Best Fishing Kayak Under $1000 in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

What’s a better way to spend your free time than to engage in fruitful, healthy, and fun kayak fishing?

For a person that enjoys going to local lakes or beaches, a kayak can add a lot to your experience and make it even more enjoyable. And a fishing kayak is a perfect, less bulky alternative to a whole boat.

If you’re on a budget, however, the choice might be a little tougher. Don’t worry though, I’ve done the research for you and gathered the best fishing kayaks under $1000 that you’ll find on the market.

List of the Best Fishing Kayaks Under $1000:

  • Intex Explorer K2 Kayak – Best Lightweight Kayak Under $1000
  • Sea Eagle 330 Pro – Best for Weight/Capacity Ratio
  • Sun Dolphin Bali SS – Best Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayak
  • Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 – Best Affordable Fishing Kayak
  • BKC UH-TK181 – Best Tandem Kayak Under $1000
  • Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher – Best for Beginners
  • Sevylor Big Basin – Best for Rough Conditions

Our Top Picks

Kayak

WeightCapacity

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

30.60 pounds

400 pounds

Sea Eagle 330 Pro

26 pounds

500 pounds

Sun Dolphin Bali SS

44 pounds

250 pounds

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

52 pounds

275 pounds

BKC UH-TK181

68 pounds

450 pounds

Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher

60 pounds

500 pounds

Sevylor Big Basin

34.8 pounds

490 pounds

The 7 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $1000

1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak – Best Lightweight Kayak Under $1000

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

The Intex Explorer K2 easily makes it to the top of the list as it almost has no cons that I can think of. It integrates multiple advanced features but doesn’t break any banks. It’s also pretty compact as it measures only 123 x 36 x 20 inches and weighs only 23.9 pounds which makes it the lightest kayak on the list. This really increases its maneuverability.

Despite this, it can accommodate up to 400 pounds. This means you can go kayak fishing with a friend and pack a good amount of gear and equipment.

Moreover, it’s equipped with comfortable seats with backrests that you can adjust to suit your preference and convenience.

To guarantee that you get directional stability when you’re hunting after a fish, the Intex Explorer K2 comes with a removable skeg.

Additionally, its bright yellow color makes it more visible and consequently more identifiable in case of an emergency.

Finally, the Intex Explorer K2 comes with two aluminum oars and a high output air pump that you can use to inflate the kayak quickly.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Skeg can be removed
  • Visible, vivid, and bright yellow color
  • Aluminum oars
  • Comfortable inflatable seat
  • Portable

Cons:

  • None

Bottom Line

The Intex Explorer K2 is the perfect fishing kayak under $1000 if you’re going fishing in small water bodies. It comes with many advanced features at a super affordable price level.

2. Sea Eagle 330 Pro – Best for Weight/Capacity Ratio

Sea Eagle 330 Pro

If you’re looking for a lightweight and compact fishing kayak that’s still capable of accommodating loads of equipment, the Sea Eagle 330 is a great choice.

It only weighs 26 pounds but has a weight capacity of a whopping 500 pounds.

The Sea Eagle 330 Pro comes with two moveable seats that you can easily adjust according to your own preference. Although they have back support, they could have been designed to be more comfortable, in my opinion.

Furthermore, it comes with two high-quality valves that enable you to inflate and deflate the kayak pretty easily.

To guarantee good tracking with decent speed, the Sea Eagle 330 is equipped with two skegs at the bottom. The integral 5-tube I-Beam tubes also work on creating a durable floor that enhances the tracking and speed of the kayak.

Finally, it comes with inflatable spray skirts, is NMMA-certified, and is quite durable with high-quality materials.

Pros:

  • Great capacity relative to the weight
  • Moveable and adjustable seats
  • NMMA-certified
  • Decent space for storing accessories
  • Two available skegs

Cons:

  • The seats are a little uncomfortable

Bottom Line

The Sea Eagle 330 is a great portable and compact kayak that suits anyone’s fishing needs. Despite its compactness, it can be used to store plenty of equipment and gear.

3. Sun Dolphin Bali SS – Best Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

Sun Dolphin Bali SS

The Sun Dolphin Bali SS is a pretty versatile fishing kayak that employs a unique design and plenty of advanced features.

Firstly, it offers an incredible degree of stability that enables you to stand up and keep your balance easily. You can also paddle and track without any issues at all.

The storage compartment is pretty secure and keeps your gear and equipment dry with no worrying about leakages.  

Being a sit-on-top kayak means that you get an open cockpit that you can smoothly enter with a single jump. Once you’re in, you’ll enjoy the large and comfortable seating area. It comes with protective thigh pads, adjustable foot braces, and even a paddle holder.

Finally, the Sun Dolphin Bali SS has a bright blue color, measures 120 x 30 x 11 inches, and weighs 44 pounds. While it’s relatively compact, it’s not the most lightweight. Despite this, it can only accommodate 250 pounds.

Pros:

  • Provides maximum stability
  • Comes with a dry storage compartment
  • Vivid and bright color
  • Spacious seating area with an open cockpit
  • Protective thigh pads
  • Foot braces are adjustable

Cons:

  • A little hard to control and maneuver
  • Low weight capacity relative to the kayak’s weight
  • Low speed

Bottom Line

The Sun Dolphin Bali SS impressively combines advanced specs and a budget-friendly price. It delivers maximum stability, has incredible tracking, and comes with a dry storage compartment. However, it isn’t the best for novices or beginners as it can be a bit hard to control and maneuver.

4. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 – Best Affordable Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 isn’t only one of the best fishing kayaks under $1000, it also comes at half that price level! The best part is that being affordable doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have plenty of awesome features to offer.

To start it off, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is made of high-density UV-protected polyethylene, which increases its durability and makes it usable for a long time.

As for the inner construction, it’s equipped with padded seats that are adjustable and have back support. There are two flush-mounted fishing rod holders and a top-mounted fish rod holder as well, which makes your whole fishing experience easier.

Moreover, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 comes with front and rear shock cord straps that work on preventing any emergencies. It also has a 6″ storage compartment that allows you to pack all your needs and essentials without facing any issues.

At 51 pounds, it’s pretty easy to transport. However, it can only accommodate 275 pounds. The deep hull tracking channels also work on facilitating transport.

In addition, this kayak comes with stability chine rails and a stable bottom that allow maximum stability. However, this comes at the expense of speed as this isn’t the fastest kayak you’ll find on the market.

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Decent storage space
  • Flat bottom for extra stability
  • Adjustable, padded seats with back support
  • Plenty of leg space

Cons:

  • Doesn’t suit choppy waters
  • Common hull cracking issues

Bottom Line

With durable construction and incredible stability, this sit-in kayak is an amazing choice for anyone who’s going to fish in small water areas.

5. BKC UH-TK181 – Best Tandem Kayak Under $1000

BKC UH TK181

While there are many budget-friendly kayaks, the BKC UH-TK181 simply seems to tick all the right boxes.

Above everything, it gives the tandem aspect a lot of attention as it’s equipped with 7 fishing rod holders (a lot more than a normal fishing kayak). It features two secure paddle parks that keep your paddles in place when you’re not using them.

Despite being large in size, it wastes no space with decent waterproof storage compartments where you can store all your valuables without worrying about them getting wet.

The BKC UH-TK181 is equipped with a 34-inch beam that makes tracking and stability a breeze, and the general performance on the water is pretty great. Almost good enough for open water, but not quite there yet, however. It’s only good for choppy water, where you can stand up without worrying about it tipping over.

At 68 pounds, it’s not very light, but can still be transported by a single person. It has an ample weight capacity of 450 pounds, which suits two adults with plenty of gear.

Moreover, the kayak is equipped with two aluminum paddles and deluxe kayak seats that are super comfortable to sit on throughout your fishing trip.

Pros:

  • Equipped with multiple carrying handles
  • Decent storage
  • Quite stable even on choppy waters
  • Quick speed
  • Well-built and looks good
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • Doesn’t suit open water
  • Seat battens are prone to break

Bottom Line

If you want to go fishing in a kayak where the water might be a bit choppy, the BKC UH-TK181 is a pretty suitable choice. Whether you’re going alone or taking someone with you, you’ll definitely enjoy the experience and will be able to pack everything you want thanks to the storage this kayak has to offer.

6. Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher – Best for Beginners

Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher

The Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher is a pretty durable and strong kayak thanks to the blow-molded body that’s made from high-density polyethylene. It even comes with a 5-year warranty to back it up.

With a weight capacity of 500 pounds, this kayak can accommodate up to 3 people. However, it comes with a two-person seating configuration, so it’s a great choice for fishing with a friend and loading up on gear and equipment.

Moreover, it employs a hull design that speaks volumes of how well-made this kayak is and maximizes stability, even with the weight of 3 people.

Mix that with the high-density polyethylene material that’s protected with UV-coating, and you get a kayak that will definitely last long without fading, peeling, or cracking.

The multiple footrest positions and paddle holders provide plenty of comfort when out on a fishing trip with the Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher.

Finally, its accessory package includes two double-sided paddles, paddle clips, three fishing pole holders, 2 padded backrests, and a 6-inch storage hatch. And to make water drainage an easy process, the cockpit comes with a scupper.

Pros:

  • Puncture-resistant design
  • Coated against UV damage
  • Comes with two free paddles
  • Equipped with paddle holders and footrests

Cons:

  • Flimsy paddles
  • Seats aren’t very comfortable

Bottom Line

If you’re in the market for the best fishing kayak under $1000 that can accommodate up to 3 people, the Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher is an ideal choice thanks to its capacity. Although it isn’t the lightest, with company, you’ll be able to transport it easily.

7. Sevylor Big Basin – Best for Rough Conditions

Sevylor Big Basin

All the time you spend inflating this kayak goes into making it capable of handling heavy-duty tasks and rugged use. It also goes into making the Sevylor Big Basin safer.

It comes with an airtight design that prevents any leaks and a Boston Valve. Boston valves are simple valves that facilitate inflating and deflating kayaks.

Moreover, the Sevylor Big Basin comes with adjustable seats that you can set according to your preference and the position that makes you most comfortable.

It also comes with a free spraying kit that works on blocking any splashes and maintains the dryness of the kayak almost all the time. This PVC construction guarantees that your kayak can last through a storm in the water. It provides stable cover, as well, to keep you safe in case of an accidental puncture.

But that’s unlikely to happen with the design of the Sevylor Big Basin that employs multiple chambers. In case one of them gets punctured, the rest will keep you afloat and safe until you navigate off-shore.

Pros:

  • Suits rugged use
  • Tarpaulin made for superior protection
  • Leak-proof with an airtight system
  • Features multiple air chambers
  • Adjustable seats
  • Ample protection for kayaking

Cons:

  • The cockpit is a bit congested
  • A little difficult to clean and dry

Bottom Line

If you don’t mind a bit of tightness in the cockpit in order to get a very lightweight fishing kayak, the Sevylor Big Basin would be a good choice for you.

What to Expect from a Fishing Kayak Under $1000

You can’t expect too much from a budget kayak, but don’t expect too little either. It’s only a matter of sacrificing one thing for the other.

If you get something that’s super stable, its paddling might not be the best. If its tracking and paddling are good, then it might be tough to balance yourself when you’re standing up to cast a rod.

So, in the end, it’s about what you can sacrifice in order to get more of the feature that concerns you more.

How to Pick a Fishing Kayak Under $1000

Even if you’re on a budget, there are some important things that you have to look for in a good fishing kayak. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enjoy the experience as much as you’d like.

1. Type: Sit-on-Top vs. Sit-in Kayak

Fishing kayaks are divided into these two types, and making your choice depends on where you’re going to fish.

​Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Sit-on-Top kayaks, commonly referred to as SOT kayaks, are open and spacious but don’t provide you with complete security. If you’re going to fish on calm waters and won’t need to keep your balance that much, they’d be suitable.

If you’re not well-versed with kayaking, you might be faced with some water getting into the kayak since the top is quite open.

Moreover, a SOT kayak provides you with more legroom and enables you to bend or stretch your knees. They also have more room to accommodate your equipment.

As for transportation, they aren’t the best option. This is because they tend to be heavier and bulkier.

Sit-In Kayaks

Sit-in kayaks are more secure and tight. There’s even a small compartment where your legs go to ensure that the kayak is always attached to you. They’re great for open waters that are challenging, especially in terms of water conditions.

There’s also a certain compartment where you can store your personal belongings and fishing gear.

In general, they’re quite similar to sit-on-top kayaks except that they come with cockpits.

2. Stability and Tracking

If you’re going to stand up to fish and cast your rod, you will need a kayak that has plenty of stability and enables you to balance yourself without exerting tremendous effort. However, you should bear in mind that the more stable the kayak is, the harder it would be to paddle and maneuver. Try to strike balance between stability and maneuverability.

Moreover, tracking is another thing that has to do with stability. This is the extent to which your kayak is able to stay on track when underway. Good tracking means that your kayak holds its course even when a turning force like a sweep stroke acts on it.

3. Paddling Experience

The majority of the kayaks I mentioned on the list are ideal for beginners or intermediate kayakers. For this reason, I’d recommend paying attention to the paddling experience and to get something that isn’t too quick to turn when you give it input.

This provides more stability and makes you feel more confident if you’re still new to kayaking.

Moreover, a wider cockpit is more suitable for beginners as it allows them to move around and experiment with how body movements impact the stability and balance of the kayak.

On the other hand, more experienced users would probably enjoy a tight-fitting cockpit more as it gives them more control over the paddles.

4. Weight and Portability

Recently, kayaks have become a bit heavier than before, so you must keep that in mind when you’re shopping for one.

If you want to gear up and pack lots of accessories, make sure that your kayak is going straight from the truck or means of transportation right into the water.

However, if you intend to drag it through dirt paths or anything like that, you should go for the lightest model you can get. This would typically be a sit-in model or an inflatable one like the Intex.

5. Weight Capacity

As a rule of thumb, go for a kayak with a weight capacity that is 100 pounds more than your body weight and the weight of all your gear combined.

For two people, around 400 pounds would be suitable.

6. Maintenance

Like anything that you want to last, your fishing kayak will require maintenance. To keep that to a minimum, make sure you get the best quality and durability your budget can buy.

Most kayaks, especially budget ones, would be made from plastic reinforced by some other materials. While this makes them more lightweight, it makes them more prone to damage or wear and tear, so you should be extra careful with them.

7. Frequency of Use

You have to consider how often you’re going to use your kayak. You might compromise some durability if you’re only going on a few trips every month. However, if you fish very frequently, you should look for something that lasts and is built from solid materials.

Final Thoughts

It’s a little difficult to pick out the best fishing kayaks under $1000 as there are many choices that focus on different aspects.

For one, if you’re looking for a kayak that’s lightweight but can accommodate a lot, you should go for the 26-pound Sea Eagle 330 Pro that has a 500-pound weight capacity.

If you’re looking for the best sit-on-top kayak that provides plenty of comfort, storage space, and stability, go for the Sun Dolphin Bali SS.

The Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher is a great choice if you’re going kayak fishing with more than just another friend as it can accommodate 3 people.

Finally, if you know you’re going to be fishing in challenging weather conditions or want a kayak that can handle ruggedness, go for the Sevylor Big Basin kayak.