Does anyone have opinions on fishing kayaks? Price under ~1200.
My wife and I are thinking of getting a pair to take to camp instead of the canoes. 95% slack water with some deeper backwaters with current will be use. No James or New type floats, as we use canoes for that.
I spent a ton of time researching same last year, and still keep up on yaks now...
Late last Fall, I opted for a Bonafide SS107. For a fishing yak setup, it is fantastic, in my opinion. Since then, Bonafide and Native have merged, and both of these brands put out some really solid, Made in USA fishing yaks.
I also highly, highly recommend the Crescent Lite Tackle and the smaller Ultra Lite. One thing to keep in mind with these fishing yaks -- they get heavy! My Bonafide is ~90lbs, which doesn't sound like much until you're lugging it into the bed of a truck (or gosh forbid, atop an SUV). At ~45lbs, the little 10' Crescent Ultra Lite is one bad mama jama -- and it will be my next boat for throw-n-go on the James.
There are quite a few awesome kayaks on the market now -- go with a well-known Made in USA brand with a comfy framed seat, and you likely couldn't make a bad choice. You have lots of good options within your budget. I'd narrowed down a "top 5" list of boats that I was interested in (any of which I'd be happy with) -- and, then I just unexpectedly lucked into a deal on my Bonafide.
One other recommendation to check out: Not Made in USA, but made by a very good brand -- 2020 Feelfree Moken 10 v2. Great boat for current sale price. I don't know whether I'd choose it over the Crescent, but it's worth checking out.
Headwaters Kayak on Youtube has some of the best reviews and info you'll find. Start here: youtu.be/wc2f7xglcEI
Lastly, set aside some budget funds to invest in a nice paddle. Bending Branches Angler Ace or Pro, Werner Shuna Hooked, Aqua Bound Manta Ray Carbon, and Accent Ultimate Angler (what I picked, for the price) are my recommendations. Keep an eye out for sales!
This week we ended up with a Vibe Yellowfin 100 for my wife and the Moken 10v2 for me. Also a Feelfree Move for our daughter.
The SS 107 was my first choice but I couldn’t justify the price when I considered the fact that it likely won’t be used unless we are at camp which is once a month or so. The Crescent Ultralite was also near the top especially considering its weight and paddle ability, but it really had no out-of-the-box features for an angler. The Moken fit the bill well. It’s very portable and I especially like the wheel in the keel. It paddles well and tracking into a headwind was no problem. It’s stable enough for me to stand and cast. The Hi-Lo seat is very comfortable, and it’s got just enough features to aid in angling without needing to buy anything extra.
The Yellowfin checks the same boxes, but it was purchased solely based on the color! I really like this boat. If it had a hi-lo seat and a small standing pad, I would probably like it better than the Moken. It’s well built, stout, clean, moves very well, and is standable too. It also came with a very high quality, though basic, paddle.
A couple things I learned in my search: There’s a lot to choose from when looking for a kayak. A lot of “specialty” boats available, tailored to styles or locations of fishing. There’s also a wide price range of similar quality boats. And right now, there is a kayak shortage as everyone is spending their stimulus cash on kayaks. We were lucky to find the ones we did.