Between layout and printing the Summer 2022 issue of Kayak Angler, I had to twice update the prices on kayaks, tackle and gear. Anyone who has been to the tackle shop knows prices are rising. The same MirrOlure that cost $6 last fall now costs $7.

Even before inflation, fishing was expensive. I always say, if you complain about the cost of fishing, you should take up another sport. Maybe birdwatching.

Why Fishing on a Budget is Still Fun

Fishing can be one of the most gear intensive sports. To get started, an angler needs a rod, reel, line and lure. I asked Mark Lozier, manager at Oceans East Bait and Tackle, for their cheapest combo. He handed me a $20 setup and I picked out a $2 swimbait. For less than the cost of filling my car with gas, I’m out the door and on the water.

Who stops there? I have a garage full of fishing tackle, four kayaks and a motorboat. To carry all this crap, I own a pickup truck and two trailers.

a man fishes within his budget while standing and casting from his fishing kayak at dawn
Whatever your budget, the investment in fishing pays off. | Feature photo: Jason Arnold

Some people say kayak anglers are immune to the price increases. Maybe we don’t fill our kayaks with gasoline, but the rotomolded plastic is a petroleum product. And my tow vehicle doesn’t run on hopes and dreams. Still, a kayak is the most economical way to get on the water.

But that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. On a recent trip, between fuel for the truck and drinks and sandwiches for me, I dropped almost $50.

Then, figure the cost of my kayak, paddle and PFD tops $2,000. Add in my $500 fish finder and three $400 rod and reel combos. My tackle box holds $75. In my gear bag, the scissors, pliers, sunblock, leader and dehooker come to $300. I have a $30 tackle crate. My GoPro and YakAttack camera mount costs $360. I’m wearing $400 worth of hat, shoes, clothes, raingear and sunglasses. Sitting in my kayak seat, I’m looking at over $4,000 worth of economic input.

Of course, anglers on a budget can get away with spending less. And, anglers with a Gold Card will certainly spend more. Kayak fishing allows anyone to get in the game, no matter how much money you have to spend.

Stretch Your Fishing Dollar Further

In this issue, we review fish finders from $199 to $929.We test two boats that cost less than $1,000 and a boat over $4,000. You’ll find a tackle column on $600 fishing rods, but you can still subscribe to Kayak Angler for $19.95.

If you can afford a $4,000 kayak and $600 fishing rod, great. If you can’t, also great. The key is to purchase gear and tackle you need, then get the best you can afford. I don’t have an expensive motor or pedal kayak, but I do have a sweet carbon fiber paddle.

I have piles of rods and reels in my garage, but I mostly use a half-dozen sticks. So I saved up and purchased the best combos I could afford. I’m strategic about my lure and line purchase, too. Before I head to the tackle shop, I make a list of what I need. Then, I avoid sexy lures and two-for-one deals on stuff I’ll never use.

When I consider the return on my investment, the cost of kayak fishing turns out to be a great bargain. I don’t belong to a gym, my kayak is virtually maintenance-free, and ham and cheese sandwiches are cheaper than real food. Sometimes, I bring home my catch and save money on groceries.

Some Things Money Can’t Buy

The big payout comes when I hook a fish. From the time I feel the fish thump on my lure, through the fight, while I land the fish and release it, I’m not worried about money or anything else. For me, that moment of peace is priceless.

Sure, you can get on the water with a big-box store kayak and a bargain bin rod and reel combo if it makes you happy. But I quickly learned nice stuff makes fishing more fun. Luckily, with kayak fishing, I can feel like a baller on a plastic boat budget.

Cover of Kayak Angler Magazine Issue 48This article was first published in the Summer 2022 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Whatever your budget, the investment in fishing pays off. | Feature photo: Jason Arnold



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