Fishing kayaks can really be a game changer, but a lot of people are worried that they will have to spend $1,000 or more in order to get one that will work well, and frankly that is just incorrect.
In this article we will take a look at the best fishing kayaks under $500 and review the top models available on the market today.
QUICK ANSWER – BEST FISHING KAYAK UNDER 500
At this price point it is much more affordable to the average, every-day angler, and also allows a lot more people the opportunity to get in one, since not everybody has that much spare cash lying around for something that won’t be able to be used more than a few times a week.
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When you come eye to eye with your personal best in your new fishing kayak, you will realize this was one of the best fishing purchases you have made in quite a while!
Fishing kayaks are a great way for a person who doesn’t own a boat to get off the shore and experience all the new fishing opportunities that aren’t available to shore anglers.
You can fish different cover, and you are also able to approach cover from different angles which can be the difference between hooking up with a pressured fish and going home skunked.
They will allow you to try new presentations, and really improve your fishing skills by allowing you to fish successfully in a variety of new conditions.
When you are looking into kayaks for fishing, there are going to be a few things you’re going to want to keep in mind.
First – whether you want a sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak. Most anglers prefer a sit on top kayak because it allows more movement when fighting a fish and also makes it easier for doing a multitude of presentations, some where you might need to keep the rod low and would bang it into the side of the kayak in a sit-inside kayak.
Second – you are going to want to consider how much gear you plan on bringing. Some kayaks designed for fishing have a lot of places where you can tuck gear away, but some do not.
You don’t want to get a new fishing kayak only to realize that it only has enough space to hold a rod and a small case of tackle, or that you have to stow your gear in a latched compartment that you can’t access unless you are out of the kayak.
Third – you should think about where you plan on storing your new fishing kayak. You don’t want to make a purchase until you are sure on where you are going to store it and how much space you have, that way you can be sure your new kayak will be kept out of the elements and will be safe and secure between trips.
Now that we have discussed what to look for in a fishing kayak under 500 dollars, let’s take a look at a couple options that would make a great fishing kayak for a first-time buyer.
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 would make an excellent fishing kayak for a fisherman who is fishing for multiple species and looking for versatility in their kayak. Of the three choices, it is the most fishing-oriented, with three built-in rod holders.
It also comes with two sealed storage hatches, and front and rear bungee straps. This should be plenty of space to store the necessities for a nice day-trip out on the lake fishing for bass.
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler kayak is 10 feet long, which is a good compromise between stability and portability.
It is long enough that it tracks well in the water, but not so long that it is hard to store, transport, or maneuver single-handedly.
While this is a great fishing kayak that would serve anybody well, one thing that it isn’t suited the best for is rough water.
Because the center of gravity on this kayak is so high compared to other sit-on-top kayaks that you sit deeper in or sit-inside kayaks where your weight is on the bottom, it can get a little unstable when the waves start to build.
For this reason, we would not recommend this for use in really large lakes, or for going particularly far offshore.
Pros: Easy to transport and store due to its 10-foot length, designed with fisherman in mind, ample storage options.
Cons: Not stable in rough or choppy water, storage hatches do not have their own individual compartments.
The Sun Dolphin Journey fishing kayak is a good kayak for somebody who is looking for a bit more stability or plans on using it in slightly rougher waters than the Lifetime Tamarack Angler kayak.
The reason for this being that the sidewalls are higher, so they provide more buoyancy as you lean to one side or the other.
This is especially helpful if you find yourself in some waves because sometimes you cannot help but lean the kayak one way or another, but the extra stability will keep you feeling confident and safe.
The Sun Dolphin Journey kayak features 3 fishing rod holders, two storage compartments, and two cargo nets for securing loose or large items like cases of tackle, or a milk crate for storing additional loose gear.
The kayak has a padded backrest but does not have a padded seat like the Lifetime Tamarack Angler kayak does.
This shouldn’t be the biggest issue though because most anglers are going to bring a cushion-style PFD anyways to make the seat more comfortable and also as an added safety measure.
Pros: Does well in waves, suitable rod holders, good storage options.
Cons: Cost, high sidewalls could be hard to avoid banging the rod on when doing certain fishing presentations.
Not everybody has the space for a 10-foot kayak, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to also get out and have some fun fishing.
The Intex Excursion Pro inflatable kayak is a nice option for people who might live in an apartment, don’t have a truck to haul their kayak, or otherwise just don’t want to take up the space storing a kayak when they aren’t fishing.
This kayak is pretty sweet because it weighs just under 40 pounds, so it is extremely easy to haul around in the back of your car and comes with a high-output pump so that you can spend less time inflating it and more time fishing.
Just because it is not a solid-body kayak does not mean that it still doesn’t come with amenities that fisherman would find useful.
It comes with a mounting bracket built into the bottom where an angler could mount a rod holder or two, and also can have one of the seats removed to make room for additional gear.
Unfortunately, it does not have any cargo netting for securing loose items or storage compartments for keeping things safe in the event of a capsize.
But given that this is an easily portable, inflatable kayak that does not take up much space, most people should realize that there are going to be trade-offs for this level of convenience.
This kayak will still be able to take you off the shore and get you out to some new fishing spots that would have been out of reach previously, and is relatively affordable as well, which makes it quite attractive to the new fisherman, or the experienced angler on a budget.
Pros: Super packable, lightweight, quick to inflate, easy to haul around in a small vehicle, low price.
Cons: No built-in storage, durability is less than molded plastic kayaks, have to inflate it every time you want to use it.
Well, hopefully you are seeing that even if you are a fisherman who’s trying to stick to a budget that it doesn’t mean you can’t get out in a kayak of your own.
All three of these kayaks would make a great kayak for a fisherman and depending on the situation and the conditions you expect to fish in the most each one has its benefits and its drawbacks.
Considering that any kayak beats fishing from the bank due to the increased manoeuvrability and opportunities it opens up, it isn’t hard to see how any of these would be a great addition to your fishing gear.
Good luck, and tight lines!