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5 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $1000

Have you ever tried fishing on a regular kayak, that’s not designed for fishing? When you get a bite, you need the kayak to remain incredibly stable as you get the leverage you need to pull the catch in.

person in an advanced elements straightedge kayak

But some kayaks simply aren’t up to the job, and you could easily fall into the water if you try to stand up on a kayak that’s not prepared for such movement.

But there’s no need to panic yet. In fact, there’s no need to panic at all. We have the solution.

All you have to do is buy a kayak that’s been designed with fishing expeditions in mind. Coming up we’re showcasing our top 5 favorite fishing kayaks under $1000. If you were to buy a kayak from our shortlist, you won’t go far wrong.

man kayak fishing in houston county in a kayak

Some kayaks cost over $1000. But the good news is that you don’t have to spend as much as that, and you can get some excellent fishing kayaks under $1000.

After our fishing kayak reviews, we’ve also got a handy buying guide that lays out some key things to think about when deciding what fishing kayak to buy. You can use it as a handy checklist to ensure that you’ve thought of everything.

And without further ado, let’s get straight to it.

Top 5 Fishing Kayaks Under $1000

  1. Vanhunks Boarding Black Bass 13ft Single Fishing Kayak
  2. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120
  3. Perception Outlaw 11.5 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak
  4. Pelican Basscreek 100X Angler Fishing Kayak
  5. Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Flatwater Fishing Kayak

Vanhunks Boarding Black Bass 13ft Single Fishing Kayak

If you’re looking for a safe, stable and reliable kayak with built-in rod holders, this could be the one for you. 

Vanhunks Boarding Black Bass 13ft Single Fishing Kayak

The large length and width make for a very stable ride, with a length of 13 feet, and width of 32 inches.

It’s so stable in fact that you can get away with standing up on it on occasion to haul in your catch when you get a bite, for that extra leverage.

In addition to the built-in swivel rod holder that rotates left, right, up, and down, there are also 2 regular molded-in rod holders.

So all you have to do is install the included rudder system and grab your gear and you’re ready to launch into the water.

Vanhunks Boarding Black Bass 13ft Single Fishing Kayak

We like the rudder system and how it features pedals to control the fin movement to move the kayak around as required. 

The seating system is good, there’s lower back support and the seat is raised so you shouldn’t get wet, and it’s made with a breathable mesh fabric to prevent sweat.

You have loads of storage options for your gear. There’s a round hatch for your valuables, a front tank well, rear bungee storage, and a center console.

It has an impressive maximum weight capacity, coming in at a whopping 550 pounds. At that weight capacity they should have made it a two-seater. At least you know you can take your fish finder.

Vanhunks Boarding Black Bass 13ft Single Fishing Kayak

It’s a kayak that’s really built to last, the high-density polyethylene construction has excellent UV, impact, and abrasion resistance. And the marine grade brass inserts are corrosion resistant. 

As for safety features, there’s a US Coast Guard-compliant hull identification number, should you ever need it.

This is a relatively expensive fishing kayak, even though it does come under $1000, but fortunately you can pay in installments if you pay via Amazon Rewards Visa. Just click on “Check Price” to be taken to the product page.


  • You can stand up on it, it’s so stable
  • 1 swivel rod holder & 2 regular ones
  • Impressive maximum weight capacity
  • Plenty of storage space for your gear
  • Long lifespan, really built to last
  • Very comfortable seating arrangement


  • Only built for calm waters
  • Few peer reviews on the net
  • Too heavy to carry on your own
  • Premium product at a premium price

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120

Now, this is an upgraded version of Wilderness’ original fishing kayak. And it seems they’ve worked on every bit of feedback they’ve had. There’s very little wrong about this kayak.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120

They’ve certainly turned their attention to the rider’s comfort, with their plush honeycomb-vented fabric and ergonomic 3D foam.

The phase 3 AirPro Seating features lower back support and an adjustable seat.

There are some features we just love about this kayak. First off, the seating system remains cool to the touch – no more sweaty butt after hours and hours of fishing.

And there are padded footrests for the ultimate in kayak fishing comfort. 

Then there’s the removable Dry Tec box, which is perfect for stashing everything that you need kept dry, like your wallet, your phone, and your snacks etc. And it’s conveniently positioned in the center of the kayak.

That’s not the only storage compartment of course – there’s a very large storage well at the rear for all your fishing gear and of course for your catches. All covered up until you need access.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120

And those aren’t the only features. We also like the magnetic bottle holder, because you need to keep hydrated on a long fishing expedition.

I once lost a bottle of water on a fishing trip because of an inadequate bottle holder.

We also like how you can customize the sidetracks accessory rails to mount accessories like rod holders, fish finders and such.

It has a long length, which is great for stability at 12 foot 3 inches. And a decent width at 31 inches. So it’s still nice and agile too, for taking corners etc.

It also has a generous maximum weight capacity, at 350 pounds, so you can stack plenty of big catches and the kayak will take the weight.

It moves quite fast too, which might appeal to some, if you’re eager to get into position.

And it’s made right here in the USA, specifically Greenville, SC.


  • Incredibly comfortable kayak
  • Large storage well
  • removable dry storage box
  • Fast yet very stable


  • No built in rod holders
  • Premium product at a premium price

Perception Outlaw 11.5 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak

Now, this fishing kayak is a bestseller with online retailers and comes highly recommended. Moreover, it’s significantly more affordable than some of the other kayaks that made our shortlist.

Perception Outlaw 11.5

It’s longer than a regular kayak at 11 foot 6 inches, and is very wide at 35 inches, which makes for a very stable kayak, which is just what you need when you’re ready to haul your catch in.

Standing on the kayak is no problem, thanks to the expansive standing platform. And if you prefer you can remove the seat altogether. 

If you do decide to use the seat however, you’ll be pleased that it’s slightly elevated so it’s cooler and less likely to be wet. And it has a mesh fabric, so it’s breathable too.

And there’s no shortage of rod holders. You get 2 built-in double barrel rod holders that are able to accommodate a whopping 4 fishing rods, so you can have your gear set up to catch more than one kind of fish.

This also means that you can release your hands from the rods when you’re ready to paddle elsewhere.

perception outlaw

We also like the self draining scupper holes in the footwell to keep you dry.

It has an impressive maximum weight capacity, coming in at 425 pounds. You could even bring a small cooler on board.

There’s enough space for one, and you could use the cooler as a seat. Or you can keep other items there, all your fishing gear.

Another feature we liked is the configurable storage, and how you can add saddle bags to the sides of the kayak. Unfortunately however, these are sold separately.

It’s made right here in the USA, and it’s available in 3 different colors. We couldn’t pick a favorite, they’re all great.


  • A highly recommended best seller
  • Very wide, fairly long and very stable
  • Expansive standing platform
  • 2 built-in double barrel rod holders
  • Capacity for a small cooler on board


  • Not built for strong currents
  • Saddle bags are sold separately

Pelican Basscreek 100X Angler Fishing Kayak

Now, this fishing kayak is a bestseller with online retailers and comes highly recommended.

Pelican Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak

Moreover, it’s significantly more affordable than some of the other kayaks that made our shortlist.

This is a great choice of kayak for newbies and beginners. It has a large open cockpit for easy entry, and has a Multi-Chine flat bottom hull for ultimate stability.

It’s 10 feet long, approximately standard length for a kayak, and is 30.5 inches wide, and this also adds to its stability in the water.

Pelican Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak

But in creating such stability, there’s no sacrifice of maneuverability and speed.

It comes with plenty of fishing accessories, like a swivel rod holder, a bottle holder to keep hydrated on your expeditions, and two additional flush mount rod holders.

It’s comfortable enough for spending hours out on the water, thanks to the padded seat cushion, and adjustable backrest cushion for lower back support, and with adjustable foot rests to boot.

It’s a lightweight model, at just 50 pounds, with 2 carrying handles, so transporting it from your vehicle to the water is a breeze.

It has a very durable build, being constructed of 3 layers of high density polyethylene. This makes it very resistant to impacts and breakages.


  • Large open cockpit for easy entry
  • Flat bottom hull for ultimate stability
  • Comfortable for hours of fishing
  • 1 swivel rod holder & 2 regular ones
  • Lightweight for easy transportation


  • Designed for calm waters only
  • Relatively low maximum weight capacity, at 325 pounds

Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Flatwater Fishing Kayak

This is a popular fishing kayak that’s received a lot of positive customer feedback and reviews. It’s very stable, which comes down to its relatively large dimensions, coming in at 12 feet in length, and 30 inches in width.

Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Flatwater Fishing Kayak

This kayak was built with fishers’ needs in mind. It features an adjustable rod holder that’s able to be moved 360 degrees around and also adjusts vertically too.

This really helps with rod positioning. And we like how you can lock the rod into place when you need to.

And there’s also 2 flush mount rod holders at the front, and another two at the rear. These rod holders feature a rear saddle that accepts all types of rod and reel combinations.

There’s also an anchor trolley system. It serves to act as an adjustable anchor cleat, that allows you to adjust the angle of the kayak based on changing wind conditions or tide movement.

Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Flatwater Fishing Kayak

We love the pilot rudder system. It’s light and strong, made from glass-reinforced plastic.

But better yet, it gives the kayak a very smooth motion in the water, thanks to its reduced vibration.

It’s comfortable to sit in, with adjustable sliding foot braces to stretch out a little, and there’s a dedicated bottle holder so you can stay hydrated as you fish.

It has a decent maximum weight capacity at 300 pounds, so carrying all your gear on board is not a problem. There’s rear deck shock cord storage, and a dual density hatch cover.


  • Received positive customer feedback
  • Very stable with large dimensions
  • Several rod holders inc an adjustable one
  • Anchor trolley system & pilot rudder system
  • Comfortable to sit in for several hours fishing


  • On board storage could be better
  • Some customers tinkered with or replaced the anchor trolley system to make it work better

Buyer’s Guide: Fishing Kayaks Under $1000

Stability of the Kayak

The last thing you’d want to happen on your fishing expedition is to topple over and get soaking wet when you’re trying to haul a fish in. So, to that end, the more stable the kayak is the better. You want to put all of your focus onto the fishing and not on your balance.

There are several factors that can influence how stable a kayak is. First, there’s the dimensions. The larger the dimensions, the more evenly the kayak’s weight is distributed, and the more stable the kayak. 

You should go for a kayak that’s at least 10 feet long, preferably longer. And go for one that’s at least 30 inches wide or more. 

Some fishing kayaks on the market today are so stable that you can stand up on them.

This is great news for anglers, because it means you get better positioning to see fish, and you’re far better positioned to haul your catches in, thanks to the extra leverage you get from simply standing up.

If you’re interested in getting a fishing kayak that’s so stable you can comfortably stand up in it, then we recommend the Perception Outlaw 11.5 Fishing Kayak.

Comfort as you Fish

Fishing is typically an activity that you’d spend several hours at at a time, so with that in mind, you should consider how comfortable you’d feel on the kayak. 

person in 10 foot fishing kayak

There are several ways a kayak can be made comfortable to sit in for hours. These include features such as lower back support, padding in the seat or back rest, a little elevation so you’re not resting on the floor of the kayak if it’s wet, and breathable mesh fabric that won’t make you sweat.

And you’ll need to keep hydrated as you fish, so you’ll need a bottle holder to stash your water bottle. 

The most comfortable fishing kayak that made our shortlist was the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120.

Plenty of Storage Capacity

Now, the matter of storage capacity is two fold. One, you need enough room on the kayak for all of your fishing gear. Two, you also need the kayak to have a maximum weight capacity that can take both your weight and the weight of all your fishing expedition gear.

kayak fishing washington

You might also want to consider whether you need dry storage space for items that aren’t meant to get wet, such as your smartphone etc. If dry storage space appeals to you, then again we recommend the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120.

Rod Holders

Unless you intend to buy a rod holder separately and mount it to your kayak, then it’s nice to have at least one built-in rod holder, perhaps more.

father and son kayak fishing in northwest arctic borough ak

Our favorite kind of rod holder is a swivel one, that will allow you to move your rod around in every direction.

Maneuverability Features

All fishing kayaks come with a paddle, which is great. But sometimes a paddle is not enough to get the kind of maneuverability you’re looking for. 

kayak fishing in greene county pa

For improved maneuverability, you could look for a kayak with a rudder system, like the Vanhunks Boarding Black Bass, or better yet one with both a rudder system and an anchor trolley system, like with the Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler.

Durability & Lifespan

When you spend a lot of money on an item, such as a fishing kayak, then you want it to last. To that end you should look for a kayak with a good solid construction and sturdy build.

You’ll need it to be impact resistant and UV resistant where possible.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to kayak fishing, you don’t need to go broke buying the fanciest kayak on the market. In fact, these kayaks are my highest recommended choices for fishing kayaks under $1000 because they’ll get the job done just as well as the really expensive ones.

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