What’s the best fishing kayak for the money?
No matter what your budget is, whether you’re prepared to spend a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand dollars on a fancy new kayak, you want to know you’re getting the best possible value for money. You will need to make sure you’re picking the most cost effective solution to meet all of your needs, and ultimately make sure you’re buying the best fishing kayak for the money!
There are certain features that are normally only available with more expensive models that you may hope to find on a lower budget, and there are certain hallmarks of a lower quality kayak, which your wouldn’t want to spend more than you ought to on. As everyone’s budgets will be different, this review will include kayaks in different price categories. From less than $500, less than $750, less than $1000, all the way to a completely blow out spend and the best you can get on an extravagant budget. And no matter how deep your pockets are, there is a great kayak out there for you.
- If you want more details about a certain kayak, click the link and you can see its full review.
- Or if you want to see all of all our kayak reviews together, check out the big list here.
|Fishing Kayaks||Length||Weight||Max Capacity||Price (RRP)|
|Sun Dolphin Journey 10||10'||44 lbs||250 lbs||$380|
|sun Dolphin Journey 12||12'||48 lbs||395 lbs||$663|
|Lifetime Tamarack 120||10'||50 lbs||275 lbs||$365|
|Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120||12′ 3″||63 lbs||350 lbs||$939|
|Perception Pescador Pro 12||12′||60 lbs||350 lbs||$829|
|Ocean Kayak Prowler 13||13′ 4||56 lbs||450 lbs||$899|
|Ocean Kayak Trident 13||13′ 6″||67 lbs||475 lbs||$1,299|
|Old Town Predator 13||13′ 2″||86 lbs||425 lbs||$1,399|
|Old Town Predator MX||12′||82 lbs||400 lbs||$1,299|
So let’s begin…
For seasoned or professional anglers, buying new kayak may not seem too big a deal – you’ll likely know what you like and dislike, and have a good idea of where to look to find something perfectly tailored to your needs. Then it’s just a question of finding the best fishing kayak for the money that ticks all the boxes on your wish list.
For newbies, or anglers taking the big step of purchasing their first kayak, the process of making a purchase can seem a lot more daunting. Finding the best fishing kayak for the money, something that is good enough to grow with you as you improve and fish more frequently, but isn’t an overly extravagant spend on a new hobby can be a very delicate balance to find. Stability, durability, and speed are all factors that newer anglers need to look out for, as these are the basics of any decent kayak. The Storage and weight capacity are the two main differences that seperate a fishing kayak, from a normal kayak. All other features are really building on that foundation. However, upgrading your yak, or making that first purchase is a really important and necessary step in improving your angling experience, and can open hundreds of new doors in terms of where you can fish and what you are able to catch.
Some things to consider
There are many important qualities to consider when buying a kayak, and buying a rigged kayak for angling just adds even more essential qualities to the list. One of the first things to consider is the balance between speed and stability. It is a happy medium that you will need to search for. The more you hope to fish standing up, you’re going to need a wider and steadier base. The more speed and tracking capability you want, you’re going to have to sacrifice some of that stability.
Some manufacturers have perfected this balance, such as Hobie with their Mirage Revolution 13, and Ocean with the Trident 13. But most consumers need to consider whether they value speed or stability more. Wider kayaks offer stability, while longer offer speed. However, longer versions also tend to be a little more expensive, which may also factor into the decision making.
As well as stability and speed, when considering the best fishing kayak for the money, the style of kayak is a matter of personal preference – most fishing kayaks are ‘Sit On Top’ as anglers enjoy more freedom of movement to access their gear and move around to wrestle any larger than normal fish. But still, some kayakers can’t be torn away from the ‘Sit In’ variety. The majority of highly rated fishing kayaks today are ‘sit on top’, which is for the most part due to the sport originating from guys in California trying to fish off their surfboards. And so, sitting on top more than inside.
Powerful arms or pedal power?
Some people may favor the strength in their legs and look for pedals as well as a paddle, while a paddle holder is pretty essential for anyone looking to use a rod from their kayak. Having molded fittings is normally a sign of a good storage. All fishing enthusiasts, but especially veterans, will want something lightweight, but with a generous maximum weight capacity, and plenty of storage options, for their catch as well as their tackle and gear.
Where you plan on using the kayak, and in what kind of water and weather are also very important factors. Think about if you want to be able to easily mount fish finding equipment, or are looking for a solo or tandem kayak. There are so many individual preferences, but fortunately, there are enough kayaks out there to meet all of those differing desires. Here, we are committed to finding you something that meets all of your needs, and is the absolute best fishing kayak for the money!
It is absolutely possible to get an amazing kayak for less than $500, which is about the most any newbie would want to spend on their fun new sport. It’s also more than enough to pay for as a recreational angler or someone who can only make it onto the water every few weekends, and there are some really great models out there.
- If you want a more in-depth comparison in this price range, check out our full review of fishing kayaks under $500 here.
The Sun Dolphin Journey Kayak simply must be included on any list considering the best fishing kayak for the money. This kayak comes in ten or twelve foot options, the Journey 10 has a price tag of $380, while the 12 comes in at $663.
Both the 10 and the 12 have several great features in common. They’re both made for use on both lakes and rivers, and even the 12 is light weight, which makes them super easy to transport. Plus, thanks to retractable handles, there’s no hassle at all to carry over a distance from your car to the water. The Journey 10 weighs in at 44 lbs, and can hold up to 250lbs. While the Journey 12 only weights 4 lbs more, and yet can accommodate up to 395 lbs – so if you’re more experienced, expecting a massive catch, or you are just a bigger or heavier person, then maybe the 12 could suit you better. And while the kayak can hold a lot of weight, it also has plenty of storage.
There’s space on the deck which comes with shock cords, as well as a portable accessory carrier. Other relevant points about this kayak worth noting are – the large and comfy seat, protective thigh pads, and adjustable foot braces. There is a downside though, as I’ve heard a few reports of people saying that it can be a bit hard to keep straight at times. So remember, this kayak isn’t designed for rough conditions or strong currents in mind. The shell is made from high-density polyethylene, so it is durable and should last you a long time.
There are multiple rod holders as you’d expect in a decent fishing kayak, two of which are flush, and one that swivels. Overall, this is a great and reliable, entry-level kayak to get you started, and for beginners who are looking for something sturdy and strong without breaking the bank. If you’re shopping on a budget, don’t hesitate to go for the Sun Dolphin Journey.
Another great option, which I prefer of the cheaper kayaks, is the Lifetime Tamarack 120 Angle. At the time of writing this, it looks like you can get a massive discount on Amazon, for a total cost of $459. This yak is really designed with the beginner in mind, and is an all water kayak. So wherever you plan on learning, improving, and gaining confidence, this will support you all the way. It’s a lightweight kayak at only 52 lbs, and has a capacity that can hold up to 275 lbs, and it has plenty of storage space to go with that capacity. from front and rear shock cord cargo holds, to two six inch hatches, there’s more than enough room for you, your gear, and your catch. Plus, T-bar handles make this easy to transport, and the multiple rod holders give you plenty of opportunity to reel in enough massive fish to feed the family for a week.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of this kayak is that it’s super tough – so tough in fact that it’s one of the most durable kayaks out there, which makes it an ever better bargain, and cements it’s place on the list of the best fishing kayak for the money. It’s made of UV protected, blow molded, high-density polyethylene, which ensures that this will not be easily affected by wear & tear and can handle rough use and rough waters.
Getting into the territory of spending serious money, people begin having seriously high standards for their kayaks, and have a seriously long list of demands. While this may seem more like the price range of a seasoned and experienced kayak fisherman, anyone new who wants to make an investment and is already sure that they’re passionate about kayak fishing may also look to take the plunge and invest in this awesome kayak.
A great option of kayak for under $1000 is the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120, which you can get on Amazon for $939 (at time of writing this review). This kayak is designed with the adventurer in mind – this isn’t the kayak that will keep you afloat while you bob along with a couple of rods, this is designed to take you as far as you want to go, and more. This is for someone who wants a kayak that can match their own versatility and thirst for adventure, and can adapt to absolutely all kinds of water extremely well. If you want to chill on a lake one weekend, then head to the choppy ocean the next, this is the perfect kayak and a total bargain for its diversity. This is the kayak to keep people who get bored easily, interested.
This ‘Sit On Top’ kayak delivers in speed, agility and stability amazingly well, as it is super difficult to achieve a balance between those three essential aspects. However, the focus on fishing should not be forgotten, as this has plenty of space and storage. Of particular note is the extra large tank well with adjustable bungee. And as well as storage for your catch, there are also specific pockets for gear and of course, a cup holder.
This kayak literally turns you into a predator on the surface of the water, whether its calm or rough. But at the same time it’s extremely comfortable, designed with humans in mind. The seat and foot brace are big and comfy, the carry handles make it easy to transport, and it’s also durable and will be a long lasting as a kayak. It is almost impossible to find a better value kayak as versatile as this one, so if you’re looking for something to explore with, to have a wealth of experiences with, in all weather, and on all water, then you really, really need to consider this one.
Perception used to have a reputation of making kayaks for beginners, who would use their kayaks recreationally on the weekend. However, that is no longer the case, because the Pescador Pro 12 is a serious, performance driven kayak that would suit beginners and veterans alike, and for only $829, it’s amazing value for money.
As this is a mid-price range kayak, you will be amazed by the high quality features that come with this kayak as standard. While it’s lightweight, with a durable frame and soft carry handles, as you would expect any decent kayak to be, it has a bunch of extra amazing aspects too. From the molded rod and cup holders to the seamless one-piece construction, and ridiculously comfortable and adjustable seat, this is a very special kayak. The Center Console makes mounting fish finding equipment a dream, and the dry well really does stay dry, which makes this a great choice if you normally head out to the water in less than perfect conditions.
And the best part is that none of these amazing features sacrifice the space or storage you would expect to enjoy while using this kayak. There’s actually more than an average amount of cargo space on this kayak, from front and rear tank wells, to the recessed tackle box, and accessory track recesses, as well as the dry well mentioned earlier. The challenge will be filling all of this space on your kayak. It’s absolutely able to handle anything you throw at it, and is a great investment of a kayak to anyone beginning to take the sport seriously, or looking to really improve their game. There are literally no downsides to this kayak, and for this price, it would be hard to find anything better.
Another contender on the list of best fishing kayaks for the money that comes in at less than a thousand dollars, is the Ocean Prowler 13, which costs $849 (at time of writing), and is an awesome all water kayak. With functional deign, generous weight capacity, comfortable seating, and an unbelievable maximum weight capacity, it’s hard to find something wrong with this offering from Ocean, who are amongst the pioneers of the kayak fishing movement.
From the contoured shape, to the scupper holes and water drains, this has taken on board the thoughts and opinions of kayak anglers everywhere and came up with some really innovative features. It tracks straight, has plenty of deck space, accessible storage areas, and multiple storage options – from click and seal bow hatches for the things you want to keep dry, to the huge tank well, this kayak has the perfect place to put everything. – and since it can hold 475 lbs, you can bring as much gear as you like, and need not fear at all about running out of space. There’s a transducer compatible scupper, so bringing along any extra electronic gear of fish finding equipment is totally hassle free, and they’re easy to mount and install without drilling any holes into your kayak. A rudder can also be purchased as an accessory. If you have $849 to spend on a kayak, then you will struggle to find something to better to spend it on, and should grab one of these while you can.
$1000 or more
If you’re lucky enough to have over a thousand dollars to invest in a new kayak, then you’re going to have some pretty specific features in mind, and most likely know exactly what you’re looking for. You are not going to want to spend those thousand dollars on anything less than the perfect kayak, and the two options below really are as perfect as it’s possible to get. If you want the best possible value kayak for the thousand dollars, then you should grab one of the below kayaks as quick as you can.
The Ocean Kayak Trident 13 is a killer of a kayak, and is a great balance between cost and features – though it’s price is high, you get an awful lot for your money. The trident ran is available in 11, 13, and 15 feet size options, and the price increases with the size, so it is possible to get a smaller version of this monster and save a little money. In this short review I will be talking about the 13 foot version specifically, although most of the features should still be the same with the other versions.
As is mentioned earlier, Ocean are a trusted and reliable brand of kayaks, who know exactly what anglers are looking for in a kayak. And personally, I prefer their kayaks compared to all others manufacturers. Their years of experience are evident in the amazing design and rave reviews these kayaks get, and this kayak in particular has received amazing reviews.
The Trident is particularly amazing because it’s incredibly stable and yet can still achieve amazingly high speeds – all while remaining light and easy to transport. This kayak is a favorite amongst professionals right now, who are looking at kayaks three or four times the price of this one – and they cannot compromise on quality. This just proves that this is one of the best fishing kayaks for the money currently on the market.
There are a whole range of rod holders which can hold all different kinds of rods and is scupper transducer compatible, so you can instantly mount any fish finding equipment. It goes without saying that this has an incredibly comfy seat, which is also removable and adjustable as well as the adjustable foot braces. And for those people, like me, who have stronger legs than arms, there are pedals as well as paddles. That way you can devote your hands to the important task of fishing, rather than worrying abut paddles which can be stored in the paddle keepers. There’s a massive amount of storage space, the most impressive being the massive tank wells that can hold some truly huge prized game fish. And also the rigging is reflective, so you can feel safe using this a night. There are loads of features like skid rails and self-baling scupper holes. I could go on but seeing as this is only a general review, I’ll pass on the link to Amazon where you can check it all out.
All I can say is, believe all the hype about this kayak, you won’t be disappointed.
The Old Town Predator 13 & MX also must be included in any list about the best fishing kayak for the money at around the thousand dollar mark – the Predator MX being the smaller and wider version, while the Predator 13 is a little faster and leaner – so our choice of predator really is a matter of preference, and it’s great to be able to make decisions about your kayak like that – enjoying all of the standard benefits but then getting to choose whether you prefer speed or stability.
The features on both of these standard kayaks are great. The 13 or MX absolutely must be your kayak of choice if you’re looking to stand while you fish. There is no doubt at all that this kayak offers the ultimate standing experience while fishing. And you can stand on ponds, lakes, river, and off the coast in this predator, without feeling even a little unstable.The MX weighs 82 lbs and 16 weighs 86 lbs, which is a little heavier than some people want. However, they can handle up to a massive 400 lbs to 425 lbs in weight – so for a few extra pounds of kayak, you get dozens of extra pounds in weight capacity.
While the seat is adjustable in the usual sense of being able to recline and sit upright, it also can be positioned for travel and attack, and flipped over completely, leaving room for you to stand. The stability for standing is largely provided by the Tri Hull, which also makes tracking a dream. Old Town have put their patented scupper valves to work on this model, so you should stay as cozy and as dry as possible while fishing. And with the generous weight capacity, you can count on plenty of storage. From the rear tank well to molded cargo holders, there is space for absolutely everything.
And what’s also great is that while you gain confidence and experience in your new kayak, you can add any number of extras and really jack this thing up until it’s a total machine. If you’re looking for something you can really grow with, then this is absolutely the best kayak for you right now, and you should definitely grab it now.
Hopefully this list will provide you with some help in picking the perfect, best value kayak for your budget. I really hope that you and your new baby will have many long and happy years together, out on the water catching and killing fish to bring home and cook for dinner. Happy Fishing!
Last updated: August 11, 2017