Best Budget Fishing Kayak | Best Cheap Kayak for Under $500

Perhaps you don’t want to be bound by the shore anymore when you’re angling. Maybe you’re looking to fish in more promising waters. A canoe could be an answer to these problems, but unfortunately, not everyone can afford them. Fishing boats are insanely expensive—but what if there was a more affordable option? An option that puts together the adrenaline rush of kayaking with the finesse and thrill of reeling in a catch?

Enter fishing kayaks. They’re stable, come in a multitude of variations, and above all, they’re budget-friendly; so much so that you can buy some of the best fishing kayaks for under $500.

The process of picking a fishing kayak isn’t as simple as finding the first kayak that fits your budget and calling it a day, though. You’ll have to find one that suits your fishing needs and has a satisfactory set of features and a respectable build quality. That’s the part where it gets confusing.

Let’s walk through what it is you’re looking for when shopping for a fishing kayak. I’ll also give you a rundown of nine of the best fishing kayaks you can get for under $500. Let’s dive in.

 

 

Top Pick

If you’re looking for the best fishing kayak you can buy for under $500, Sun Dolphin’s Journey is the best place to start your search. It provides comfort, portability, maneuverability, and durability. In a nutshell, this kayak is rich in features and value.

 

 

The Best Budget Fishing Kayaks Reviewed

Sun Dolphin Journey

Storage and comfort are where this kayak excels. It’s also very lightweight and compact – a fact that can’t be overlooked if it’s portability you’re after. It’s shorter than other Sun Dolphin Kayaks (10 feet to be exact), which affords it greater maneuverability and access to tighter spots.

 

Key Features

  • 10ft long
  • Sit-on-top
  • Maximum carrying capacity of 250 lbs.
  • Weighs 44 lbs.
  • High-density polyethylene construction
  • Single-person design

 

What I like about this product

It has a highly dense polyethylene build which is fortified to protect the kayak against UV damage. In plain English, it’s sturdy enough to take on choppy waters, and you can leave it out in the sun for extended periods without worrying about damage. It’s a sit-on kayak with a padded seat and adjustable foot braces, which means you can fish all day without getting sore legs.

There are also two easily accessible storage hatches. Accessibility is important because you wouldn’t want to struggle to look for a piece of equipment while battling a fish. The bigger storage compartment (the one located behind the seat) is waterproof, and it’ll keep your equipment and belongings dry and safe.

 

What I don’t like about this product

It doesn’t come with a skeg, which means poor tracking. Although you can buy it separately, without a skeg, it’ll be a bit difficult for this kayak to maintain course.

 

 

Pros

  • Great comfort
  • Extremely lightweight, which means better portability
  • The stability is impressive

 

Cons

  • The tracking could be better
  • Weight capacity isn’t high

 

If you’re searching for a kayak you’ll be comfortable in after a long day of fishing that offers solid storage options as well as excellent portability, you can’t go wrong with this purchase. Especially if you don’t mind its slower speed or slightly lower weight capacity.

 

Overall Rating – 4.8/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Intex Excursion Pro

Does a two-person fishing kayak for under $200 sound too good to be true? Lucky for you, it’s not. Intex’s Excursion Pro is an inflatable fishing kayak which costs just shy of $200.

 

Key Features

  • Polyester core laminated with PVC
  • High-pressure inflation
  • Two adjustable seats and footrests
  • Three air chambers
  • Weight capacity of 400 lbs.
  • 90-day limited warranty

 

What I like about this product

It’s crafted from polyester coated with PVC, which means this model is built to take some punishment. It’s sturdy and tough, resistant to scuffs and scratches, and it won’t be damaged by UV radiation from the sun, so you can fish for as long as you’d like on sunny days.

The design is inflatable with two adjustable seats secured to the kayak with buckles. Since the seats are inflatable, they don’t feel too different from sitting on a mattress. So, you won’t have to cut your fishing trip short because of muscle fatigue.

It comes with two skegs – a directional skeg and a shallow water skeg, both of which provide excellent tracking. No matter how choppy the waters get, it will hold its course when underway.

It also comes with paddles that can be pieced together. These modular paddles, as well as the whole kayak itself, can be stowed away and carried in the carrying case that comes with it. This is how this kayak affords great portability in addition to comfort.

 

What I don’t like about this product

The only gripe I have with this product is their 30-day warranty. Most manufacturers provide, at the very least, a one-year warranty. This should cast some suspicion on the quality of this kayak, but most customers seem to be satisfied with their Excursion Pro.

 

Pros

  • Generous weight capacity
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Can be set up easily

 

Cons

  • The quality of the oars isn’t top-notch

 

If you’re on a tight budget but want a two-person kayak which is stable, comfortable, and has generous storage and weight capacity, it’s tough to beat this budget option.

 

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Sea Eagle SE330

Next up, we have yet another inflatable fishing kayak. You can inflate or deflate it in minutes and carry it in the carry bag wherever you go—in my opinion, it doesn’t get more convenient than this.

 

Key Features

  • Five one-way valves
  • Resistant to sunlight and saltwater
  • Comes with two tracking skegs
  • Crafted from K-80 Polykrylar material

 

What I like about this product

The weight capacity of this kayak is surprising. It can hold up to three people at maximum – that’s 500 lbs. The kayak itself is pretty lightweight, too, 26 pounds to be exact. The hull is thick – much thicker than most kayaks – which affords it great durability.

It can also be set up pretty quickly. In just under 5 minutes, you can get this kayak all inflated and ready to go. Combine that with its light weight, and you’ve got a decent portable kayak which won’t break your back when you’re trying to lug it in and out of the water.

 

What I don’t like about this product

The SE 330 isn’t a pro-level kayak, and it doesn’t aim to be more than what it is. It has a few shortcomings when it comes to tracking; it can be blown off track because of its light weight. This problem isn’t exclusive to this model, though. All inflatable kayaks have handling issues.

 

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Can take on choppy waters
  • Portable and stable
  • Durable
  • Manufacturers offer a refund policy

 

Cons

  • Tracking isn’t great

 

Sea Eagle has been crafting quality inflatable kayaks for five decades or so. So, if you’re looking for a brand you can put your trust in, Sea Eagle is it. To give you an idea of their build quality, they provide you with a 180-day full refund policy. Which means, if you’re not satisfied with your purchase, you have the option to return it for a full 180 days. Add to that the three-year warranty and you have a kayak that’s easily one of the best inflatable kayaks available today.

 

Overall Rating – 4.6/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Aptly named Lifetime Youth, this kayak is geared towards children. If your kid has taken a liking to fishing, or if you’d like to introduce them to kayaking, this kayak will surely pique your interest. Especially if you’re trying to broaden their fishing horizons.

 

Key Features

  • Hard-shell construction
  • Uses polyethylene material
  • Weighs only 18 lbs.
  • Maximum weight capacity of 130 lbs.

 

What I like about this product

It is crafted from high-quality polyethylene plastic which provides it strength and durability. It’s designed to carry up to 130 pounds, which means even teenagers can use it for fishing. There are two molded finger handles found on either side of the kayak, which let your kid brace if the kayak tips over. It has been rated one of the most stable and safe kayaks for kids because of its step-up design.

 

What I don’t like about this product

I don’t have a lot of complaints with this kayak, except for maybe the fact that it loses its stability in choppier waters or when it gets windy.

 

Pros

  • Tough, high-quality plastic build
  • Molded finger handles for portability
  • Swim-up step for when your kid falls off the kayak
  • 5-year manufacturer’s warranty

 

Cons

  • Could be more stable

 

If you’d like your kid to get off their phone and computer every now and again, take in nature, and learn fishing and kayaking; I can’t recommend this product enough.

 

Overall Rating – 4.6/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

Whether you’re an experienced angler with some kayaking experience or a first timer, this kayak will not disappoint you. It costs south of $400, which I consider the ideal price for a decent fishing kayak. Anything less than $300 usually means the build quality takes a hit. If you’re looking to fish in open waters, calmer lakes and rivers, this fishing kayak should fit the bill perfectly.

 

Key Features

  • 10ft long
  • Designed for single person use
  • Maximum weight capacity of 325 lbs.
  • Comes with a paddle and built-in holders
  • Polyethylene construction, fortified against UV radiation

 

What I like about this product

The hull is designed well, which lends better tracking and stability to the kayak while you’re fishing. It offers a generous amount of storage as well. It lets you store your bags, coolers, food, beverages, smartphones, small accessories, and your fishing equipment with room to spare.

The seat is padded, the backrest is adjustable, there are multiple footrest positions, which make this kayak comfortable (at least for shorter periods). That being said, there are better options out there, in terms of comfort at least.

 

What I don’t like about this product

I wouldn’t recommend fishing in this kayak for extended periods because the seat isn’t very comfortable, particularly when you’ve been sitting in it for a while. It’s also not built to take on rough waters out in the open ocean.

Most ocean kayaks are built to cut through the water, which lets them keep their course with minimum effort. Since this kayak isn’t an ocean kind, you’d have to exert a lot of effort to keep it tracking properly out in open water.

 

Pros

  • Feature rich
  • Ample storage
  • Decent tracking
  • Enough leg room for tall folks

 

Cons

  • Not comfortable for longer periods
  • Seat quality could be improved

 

If you’re hunting for an inexpensive kayak that’ll be good enough for a seasoned and serious angler, this is the one.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Emotion Renegade XT

This fishing kayak is a blend of great comfort and stability. It outstrips its competition by combining this comfort and stability with exceptional maneuverability and versatility. It’ll glide over placid lakes and take on choppy waters and rapids, which makes it one of the best fishing kayaks under $500 available on the market today.

 

Key Features

  • Weighs 49 lbs.
  • Carry handles on either side
  • Removable padded seat
  • Molded in footrests

 

What I like about this product

This kayak weighs in just under 50 pounds and is constructed from dense polyethylene which is completely protected against UV radiation. What this means in simple words, is that its color won’t fade anytime soon, and it can take some bruising. Thanks to the handles on its sides, you can also conveniently carry it and secure it when it’s in tow.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Although this kayak has great value to offer, it lacks a bit when it comes to tracking. The storage hatches aren’t easily accessible either. This kayak didn’t make it to the top of our roundup because of these factors, but it’s a decent kayak nonetheless.

 

 

Pros

  • Robust and rugged build
  • Resistant against UV radiation
  • Abundant storage
  • 3-year limited warranty

 

Cons

  • Storage compartments aren’t easily accessible
  • Tracking needs improvement

 

When you take its price point into account, it’s nearly impossible to deny the value this kayak offers. If you’re looking for a kayak that’ll get you through a whole day of fishing without tipping you over or wearing you out, it’s tough to beat this model.

 

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Perception Pescador

This fishing kayak – although geared towards anglers—also doubles as a recreational paddling kayak. It’s is ideal for newbies who are just starting out because it’s short and affords respectable maneuverability.

 

Key Features

  • 10 feet long
  • Weighs 57 lbs.
  • Weight capacity of 325 lbs.
  • Comfort Seating System or CSS
  • Four comfortable carrying handles

 

What I like about this product

It is stable in calmer waters and is very compact, but still offers plenty of storage. The seat back is adjustable, and the seat itself is padded so you can fish in comfort. The footrests are adjustable as well, which means it’s suitable for taller folks too. The four molded-in handles and its lightweight construction allow for convenient portability.

 

What I don’t like about this product

It’s not built with an aim for speed or paddling for longer distances, so you can’t expect it to perform well in open ocean water. Besides, if it’s a more feature rich model you’re after, or if you’re looking for more weight and storage capacity, you should skip this one.

 

Pros

  • Compact and portable
  • Lightweight
  • Stable in calm waters
  • Beginner-friendly

 

Cons

  • Slow
  • Won’t fare well in choppy waters

 

If you’re new to the world of fishing and kayaking, this affordable fishing kayak will make a great entry-level kayak for you.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Sevylor Coleman

If you’d rather not fish alone, why not let a fishing buddy tag along? The Coleman is another inflatable fishing kayak. Now, you might be under the impression that inflatable kayaks have a reputation of being fragile, but this kayak is built to take some abuse.

 

Key Features

  • 18-gauge PVC build
  • Airtight system to minimize leaks
  • Paddle holders
  • Can be fitted with a motor

 

What I like about this product

With its double-walled design and a covering of sturdy nylon, this kayak is resistant against scuffs and abrasions. Even though it is fortified against punctures, if you do get one, you don’t have to worry about it sinking because it has multiple air-chambers. If you’d rather not paddle, you can install a battery-powered motor for maximum convenience and speed.

 

What I don’t like about this product

If you don’t install a battery-powered motor, its speed isn’t very impressive. However, that’s mostly a given for inflatable kayaks (more often than not they’re slow-going).

 

Pros

  • Highly portable thanks to its inflatable design
  • Plenty of storage hatches for your equipment
  • Impressive tracking
  • Remarkable weight capacity
  • Great stability

 

Cons

  • Slow without a motor

 

If you’re looking for a kayak which will maintain its course even when the waters get rough that offers ample storage and supports a lot of weight, you’ve found the right one.

 

Overall Rating – 4.6/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Sun Dolphin Aruba

The Aruba is built with a focus on durability. It’s not uncommon for kayaks to run into rocks or other underwater obstacles, and when they do, it’s important that their shell doesn’t crack. This kayak might end up with an occasional dent (which you can easily repair), but it won’t split.

 

Key Features

  • High-density polyethylene design with Fortiflex against UV
  • Spray deflecting collar
  • 10ft long
  • Weighs 40 lbs.

 

What I like about this product

The kayak’s bow and stern are narrow, which let it cut through and glide over the water allowing for outstanding tracking. It is 30-inches wide and has a flat bottom design which makes for better stability. Because it weighs in at around 40 pounds, it can be easily carried to and away from the water. It’s fairly comfortable too (for shorter periods at least), thanks to its adjustable foot braces and cushioned back support. It also comes with a collar which deflects water sprays, helping you stray drier in colder waters.

 

What I don’t like about this product

The seat it features doesn’t have a lot of padding, which makes it uncomfortable to in for prolonged periods. It is also not built to handle rough or choppy waters, so don’t expect it to perform in waves taller than a foot.

 

Pros

  • Highly durable
  • Offers decent tracking ability
  • Stable
  • Three-year manufacturer’s warranty

 

Cons

  • Limited load capacity
  • The seat isn’t padded well

 

This kayak is a great compact watercraft which will track well in your nearby calm lake or placid river. It does have some shortcomings, but its affordable price justifies them.

 

Overall Rating – 4.6/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Fishing Kayak Buying Guide

There are several factors you have to take into account if you’re going to make a short list of kayaks that would be the best fit for you. Some of them are crucial; others are a matter of personal preference more than anything.

I’ll try to break down these factors in this section, to help you give an idea of what you should be looking for when shopping for your fishing kayak. This is important because there’s no one-size-fits-all kayak. The choice will depend on the water you fish in, your weight, the weight you’ll be carrying with you and all sorts of other factors.

 

Sit-In Vs. Sit-On-Top Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks are more fishing friendly because you can climb in and out of them more easily as compared to sit-in kayaks. Unlike sit-in kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks won’t get flooded because they are self-bailing – water leaves as soon as it gets in.

 

Width And Length

The length of your kayak dictates its maneuverability and speed. The longer the kayak, the faster it is. Conversely, shorter kayaks are slow-going. However, shorter kayaks tend to be more maneuverable, and they let you reach tighter spots.

If you’ll be fishing in colder waters, a sit-in kayak might be an attractive option for you, since you won’t get sprayed or soaked in a sit-in kayak.

The width is one of the factors which decides the stability of the kayak. Wider kayaks tend to be more stable than narrow ones. But you have to trade off the distance you can cover. While longer kayaks can reach spots further away, wider kayaks are better for fly-fishing and similar techniques.

 

Weight

Weight is another factor which influences stability. Bulkier and heavier kayaks feel more stable, but they’re slower going than their lighter counterparts. Investing in a heavier kayak means you’ll have to lug around a lot of weight when you’re getting in and out of the water.

 

Weight Capacity

When it comes to weight capacity, the adage, ‘You get what you pay for’ rings true. Weight capacity is the amount of load the watercraft can carry without sinking. Take your weight into account in addition to the weight of your gear and other belongings.

 

 

Storage

Speaking of gear, you should also consider how much storage space you get with your kayak. It’s ideal if the kayak comes with multiple storage hatches, preferably water-tight ones. There should be enough space for you to stow away your fishing equipment, your water cooler, your bags, smartphones, GPS, and other accessories.

Aside from how much you can store, it’s equally important that you can access it easily. You often need to access your equipment quickly and fumbling with hatches all over the kayak can get frustrating fast. 10-foot long kayaks usually offer the least amount of storage space, so if that’s a deal breaker for you, I’d recommend you go for a longer kayak.

 

Durability

Kayaks can be costly investments, and you wouldn’t want to buy a model that’ll be damaged beyond recovery after only a few months of use. Trust me—there are cheap models out there which won’t even last you a few fishing trips.

If handled properly, a kayak can last you a lifetime. At the very least, it’ll last you a couple of decades, but to find a kayak like that, it’s important that you opt for one that uses the highest quality materials in its construction. Most modern fishing kayaks use polyethylene which has been treated to protect them against UV damage. High-density polyethylene plastic can be very durable and protects against UV radiation keep the color from fading, keeping it looking new longer.

 

Comfort

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the comfort level the kayak provides while you’re fishing in this guide. If the backrest isn’t tall enough, if the seat isn’t well-padded, or if the foot braces aren’t adjustable, a long day of fishing will prove fairly uncomfortable and even exhausting.

So, it’s important that the manufacturers put enough thought in making the long sitting hours as pleasant and comfortable as possible. When it comes to comfort, nothing beats inflatable kayaks. Their seats and build give you the feeling of sitting on a mattress (hint: very comfy), but of course, you have to trade off some tracking and stability for that comfort.

 

Final Thoughts

To bottom-line this post for you, the Sun Dolphin Journey would be my top pick. It provides great comfort and plenty of storage space that’s easily accessible, too. It’s highly durable and portable. Since it’s a 10-foot kayak, it provides better maneuverability than its longer counterparts.

When you know what you’re looking for, the process of shortlisting kayaks can become a breeze. As I explained above, the market is crowded with fishing kayaks, and this post will help you wade through the rough to find the gems.

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