First kayak - on a budget

I’m about to buy my first kayak. I’ve done a good bit of research and still find myself with a few questions. I’m 6’0", 210 lbs and I’m looking for a kayak to use primarily to fish the small stream in my hometown, but would potentially also use it in lakes and on vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

My problem comes from the fact that I’m on a bit of a budget, only able to spend $500-$600. Not alot of used kayaks in my area (at least that I’ve been able to find) and shipping costs are high when ordering from online shops, eliminating alot of my options.

I know that I want a sit on top kayak in the 10’ to 12’ range. Other than that, some help in choosing a kayak and any locations (websites or otherwise) to buy used/demo model/etc kayaks would be greatly appreciated.

Take a look at the Malibu Mini-X
for a kayak in the 10 ft range. Bit more work to paddle distances on flat water, but its a fine fishing machine for a short kayak. Here’s a link:

The site is for a very good on-line sales outfit, as well as one of the best kayak fishing websites.

This is a good one also:

These are both good kayaks, but be aware that if you have to buy a seat, paddle, etc, you are looking at another $150 or more. You can get by for less, a Carlisle Day Tripper paddle should be under $50, and you can get a less expensive seat. But, you will eventually upgrade the paddle and may find the seat uncomfortable. The Manta Ray does have the advantage of coming with a good seat. That’s not an endorsement, a kayak is a personal choice, but it is a definite advantage for the Manta Ray.

Possibly a bit too expensive, but
Thanks for the suggestions/quick response.

It seems that either of these setups will push me well past the $600 mark which I’m very hesitant to do (again, shipping is the biggest problem it seems). There is currently a mini-x setup on ebay with seat/paddle that it seems I could have shipped for a total of about $700.

In my search, I stumbled across a local dealer with a last year’s model Perception Caster 12.5’ for around $550. What are your thoughts on this kayak?

I’m not familiar with Perception SOT’s
It sounds like a good kayak. Here’s some reviews from KFS:

Mini-X under $600 ($519)

Austin Canoe and Kayak is an outstanding dealer. I’ve a solo canoe from them. A friend bought a Cobra Kayak there, had warranty issues two years later, ACK went to bat with Cobra for him and the kayak was replaced, no charge. Its difficult to beat $49 delivered to your door.

Emotion brand kayaks
Emotion makes some quality entry level kayaks. Check out the Edge, Glide or Mojo. The Glide and Mojo come in an angler version as well. These are excellent quality, very stable and lightweight kayaks.

Supplier recommendation
I recommend that you contact Appomattox River Company. They are a family run operation out of Farmville, Virginia but can ship anywhere. Their prices, including shipping, are often less than what you can get for pick-up at a big box store.

Give them a call. The web address is Every person who works there is a paddler. They will give excellent advice on what to get.

If it were me, however, I’d probably go to Dicks and buy a Sparky (if that’s the one with foot pegs), a skirt, a PFD, deck rigging kit, those foam block thingies with straps, and a paddle and still have enough left over from your $500 to get a milk shake, burger, and fries on the way home. It’s a Sit-In, but it’ll get you started real well for doing what you want to do, assuming that by “Outer Banks” you are referring to the sound rather than the surf. For the surf, rent an SOT locally from Kitty Hawk Kites (or any of the myriad rental places). Kitty Hawk Kites also has some beautiful kayak eco-tours - a great way to get your family introduced to kayaking.

  • Big D

    p.s. Kayakfishingstuff is a good source too, but they tend towards specializing in open ocean kayakfishing rather than fishing in small streams and ponds. Same skills, different boats.

Thanks for all the help

– Last Updated: Apr-24-08 3:02 PM EST –

I think I've narrowed my search down to the Malibu Mini-X or the WS Tarpon 100.

Reviews seem good for both boats, but I'm leaning towards the Mini-X based on what I've read.

The shipping at really is gonna be tough for me to beat. Looks like a little more money for the Mini-X (mainly because there's a package combo on the Tarpon 100).

Since I wasn’t in a hurry to buy my 3rd kayak I watched for about 3 months. I saw 5-10 new listing of used kayaks per day there and that was just in my area. If I was willing to drive I could search for other cities around me. I finally got a perception sealion with a rudder(about $1400 new) for $400.

I second that
Craigslist is awesome for kayaks and canoes. I have been able to both buy and sell local used boats very easily.

I decided to order
a Mini-X from The low shipping cost was the deciding factor for me. I was having trouble finding anything in my area on craigslist and didn’t wanna have to drive 3+ hours - plus I’m impatient, haha.

Anyway, I really appreciate all the tips and advice. I still plan on hanging around these forums, seems to be alot of good people and information here.

Thanks again.

always demo
Did you demo a mini-x / I beleive they are only 10 feet long. You are 215lbs. Always ,always, always try before you buy. Also note a customer ecently brought in a kayak bought from that site that was cracked in shipping. He wanted me to fix it. I told him repairing a crack in that area was very dificult and would probably crack again. I told him he should call the place he bought it and get a new replacement. He sid they would not replace it but told him he had to get it repaired and they would reimburse for repairs.

Moral of story is inspect it carefully and refuse delivery if you find any shipping damage.

The Mini-X does well with someone

– Last Updated: Apr-28-08 10:46 AM EST –

that weight. As for demo's, unless you can play with the boat in the type waters you normally paddle, most demos aren't worth a piss. A short pool or pond tells you little about the boat, other than maybe fit, which you can get partially by just sitting in the yak on the floor. Better to rent the yak you think you want for a day and put it through its paces. Most dealers around here will take the rental price off if you buy one of their boats.

you can still learn a little
I agree a demo done in a kiddie pool cant tell you how it will work in the chop but it will tell you wether the yak tracks well or is stable or if you will be getting a wet arse from the scuppers allowing reverse water flow. All our free demos are done on the open bay. I try to encourage guys to come and do them on windy crappy days to see how well they handle the chop but most want to wait for a calm sunny day to demo. We have been doing demos since Febuary when the water was in the high 30’s.

One of the most misunderstood words
in the kayak lexicon, especially for SOT’s and recreational kayaks used for fishing is stability. I’ve seen none of the more popular SOT’s that weren’t stable for fishing. Sure, a few take a bit of getting used to, but most have decent initial stability. Pool paddling isn’t going to tell much about secondary stability unless you work to turn the boat over.

My experience with demos in pools has been they tell you almost nothing about tracking. You need a long stretch of water to do that, like the bay and a crappy windy day as you suggest to your potential clients. 28 feet of pool, the length one of our more popular dealers has in its pool, just doesn’t give much of a chance to tell how its going to track.

I’m 6’2" and 300 lbs…paddled a miniX a couple times…lake and fat river. It rides a bit low with me on it, but cuts on a dime. My long reach gave me some bow wobble until I adjusted to the short length. Top speed is a bit limiting. Its a made-to-last boat, stable, and fun.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see…

– Last Updated: Apr-29-08 12:12 PM EST –

The boat should arrive in a couple of days and I'll have to try it out.

My biggest problem in this whole search was the lack of dealers in the area. The only places I was able to find kayaks locally were Dick's, Cabelas, Gander Mountain and a smaller local shop. As far as I could find, none of these places had the mini-x in stock AND the ability to demo them.

The boat was reviewed well all over the internet, with people well above my weight very pleased with the boats.

It also seemed to me like it would be a good boat to have in the fleet (haha, my first boat hasn't even arrived yet), ideal for the stream in which I'll be using it the most. Also good for the wife, kids, friends, etc.

Anyway, I'll stop back and let you guys know how things work out. I love the site and the forums here, both have been very helpful.

Consider an inflatable…
If you are on a budget check out the Advanced Elements inflatable 10.5’. It is hard to beat for $400. Fits in your car trunk. I go from trunk to water in less than 15 mins. I fish from mine and have a great time. Not as fast as a hard shell but if you have limitted space and don’t want to spend 2K on a folding…

Sounds good. Do let us know
how it goes. I’ve a friend who loves his lime green mini-x. He uses it to crash the surf to fish off the beach and on rivers…not white water.

el brio
how much do you weigh? I’ve had bad luck with inflatables, so I don’t think they work well for heavy people.