I don’t get out on a kayak often. When I do, though, I find it very enjoyable. When I ride the open-party sportboats, I take it for granted that the captain is going to put me in a position to catch fish. One of the things I really enjoy about kayak fishing is that it’s up to me to find fish. I go about it the old fashioned way: reading the conditions on the water, looking for structure, and doing a lot of casting. The sense of satisfaction I get when I do catch is more gratifying.

These days, kayak manufacturers are making it easier than ever to get started by introducing bargain models that pack a lot of punch.

kayak-fishingMike Snyder is a passionate kayak angler with years of water under him, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at his boat. He’s not paddling a pimped-out super kayak with a long list of advanced features. Instead, he’s in a stripped-down Pescador 12 that cost less than $500. “I’ve got a fancy kayak for long trips and big water,” Synder explains, “but when I’m hitting the local pond after work, I grab the Pescador.”

That’s music to the ears of major kayak manufactures that are designing high-performance boats with a lower price point for anglers just entering the sport, as well as paddlers looking to add another boat to their livery.

For years, the term “entry-level kayak” was a synonym for “piece of crap”. Countless anglers purchased bargain boats at big box stores and were disappointed with a torturous experience.

Tim Detrick, general manager at Appomattox River Company, explains that cheap kayaks used to sacrifice more than just performance. “You just had to look at the build construction,” he warns, “and consider the warranty.” Detrick says that many bargain boats had rough edges, misaligned joints, flimsy sides and no company support. “Not only was the construction shoddy,” he adds, “but many of these boats were never tested on the water before going into production.

Photo credits: Kayak Angler (top), 101 Things To Do (above)