8 Tips For Buying A Used Fishing Kayak | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
A kayak on a dock with a for sale sign For sale signs aren't always pretty... Photo by Jon Russelburg

Save Your Money With These Expert Tips

Full disclosure, I have a kayak purchasing problem. I love fishing kayaks, all brands, all sizes. Through my years of buying used kayaks I, much like Liam Neeson, have developed a particular set of skills. 

When buying a used kayak, there are a few things to look for. Here is a short guide for buying a used fishing kayak. 

1) Know exactly what you are looking for.

Each kayak is different and every person is built different. Your size, build and type of fishing are huge factors in purchasing a used kayak. Some kayaks are tanks, slow and stable. Some kayaks are narrow and fast, great for chasing schools on the ocean.

Anytime you ask online about kayaks, the biggest answer is to test them out. Most dealers will have a demo day so you can test their kayak out. If you don’t see a demo day, just go to the dealer and ask if you can try out the kayaks. Find out what kayak fits your needs best before you even starting looking at prices. 

2) Learn the design changes.

As kayak fishing grows, each manufacturer are constantly upgrading their boats. Look through previous years of kayaks and see which upgrades you can live without. If you really love the seat of post-2015 boats, you can significantly narrow down what you are looking for. The older the kayak, the lower the price.

3) Look for new boats on clearance.

As the new products roll in, dealers need to clear out space. They will drop the prices on last years model (and significantly drop the prices on earlier years). 

If you find a new boat at a dealer that is a previous model, you may find a price you can’t say no to. But I use the previous years prices for number four.

4) Use clearance prices for negotiating.

Let’s us a hypothetical example. You’ve tested boats and found the exact one you are looking for and you find a 2016 model used for $1200. The kayak was originally $1600. The 2018 models are just now hitting the shelves at the $1600 price, so dealers are marking the last remaining 2016 models down to $1100.

Show the individual selling the used kayak the clearance price from the dealer. It is a great negotiating tactic, because it is concrete evidence that their boat is priced too high.

5) Be willing to make a drive.

Although this sport is growing at an exponential rate, it can still be hard to find the exact kayak you are looking for used. Craigslist is a great way to search for used kayaks, but you may have to look at areas beyond your local Craigslist. 

For instance, I live in a smaller town in Kentucky, but I know that I am only two hours from Nashville and two hours from Louisville. Driving a few hours for a great deal on a boat is nothing compared to the money you will save.

6) Check the boat for damage.

This one may seem like a no brainer, but let me explain. When a kayak has been out for a few years, the problems start to show up. Know the common problems with the kayak you are looking for, so you can see if they are damaged beyond use or repair. 

I don’t mind a few scratches or river rash on a kayak, after all the boats are meant to be used. But a crack in the seat mount or a hole in the hull from a faulty pedal drive is an immediate turn off.

7) Have a set price and be willing to walk away.

I learned this trick while buying my first used car with my dad. We were looking at an early 00’s SUV that was known for having engine trouble, but we are both mechanically inclined. We had decided on a price that included our time and money if we had to fix the engine problem and wouldn’t go higher. 

A year after we bought the car for our desired price, the engine blew up on me in the middle of rush hour traffic anyway. Which leads me to my last point.

8) It’s used so it won’t be perfect. Learn how to fix it.

A used fishing kayak is exactly that, used. It may be pristine when you buy it and a few months into fishing a crack could develop on the deck. The seller could have had no idea that would happen, it’s now up to you to scrap it or learn how to fix it.

You should learn how to do basic repairs to your kayak no matter what. Even a brand new fishing kayak can hit a rock and crack the hull. I keep a piece of off-cut plastic and a lighter in my kayak at all times for emergency hull repair.

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