Looking for a quality fishing kayak but don’t want to break the bank? Check out these top budget-friendly options! These kayaks are perfect for beginner anglers and those looking for an inexpensive way to get into kayak fishing. Whether you’re looking for a hard-shell or inflatable, one person or tandem, we’ve got you covered.
There are a lot of very expensive kayaks out there, but we tried to limit our recommendations to quality kayaks under $1,000.
What’s the difference between a fishing kayak and a regular kayak?
Fishing kayaks are designed specifically for fishing, with features that make it easier and more comfortable to fish from a kayak.
They typically have built-in rod holders, storage compartments for tackle and gear, and sometimes even a trolling motor mount. Some higher-end models come equipped with sonar or live bait wells, which can be really helpful when you’re trying to land that big fish.
Regular kayaks are great for general recreation, but they don’t have all the features that make fishing from a kayak more enjoyable.
Can you use a recreational kayak for fishing? Sure. But if you know you’ll be using the kayak to do a lot of fishing, then we’d recommend buying one that has your rod holders and other fishing accessories. You can always use your fishing kayak for recreational outings.
Types of Fishing Kayaks
Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayaks
As their name suggests, sit on top kayaks have an open design that allows you to sit directly above the water. They’re typically wider than traditional (sit inside) fishing kayaks and offer a lot of stability. Most anglers prefer this type of fishing kayak because they are easy to get in and out of, have a lot of storage space for all your gear, and are easier to stand up on.
Traditional Fishing Kayaks
These kayaks feature an enclosed cockpit that you sit inside. They’re typically narrower than their sit-on-top counterparts which makes them more maneuverable on the water while also offering less stability. They’re a good choice for those looking for a more traditional kayaking experience.
Hard Shell or Inflatable?
You’re probably familiar with the traditional plastic kayak, but another other popular option is inflatable kayaks.
Hard Shell (Plastic) Fishing Kayaks
Hard shell fishing kayaks are made of a solid material such as plastic. They’re typically the most durable option and can handle rougher water conditions than their inflatable counterparts. Plastic kayaks will last a long time and require very little maintenance.
Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
Inflatable fishing kayaks have become very popular in recent years, especially for anglers looking for a portable option. They can be deflated and easily transported in a car or RV. While they don’t offer the stability of hard shell kayaks, they’re typically less expensive.
One person or tandem?
One Person Fishing Kayaks: These kayaks are the most common type of fishing kayak and offer a lot of space for all your gear. They’re usually inexpensive and easy to maneuver while on the water.
Tandem or Two-Person: Tandem fishing kayaks allow two people to paddle together, making it easier to cover more ground. They’re a good option for those looking to fish with a partner or child.
Freshwater or saltwater?
Freshwater fishing kayaks are designed specifically for fishing in freshwater lakes and rivers. They typically have a shorter length and are more maneuverable than saltwater kayaks.
Saltwater fishing kayaks are built to withstand the harsher conditions of the ocean. They’re typically longer and wider than freshwater kayaks for added stability on the open water. They’re not meant to get you very far out into the ocean, but a saltwater kayak will help you target fish that you normally wouldn’t reach fishing from the surf.
Here are the best budget kayaks:
Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak – Sentinel 100X
The Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak is an affordable option for those looking to get into kayak fishing.
The Twin Arched Multi Chine Hull provides excellent stability, making it easy to get in and out of the kayak. The spacious cockpit makes it easy to move around in the kayak and enjoy a relaxing fishing experience.
- Perfect for all types of paddling adventures: lakes, rivers, streams, ocean
- Adjustable footrests; Molded carrying handles; Drain plug; 2 accessory eyelets and 2 paddle holders and a smartphone holder
- Flush mount rod holders, 2 Accessory eyelets to add your favorite gear
- Size and Weight: 114″ X 30″ X 13.25″; 44 lb / 19.96 kg
Perception Flash 9.5 Sit Inside Kayak
The Perception Flash 9.5 Sit Inside Kayak is the perfect boat for a beginner paddler. The sit-inside design provides a dry ride, and the wide cockpit makes it easy to get in and out of the boat. The adjustable foot braces can accommodate paddlers of different sizes, so you can share your kayak with friends or family members.
This sit-inside kayak is durable enough to handle any water conditions, yet it’s still lightweight enough for one person to carry.
- MADE FOR FISHING – Molded-in rod holders and 10-inch storage hatch
- EASY TO USE – Extreme stability and smooth paddling characteristics make this kayak ideal for beginners and leisurely voyages.
- Lightweight and Transportable – Measuring just 9.5 feet long, the Flash is lightweight and easy to transport and store
- Can carry gear and paddlers up to 325lbs
BKC 9′ Single Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
The Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC FK184 has all the features the solo paddler needs. Whether you’re headed out for an afternoon of lake fishing or you’re headed downriver on a multi-day adventure, this solo kayak is ready to launch.
The kayak comes equipped with a premium memory foam seat, adjustable aluminum paddle, 2 waterproof hatches, 5 rod holders, 2 paddle parks, and 1 bungee cargo tie down. We have all the accessories you need for your next excursion.
- Stable enough for standing: Navigate swift currents and even stand to cast and reel in that big one with ease.
- Storage: two watertight storage hatches with bungee cord tie down points
- Rod Holders: four flush-mount rod holders and single articulating rod holder keep multiple lines deployed at one time, or just keep the rods out of your way during paddling.
Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is a tough and durable kayak that offers the stability of a hard-shelled kayak with the convenience of inflatable. The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak comes equipped with two paddle holders, three cup holders, one removable fishing rod holder and four adjustable seat backs for comfort.
This kayak features high pressure air construction for extra rigidity and stability, high pressure spring loaded valves for easy inflation and fast deflation as well as storage space in bow and stern with stainless steel d rings for tying down dry bags or gear.
- Two removable Skegs for deep and shallow water
- Floor mounted footrest: The floor mounted footrest allows you to rest and relax while fishing. When not in use, it can be folded up and out of the way.
- Two detachable fishing rod holders – The detachable rod holders are strategically placed on either side of the kayak so that you have easy access to them when needed. They also fold down when not in use.
- GoPro and phone mount
- Storage space in bow and Stern with stainless steel d rings for tying down Dry bags and gear
Intex Excursion Pro Series 2 Person Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Same features as the one person Intex Excursion, but built for two people.
Other gear for kayak fishing
Now that you saved a few bucks on your inexpensive kayak, there are a few other items you’ll need. The most important being a life vest or PFD, a paddle, and of course a rod. The other items on this list are definitely optional.
Life vest or PFD:
A life vest is required by law in most states when fishing from a kayak. And even if they’re not required, they’re a smart investment. A life vest will keep you safe in case of an accident and could potentially save your life.
Many budget fishing kayaks come with their own paddles, but if yours does not then you’ll need to get your own.
It’s also a good idea to use a paddle leash, or you could literally be up a creek without a paddle.
Rod & Reel
The type of rod and reel you’ll use depends on what type of fishing you’re looking to do. In general, your basic casting or spinning rod will work just fine.
Fishing rod holder
A fishing rod holder is a great accessory for kayak fishing. It allows you to securely attach your rod to the kayak so it doesn’t move around while you’re paddling.
A fish finder is a great tool for finding fish in murky water. If you’re looking to add one to your kayak fishing arsenal, we recommend the Garmin 4 with Transducer.
One of the best things about fishing kayaks is their large amount of storage space. Most models have built-in hatches and dry bags that allow you to store all your gear and keep it dry.
An anchor is a great tool for keeping your kayak in one spot while you fish. It’s especially useful when fishing in windy conditions.
A fishing net can come in handy when trying to land a hard fighting fish. If you already have a net, it’ll work fine for kayak fishing.
Bait Bucket/Live Well /Aerator
A bait bucket, live well, or aerator can come in handy when fishing for bait or keeping your catch fresh.
A trolling motor can be a great addition to your kayak if you’re looking to do some serious fishing. It allows you to move around the water without using your paddle, which can come in handy when targeting large fish.
A kayak cart is a great accessory for those who have to carry their kayak long distances. It makes it easy to transport your kayak from your car to the water’s edge. These are great if your crossing a long beach to get to the surf.
Bilge Pump or Sponge
A bilge pump or sponge can come in handy if you end up taking on some water. And that’s likely. A basic sponge works well, but a bilge pump will get the job done faster.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a storage shed, garage, or some other place to store your kayak, that’s the best option. You can keep it out of the way by using a kayak hoist.
Most states don’t require kayaks to be registered, but it’s always a good idea to check with your local regulations.
Fishing from a kayak lets you get out onto the water in way that keeps you close to the water. You’ll be able to move around and target fish you can’t reach from the shore. Hopefully by now you know everything you need to know about picked the best budget fishing kayak.
Fishing Fanatiks is reader-supported. If you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.
Hello! My name is Tim and I’ve been fishing for over 30 years. I’ve learned a lot about fishing during that time and I love sharing that knowledge with others. I’m also a member of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). Thanks for checking out the site!