Best Fishing Kayak Under $500 for any person and occasion

A man on a fishing kayak
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If you are on a tight budget and are looking for your first fishing kayak or want to upgrade to one that better suits your fishing needs, then this article is meant for you. By gathering product reviews from several sources and analyzing countless video reviews, you can rest assured that your time will be well spent reading this summary. So with that being said, let’s jump into it. 

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

The best fishing kayaks under $500

Best stand up fishing kayak

The Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak is a sit-on-top kayak that comes ready for fishing. With a total of three rod holders, you can fish from either side of the kayak to maximize your changes while out.

The kayak has ample storage for gear, even though some of it may get tossed around a bit as you paddle. The flat bottom should help with stability and hopefully prevent some of that movement.

The design is relatively lightweight, and the two T-handles make it easy to move around on land. This comes with the downside of having a lower maximum weight limit. So you’ll have to plan carefully about which gear to bring along.

While out kayaking, the Angler 100 makes for a reasonably comfortable experience. Yet, if you’re out all day, you may want to consider a better seat rest.

Also, the Kayak is not completely leakproof from the get-go. You should use some silicone adhesive on all edges around the kayak that might leak such as fishing rod holder, storage ports, and shock cord fittings. This way you only need to drain a few drops of water after an entire day on the lake.

Pros
  • Adjustable padded seat back and seat pad
  • Adjustable footrest
  • Front and rear shock cords for additional storage space
  • Rear tank well for a cooler or fishing equipment
  • Two storage hatches beneath the deck
  • Paddle holder
  • Front and rear T-handles for easy transport
  • Two rear rod holders and one front rod holder
  • Flat bottom for increased stability
  • Relatively lightweight
  • 5-year limited warranty
Cons
  • Not completely leakproof
  • Items stored beneath the deck shift around a lot
  • Low maximum weight capacity

Best fishing kayak with minimum 400 lbs capacity

The Sundolphin Boss SS / Ozark Trail 12’ Pro Angler Kayak is a beefy kayak with quite a few features. It already has quite a few storage options for gear but can take on more by adding some optional mounts.

With a weight capacity of 500 pounds, you should be able to pack all that you need and then some. Multiple rod holders on the unit’s front and back should have you catching fish in no time. It’s even designed with the ability to stand up and fish with ease.

During hot weather, the seat mounting bracket walls flex outwardly. This causes the rearward seat brackets to spread apart at the top under your body weight. This is enough for the seat to pop out and fall to the floor. There is an unofficial fix on the internet, but this should have been tested out of the design.

The kayak’s scupper holes are tiny and drain very slowly. This, in addition to the fact that the kayak likes to take on water, can make for an unpleasant experience.

You should use some silicone adhesive on all edges around the kayak that might leak. This means areas like the fishing rod holder, storage ports, and shock cord fittings. This way you only need to drain a few drops of water after an entire day on the lake.

Pros
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Non-slip pads and stand-up strap
  • Removable skeg
  • Front and rear bungee cords for additional storage space
  • Two storage hatches beneath the deck
  • Optional mounts available
  • Paddle holder
  • Front and rear T-handles for portability on land
  • Two front and rear rod holders
  • Good maximum weight capacity
Cons
  • Issues with seat popping out on hot days
  • Scupper holes have a small opening
  • Kayak takes on a lot of water

Best lightweight fishing kayak

The Lifetime Payette Angler 98 is a lightweight sit-in kayak made to get you where the fish are quick. It struggles a bit in doing so because of a poor rudder design that can be a bit of a fight to keep straight.

Once you’re at your fishing spot, the multiple rear rod holders and swiveling front rod holder will give you a large area to fish from. The cockpit area is quite spacious, making casting and reeling a breeze.

However, this kayak is quite limited in storage area, with really only a small storage area behind the seat. There are a few bungee cords on the deck, but they will not hold much either. This may be for the best, as the kayak has a weight limit of 250 pounds, leaving little wiggle room there to bring extra gear.

This fishing kayak is a bit of a barebones kayak but still makes for an enjoyable, if not minimalistic, fishing experience.

Pros
  • Adjustable footrest
  • One rear storage compartment
  • Paddle holder
  • Front and rear handles for easy transport
  • Rod holder in the front and two in the back
  • Front drain plug
  • Spacious cockpit
  • Flat bottom with chine rails for stability
  • Lightweight design
Cons
  • Poor skeg/rudder design
  • Limited storage options
  • Small maximum capacity

If interested in our review of the best lightweight and portable kayaks for fishing, camping and multi day trips, then check out this article!

Best affordable tandem fishing kayak

The Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person kayak comfortably seats two people and has nice options for storage of gear.

The four rod holders make it easy for two people to fish without encroaching on each other’s space. If you’re out on your own, seats are removable for extra storage space, and the kayak is easy to steer even as a sole occupant.

The kayak is made with durability in mind. The 1000 denier tarpaulin bottom and reinforced 840 denier nylon cover can handle almost anything. This holds true even if you’re forced to drag the kayak over weeds, bushes, or rocks.

Following a common trend with inflatables, the kayak does have three independent air chambers to keep you from sinking. Since this inflatable tends to sit higher in the water thanks to extra buoyancy, it is more susceptible to wind and currents.

Aside from weighing a mere 41 lbs, it also folds up into an easy to carry 3 x 3 x 10 inches carrying case. As such, this sit on top kayak is manageable by 1-person and doesn’t need boat trailers or car roof racks for transporting.

Pros
  • Lightweight inflatable kayak
  • Easy to steer even with one kayaker
  • D-rings for tying down gear
  • Paddle holders
  • Folds up for portability
  • 1000 denier tarpaulin bottom
  • 840 denier nylon cover
  • Four adjustable rod holders
  • Removable seats
  • Mesh storage
  • Comes with skeg and skeg mount
Cons
  • Paddles and pump not included
  • Can be difficult to track in strong current and winds
  • 1-year warranty

Best affordable fishing kayak for camping

The Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe lets you bring along a friend when you set sail, or at least has room for a lot more gear! There is plenty of room for carrying your fishing and camping equipment during your trip. Also, the high weight capacity ensures that you can pack a lot of equipment that you may need during your trip

Next to the ample storage space and weight capacity, you also have the option of the sportfishing package. This comes with a multi-purpose storage box and two rod holders.

As with other inflatables, the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe inflates in a reasonable amount of time. It has a robust nylon shell to prevent punctures and three air chambers to guarantee flotation even if something does get through the nylon.

The kayak can get uncomfortable over time due to lackluster back support. Though it seats two adults comfortably, it is quite the stretch (and added discomfort) to add a third.

Finally, this sit on top kayak does allow for kayakers of different heights, though with adjustable foot braces. Although, it’s a budget kayak, it offers a lot of value in return.

Pros
  • Lightweight inflatable design
  • Includes two paddles, foot pump, repair kit, and carry bag
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Resistant to sun and saltwater
  • Lashed down inflatable spray skirts with storage underneath
  • Suitable for up to class III whitewater
  • Self-bailing drain valve
  • Removable seats for more storage
  • Large max weight limit
  • Beam construction and rear skegs
  • Made from strong 440 denier fabric
Cons
  • Sits high in the water, making it susceptible to wind
  • Uncomfortable with three adults in the kayak
  • Average back support
  • Can be difficult to steer with one person

In case you are interested, we have also written an article reviewing the best kayaks for camping.

Conclusion

When it comes to choosing the best fishing kayak for you, it all boils down to determining and prioritizing your needs and expectations with the final step of picking a fishing kayak that matches most of your requirements. Above are the most essential questions you need to be able to answer before you even consider choosing a fishing kayak, but it doesn’t have to stop there: Do you plan to use the kayak strictly for fishing or also for relaxation with your friends and family? Is speed an important factor for you? Do you know how to perform a kayak roll in case your sit-in kayak capsizes?

In case you are still pondering on what you should be looking for given your specific need, send us a quick email and we will be glad to help you find a solution to your problem.

How to choose a fishing kayak

More and more people are opting for fishing from a kayak as opposed to fishing from a boat. The benefits of going for a kayak is no registration or insurance required. Also, you are able to fish in places that aren’t easily accessible by boat.

It’s possible to get a decent budget kayak, given that you know what you are looking for. We’ve gathered below the most important questions to think about when shopping for a fishing kayak.

A Common Practice:
In practice, most anglers prefer a sit-on-top fishing kayak as they offer more movement for casting and reeling in fish. Also, a sit-on-top fishing kayak will not fill up when they roll over, making them easier to get back into.

Do You Plan To Use The Fishing Kayak In Saltwater Or Freshwater?

Ocean scene with waves illustration
Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater refers to water that’s in a rough state such as the sea and rivers with middle to high current. This type of water usually covers a wide area. So, you’ll first need to decide on whether you plan on fishing near the shoreline (=inshore fishing) or in the middle of the sea (=offshore fishing).

In general, you would need a narrow kayak since you will need to maneuver over long distance. This will allow you to reach prime fishing locations in no time while facing waves and stiff winds.

Thus, you should aim for a long and slightly narrow fishing kayak. It will allow you to move fast and feel secure, especially when doing offshore fishing.

Bear in mind that fishing in saltwater is better suited for experienced anglers. This is because you tend to encounter a fight from the fish you’re trying to catch. You wouldn’t want to capsize or lose your fishing rod, cause you lost balance.

A lake
Freshwater fishing

Freshwater refers to water that’s in a calm state such as ponds, lakes and rivers with little to no current. So, there’s no need to go too far in this type of water as opposed to saltwater.

Thus, you can focus on fishing kayaks that are lightweight and that offer good stability. The added benefit of having a wide and as such a stable kayak is the ability to fish while standing. So, aim for a fishing kayak that is short and wide.

If you are just starting out with kayak fishing, freshwater would be the perfect start for you. It is perfect as a training ground for gaining kayaking experience. But also fighting fish from a kayak while maintaining balance and good posture.

Which Fishing Kayak Features Are Suitable For Your Style Of Fishing?

Rod holders make it easier to do kayak fishing whilst using your hands to paddle around in the water. There are plenty of kayaks with molded-in or mounted rod holders. You can also easily install rod holders to your kayak if need be.

Storage options on a fishing kayak include internal storage for storing stuff you want to keep dry. This could be stuff such as a first aid kit, clothes, and an extra PFD. If there’s space behind the seat. also known as a tankwell, then you are in luck. This space can be used for carrying a kayak cooler, milk crate, or other fishing accessories. If possible, make sure there is a center storage compartment on your kayak. This will serve to keep your fish finder battery, pliers, electronics, and knives.

Accessory track mounts are a must-have in case you want to attach accessories without drilling holes. Some of these accessories include a phone holder, camera holder, cup holder, and extra rod holders. Most fishing kayaks will have this option, but if not, rest assured as it is something that you can add to the boat.

Kayak seats are a major contributor to your fishing trip experience. The last thing you want is to end your fishing trip with a sore and sweaty back or even a wet bottom. A comfortable kayak seat should have a good seat cushion and back support that is well ventilated. Extra features such as adjustable height or the ability to remove the seat will make it easier for fishing while standing on the kayak.

Keep in mind that it’s always possible to add more features to your fishing kayak. If this is what you also like to do at some point, then be sure to check out our article on the best fishing kayak accessories.

How Will You Transport Your Fishing Kayak From Your Home Into The Water?

2 people carrying a kayak

The most common way to transport a fishing kayak on a vehicle such as an SUV, truck, or sedan will be on the roof. So, it is important to compare the weight specifications of your chosen fishing kayak with your ability to lift it onto the car roof.

An alternative way is to use a kayak trailer instead of a kayak roof rack as a method of transportation. This allows you to slide the kayak at waist level making it more convenient.

However, depending on the state you live in, you will need to register your kayak trailer. Needless to say that a kayak trailer would also take up a lot of storage space in your house.

Once you arrive at your destination, you might need to use a kayak cart to move the kayak. This means moving it from the parking lot, boat ramp, or over the beach to the actual water.

If want to avoid the hustle of purchasing extra transport equipment then get an inflatable or foldable fishing kayak. These types of kayaks are quite compact making it possible to carry them inside your vehicle.

In case you have or plan on getting a hard vessel kayak, then be sure to read the different ways of transporting a kayak.

Would You Like To Paddle Or Pedal?

Pedal Kayak

Paddle Kayak

Paddle: In general, traditional paddle kayaks are easier to use, more affordable, and are quicker to get onto the water. Also, they are lighter than pedal-powered kayaks making them more suitable for transportation. Be sure to choose a kayak paddle that is comfortable enough for spending long hours kayaking.

Pedal-powered: Since a pedal-powered kayak requires you to use your feet to pedal forward, it leaves your hands free for fishing. This gives you more time for rigging your baits and casting your fishing rod. However, the pedal system comes with maintenance costs and possibly limited access to shallow waters. This has mainly to do with the pedals hanging low underwater, which risks touching the bottom.

If you are interested in exploring different types of kayaks, then check out our kayak buying guide.

How Much Weight Will You Carry On Your Fishing Kayak?

Always consider the weight capacity of your soon to be fishing kayak. With this we mean comparing it with the sum of your weight and the amount of gear for your fishing trip. Overlooking this fact will get you nowhere except to the bottom of the lake. So, make sure the sum of your weight along with the fishing gear doesn’t exceed the weight capacity of the kayak.

Also, consider the amount of space you and your fishing equipment would need on the fishing kayak. Most fishing kayaks offer plenty of space but differ slightly in their dimensions. This results in some kayaks offering more legroom, while others more storage compartments.

Ally Mash
Ally Mash
Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.

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