Best Fishing Kayak Under $500

Last Updated: April 9th, 2020

There comes a time in every fisherman’s life when casting from the bank in a large lake, river or by the sea is simply not enough anymore. You’re always dreaming about those spots you can’t quite get to; ‘what’s around that corner? That island looks fishy. Look at the bait jumping that’s just out of reach’. We have all had those frustrations and eventually it’s time to do something about it.

Now, owning a boat to get to these spots is one option, but it’s an expensive, never-ending list of maintenance option, but what about a fishing kayak? They’re light, affordable, easy to move around, you get exercise while using them, they have minimal maintenance and they’ll get you to those just out of reach spots. What’s not to love?

There are quite a few different types of fishing kayaks out there, some better than the rest. The main difference is whether you chose a hard shell or inflatable fishing kayak, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Luckily for you, we have created this buying guide and review of the best fishing kayaks under $500, enjoy!

OUR TOP PICKS

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Journey Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak (Olive, 10-Feet)
Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
  • Durable & Lightweight
  • Stable
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Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air-Pump, Grey/Blue (68306NP)
Sun Dolphin Excursion SS 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
  • Durable & Lightweight
  • Stable
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Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles
Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak Pro Package
  • Durable
  • Transportable
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Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak
Best Allrounder
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
  • Good to ride
  • Stable & durable
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Elkton Outdoors Cormorant 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak, 10-Foot with EVA Padded Seats, Includes 2 Active Fishing Rod Holder Mounts, 2 Aluminum Paddles, Double Action Pump and More
Elkton Cormorant Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak
  • 6 rod holders
  • Comfortable
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Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Best Inflatable
Intex Excursion Pro K2 Inflatable Fishing Kayak
  • Safe & Stable
  • Good storage options
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Perception Sound 10.5 | Sit Inside Kayak for Fishing and Fun | Two Rod Holders | Large Rear Storage | 10' 6' | Red Tiger
Perception Sound 10.5 - Sit Inside Kayak for Fishing
  • Comfortable
  • Good value
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Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak, 10 Feet, Olive Green
Best Of The Bunch
Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak with Paddles
  • Stable
  • Goes through the surf
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Best Inflatable Kayaks under $500


Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Journey Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak (Olive, 10-Feet)

This is a great one-man kayak that’s perfect for all your solo fishing adventures whether in a lake, river or at sea. It’s designed as a sit-on-top kayak, which means your legs are exposed rather than being inside a kind of cockpit.

It’s made for Fortiflex high-density UV-stabilized Polyethylene and it’s durable design makes it stable, comfortable and easy to move around. It can hold a max of 250lbs which is more than enough for you and your gear. There are ample storage options between the one storage compartment and the bungee chord rigging as well as three rod holders, plus a water bottle holder, how great is that.

Two of the rod-holders sit flush behind you while there is one swivel rod holder that is in front to allow you to fight a fish at any angle. This is an ideal setup, once you hook a fish, simply move the rod to the middle holder in the front and you’re in business.

Overall its a very comfortable ride with a padded seating area and easily adjusted foot braces.

Pros

  • Durable & Lightweight
  • Stable
  • Affordable
  • Good storage
  • Comfortable if 6ft tall and under

Cons

  • Front rod holder can fail after a while
  • Not the best if you're over 6ft tall
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Sun Dolphin Excursion SS 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air-Pump, Grey/Blue (68306NP)

Sun Dolphin Excursion sit-in kayak is pretty much the same as the Sun Dolphin sit-on-top kayak, except that your legs go into the cockpit rather than being exposed.

It’s great for rivers, lakes and calm seas while being durable and easy to transport thanks to its lightweight. It’s a stable and comfortable kayak that’ll get you to those hard to reach fishing spots.

The storage is adequate although you do lose a bit of bungee cord storage due to the closed top compared to the other one. The rod holders are the same as the above, two flush at the back and one swivel in front. They work well when you hook up to a fish.

Overall a good value kayak with all you need for solo-adventures around your favorite fishing grounds.

 

Pros

  • Durable & Lightweight
  • Stable
  • Affordable
  • Good storage
  • Comfortable if 6ft tall and under
  • Legs stay in the kayak for extra stability

Cons

  • Front rod holder can fail after a while
  • Not the best if you're over 6ft tall
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Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Kayak Pro Package

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles

This is the first inflatable kayak in the line-up and it’s labeled as a sports kayak, not a fishing kayak. You can certainly use it for fishing, but you’ll have to manage without rod holders. Luckily it’s spacious, you could easily store two rods done the side and two of you could cast and is quite comfortably or one of you troll your line while the other paddles.
The best thing about inflatables is how easy they are to transport. You can simply drop this into the trunk of your car, pull up to any fishing spot, inflate and off you go. A little easier than needing a roof rack to tie a hardshell to.
The kayak is made from 38mm PolyKrylar which is pretty durable. It’ll take a lot to puncture or tear so don’t worry if a hook goes near it, you’re not going to sink. The kayak rides nicely, tracks well and it’s fast as kayaks go thanks to the 2 skegs. However, it’s not the most stable kayak and you should be a bit cautious in windy weather, plus water splashes in easily over the front.

It’s easy to inflate and comes with paddles which is a bonus.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Transportable
  • Dogs can come with
  • 1-3 person
  • Fast & keeps its course
  • Easy to inflate

Cons

  • Rides low
  • No rod holders
  • Minimal storage
  • Dry before you store
  • Not so stable
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Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

The first thing you notice about this kayak is the layout. It looks fishy. The two closed storage areas, in the middle and at the back, are more than enough for any fishing trip. You also have two bungee cord storage options for things that you’ll need to access quickly. It comes with three rod holders, two sit flush at the back and one in front, perfect for trolling and casting.

The kayak tracks well thanks tit’s deep hull channels that also make it more stable in bad weather. It’s super durable and has a max weight capacity fo 275lbs, more than enough.

The padded seats and adjustable foot-rests make it comfortable to use but it’s not the best if you’re tall. Anyone over 6ft may get uncomfortable quickly in this.

It comes with a 5-year warranty and with or without a paddle, be sure to select the ‘with paddle’ option as the price difference is negligible.

Pros

  • Good to ride
  • Stable & durable
  • 5 yr warranty
  • Good layout
  • Lots of storage
  • Comfortable if you're not too tall

Cons

  • Not comfortable for tall people
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Elkton Cormorant Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Elkton Outdoors Cormorant 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak, 10-Foot with EVA Padded Seats, Includes 2 Active Fishing Rod Holder Mounts, 2 Aluminum Paddles, Double Action Pump and More

The Elkton Cormorant Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak is a great little fishing kayak. It comes with six rod holders, yes six, which is a bit over kill in my eyes but it will give you a lot of rod options, but you you might paddle around looking like you’re in more of a porcupine than a kayak. It also features enough storage between the front mesh and stern areas space for your tackle.

It’s made of 18-Gauge rip resistant 1000D PVC and the bottom has some extra thick tarpaulin on it so you can fish those rocky areas with confidence. The kayak rides nicely thanks to the skegs, comes with two paddles and has comfortable seats that are easy to adjust.

The rod holders can get a bit cumbersome while paddling and tend to obstruct your stroke now and then, maybe there shouldn’t be six of them. The seats also ride low and you might need a booster seat to get a deep paddle going.

Pros

  • 6 rod holders
  • Comfortable
  • Durable & Stable
  • Good storage
  • Tracks well
  • Good value

Cons

  • Seats ride low
  • Rod holders can get in the way
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Intex Excursion Pro K2 Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak

This is one of two inflatable “fishing’ kayak we have featured in this review and it’s designed for fishing more than any others in the line-up. While being inflatable it still comes with enough storage, rod holders and a mounting bracket for a fish finder or a GPS.

It can fit two people inside it comfortably and has a maximum load of 400lbs. 400lbs might not be enough if you’re planning on carrying a lot of gear but would be fine for a parent and child trip.

It’s a safe, stable kayak thanks to the rigid design and the removable skegs make it quick and good at holding course. It is made from  3-ply PVC and won’t tear or puncture easily but it can form small leaks.

The seats are comfy but there isn’t very much legroom, so if you’re tall this might be a one-man kayak. It does come with a paddle, a bonus!

Pros

  • Safe & Stable
  • Good storage options
  • Transportable
  • Mounting bracket for gps/fish finder
  • Handy rod holders
  • Good value

Cons

  • Limited legroom
  • Not so durable
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Perception Sound 10.5 - Sit Inside Kayak for Fishing

Perception Sound 10.5 | Sit Inside Kayak for Fishing and Fun | Two Rod Holders | Large Rear Storage | 10' 6' | Red Tiger

This is a great hardshell kayak and has been made to hold larger anglers, so if you’re used to a kayak being a little short of your requirements, this one may just solve all your issues.

It comes with two rod holders, a large storage area at the back, mounting area for a GPS or depth sounder and bungee storage at the front. The only draw back is that there is no dry storage area.

It’s a well made durable kayak that tracks well and is stable thanks to its tri-keel hull design. The seat is comfortable thanks to the back rest and the footrests are easy to adjust, but perhaps a little too easy as they can come out of place mid-paddle which will get frustrating.

The rod holders are tapered and flimsy, there are complaints about the angle the rods sit at and that they don’t last long.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Good value
  • Enough storage
  • Rear crate mold is excellent
  • Easily adjusted footrests
  • Roomy & Stable

Cons

  • Not very fast
  • Poor rod holders
  • Footrests can pop out of place mid-paddle
  • No dry storage
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Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak with Paddles

Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak, 10 Feet, Olive Green

This is a super stable fishing kayak that even has no trouble going through the surf. If you’re an ocean-going kind of fisherperson, this might be the kayak for you. It’s made to be used for up to 3 people with a load-carrying capacity of 500lbs but is best used for fishing with just 1 person. This will give you all the space and freedom to fish well and comfortably.

The kayak is durable, tracks well but it’s not very quick. The three rod holders are well positioned and allow you to troll as well as cast easily from the kayak.

It’s not the most comfortable kayak to sit in according to some, others love it, so I guess it’s down to personal preference. Overall a solid buy.

Pros

  • Stable
  • Goes through the surf
  • Good storage
  • Large capacity
  • Includes paddles
  • 3 rod holders
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • Not very fast
  • The seat is not so comfortable
  • Heavy
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What To Look For

When you’re looking to buy a fishing kayak these are some of the most important things to consider.

Inflatable V’s Hard-shell Kayaks

Hard-shell kayaks are usually going to be more stable and durable that inflatables simply due to the different materials. There is less hassle and maintenance with a hard shell as you simply rinse it, pop it on the roof rack and put it away.

There is no need to deal with the inflating, deflating, cleaning and drying that comes with an inflatable. That being said, you’re going to need a roof rack to transport your kayak and be strong enough to get it up there. The best thing about inflatables is their portability. Simply throw them in your trunk and take them anywhere you want.

Where Will You Be Fishing?

Not all kayaks can handle what nature throws at them. Some are made for calm waters and others for white water and windy oceans. Make sure you buy a kayak that suits the conditions you intend on going out fishing in.

Your Size

Some kayaks are a comfortable fit for anyone but quite a lot are best for use by shorter people. it’s not fair, is it? If you’re on the longer side of the spectrum, just be sure to check the kayak will be a comfortable fit.

Getting In And Out Of A Kayak?

Sit-on-top kayaks are far easier to get in and out of than sit-inside-ones. That being said, they are less stable on the water and tend to tip more often. So there is a balance to choose from here.

Kayak Seats

The comfiness of the kayak seat is key to enjoying hour day on the water. Kayaks quite often come with uncomfortable seats but not all. You can always buy a new seat to fit the kayak you like, so it’s my advice to go for the right kayak and then change the seat if you need to.

If you plan on using life jackets while kayaking, then get a PFD life jacket that doesn’t force you to be uncomfortable while paddling like bulky lifejackets that often cause you to be cramped up.

Self-Bailing Kayaks

Self-bailing kayaks are designed for use in bumps seas or whitewater. The kayak has a few holes that water naturally leaves, ensuring they float at all times. If you’re going to be in rough waters, then be sure to get one of these. If your fishing spots are usually chilled weather-wise, this isn’t necessary.

Kayak Length

The differences that the length of a kayak makes are quite simple. Short kayaks are agile and maneuver easily, excellent for whitewater. Long kayaks are more stable, faster and track better. In terms of fishing, the longer the better.

Our Favorites

The best inflatable fishing kayak goes to the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak. It ticks all the boxes with good rod holders, large carrying capacity, enough storage and a mounting bracket for a fish finder or GPS. 

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
  • Super tough laminate PVC with polyester core: light weight and highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight
  • High pressure inflation provides extra rigidity and stability, with high pressure spring loaded valves for easy inflation and fast deflation

The best all-rounder is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak. It has an awesome layout, three rod holders, is durable, comfortable and steady on the water.

Lifetime Tamarack Sit-On-Top Kayak, Tan, 120", Model:90237
  • Constructed of UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene. Stable Flat Bottom. Deep Hull Tracking Channels. Stability Chine Rails
  • Multiple Footrest Positions for Different Size Riders. Adjustable Padded Seat Back and Seat Pad for Comfort. Front and Rear Shock Cord Straps

The best of the bunch is the Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak with Paddles. It’s the most stable, spacious, easy to use and the layout is simple yet effective. You can fish it anywhere, river, lake, or sea in most conditions. 

Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak, 10 Feet, Olive Green
  • Blow molded from High Density Polyethylene for superior strength and durability; Backed by a 5-year limited manufacturer warranty
  • Designed to seat up to 3 people; 500 lb. weight capacity