport.
But kayak fishing isn’t only reserved for elites, and there are plenty of options out there to suit every purse and pocket.
Which is why I’ve compiled this review of the best fishing kayaks under $800 – with some great mid-range options, as well as some super cheap kayaks thrown in for good measure.
Are you ready to save some money? Then read on!
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.
Table of Contents
- TOP 8 Best Fishing Kayaks under $800
- How to Choose Fishing Kayak Under $800
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TOP 8 Best Fishing Kayaks under $800
How to Choose Fishing Kayak Under $800
Researching the best fishing kayak for your needs can be confusing, so with that in mind, here’s an in-depth buyer’s guide to help you navigate these often muddy waters.
Cost and Quality
Perhaps the most important consideration when looking at a budget-friendly kayak, is how far does your money get you?
With one or two exceptions, fishing kayaks under $800 are going to offer a little more than the really cheap kayaks, but not as much as if you were to kick the nickel up over a grand.
A fishing kayak just under $800 will start to show signs of improved seating, more fishing-friendly features (see below), and will have had some extra thought put into design and performance.
It’s here that you’ll start to see lawn-chairs in the kayak cockpits, a selection of rod holder styles (rather than molded flush mounts), and some clever storage options.
Either way, these fishing kayaks are going to offer more than you’ll need to enjoy a successful fishing trip, and for most recreational anglers – you’ll want for nothing.
And if you do, you can always look for a kayak that’s fully customizable. It’s possible to turn even the cheapest craft into the perfect kayak with a few home modifications.
Just so long as you don’t expect top-of-the-line pedal technology under $800, and you’ll have a decent understanding of what to expect from a kayak at this price point.
Type of Kayak
If that’s what you’re looking for, those two links will point you in the right direction.
As technology develops, perhaps the price for pedals will come down, but for the most part, finding a good one under $1000 is a challenge.
It might be worth considering a kayak that is pedal compatible – and then install this system at a later date.
And you can always check out this article on the best kayak trolling motors and add some extra power aftermarket if you so desire. Just make sure that your chosen fishing boat is compatible.
Regardless, you still have a choice between hardshell or inflatable kayaks, as well as sit-inside or sit-on-top versions.
But which do you choose? Here’s my superfast, at-a-glance guide to kayak types:
- Hardshell fishing kayaks are the best choice for stability and performance. For speed and tracking, inflatables just don’t come close – unless you’re spending more on one with a metal frame.
- Inflatable fishing kayaks are better for portability and storage – and most should come with a carry bag.
Surprisingly, inflatables can often stand more abuse than hardshells, which are more susceptible to scratches, dents, and dings.
Hit a rock with a hardshell – you’ll see the damage. Hit a rock with an inflatable – and it’ll bounce off. As such, quality inflatables are often the preferred choice for fishing faster rivers with rough water.
Once you’ve decided on what the kayak is going to be made from, you then have to decide how you’re sitting in it.
- Sit on top kayaks are overwhelmingly the preferred choice for fishing, as they offer excellent primary stability (how stable the craft feels when you get into it), with more storage room, and space to move.
- Sit-inside kayaks are really only popular for fishing on more peppy rivers, as they can handle whitewater better than sit on top kayaks thanks to their secondary stability.
A sit in kayak is also a great choice if you like a challenge, and this they will deliver in abundance when you’re trying to land a vigorous smallmouth that doesn’t want to be on your line!
Finally, you might be deciding between a solo or a tandem kayak. Tandem fishing kayaks can be useful even for lone anglers, as they offer much more on-board storage space – or room for a furry friend.
But a larger size kayak usually means a higher priced kayak, and it’s rare that this type of kayak will be less than $800 (that’s good quality, at least).
Still, you can always check this article on the best tandem fishing kayaks to find out.
Of course, there’s much more to it than that, and you can find more information at the links below:
Go here if you want to learn more about the best inflatable fishing kayaks.
Head to this article if you’re interested in the best sit-inside fishing kayaks – and why they’re worth a look.
This general piece explores the differences between sit inside and sit on top kayaks in more detail, to help you choose the one that’s right for you.
And if you’re still totally lost, go here for a catch-all guide to fishing kayaks, to help start your search off on the right foot!
Size and Weight
A fishing kayak under $800 is likely to be on the smaller side, and most of the craft you’ll find here are around the 10-foot mark, or thereabouts.
And that’s perfectly fine, as a good fishing kayak should be somewhere between 10-14 feet in length, anyway.
Shorter kayaks tend to be more maneuverable, which makes them great as recreational play boats you can enjoy for more than fishing (because there is such a thing)!
Longer, slimmer kayaks will be better for traveling greater distances, with more speed.
And every cloud has a silver lining, as while these boats won’t come with pedals at this price point, they are going to be much lighter than their more expensive counterparts as a result.
And less weight equals easier to carry.
Of course, if you’re looking for the lightest kayak possible, then you should be in the market for an inflatable.
Either way, so long as you have enough space for you and your fishing gear; paddling, casting, and reeling isn’t restricted, and you have the confidence and skill to pilot the craft – then your kayak is going to be the right size for you.
Cockpit and Seating
Again, for a sub $800 fishing kayak, you’re not going to get the best possible fishing throne.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t be comfortable. Any good fishing kayak worth its salt will recognize that a happy and successful angler is a comfortable angler.
Fishing kayaks in this range will still come with an adjustable, padded seat, unless you’re looking at an inflatable kayak, of course.
But the very best fishing kayaks in this review (typically around the $600-$800 mark) actually come with lawn-chair style seating.
Sure, it might not be on a par with a $1000 + craft, but it will still be great for the old bones!
Stability and Performance
We’ve touched a little on these two points, but it’s worth mentioning them again when you’re looking at a kayak that’s under $800.
Don’t expect it to be a world-beater.
At this price, a kayak is going to track (move straight through the water) reasonably well, with an adequate amount of speed, and a comfortable level of stability.
They’re not going to win races, it will be a lot of effort to cross larger bodies of water, (particularly in an inflatable kayak) and I wouldn’t attempt to stand up in them (although some claim that is possible).
Check out this article on the best kayaks to stand in if that’s a priority for you. (Spoiler – you’re going to pay much more!)
Unfortunately, high-performance kayaks come with a higher price tag, but at the end of the day, a good angler will catch fish regardless of a kayak’s flashy specifications or otherwise.
It would be a different matter entirely if we were exploring the best touring kayaks – but we’re not!
Fishing Friendly Features
The main difference between the best fishing kayak and a recreational kayak, is the former should have one or two fishing-friendly features – as standard.
Typically, the more expensive the kayak, the better quality, and more useful fishing features it will have.
But that’s not to say you won’t find some great additions at lower price points. In fact, even the cheapest kayak in this review will with some or even all of the following features:
- Flush mount rod holders.
- Paddle holders for hands-free fishing.
- Transducer holes/mount for a fish finder.
- Gear tracks on the gunwales.
- Scope for customization and extra fishing accessories.
- Removable/portable accessory carrier.
- Anchor trolley/anchor mounting point.
- Trolling motor mount/compatibility.
Of these, the most basic features I’d be looking for would be rod holders, a paddle park, and gear tracks.
But remember, all these things can be added aftermarket, so looking for a kayak that you can customize at home.
The video below shows how you can turn even a cheap kayak into a fish-finding machine!
While the smaller kayaks you’ll commonly find in this price range tend to have more modest storage options, that’s not to say they don’t make great use of the deck space that they do have.
Look for kayaks with rear tank wells, so you can stash extra fishing gear, or even one of these awesome fishing coolers.
Bungee tie-downs are useful for securing your stuff, in case you happen to hit rough water or choppy conditions.
Underseat tackle storage is a great space-saving solution. You can also check out this article on the best tackle bags, boxes, and crates for kayak angling.
Remember, you should always pay attention to a kayak’s weight limit – even if you have all the storage space in the world.
Never be tempted to exceed this, as even if you (probably) won’t sink, you’ll still be overbalanced, which will cause significant performance issues.
I’ve tried to include a nice spread of prices under $800, but most entries in this article are going to come somewhere in between $600-$800.
If you’re looking for an even cheaper kayak selection, check out this review of the best fishing kayaks under $500.
And if you can afford to stretch a little more – but still without needing to remortgage the home – check out this article on the best fishing kayaks under $1000.
Top tip – as I always say, try to buy the best you can afford, within your budget, and relative to how much use it’s actually going to get.
Kayaks come in all shapes, sizes, and prices – and there’s enough of a selection out there for everyone to get involved – no matter your means.
I hope this article on the best fishing kayaks under $800 has helped point you in the right direction to get you started in this fantastic sport and pastime.
Let us know which model you’ve gone for and why – or if we’ve missed a killer fishing kayak off the list!
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!