Without a doubt, kayak fishing is one of the fastest growing aspects of fishing today due to the fact that a kayak provides an angler with a means to access locations that other watercraft can’t reach as well as a means to stealthily approach wary fish without spooking them.
However, while some fishermen require a Mercedes Benz or a Rolls Royce for their fishing adventures, others are quite satisfied with a more basic model lacking many of the bells and whistles featured on the more expensive kayaks while others prefer a kayak that they can customize themselves to suite their particular needs using any number of the various aftermarket mounting systems such as RAM and GoPro mounts.
Therefore, for those of you who are specially looking for an inexpensive fishing kayak, we have assembled a list of ten best fishing kayak models from well known manufacturers with a reputation for producing quality products all of which have a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) under $1,000.
Consequently, kayak manufactures have recognized the need for fishing specific kayak models and have responded to that need with a plethora of brand names and designs ranging from basic, entry level, models to elaborate models featuring hands-free propulsion and guidance.
Our Top 3 Picks
Fishing Kayak Comparison Table — Our Top Picks
Sit-on-top Fishing Kayaks
Sit-on-top fishing kayaks differ from sit-in fishing kayaks mainly in that they have large, open, cockpits. Also, all sit-on-top fishing kayaks feature a high degree of initial stability and their extra-large cockpits make them easy to enter and exit in the event of a capsize.
Plus, sit-on-top kayaks are constructed using a double-hull construction such that there is an enclosed air space between the inner and outer hulls which traps air inside and therefore, sit-on-top kayaks are literally unsinkable. Plus, they are designed with scupper holes in the bilge which allows any water that may enter the cockpit to escape; thus keeping the cockpit relatively dry.
Image credit: www.westmarine.com
Furthermore, as a general rule, sit-on-top fishing kayaks usually range from 10 to 14 feet in length and have relatively wide beam and thus, they have a high degree of initial stability.
Last, due to their wide, open, cockpits and extreme initial stability, they are the most popular type of fishing kayak available.
If you are just starting out, you can watch this short video that describes the differences and similarities between sin-on-top and sit-in kayaks.
Top 7 Best Fishing Kayak Reviews Under $1,000 (Sit-on-top)
Perception R15 Pescadors 120 Kayak
Mainly designed for beginner levels The Perception R15 Pescadors 120 Kayak is a multi-chin hull perfect for control and stability.
This 12 feet kayak is a great choice for a single person, it moves across the water with easy, as it were a smaller model. The extra length make up for extra space to store all of your equipment and personal belongings and still will have enough room left for the fish you’ll catch.
It features a multi-chin hull, broad shoulder and tracing keel, all this combined give the kayak a lot of maneuverability, glide and stability, giving the angler the possibility of stand casting. Great speed and capacity, which gives any paddler the chance to enjoy a full day on the water.
The cockpit features a Comfort Seating System (CSS) which gives the angle the possibility of adjust the seat for better visual or stability while still being very comfortable to sit on.
Lifetime Sport Fisher Kayak
The Sport Fisher by Lifetime Is at a whole new level for fishing kayaks under 1000$. It is designed with ease of and comfort in mind. Its tunnel hull allows you fishing standing up or to site side-saddle without fear of tipping over, as a result you can fish at your own preference and not the boat restrictions.
It features multiple foot rests for people of all sizes, it can fit up to three riders with ergonomic seats, and it’s perfect for riding solo, tandem or family fun. Its high seats keeps the riders off the floor of the kayak making it easier to stay dry.
It is very fishing friendly, and it comes with a full set of features to make your fishing outings more pleasant. It features four fishing rod holders, a 6 inch storage hatch in the back, ditty trays and shock-cord straps to secure loose items, plus the cockpit are features scupper holes to drain any water that could get in.
Sun Dolphin Bali SS 12-Foot Sit-on top Kayak
The Bali SS 12 by Sun Dolphin is a perfect choice for new and experienced kayakers. Even when it’s called a sit on top model, the truth is that the seating area is lowered and is very close to the bottom of the hull, this makes it a very stable kayak thanks to the lowered center of gravity which gives you the chance to be standing on the kayak without thinking of flipping over to the water. It tracks and paddle with ease and you’ll get used to it in a very short time.
By its design it is very hard to flip over and very easy to get back in incase of any accident.
It’s increased stability allow the fisher to go on longer outings and spend all day fishing without having to deal with the tiredness produced by riding less stable kayaks.
It features adjustable backrest and footrests to improve comfort while paddling or seat fishing.
Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Flatwater Fishing Kayak
The Escape 12 by Riot kayaks is equipped with features for the most serious anglers.
Between its features you can find out why this kayak is such a good choice, it includes a sit-on-top high back outfitting, adjustable sliding foot braces, pilot rudder system, anchor trolley system, front hatch with dual- density hatch cover, integrated console with a molded-in cup holder, 2 4-inch deck plates, 2 paddle hooks, 1 adjustable rod holder, 2 front and 2 rear flush mount rod holder, rear deck shock cord storage, 2 rubber handles, drain plug and scupper plugs.
With a weight of 70 lbs., it is a bit on the heavy side, but having a capacity of 300 is the perfect balance for the angler that wished to spend all day in the water.
The mounted rod holders can rotate 360 degrees with function to adjust it vertically, for better precision placement and the standard rod holder has a rear saddle that accepts any kind of rod and reel combinations.
It is really a good choice for the fishing-minded kayakers.
Sun Dolphin Excursion 12-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
The Excursion 12 Sit In Kayak by Sun Dolphin is undoubtedly a great choice for anglers looking to buy a new kayak. Designed and built with the fishing experience in mind, this kayak gives high performance, tracking and maneuverability on the wart. It is outfitted with large and very comfortable seating parts with a covered console.
Featuring two rod holders,a swivel rod holder, high quality thigh pads, padded seat back, retractable carry handles, shock cord deck rigging, adjustable foot braces, paddle holder a portable water proof accessory carrier that can also be used as extra cargo space.
With only 47 lbs. in weight, it is more on the lightweight side, it is perfectly suited for one person handling, and has a capacity of 250 lbs.
It is perfectly suited for calm water such as lakes and low moving rivers. From every point of view it is an excellent option for those anglers wanting fast but stable kayak that is easy to handle while having lots of fun.
Perception Kayaks Striker 11.5 Review
Designed as an entry level fishing kayak, the Striker 11.5 from Perception Kayaks is an inexpensive, sit-on-top, fishing kayak specifically designed with the angler in mind. Featuring a tri-hull design, it provides the angler with the stability needed for stand-up casting and accommodates a large weight capacity without compromising performance. Plus, a generous tank well for gear and special molded-in features make this the angler’s choice for chasing new fishing spots on flat or slow moving water.
Also, the cockpit of the Striker 11.5 features a molded, double level, seat with both a high position for greater visibility and a low position for increased stability, non-adjustable, molded, foot braces, a stand-assist strap, molded rod holders, and a small day hatch for storing such items as a wallet, keys, cell phone, digital camera, and snacks.
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Angler Review
The award winning design of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Angler fishing kayak provides you with the speed you need to zip from the landing to your favorite fishing spots and yet, it also provides the maneuverability that you need to fish in tight quarters when you arrive.
Featuring Wilderness Systems Phase 3 AirPro sit-on-top seat which has a contoured seat and backrest that has been specifically designed with increased comfort in mind by incorporating multiple-sized holes in the special foam padding that produce varying densities to provide extra cushioning along the spine and under the legs while comfortably supporting the buttocks combined with adjustable Keepers Foot Braces to accommodate paddlers with different inseam lengths as well as self-bailing scupper holes for a dry ride, the cockpit of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Angler has been thoughtfully designed with paddler comfort in mind.
Also, all of your kayak fishing accessories can easily be custom mounted in any number of different positions using the incorporated SlideTrax Accessory System and the included Yak Attack Angler’s Package which features a SlideTrax rail attachment, Yak Attack 1” and 1.5” Screwball mounts, a Yak Attack Mighty Mount accessory mounting system, a Yak Attack VisiCarbon Pro safety flag, and a Yak Attack Zooka Tube rod holder.
Last, the Tarpon 100 Angler features a tank well in the stern which is perfect for storing a small cooler as well as Orbix dry storage hatches both amidships and in the bow. So, for those of you who are looking for a stable and highly maneuverable fishing craft for penetrating into those tight quarters where other craft can’t reach, then the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Angler is an excellent choice.
You may also want to check this short video review of Tarpon 100 Kayak:
Emotion Kayaks Grand Slam Angler Review
The Grand Slam Angler by Emotion Kayaks has the speed, performance, and storage capacity of a touring kayak with the roominess and stability of a great fishing boat. An exceptionally fast sit-on-top kayak, the Grand Slam Angler will get you where you want to go in a hurry due to the ST Performance Hull’s sharp entry line that cuts through the water and provide a stable fishing platform when you arrive at your destination.
Also, an optional rudder system is available for extra tracking in windy conditions. Plus, the Grand Slam Angler kayak also features an adjustable Comfort Rest Seating System for maximum comfort combined with adjustable foot braces to accommodate paddlers with different inseam lengths and self draining scupper holes for an always dry cockpit.
Next, in order to keep you organized, the cockpit features a removable console with a dry box, cup holder, rod mount, and accessory location and, to help keep your favorite fishing rods within easy reach, the Grand Slam Angler features a Triple Threat Fishing Configuration which consists of two flush-mounted rod holders on either side aft of the cockpit and one deck-mounted rod holder located within the cockpit.
In addition, for those of you who never know where to store your paddle while fishing, the Grand Slam Angler features a molded-in groove in each gunwale accompanied by a pair of Ledge Lock Paddle Keepers to secure the paddle when not in use and last, the dual tank well with Cargo Net Lacing System and the Solace hatch amidships combined with the Large Bow Hatch provide maximum storage capacity.
Heritage Redfish Anger 14 Review
Although the Heritage Redfish Angler 14 lacks some of the amenities found on other fishing kayaks, it is also one of the few best fishing kayaks on the market today for under $1,000 with the length and speed needed to cover long distances. Featuring a molded seat with an adjustable back band and adjustable foot braces to accommodate paddlers with different inseam lengths as well as a standing platform and a self-draining cockpit, the Redfish Angler 14 in an excellent choice for reaching those distant fishing locations.
Designed with a vertical rod holder in front of the paddler and 2 recessed, flush-mount rod holders aft of the seat to offer a variety of fishing positions, this kayak also features an open tank well with bungee cord retainers in the stern and a sealed hatch in the bow for dry storage of your valuables and a paddle clip keeps your paddle out of the way while you fish.
Jackson Kayaks Cruise 10 Angler Review
Designed to be an entry level fishing kayak, the Jackson Kayaks Cruise Angler kayak is an excellent choice for someone looking to enter the sport of kayak fishing. Although it lacks many of the bells and whistles included on more expensive fishing specific kayaks, the Cruise 10 Angler still retains the necessary features needed to make your day on the water an enjoyable experience. Thus, it is in an excellent platform for the fisherman who is looking for a versatile kayak for those quick trips where you only need a couple of rods and a single tackle box.
Also, due to its short length, it is the perfect kayak for students who have the need to store their kayak in a small space such as a dorm room or an apartment.
Featuring Jackson Kayaks patented Elite high-low seat which enables the paddler to choose either the low position for increased stability or the high position for increased visibility and maneuverability combined with the wide “standing platform” molded into the bilge that provides the stability necessary to enable the paddler to comfortably and confidently stand in the kayak while fishing, the Cruise 10 Angler is the perfect kayak for novice paddlers or those who are new to kayak fishing.
Plus, with adjustable foot braces to accommodate paddlers with different inseam lengths as well as a stand-assist strap and self-bailing scupper holes for a dry ride as well as a handy day hatch positioned in front of the seat for storing your phone, camera, wallet, and snacks, the cockpit of the Cruise 10 Angler is designed for all day comfort. Additional storage space is provided by including an open tank well in the stern which is perfect for carrying a small cooler and a sealed bow hatch for dry storage of items that are either too bulky to store in the day hatch such as a jacket or rain gear.
Last, the Cruise 10 Angler features both Ram and GoPro mount inserts located in strategic positions around the cockpit as well as well as one GoPro mount and one 2007 Ram Rod Holder.
Feel Free Lure 10 Review
Feel Free Kayaks has elevated kayak fishing to a new level in stability, comfort, and versatility with the new Lure 10 fishing kayak. The smaller, more compact, version of the Lure 11.5, the Lure 10 is an excellent choice for shorter trips on rivers and lakes without comprising features.
For instance, the Lure 10 features a removable, multi-level, extra wide, patent pending, Gravity Seat which offers a wide range of seat heights that is adjusted with a simple lever and it is removable for easy transport. But, what really sets the Gravity Seat apart is the ability to sit flush on the deck of the kayak when additional stability and a more efficient paddling position is needed for longer distances.
Also, complimenting the Gravity Seat are a pair of adjustable foot braces to accommodate paddlers with different inseam lengths, a stand-assist strap, and a standing pad to ease pressure on your feet. Plus, the Lure’s super-stable, 36” wide, hull paired with a standing platform gives you the option to paddle or cast in either the sitting or standing position when fishing.
In addition, to help you organize your gear, the Lure 10 features a center console, side pockets, a front Uni-Track rail, molded-in crate recess with a rear Uni-Track rail and tie down system in the stern, fishing rod holders, a quarter-turn hatch, and an oval hinge-hatch in the bow. Last, the Lure 10 also features Feel Free’s patented “wheel in the keel” for easy transport to and from your vehicle to the launch point.
Ocean Kayaks Trident 11 Review
The Trident 11 Angler made by Ocean Kayaks is the smallest fishing kayak available in their popular Trident line. Specifically designed to blend both stability and maneuverability with considerable carrying capacity, the Ocean Kayaks Trident 11 Angler is an excellent choice for kayak fishing on ponds, small lakes, moderate rivers, and even mild ocean swells. Thus, it is an excellent choice for novice to intermediate paddlers who are looking for a stable and highly maneuverable fishing craft. In addition, the designers have given a considerable amount of forethought to outfitting the kayak in order to make it one of the best fishing kayaks available. Period.
For instance, it features Ocean Kayaks Comfort Hybrid seat back which is extra tall for increased comfort and is adjustable to enable the paddler to place the seat back in the most comfortable position combined with an adjustable Support Track Foot Brace System to accommodate paddlers with different leg lengths. In addition, this kayak also features a Modular Fishing Pod center console which provides a convenient place to mount a fish finder and a rod holder and also serves as a hatch cover for the in-hull rod storage compartment so that you have easy access to your rods while on the water.
Furthermore, there are two flush mounted rod holder fixtures located on either side aft of the seat and the hull is transducer compatible and thus, it does not require modification to install a transducer. Also, both the cockpit and the oversized tank well storage area in the stern (which is perfect for carrying a small cooler) are self draining via scupper holes for a dry ride.
Last but not least, there is a large oval hatch located in the bow for dry storage of items such as extra clothing and it also features a battery storage bag which enables you to safely store the battery for your fish finder out of the way in a dry space.
Sit-in Fishing Kayaks
Sit-in fishing kayaks differ from sit-on-top fishing kayaks in that they have large, enclosed, cockpits. Also, all sit-in fishing kayaks feature extra-large cockpits make them easy to enter and exit and yet also provide a dry ride due to the ability to add a nylon spray skirt. In addition, they usually range from 8 to 14 feet in length and they generally have more efficient hull designs than sit-on-top kayaks and thus, they are a good choice for those paddlers who prefer a little faster hull design and dry ride.
Top 3 Best Fishing Kayak Reviews Under $1,000 (Sit-in)
Heritage FeatherLite 9.5 Angler Review
Not only is this kayak one of the very few sit-inside, fishing specific, kayaks on the market today, it is also one of the lightest. Therefore, this kayak is an excellent choice for smaller paddlers who have trouble lifting heavier fishing kayaks. Also, the FeatherLite 9.5 Angler‘s wide hull provides an excellent fishing platform with extra stability for fighting and landing fish of any size and its short length makes it highly maneuverable. Thus, due to its short length and light weight, it is the perfect craft for accessing those “hard to get to” spots such as farm ponds and hidden lakes where you may be required to portage the kayak overland in order to reach the water.
Plus, it features an ergonomic, padded, seat, a large, open, non-confining cockpit, adjustable foot braces, a comfortable eating system, two rod holders positioned on either side aft of the cockpit, a paddle tether to keep your paddle confined when fishing, bow and stern storage webs, built-in flotation, two end-carry handles, and a molded skeg to help it track straight.
Old Town Vapor Angler Review
One of the very few sit-inside, fishing specific, kayaks on the market today, the Old Town Vapor 12 Angler is an excellent choice for fishermen who prefer the stability and protection from the elements that a sit inside kayak provides. At 12 feet in length, the Vapor 12 Angler provides an efficient ride without sacrificing comfort or stability and the open cockpit gives you room to store your gear both in front of you or in the day well behind you.
Featuring an extra large cockpit opening and Old Town’s Comfort Flex seat consisting of a molded plastic seat base and adjustable backrest with padded cushions combined with Glide Trax foot braces and padded thigh braces, the cockpit of the Vapor 12 Angler provides you with all day comfort combined with the room needed to stand in the kayak when casting.
Plus, to help keep you organized while on the water, the cockpit also features a molded in dashboard that provides storage for smaller items along with flush mounted rod holders and a molded paddle rest with bungee cord retainer.
Plus, there is a molded-in tank well in the stern which is perfect for carrying a small cooler and an anchor trolley system enables you to position the kayak with either the bow or the stern facing into the wind or the current depending on your preference. All things considered, Vapor 12 Angler is definitely one one of the contenders for the title of the best fishing kayak for the money.
Perception Sport Sound 12.5 Angler Review
Another of the handful of sit-inside, fishing specific, kayaks on the market today, the Sound 12.5 Angler by Perception Sport is an excellent choice for fishermen who prefer the stability and protection that a sit inside kayak provides.
However, this particular sit-inside kayak also retains many of the popular features found on sit-on-top fishing kayaks such as a tri-keel hull design for increased speed and stability, an open cockpit with plenty of room to stand up when casting, a molded tank well with bungee retainers that is perfect for carrying a small cooler, a molded dash board, two molded rod holders located on either side aft of the cockpit, and an anchor trolley with an accompanying anchor kit that enables you to position the kayak with either the bow or the stern facing into the wind or the current depending on your preference.
Plus, it also includes a Perception’s Zone seat pad which is engineered to provide the ultimate comfort and fit combined with Zone knee/thigh brace pads and adjustable Keeper’s foot braces to accommodate paddlers with different inseam lengths.
Last, completing the cockpit’s outfitting, the Sound 12.5 Angler includes a Scotty Bait Caster rod holder.