Best Fishing Kayak Under $500 – 2017 Top Models Reviewed
Kayaks can be used recreationally, for long rides, and for exciting whitewater adventures. As many anglers have discovered to their delight, it’s a handy boat for fishing as well. In fact, many of these boats are designed as fishing kayaks with features that can accommodate rods.
You also don’t have to worry about paying too much, as you can find what’s for you is the best fishing kayak under 500 dollars.
Now just because it is relatively affordable doesn’t mean that a sub-$500 kayak is sorely lacking in impressive features. Actually, you can find several terrific kayaks that will suit both your needs and your budget.
Table of Contents
- 5 Fishing Kayaks Under $500 - Comparison
- Best Fishing Kayaks Under $500 - Reviews
- How To Buy Budget Kayak
- Final Verdict
5 Fishing Kayaks Under $500 - Comparison
Best Fishing Kayaks Under $500 - Reviews
1. Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Fishing Kayak
Sun Dolphin’s sit-on-top fishing kayak is also 10 feet long and 30 inches wide, and it’s only 11 inches high.
Other similar features include the use of the tough UV-stabilized high-density Fortiflex polyethylene, an adjustable seat and foot braces, 2 flush mount rod holders and a swivel rod holder, storage and shock cord rigging, protective thigh pads, and a paddle holder.
What differentiates this Journey from its Excursion counterpart is that at the rear you have the portable accessory carrier. You can use this as storage on your kayak, but if the weight exceeds the 250-pound limit then you can just tow the carrier along behind the kayak.
Because this is a sit-on-top kayak, the roominess of the cockpit is terrific, and it’s as if you have lots of space available for your body and for your equipment. It’s still a bit snug for bigger folks (who will be better served by the 12-foot version of this model), but for medium-sized people the space is more than enough.
- This is one very comfy kayak. The seat design is great, and with the adjustable foot braces you can find a very restful and secure position for yourself. You can just sit back and relax.
- This offers 2 rod holders plus an extra swivel rod holder. That’s more than enough for hands-free trolling as you control the boat with your oars.
- This offers lots of compartments for extra equipment. There’s even a nice dry storage compartment that’s essential for modern users who can’t bear to part with their smartphones. You also have space for a tackle box too. With the PAC design for the extra compartment, you can also just tow your stuff along.
- The kayak also features a paddle holder on each side of the kayak. This is crucial for anglers since you will have to let go of the paddles to reel your fish in. the paddles are oriented along the length of the kayak, instead across the kayak forming a small letter “t”. So this means you can position the kayak beside other boats without the paddle getting in the way.
- This is a very lightweight kayak, so even if you’re on your own you can just pull on the retractable carrying handles to drag it to and from the water.
- You can secure the stuff on your deck with the shock cord deck rigging.
- The stability is outstanding, which should please newbies as well as veteran anglers.
- Tracking can be a problem with this, since it’s a bit short and there’s no keel or skeg to keep it steady in its position. There’s a way for you to put a skeg or reel in, but you have to buy this separately and it’s another DIY problem.
- The scupper holes help drain the water on the boat, but some people don’t like it since water can get through it as well. But you can call the Sun Dolphin customer support and they can send you the 4 scupper plugs you need.
- The weight limit is a bit too low, so heavier folks may have to go with the 12-foot version of this.
2. Emotion Kayaks 90259 XT Fishing Kayak
The Emotion Kayaks 90259 XT is a sit-on-top type of kayak, which is renowned for its friendly features for newbies. The design is comparatively more stable, and you don’t feel confined by the roomy seating design.
It’s easy to get in and out of it. You also have scupper holes that drain the water from the kayak. This one is one of the best fishing kayaks we have tested so far.
This is quite a durable kayak, as it’s made of high density polyethylene. It is just 10 feet long, but its ST Performance Hull does help out when it comes to tracking. It’s very wide with an overall width of 36 inches, so stability isn’t a problem.
This is a kayak meant for a single person, so it’s lightweight enough at 49 pounds. You can drag this to the water yourself as it has handles at the front and back.
It comes with a removable seat with a solid and supportive backrest, so you should be fairly comfy for the whole day. It also features several molded foot wells that are both secure and comfortable. For your fishing needs, you have 2 flush mount rod holders. There’s also a “Solace Hatch” for storage below the deck.
There’s a large rear tank well behind the seat, and the items there are secured with cargo end lacing. At the front, there’s additional deck space with cordage. This supposedly comes with a 275-pound weight capacity, but it’s a fairly accurate assessment. Even people who weigh a little more than 300 pounds can use this tough kayak.
- This is a very tough kayak and should last well for several years.
- It’s very stable in the water, and it feels like it just won’t tip over. That’s a great feeling for newbies who are concerned about this problem.
- It’s very comfortable, and that’s true even for very large people. The backrest works well, the footrests can accommodate tall folks, and the impressive width can also deal with expanding waistlines. It’s probably the widest kayak you can find right now.
- It offers lots of space in the rear tank well. You can put in extra fishing equipment that you can get to right away in that space. It’s also big enough for a child or a pet to bring along with you. Or you can just put a cooler in that space so you have a container for your catch.
- There’s below-deck storage for other items.
- It’s very lightweight, and the molded side handles offer slots for securing this on your vehicle.
- Some of the parts were built overseas, but it’s made in the US. That helps explain its rather long warranty period.
- Not everyone will be pleased with how it tracks. That’s because it’s just 10 feet long and yet it doesn’t have a skeg. You can customize it so it can have a skeg, but that’s extra work and expenses for you.
- It sits 14 inches high, and if you have strong winds then you may be blown a bit off course too. Some may even experience spinning if the winds are strong enough.
3. Sevylor Coleman 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Now what if you want to fish with a buddy? For that, you may want to get the 2-person Colorado kayak from Sevylor Coleman.
This is an inflatable kayak, but that doesn’t mean it’s too flimsy. It uses double-walled construction and the inflatable parts are all covered by extremely thick impact-resistant nylon.
This won’t sink also because it uses numerous discrete air chambers. So if in the off-chance you do get a puncture, it will only affect a single chamber and you can still make it back easily to shore.
This comes with paddle holders so you can set your paddles aside when you have to attend to your catch. This can hold up to 470 pounds, as certified by the NMMA. At full load, it’s also very stable and it can even handle 4-foot swells in the surf.
However, this boat just lets you plod along the water as speed isn’t exactly its forte. What does help is that you can fit in trolling motor on this kayak. There are fittings on the kayak that allow you to do this, although with more capable motors and a large AGM battery you may have to some MacGyver-level jury-rigging.
This is a very comfy boat to sit in all day long. The seats are padded and adjustable, and if you’re going solo then you’re going to have lots of room when you remove the extra seat.
For your equipment you also have lots of storage options. You have mesh storage pockets plus D-rings for other pieces of equipment. You even have 3 rod holders, and these holders allow you to adjust the angle of the pole for your fishing.
- This is an inflatable, so it’s very portable. Yet it doesn’t take all that long to inflate and deflate. You can also just pull it along to and from the water by using the carry handles
- The boat is designed not to sink. It comes with the “Airtight” system that keeps the air from leaking, the nylon cover is extremely tough, and you have multiple air chambers.
- You have lots of nifty storage compartments for your gear, and the adjustable holders are excellent.
- This is very stable on the water, and it can even handle gentle swells. It also tracks well too, since it has a removable fin.
- You can install a motor on this.
- This can handle a lot of weight.
- Without a motor, it’s pretty slow going.
- The center rod holder can get in the way when you’re trying to paddle or move around.
4. Sun Dolphin 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
The Sun Dolphin offers 2 affordable fishing kayaks, and this is one of them. The Excursion is a sit-in type of kayak, so it’s great if you’re fishing in cold temperatures.
The position keeps the wind from your lower body so you can keep warm. It’s also ideal for cold water fishing because the sitting position keeps you drier when you paddle.
This isn’t really meant for the surf or for whitewater conditions, but it’s great for lakes. It’s easy enough to bring with you to the water as it only weighs 41 pounds. You also have cord handles at the front and rear.
This is made of special “Fortiflex” high-density polyethylene, and it’s especially rugged. It’s also been UV-stabilized, which means it’s protected from long-term UV-degradation.
It’s easy enough to stay the whole day in this kayak. The sit-in space offers lots of room, and the cockpit measures 17 by 35 inches. The seat is padded and can be adjusted and the foot braces are adjustable too. You also have protective thigh pads.
For your greater convenience, there’s a paddle holder as well as a holder for a water bottle. You have a storage compartment along with shock cord deck rigging. For your fishing rods, you have 2 flush mount rod holders as well as a swivel rod holder.
The entire kayak is just 10 feet long and 30 inches wide. The stability is great, and the tracking and the paddling aren’t too bad.
- It offers a lot of rod holders, including a center-mounted swivel rod holder. So you can troll the waters without needing your hands, since you’ll need those paddle the oars.
- The deck storage is behind the seat so it’s out of the way but you can easily get what you need from it.
- The adjustable seat is amply padded and it comes with a high back. These features make it very comfortable to sit on it for long periods of time. There’s a water holder too in case you get thirsty.
- It’s quite stable enough for newbies. This is crucial for experienced anglers as well.
- The shock cords work well enough to keep your stuff in place.
- The rugged polyethylene is resistant to UV, and it won’t dent even if you bounce on rocks and logs. Even the scratches on the hull aren’t too obvious because the color goes clear through.
- It’s easy enough to carry all by yourself.
- The 17-inch width of the cockpit makes it well-suited only for medium-sized individuals.
- The weight capacity is also only just 250 pounds. That doesn’t leave too many options for extra equipment.
- You may need to add to the seat padding with an extra seat cushion.
5. Lifetime Muskie Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak
Here’s another 10-footer. By now you must have realized that if you only have $500 for your kayak budget, you’re pretty much limited to this kayak length.
Yet that doesn’t mean that you’re limited in the features you get with your kayak. The Lifetime Muskie Angler is another sit-on-top kayak for a single user, and it uses HDPE (high density polyethylene).
This material is quite buoyant, so even if you do weigh more than 200 pounds the water won’t really get through the scupper holes all that much. It’s tough enough to handle up to 275 pounds in weight. The kayak material is also UV-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about long fishing trips for the whole day.
At 52 pounds, it’s still light enough for a single person to carry to and from the water. To help with that, it features carry handles at the front and at the rear. There are also handles at the sides so that you can haul yourself into the boat from the water.
This offers a very nice seating arrangement, as you’re quite comfy in the ample space. The seat has lots of padding and the back rest is padded as well. The seat (including the back rest) is also adjustable so you can set it for maximum comfort. You also have several foot rest positions so even taller users can be accommodated.
At the bow and stern, you have lots of deck space in which you can secure your equipment with shock cord straps. You also have two 6-inch compartments for items such as your smartphone, with one in the rear and the other at the center of the boat.
You also have paddle holders at each side of the kayak, and you even have cords to keep your paddle in place. Since this is a fishing kayak, it features rod holders. You have two flush mounted rod holders plus another top-mounted rod holder as well.
This comes with a rather flat hull, which helps with the stability at the expense of speed. But then as an angler you don’t need speed. It does track surprisingly well, since it features stability chine rails and deep tracking channels.
- It’s light enough at 52 pounds for a single person to pull to and from the water. You just need to get a hold of one of the carry handles.
- The HDPE material is very tough. It’s meant to last long even with lots of UV exposure and it is impact-resistant as well. You can hit rocks and not have to worry about the state of the boat. It usually even comes with a long 5-year warranty.
- It has lots of rod holders that should help with your fishing. Plus you have a couple of 6-inch storage compartments for items you don’t want to get wet.
- It’s very roomy and comfy to sit on. The multiple foot braces can help even if you have long legs. This can fit in large guys who are 6-footers or taller. The seating is also adequately padded and adjustable too.
- The paddle holders are along the sides of the boat, so you have a convenient place for your paddle when you’re trying to reel in your catch. The positioning of the paddle also means you can sit on the water alongside other boats. You also won’t have to lose your paddles to the water too often as the paddle holders have shock cord rigging too.
- The tracking for a small boat is surprisingly good, and the stability is excellent.
- This is a very slow boat, so don’t plan on wining any kayak races.
- You may want to add some extra padding on the seat.
How To Buy Budget Kayak
So aside from the price, how exactly do you determine the best kayak under 500 dollars? Of course, you still need to factor in the essentials of a good kayak: it should be fast enough, it should be stable and not prone to tipping over, and it should be durable enough to last for a long while. It should also be easy enough to bring with you to the water.
But you also have to consider the 4 basic requirements of a terrific fishing kayak:
Will need a lot of room in the kayak for certain items, and your movements have to be a bit free. That means you need a sizeable deck space on your kayak.
It’s great if you have lots of storage compartments on your kayak, but the items you place in them should be easily accessible. You’ll often need several fishing tools right away, so you can’t waste time having to open hidden compartments to get what you need. Of course, this also means having rod holders.
The boat should be able to handle not just the weight of the angler (which by all accounts is increasing each year). But the equipment may be heavy as well and that should also be taken into account.
It’s not enough that the seats are comfortable to sit on. They have to be comfortable to sit on for the whole day. That means there must be ample padding, adjustments should be available, and the footrests should accommodate even large feet and long legs.
You may find that all these requirements are nicely met by the kayaks on our list. But if you’re embarking on your own quest for the best fishing kayak under 500 dollars. Make sure you factor in all these crucial considerations.