Fishing & Hunting Tips

Best river fishing kayak for the money [Review & Guide] In 2020

Nature is a blessing, isn’t it? But into the fast-moving and busy world, getting into nature
intimately is often challenging! Life is becoming monotonous and stressful with each
passing day.

All we need is an activity to get yourself deeply involved in nature. Only that can release
you from the stress. And what could be a better way than kayak fishing! Yup folks, kayak
fishing is such an activity which can bring you utmost happiness. It allows you some quality
time with yourself alone or with your family and loved ones.

If you’re up to river fishing kayak, you are absolutely in the right place. We are going to
show you all of the best river fishing kayaks for the money that you’ll find in the market. We
picked the best of its type considering all the facts an angler should be looking for. So
without further delay, let’s get started!

Best Pick: Best river fishing kayak for the money

1. Lifetime fisher tandem kayak

Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak with Paddles



  • Type: Tandem
  • Length: 10 feet
  • Width: 36 inch.
  • Weight: 75 lb.
  • Max. capacity: 500 lbs.
  • Material: HDPE

  • 3-rod holders
  • Room for 3 persons
  • 2 paddle
  • Multiple footrests, hatches
  • scupper holes

Description: Don’t go with the look of lifetime fisher tandem kayak cause it’s actually a great kayak for calm lake/pond water or slow-moving river water. To be honest, I hate the outlook of the kayak, seems like an old school kayak with ugliness, but the stability it provides is amazing!

Like a typical inexpensive fishing kayak, the lifetime tandem fishing kayak for sale is constructed with HDPE (High-density-Polyethylene) that gives a good amount of robustness. It’s one of the major reasons that so much angler loves it, the kayak is so durable!

It’s a great choice for fly fishing/bass fishing with friends or family. There are 3 seats available, however, 2 person is most comfortable in the kayak. What sucks about the kayak is the seat, not that supportive and comfortable. Especially if you plan for a long day fishing, it won’t support that much.

There are 3-rod holders in the kayak, no problem with the number but has a major drawback in the positioning. It gets your rod so close to the water which makes the reel wet. I found it annoying and thought that sharing with you. But if that’s not a problem for you, great fishing kayak with rear storage hatches and 2 paddles with paddle holders.

What we loved most about the kayak is the insane stability and tracking ability of the kayak. It’s a pretty wide kayak, so stability is the bright side of it! And since it’s a sit-on-top kayak, you can comfortably stand on it while fishing. If you don’t wanna have all the fun solo rather than with your family and it suits your budget, you should give it a try!

  • So durable
  • Four rod holders
  • 6” waterproof storage hatch
  • Three seats, room for max 3 person
  • Uncomfortable
  • Rod holder position is so close to water

2. Sun Dolphin Excursion SS

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Excursion SS 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak



  • Type: sit-in/sit-inside
  • Length: 10 feet
  • Weight: 44 lbs.
  • Max capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Material: HDPE

  • Two flush mounts and One swivel rod holder
  • Adjustable padded seat
  • Storage compartment, bottle holder
  • Adjustable foot braces

Description: Our next recommendation for the best river fishing kayak is the Sun Dolphin Excursion SS which is a 10 feet kayak, perfect for a fishing trip in the lake or river. It’s a beginner fishing kayak which gives a great breakthrough in kayak fishing.

With a durable rotomolded Polyethylene construction, Sun Dolphin offers you a budget fishing kayak. It’s a sit-inside fishing kayak with comfortable leg space. Honestly speaking, I’m not a big fan of sit-inside kayaks for fishing purpose cause once you’re in, you can’t move that much or stand up while fishing! That damages the fun parts, right? But sometimes these sit-inside kayaks are the only option you have.

If the water of the lake or river is freezing enough to catch you cold, this is the kayak you’re looking for. It will keep you fully dry and warm which is a great thing to consider. The kayak is only 10-foot in size, normally the sit-in kayaks have reduced width (as you don’t need to stand up and move much) which facilitates in increasing the speed. And so does this one.

I would say it’s a pretty minimal kayak, one person can do some casual fishing with a couple of fishing rods. It offers 1 swivel and 2 flush mount rod holders. There is a storage hatch in the rear portion of the kayak corded with bungee cords. And that almost covers all the features of the Sun Dolphin Excursion SS 10 foot fishing kayak.

  • Constructed with premium HDPE
  • Keep you warm in cold water
  • 3-rod holders including one swivel rod holder
  • No paddle included

3. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Angler Kayaka�



  • Type: Sit-on-top
  • Length: 10ft
  • Width: 30.5 inches
  • Weight: 55 lbs.
  • Max. Capacity: 325 lbs.
  • Material: HDPE

  • Phase 3 AirPro seat
  • Keepers XL foot brace system
  • Gear storage pockets and a molded-in cup holder
  • Midship and bow Orbix hatches
  • SlideTrax accessory system
  • Stern tank well with bungee cording
  • Padded handles, scupper holes

Description: Wanna go to an amazing fishing trip solo? Here’s an awesome fishing kayak for you, the Wilderness System Tarpon 100. Oh boy, this one’s a gem, if you’re looking for the best fishing kayak under $1000, this might be one of the best options you got.

Let’s get on the details of the yak now. The wilderness system tarpon 100 fishing kayak is a complete boat made for fishing with style. I believe it’s a premium quality HDPE construction with a glossy finish, it’s a 10 feet long kayak which is considered as a small-sized one for a fishing kayak. But with the minimal length, better maneuverability is offered by the yak.

You’re gonna love the seat folks, it’s totally adjustable and pretty comfortable. You can increase and decrease the height, the backrest goes up and down in case you paddle faster. I would rate 8/10 for the seat.

The kayak offers two hatches for storage, but what I love about it is there’s a huge space at the back of the seat for store a lot of things corded with bungee cords. However, this may seem a small kayak but you can carry your whole fishing set up in the kayak with ease, I tell you that!

The next thing I really love about the wilderness system tarpon 100 fishing kayak is the SlideTrax accessory system which can be found on both sides of the kayak. It comes really handy, you can set a bunch of rod holders, GPS Fishfinders or even your GoPro action cam. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Do some fishing vlog, totally possible when you have the kayak.

The features like adjustable foot braces, plenty of Self-bailing scupper holes, 4 heavy duty handles for carrying made this fishing kayak a great deal for the money. I’m sure you will love the convenience.

  • Sitting system is insanely comfortable with whole lot of adjustments
  • Great adjustable footrests
  • Unlockable Large storage option
  • Accessory rails for mounting equipments
  • So robust and durable
  • Very stable
  • Great maneuverability and tracking ability
  • No paddle included

4. Perception Pescador Pro

Perception Pescador Pro Sit On Top Kayak for Fishing - 12.0



  • Type: sit-on-top
  • Length: 12 feet
  • Width: 32.5
  • Weight: 57 lbs.
  • Max. capacity: 375 lbs.
  • Material: HDPE

  • Removable and adjustable camp chair
  • Quick-adjust footrests
  • 2 molded fishing rod holders
  • Large front and rear open storage

Description: Allow me to introduce the Perception Pescador pro 12.0 fishing kayak, I would say one of the best river fishing kayaks of these days. With a handful of features, you’ll find this kayak as an ultimate example of comfort, tracking, and maneuverability.

Let’s talk a bit about the durability of the kayak. The perception Pescador pro is constructed with  High-Density-Polyethylene(HDPE) and one-piece roto-molded material which provides amazing rigidity, protection from UV rays and abrasion resistance. This kayak is quite high-priced, so of course, you can expect the best quality materials and longevity from it.

Coming to comfort, Perception Pescador Pro is insanely comfortable folks! The seat, adjustable foot braces, stability makes it a superbly cozy yak. Regardless to say, it’s a sit-on-top kayak featuring a roomy and removable captain’s chair including zonal mesh to promote cooling airflow where you need it most.

The seat actually tilts back for relaxed pedaling or forwards for sportier pedaling. The entire seat slides forward and backward to put you in the most comfortable pedaling position.

As you know the Stability is a huge fact for a fishing kayak. Since you tend to stand up on the kayak for better sight and castability, Pescador Pro is a fishing kayak which offers insane stability. In other words, the Built-in buoyancy and great stability offer Safety!

The yak is totally ready to fish. There are two-molded fishing rod holders in the back of the seat, but you can put as many as you want in the sliding rail track system. Feel free to even put your GPS Fish Finder or GoPro.

There are no hatches is the kayak which seems a negative side of it but I really don’t think so! Cause the huge space in the Large front and rear with bungee lashings comes real handy for storing all your fishing gears, coolers, crates, etc.

To me and my expert review team, it’s a river fishing kayak which gives you the best possible value for the money. Try it and thank me later.

  • Comfort level at its best
  • Great adjustable seat and footrests
  • Large storage option
  • Great maneuverability
  • None

5. Sun Dolphin Bali SS

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak



  • Type: sit-on-top
  • Length: 10 feet
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Weight: 44 lbs.
  • Material: HDPE

  • Non- adjustable seats
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Front and rear storage with bungee cording
  • 2 Carrying handles

Description: Looking for an affordable option? The Sun Dolphin Bali SS might be the best river fishing kayak for beginners at a cheap price. Though I’m not a fan of these cheap kayaks then again it’s a wise decision to start kayak fishing with a cheap fishing kayak rather than waiting for an expensive one.

The Sun Dolphin Bali SS features Rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene, can’t expect best out it but I never heard any issue with the durability so far. Normally tends HDPE tend to last long unless anyone performs serious damage on it!

The storage capability of the kayak is awesome, there is Dry storage compartment with shock cord deck rigging and a huge hatch in the back also protected with bungee cording. The handles on two end help in easy carrying.

What I don’t love about the kayak is the uncomfortable seat it offers. Yes, of course, we can’t expect a premium quality out of it but for a long day fishing, it’s not comfortable at all. But yeah, you can just spend a few bucks on a cool kayak seat with great back support and added rod holders. That will be a pretty smart move!

The most praising fact of this kayak is stability. Trust me, folks, you’ll be a happy angler when you hit the water for the great stability and good tracking ability. Why don’t give it a try! In this price range, this will be the best option in the market. For some more options, check our latest article on Best fishing kayaks for beginners where you will find some similar kayaks.

  • Type: tandem inflatable 2-person
  • Length: 10’9”
  • Width: 39”
  • Max capacity- 470 lb.
  • Material: 18-gauge PVC construction
  • Six-rod holders, paddle holder
  • Padded seat with storage pockets
  • Mesh storage pockets
  • 2 Adjustable seats
  • Option for motor

6. Sevylor Coleman Colorado (2-Person)

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak



  • Type: tandem inflatable 2-person
  • Length: 10’9”
  • Width: 39”
  • Max capacity- 470 lb.
  • Material: 18-gauge PVC construction

  • Six-rod holders, paddle holder
  • Padded seat with storage pockets
  • Mesh storage pockets
  • 2 Adjustable seats
  • Option for motor

Description: If the storage problem backing you up from owning a kayak, our next kayak is for you. Yup, it’s an inflatable kayak which can be easily carried literally anywhere you want even in a carry bag. And after a fun trip, just put it in your wardrobe or closet easily. So convenient, right?

If you are worried about the durability of these inflatable kayaks, lemme assure you that these kayaks are ready to take harsh impacts. Since the Inflatable kayaks are designed specifically to withstand knocks and bumps and as they bounce off rocks and hard surfaces after the collision, Sevylor Colorado Review says that it has no issue with an easy puncture so far! So yup folks, totally reliable!

This NMMA certified 18-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use only, as the upper skin it got 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover which provides amazing durability and saves from puncture.

The most amazing fact of this inflatable kayak is the disability (The quality or degree of being fishable) it offers. It’s got the fully adjustable Berkley Quick Set Rod Holders which will help to set up your rigs for fishing and catch fish more efficiently. There are 6-rod holders in total, now wonder how much it’s ready for fishing!

The paddle holder comes real handy, simply helps a lot smooth hassle free fishing in the middle of the water by securing the paddles. It offers mesh storage pocket holders where you can keep your lures and tools for fishing. Everything is so organized inside the kayak which will provide you a superb fishing experience.

You’re gonna love this one, there is an option in this kayak that you can set a trolling motor, pretty cool right?  The Sevylor trolling motor will provide you an effortless smooth fishing and kayaking experience.

Last but not least, I have one more factor that you’re gonna love! This superb inflatable kayak is so affordable. Great to hear that right!

  • Super easy storage and ease in carrying
  • Room for 2 person
  • Convenient features for smooth fishing (top mount rod holders, pockets, etc)
  • Durable construction, easy to repair if damaged
  • Good stability
  • Doesn’t offer any paddleboard
  • No air pump included
  • Take 10 minutes to inflate (not a problem though)

How to choose a River Fishing Kayak- Buying Guide

What is a River Fishing Kayak?

To be very precise, a river fishing kayak is simply a fishing kayak which is compatible to calm water like lakes, ponds or slow-moving water like rivers. They are not for sea or blue waters whatsoever.

Before hitting the water, you need to ask yourself “where you wanna go fishing”? Is it a lake, a river or a sea? The lake kayaks and river kayaks are more or less similar and can be used in both water but the sea kayaks are fully different from a river kayak.

Sea kayaks are typically longer in length and less wide so that it can cut the fast-moving water smoothly, regardless to say they have great speed but hard to maneuver. Cause the increased length creates a problem for turning drastically. Also, the sea kayaks are sit-inside type mostly and constructed with premium corrosion resistant material.

The core fact that separates a river fishing kayak from a sea kayak is the Better Maneuverability. When you are in the river or lake, all you need is good Maneuverability and stability. For a smooth calm water fishing, both are crying needs!

My experience says that river fishing should meet certain criteria. Let’s dive deeper on those so you can pick the best river fishing kayak all by yourself.

Factors to consider before buying a River Fishing Kayak

  1. Maneuverability

As I mentioned earlier, maneuverability is a must for river fishing kayak. The shorter kayaks have good maneuverability which also allows the paddler to stay motile and greatly reduces the chance of getting hung up on obstacles.

Other characteristics that a river kayak shows are a high rocker and low waterline, however, these features decrease their top speed and tracking but increases the swiftness and power to quickly accelerate.

Also, a major fact is, river kayaks tend to have a shorter hull,  keeps the boat from getting hung up on tight corners or obstacles. It has an added facility, for the shorter hull they are easier to transport, store and move in and out of the water. In this case, An inflatable kayak is the best option though!

  1. Stability

Fishing is such an activity where a small fight with the fish is actually pretty enjoyable. When you are in the water, a good stable kayak will let you do that! In general, the wider the kayak is, the more stability you get out of it.

It’s always great to have a stable kayak for fishing, it will let you stand up with confidence while fishing. Standing up is so important to me, it allows me to get a better sight of the fishing position and also for better castability. Sit-on-top kayaks are the only best option in terms of stability.

The yak has to be shorter and wider in size which provides good maneuverability along with stability. The only drawback of a much stable kayak is a slower speed. But who needs speed over stability, right?

Yeah of course sometimes speed is needed for moving to spot quickly to rigging there, but for slow water? A power arm and good paddle will do the job done.

  1. Comfort

I don’t know you consider it much of a factor not but to me, it’s crucial to have a kayak which provides awesome comfort. Fishing is so effective to relax your body and mind after a tiring weekend, it’s kind of meditation. But If you can’t make yourself comfortable in the kayak, what’s the point then?

Comfort greatly depends on the seat it offers. Nevertheless, to say, with the price goes up of the kayak, the quality, and comfort of the seat increases. Obviously, a 1000$ fishing kayak seat will outperform a 300$ fishing kayak seat. The seats with comfortable padding and adjustable features are considered as a comfortable one. These seats also give great back support for a long day fishing scenario.

Another fact is the foot braces or footrest of the kayak. The inexpensive kayak offers several footrests while the expensive one features adjustable footrests. Both will do the basic comfort job but I would say it’s great to have an adjustable footrest feature.

Consider the length of the kayak while buying one. If you are a tall angler, look for a 12 foot or more lengthy kayak for better comfort. This little mistake can ruin your mood for fishing!

  1. Storage

Storage is key on a fishing kayak. There needs to be room for all of your fishing gear, all your standard kayaking gear, and potentially room to store your catch. The shorter design of most river fishing kayaks can make it difficult to fit in all the necessary storage as there is less internal space than there would be in a longer touring kayak. Look for models with a large internal hatch. The hatch should ideally be waterproof.

Additional bungee storage on the outer hull allows you to store dry bagged items within easy reach. Some kayaks also feature rod and paddle storage so that your paddles can be stowed while fishing and your rods safely packed away while paddling.


1. Is kayak fishing safe?

Ans: Yes it is, but primarily you need to make sure that you can swim. Anything can turn bad if you don’t acquire certain skills. For kayaking, I would say that Every angler should know how to swim.

Then comes the safety precautions such as must using the Life jacket. It is totally safe to use the kayak as long as you don’t lose the paddle, also don’t forget to check out the weather status before go to kayaking. Check out the kayak too before hitting the water.

Kayaking is pretty safe in ponds, lakes, marshes for everyone, but the river kayaking needs a bit skill on it. And when you’re in the blue water, it’s not safe at all for a novice angler! So, for defending the destructive waves and calculating the tides, you need to be skilled on kayaking!

2. What kayak is best for rivers?

Ans: if you don’t know yet, let me tell ya that kayak is something which is very specific to use and comes in different types for certain type of water.

Normally the touring, fishing and recreational kayaks are for flat (lakes, ponds, inlets, bays, slow-moving river) waters, whitewater kayaks for fast moving rivers (often considered as extreme sports) and the Sea Kayaks for open ocean paddling.

I guess you got your answer. To be very precise, the kayaks we showed in the list are the best options for a slow-moving river.

3. What are the fishing kayaks made of?

Ans: Nowadays all the fishing kayaks you see in the market are mostly made of a special kind of molded plastics called HDPE (High-density Polyethylene), they tend to be ultra durable and abrasion resistant. Of course, the quality goes up with the increasing price.

Kayaks are also made of fiberglass and carbon fibers. They are expensive and not really handy for fishing purpose.

4. Which type of kayaks are the best for fishing, sit-inside or sit-on-top?

Ans: obviously Sit-on-top kayaks are the best type for a purpose like fishing. Sit-on-top kayak gained its popularity so quickly in the fishing community. Standing up for better sight and castability is so crucial while fishing, and you can only stand up on a sit-on-top kayak.

Yup, they used to be wider for better stability and shorter for better maneuverability, for which you may have to sacrifice top speed. But fishing on a sit-on-top kayak is so fun rather than fishing on a sit-inside kayak.

5. Can a sit-on-top kayak sink?

Ans: yes it can if you force it too much, usually they do not sink for the ultra-stability. The sit-inside kayaks often sink but not the sit-on-top kayaks.

If you are still worried, please don’t! Because there are several ways to make any kayak ultra-stable with some easy home DIY. you can also buy some parts from store to increase the stability of the kayak so it won’t sink at all.


Wrap up

So yeah, that’s all for today. We just tried our best to share the experience we earned over the year on fishing and kayaking. We learned that the more you get into the water by yourself, the more you will gather potential experience which will you making an expert angler.

Kayaks are the ultimate fun material, I still remember how excited I was when I got into the kayak for the very first time, and the interesting part is the excitement remains the same every time I go kayaking in the summer. I really don’t want you to wait for the next season, just grab a good kayak from the list and hit the water asap. Trust me, you will find yourself in heaven. Happy kayaking folks. 🙂  

Nicholi Wyto

Hey I'm Nicholi Wyto is a professional sports fisherman and hunter, love to enjoy spending time in Michigan’s rugged northern forests. I love to explore my experience and help others who are interested in fishing and hunting.

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