With the best fishing kayak under 500, you’ll be able to make the most out of your excursions. Instead of having to invest in an expensive boat that needs to be docked, you can easily transport these portable models anywhere you desire. Ideal for anglers looking for a closer experience, we highly recommend these top fishing kayaks.
Best Fishing Kayak Under 500: A Review
1. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak
As a part of their professional series of inflatables, the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is comfortable, easy to use, and is quite versatile. Made from high-quality materials with an incredibly user-friendly design, it will quickly become your favorite portable piece of gear. There are also plenty of adjustable features that you’ll love to get your hands on.
The integrity of this kayak is something to make a note of, especially as it is made from durable laminated PVC with an inflated polyester core. Not only will you find that it’s lightweight and easy to carry for portaging, for example, but it’s also quite resilient. You won’t have to worry about abrasions, sunlight, or impact, as the material is so strong.
When you begin to inflate the kayak, it goes through a process known as high-pressure inflation. When filled, you’ll love its exceptional rigidity and stability, which makes it quite similar to a traditional boat. This model also features spring-loaded valves that make it faster to deflate and inflate as necessary.
You’ll be surprised at the number of features you’ll receive with the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak. It comes with two removable skews so that you can easily navigate through shallow and deep water, as well as two floor-mounted footrests. We also appreciate the recessed fishing rod holders, as there are two of them, as well as the two adjustable bucket seats.
In terms of bringing your own devices along with you, this inflatable kayak makes it easy. Built with an adjustable and removable mounting bracket, you can add your GPS, fishfinder, or even swivel fishing rod holders. With a total weight capacity of 400 pounds, this is a fantastic option for all anglers.
What to Like About It
At first glance, you may be wondering how you can manage fishing in an inflatable kayak, but the power of this unit is unmatched. When paddling, it is exceptionally responsive, so you can have just as much control as you would with a canoe. You’ll also find that the material feels more rubberized rather than plastic, adding to its overall durability.
You’ll also appreciate how this package comes with everything you need, aside from life vests, right out of the box. It’s a fantastic starter kit for beginners who have always been interested in fishing from a boat. It’s comfortable and comfortably sits two medium-sized adults as well as a minimal amount of fishing gear.
What Not to Like About It
The kayak itself is built with attention to detail, but the storage bag could use a couple of upgrades. Unfortunately, it feels like a thin material that certainly isn’t watertight, and the zipper is poorly constructed. Another issue you’ll likely encounter is how the pole holders are oriented.
With the pole holders pointing inward, when you have rods mounted in them, they will cross, which makes them impossible to use. You will have to control your fishing rods when using this inflatable kayak manually.
- Quickly inflates with a hand pump
- Convenient and portable
- Comfortable and padded
- Very responsive paddling
- High-quality rubberized material
- Poorly made storage bag
- Poorly mounted pole holders
- Seat cushions may deflate
2. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
If you’re not a fan of the idea of an inflatable kayak for fishing but still want something lightweight, this model is a good option. The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak is made from high-density polyethylene, which gives you far more stability. This point is especially true if you’re more prone to stand or kneel while fishing.
The first thing you are bound to notice is that this kayak is designed for one person only, compared to others that accommodate two. However, as most anglers head out on their own, this means you will have a little bit of extra space for your gear. Made from high-density polyethylene, you’ll be glad to know the kayak has full protection from UV rays.
The bottom of the boat is quite notable as well, as it is stable and flat while equipped with multiple footrest positions. Regardless of how you sit in your kayak, you’ll find a comfortable place for your height and weight. We also love the deep hull tracking channels that enable you to glide effortlessly through the water.
In terms of comfort, the seat in the kayak is fully padded in the back and on the bottom. There are also shock cord straps attached to the front and rear of the kayak. Perfect for anglers who love storage, be sure to take advantage of the two six-inch storage compartments at the center and back of the unit.
There are fishing rod holders installed on the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak as well as a single top-mounted fishing rod holder. When you’ve found the perfect spot to fish, the paddle keeper with shock cords is sure to come in handy, as well as the T-handles that make the boat more comfortable to carry.
What to Like About It
If you’re new to kayak fishing, you will love to have this convenient and affordable tool at your disposal. It’s a fantastic partner for fishing in lakes, as it performs quite well against waves and boat wakes. You’ll also love how you can stand in the boat and feel stable, as the flat bottom enables all types of fishing styles.
As you grow in experience, you’ll realize that most of the parts on the kayak can be removed and replaced. For example, if you want a different seat, this model is entirely adaptable to your needs. It can be convenient to add attachments and various features to make your fishing experience more enjoyable.
What Not to Like About It
There aren’t any complaints about the performance of the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak, but it’s not one of the most comfortable kayaks you’ve ever sat in before. The seats are lacking in padding, so you may want to invest in an extra cushion or another seat before using it.
Although there is a storage section added to the boat, it’s not a place to store bait or beverages. The hole will lead to the entire hull, which is ideal for large pieces of gear, but may cause you to lose smaller items in the bottom of the boat.
- Customizable design
- Easy to stand-in
- Optimal stability
- Above-average tracking
- Overall beneficial performance
- Uncomfortable seat
- Poorly constructed storage
3. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
Frequently, the best way to learn how to use a kayak while fishing is to opt for something smaller than usual. Alternatively, if you have a child who wants to get into kayaking, you’ll need a boat that is comfortable for them to manage. The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is a fantastic choice for small adults, teens, and children, as it weighs only 18 pounds and handles up to 130 pounds.
The most significant highlight of this kayak is its ergonomic design, which helps to make using a kayak for the first time more comfortable. As a beginner, you will be able to refine your balance and motor skills to learn how to navigate through the water with ease. You’ll also appreciate how this unit comes with a paddle, so you won’t have to buy any additional pieces to use it immediately.
On either side of the kayak, you’ll notice there are molded finger handles, which makes it easier to carry the unit to the water. You’ll also love the swim-up deck and reverse chine, which provides an incredible level of stability for such a small kayak. Although this unit doesn’t have all of the features of more advanced adult fishing kayaks, it’s a fantastic option for kids over the age of five.
The integrity of the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is unquestionable since the high-density polyethylene is designed to be impact resistant. Users will also appreciate its reliable tracking and stability.
What to Like About It
For children, this is a fantastic kayak to have at your disposal, as it’s relatively comfortable to use. You may also find that it’s light enough for them to carry on their own so that they can feel more independent. With its optimal stability for smaller users, kids will love standing on it while fishing.
If you’re on the water with your kids, you’ll appreciate how comfortable this boat is to tow if they get tired. It’s so lightweight that you won’t even feel it attached to your kayak, and it glides smoothly in the water.
What Not to Like About It
Unless you’re a particularly small adult, this isn’t the kayak for you, as you’ll find it’s relatively impossible to maintain balance. You may also find that kids will have to put a little more effort into paddling, depending on their experience level. Another improvement to consider is to add your padded seat for extra comfort if you intend to go on a long fishing trip.
- Easy to tow
- Easy for kids
- Stable for children
- Enables standing while fishing
- Glides easily
- Not for adults
- Difficult for big kids to balance
- Seat is uncomfortable
4. Sundolphin Bali SS Kayak
One of the most considerable advantages of this kayak is that it offers plenty of storage for all types of anglers. You’ll have access to the portable accessory carrier as well as a dry storage compartment. With a rather rugged and practical appearance, this kayak will surely impress anyone you’re on the water with.
The open cockpit design of this kayak is quite notable as it makes it easier for entry. Once seated, you’ll experience the real comfort of the seating area, which is equipped with adjustable foot braces and protected thigh pads. There is also a paddle holder built into the kayak so you can easily paddle through the water, even as a beginner.
Storage certainly shouldn’t be a problem when it comes to the Sundolphin Bali SS Kayak. It features a portable accessory carrier that you can use for extras as well as a dry storage compartment. You’ll also appreciate the shock cord rigging on the deck so you can stow your paddle or any other large items that should be tied down.
Users will appreciate the stability of the kayak, which allows for seated and standing fishing. Its tracking is also quite notable, which can enable you to glide through the water and battle against small waves effortlessly.
What to Like About It
For a single-seater kayak, the weight capacity on this boat is quite exceptional at 250 pounds. You can easily hold yourself as well as your most essential fishing gear while maintaining stability. The ease of use that you’ll experience with this unit on the water is unmatched, making it a perfect option for rehabilitative exercise as well as fishing.
If you’re the type of angler that likes to have control over the features on your boat, this is a great model. You can add a different seat for optimal back support for long-distance journeys as well as add your GPS and mounting devices.
What Not to Like About It
The main issue with the Sundolphin Bali SS Kayak is that it isn’t as comfortable as other kayaks on the market. Unfortunately, the standard seat is quite uncomfortable due to its lack of back support. Also, compared to other portable models, this unit is quite challenging to carry as it doesn’t have handles to grip on the side.
- Impressive weight capacity
- Easy to navigate
- Comfortable for paddling
- Customizable features
- No carrying handles
- Uncomfortable standard seat
- Poor back support
5. Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak
As another fantastic inflatable option, the Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak is incredibly lightweight and portable. For fishing, it falls slightly short of other models but is a convenient option for first-time users. Overall, it has a quite durable build that helps to prevent air leakage.
A convenient feature of this kayak is that it ships with a deluxe high-flow double-action hand pump. When it comes to inflating, you’ll appreciate how you can fill the entire kayak within five minutes. Its compact and maneuverable design also makes it ideal for transporting from your garage to the water.
For travelers, there is an included carry bag that is lightweight and easy to carry by one person. That said, just because the kayak is light doesn’t mean that it’s not durable. Made from heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin, there is superior protection from abrasions and punctures.
The double-threaded valves are ideal for maintaining optimal air pressure inside of the kayak. As an added benefit, the included top cover is made from 840D coated nylon Oxford fabric, which is both tear- and rip-resistant. We also appreciate the added high-back support to the seats so you can stay more comfortable on long trips.
When it comes to the performance of the Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak, it performs relatively well in choppy waters, but best in calm waters. On the bottom, you’ll notice a deep fin that is entirely removable, depending on how you want the boat to track. Overall, it’s relatively responsive and equipped with a drain plug at the rear for draining and cleaning.
Everything you need to use the kayak right out of the box is included, such as the rear tracking fin, hand pump, kayak paddles, padded seats, and the travel bag.
What to Like About It
With some kayaks, accessories generally lack quality, but with this model, the accessories are high-quality too. The built-in pressure gauge also helps to make filling the boat simpler with the hand pump or an electric pump. You’ll also love that it features a 400-pound capacity, which is substantially more than other kayaks on the market.
What Not to Like About It
The most significant issue you might experience with the Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak is the quality of the valves. Similar to pool toys, the built-in Boston valves may be likely to leak air, especially if the boat has too much air. You may also find that without using the deep fin, tracking in the kayak will be quite tricky and require more effort than necessary.
- High-quality paddles
- Built-in pressure gauge
- Easy to fill with a hand pump
- High weight capacity
- Tracks poorly without fin
- Low-quality Boston valves
- May leak air frequently
There’s no doubt that when searching for the perfect kayak for fishing, there are a lot of features to consider. You’ll want to make sure you have a safe and reliable method of transportation to put to good use. Below are some of the most important things to look for when you start shopping around.
Fishing kayaks are typically available in two main types, inflatable and hardshell. Some anglers prefer to have inflatable units since they are easy to store and transport, especially for kids. Do note, though, that they aren’t going to have as much stability as hardshell units.
In the past, inflatable kayaks were similar in quality to traditional pool toys, but today they are made with higher quality materials designed to withstand choppy waters. If you’re looking for optimal control and stability, a hardshell model could be your best option. Also, you’ll find that the harder the material, the easier the tracking will be.
To break kayaks down even further, you can take a look at the sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks. Much like their names suggest, sit-in means you’ll have greater control and be able to keep yourself drier and warmer. Sit-on-top kayaks, on the other hand, are best for self-bailing and being able to have better mobility.
Kayak propulsion is a frequent topic of interest since it helps you to save time on the water with plenty of added conveniences. This point is particularly true for anglers who are injured or are living with disabilities. Instead of having to manage paddles, you can have an ample amount of power to propel your boat.
With that said, adding a propulsion system to your kayak is something you should only consider with a hardshell model. The reason is that inflatable models may not be able to handle the speeds you’ll want to achieve. With a powered unit on the back of your kayak, you can limit how quickly you get worn out by paddling.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to add an electric propulsion system, you’ll have to rely on paddles to get you to and from your fishing spot. For many, this is a convenient and cost-effective solution, especially if your favorite place isn’t too far away from the shore.
Figuring out the length of your kayak is quite essential, as it will determine how easy it will be navigating through the water. It also affects the amount of storage you’ll be able to access and the number of people allowed in the boat. The smaller and wider your kayak is, the more stability you will have, whereas narrow and long kayaks are substantially faster and require more maneuvering experience.
Fishing kayaks are usually shorter and broader, as your primary objective is to have a boat that is stable enough for both sitting and standing. You also won’t need to worry about speed, as you’ll likely stay in one spot once you’ve reached your final destination. On average, fishing kayaks can be under 12 feet in length and will be at least 24 inches wide.
As earlier mentioned, the width of your kayak has a lot to do with how stable it is. As fishing kayaks are considered leisure kayaks, you’re going to want to opt for a model that is wider yet still easy to navigate. With optimal stability, you can decide to either stand or sit while fishing without the fear of tipping over.
It’s important to remember that wider kayaks are slightly more challenging to navigate through the water. You’ll want to opt for a model that efficiently tracks and that is comfortable to paddle with.
It’s quite likely you’ll want to take your kayak out of the water and store it in your garage, rather than dock it near your fishing spot. Therefore, you’re going to want to opt for a relatively lightweight model. Depending on the number of features the design has, some kayaks may be more substantial than others.
Children’s kayaks, for example, will be under 10 pounds because they require fewer materials for their size. Adult kayaks can be as heavy as 40 pounds, though it’s always better to opt for something under 30 or 20 pounds. The more lightweight the kayak is, the far more comfortable it will be to transport.
6. Stand-and-Fish Capability
Being able to stand and fish will depend on your personal preferences. Some anglers prefer to sit for their entire trip, and others enjoy being able to move as they please. The main thing to consider with stand-and-fish capability is the stability of the boat.
Is it a design that will evenly distribute your weight while on the water? Do you have plenty of space for foot placement while standing? You will also want to make sure the boat will be able to handle your vertical weight as well as any gear you’re bringing with you.
7. Storage and Extras
Until you try fishing on a kayak for the first time, you’ll undervalue the importance of storage and any extra accessories, such as mounting gear. With room, you’ll be able to keep an extra pair of clothes, bait, beverages, and food safe from the elements. High-quality kayaks typically come with one or two compartments for dry storage.
There are also extra features to keep an eye out for, such as mounting equipment and customizable pieces. For example, if you decide to remove the stock seat and add a unique, comfortable chair. You’ll want to take a close look at the added features to ensure your kayak has all of the conveniences you would expect.
1. Is a Sit on Top Kayak Better for Fishing?
Many anglers agree that sit on top kayaks are substantially better for fishing because they are relatively unsinkable, give you an optimal amount of storage, and are quite stable. You’ll also appreciate the added mobility this design has, as you can quickly bailout or decide to hop in and out for wading.
If you’re someone who prefers fishing during the colder months, you may want to consider investing in a sit-in kayak. As these are better for protection from the elements and superior insulation, they are a better option when you’re fishing in the late fall and early winter.
2. Do Kayaks Flip Easily?
Even though you might see the main character of a movie always flips their kayak over, it’s a little more complicated than you’d think. This point is particularly true if you invest in a kayak that is renowned for its stability. The vast majority of fishing kayaks have a flat hull, which places them evenly on the surface of the water.
Unless you are trying to tip the boat over, you can typically stand on fishing kayaks with evenly dispersed weight without tipping over.
3. What Type of Kayak Is Best for Lakes?
Sit-on-top kayaks are by far the best choice for lakes, as they give anglers the most transparent view of their fishing area. You’ll have the ability to sit or stand to check out the water before you cast, which is ideal for fly and spin-cast fishers alike. You’ll also appreciate their incredible stability, which makes them quite similar to a surfboard.
If you wind up fishing in choppy water, you’ll appreciate the natural drainage that sit-on-top models offer, allowing you to keep your sitting area as dry as possible.
4. Are Kayaks More Stable Than Canoes?
One of the most prevalent differences between kayaks and canoes is that canoes are more stable than kayaks. However, it can be tough to tell the difference between the two, as kayaks are beginning to be built with more considerable attention to detail. Canoes are typically known to be heavier than kayaks, which can make them harder to capsize.
5. What Color Kayak Is Best for Fishing?
The central premise behind fishing is to make yourself one with nature so that you can unassumingly capture fish. With that said, you’re not going to want to head out onto the water with a bright yellow or orange kayak.
The best color combination you can choose is a camo that matches the greenery in the surrounding area. If you are unable to find a camo kayak, you’ll want to opt for dark colors such as gray, green, and black.
Our Final Recommendation
Our choice for the best fishing kayak under 500 is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak. Its stability and resilience in calm and choppy waters are superior to most other affordable models. Also, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to add personalized features, such as a more comfortable seat for extended fishing trips.