Kayaks have become fairly common in recent years and very affordable as well. Though they all might look more or less the same, there are many surprising differences among various kayaks. The following provides a comprehensive guide on the best fishing kayaks under $500 and how to decide exactly the kind of kayak one should buy.
Types of Fishing Kayaks
Before delving into the 5 fishing kayaks in this list, it is important to learn the types of fishing kayaks available in the market and how choosing one over another makes a difference.
A kayak can be divided on the basis of where one sits or stands. These include sit-on-top, sit-in, and stand-up fishing kayaks.
A sit-on-top fishing kayak has an open cockpit, and the angler can enter or exit the kayak easily. Moreover, this type of kayak has a very high center of gravity, and in order to maintain that, the width is also greater. Therefore, a sit-on-top kayak is usually very stable.
Another important point is that a sit-on-top kayak does not require a high level of fishing skill set so that it can be used safely by beginners.
A sit-in, or short for sit-inside, the kayak has a much smaller cockpit than a sit-on-top one. However, there is still sufficient space for the user and gear. Furthermore, this type of kayak is best for those who like traveling great distances by paddling.
There is one con of this type of kayak that, in case it flips, it is harder for the person to get inside the cockpit, as compared to a sit-on-top kayak.
Even though a stand-up fishing kayak has a seat, there are also platforms on the sides of the deck where a person can stand. This type of kayak is preferred by those who are used to fishing while standing up and either do not like fishing while sitting or simply cannot get the hang of it.
These are not recommended to beginners because some practice is required for using a stand-up fishing kayak.
A kayak can also be divided on the basis of what propels it forward, i.e., pedal-driven versus paddles.
These are designed like bike pedals and are used if high speed is one of the prime requirements. The pedals provide propulsion to the water and allow the kayak to glide quickly across the water.
This is also the right choice if one wants their hands to be free while kayaking as they use their feet to propel the kayak forward. However, pedal-driven kayaks usually have less cargo space than paddle ones.
This type of kayak uses simple paddles for maneuvering and controlling. This is for those who are into traditional methods of fishing and kayaking. Also, this offers a feet-free approach to kayaking as the hands are used to move the kayak.
Many people also go for a paddle kayak because it is less inexpensive than a pedal-drive one. However, such a kayak offers a slower speed, and it can also get very difficult to handle the paddles and the fishing gear together, especially if the weather conditions are rough.
Fishing kayaks can also be distinguished on the basis of whether they are inflatable or made from hardshell.
A hardshell kayak can be constructed from a number of materials such as wood, Kevlar, or plastic, etc. This also causes it to have great weight.
One of the biggest advantages of a hard shell kayak is how safe it is for use during rough water and weather conditions. Since the kayak weighs a lot and is made from durable materials, it will most likely be stable and balanced in such conditions.
However, a hardshell kayak generally costs more than an inflatable one because the materials used for a hardshell kayak are more expensive.
An inflatable kayak is made from synthetic rubber or polymers etc. This is why an inflatable kayak weighs much less than a hardshell kayak. Therefore, these are much more portable, as well.
Moreover, an inflatable kayak can even be inflated and stored in a very small space.
What to consider before buying a kayak
While many might argue that the overall quality of the kayak is what one should focus on, there are multiple aspects to consider before buying a kayak.
One needs to learn the different types of kayaks there are, such as inflatable, hardshell, sit-in, pedal-drive, etc., and see what features attract them the most. Also, there is no ‘best’ type of kayak, as everyone has his or her own preferences.
The various types of kayaks have already been described in detail above.
This refers to the location(s) where the kayak would be used. The reason this factor is important to consider is that many kayaks are built to work the best in a certain type of location. For instance, some places are windier than others, some places have deep waters while others might have shallow, and at some places, the currents are stronger.
Therefore, it is a very practical approach to first decide where one would be kayaking and then go for a kayak that is the most appropriate for that location. For example, touring kayaks are often used for very large bodies of water since they offer great speed.
Lastly, the right kayak would make it far easier to control, track, and maneuver in the water.
The purpose of kayaking could be recreational, to participate in a race, tourism, fishing, and so on.
This is why a kayak meant for a race would have the ability to travel very fast, whereas those meant for covering great distances such as in tourism are often spacious and stable. Similarly, kayaks meant for recreational purposes are often lightweight as opposed to fishing kayaks, which are usually built from strong and heavy-duty materials.
When looking at how safe a kayak is, users usually consider its stability. This is extremely crucial because an unstable kayak can be very dangerous on tricky waters. Even if one won’t fall out of a kayak, some kayaks make the user feel like they would topple any second due to how unstable they are.
It is observed that kayaks with a wider hull are very stable.
Many kayaks are made from rotomolded polyethylene or polyethylene. The kayaks made from rotomolded polyethylene are very stable and hard, whereas the ones made from polyethylene are softer and more comfortable.
Apart from this, the ‘right’ material for a kayak also depends upon the location where it would be used. For instance, for deeper water, a more stable and harder kayak is recommended, but for short and unadventurous trips, a softer kayak would be fine.
The size is one of the essential factors to consider when getting a kayak because a kayak that is too small or too large can completely ruin the fun experience that kayaking is supposed to be.
First and foremost, one needs to have an estimate of the number of people who would be traveling in the kayak. Apart from this, the cockpit size is another important consideration. In addition to this, the size of the seats and the back support, as well as how comfortable or adjustable they are, should be checked.
Also, the size of the kayak often depends upon the purpose it is built for. For example, kayaks for tourism that need to cover greater distances are often large.
Even if a kayak is of top-notch quality and boasts multiple advanced features, it wouldn’t be of much use if the weight limit is not followed. Therefore, the weight is also one of the prime considerations. Before buying, approximate the maximum number of people who would use the kayak at an instant and get a kayak according to that.
It should be noted that many kayaks have a weight capacity that is slightly less than the actual weight it can withhold. However, it is a safety standard and should be strictly followed to avoid any accidents.
That being said, most kayaks do not seat more than 2 to 3 persons.
Apart from this, the weight also depends upon how much fish one intends to capture in a single trip.
When it comes to a fishing kayak, the color is very important.
It is suggested to get earthy and camouflage colors to blend in well with the surroundings. However, it is still important to be visible to other crafts, which is why a reflective or bright-colored accessory can be added to the kayak.
Apart from this, most fishers shy away from very bright-colors because the fish can easily spot them and move away to avoid getting caught.
While more features can be bought with additional money, there is no direct relationship between the price and quality of kayaks. Therefore, in order to wisely choose the right kayak for oneself, one should first note down all the essential features they want and then check kayaks in their budget that provide those features.
While it is important to not just focus on the price of the kayak, one should also be careful that very inexpensive kayaks are usually very lightweight and not highly stable. Since there is a wide range of prices that kayaks come in, finding the right kayak for an affordable price shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Many people prefer getting a portable kayak because it expands the options of locations for them. It is also far more cost-effective to carry around one kayak than buying different kayaks for different places. Such kayaks are usually light in weight, making them easy to transport.
However, many people might opt for non-portable kayaks as they offer, in most cases, greater stability and durability. Even though wheels can be added to some kayaks, it is not easy to transport kayaks weighing around 100 pounds, even with wheels attached.
Additional features such as paddles, storage features, or keels can be very useful. Before buying a kayak, one needs to ensure what features it comes with because not all kayaks have a standard number of features. Other useful features include anchors that can help in fishing or anchor trolleys.
This also includes the customization of the kayak. Some manufacturers would provide the option to add more comfortable cushioning for the seats or changing the color of the kayak.
Therefore, when comparing two kayaks or similar size and material, one should also compare the additional features that they offer.
One should also see whether the kayak they are buying comes with a warranty because a kayak is not an inexpensive purchase. This is why, in case of any problems, having a warranty would make returning or repairing it easier.
5 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $500
1. Journey 10 SS – Sun Dolphin
Made from high-density polyethylene, this is a sit-on-top type of fishing kayak that comes at lower than our budget price. It is considered one of the best fishing kayaks available for such a low price.
The kayak is 291 cm in length, has a height of 40 cm, and has a width of 75 cm. These dimensions and the materials used for the kayak give it a weight of 20 kg, and the kayak has a weight capacity of 113 kg. This means that the kayak can comfortably seat a person and allow for a large weight of fish to be caught and carried.
This kayak comes with multiple necessary features, and it boasts two flush mount rod holders and one swivel rod holder. Apart from these, the seating is padded for extra comfort. In addition to this, the foot braces can also be adjusted as per the length of one’s legs and their height.
More features include the open cockpit, which means that the kayak can easily be entered. The storage compartments provide plenty of space to store extra fish or necessities. Moreover, the Journey 10 SS kayak by Sun Dolphin also comes with a PAC, which is a Portable Accessory Compartment; this is very useful for additional storage requirements and can be removed if it isn’t desired or needed.
Unlike a few cheap kayaks, this one takes great care for the safety of the user. There is shock cord deck rigging. Furthermore, the thigh pads offer safety as well.
Moreover, for those who are used to longer trips, this kayak provides a beverage holder and ditty trays to keep every item of use in a proper manner.
Length 291 cm
Height 40 cm
Width 75 cm
Weight Capacity 113 kg
Interestingly, this kayak has an earthy brown color, which helps it blend in its surroundings perfectly, making it quite easy to stay hidden from the fish. However, not only the color but also the dimensions of this kayak make it unfit to use in oceans or very large bodies of water.
Also, many users want to know if a kayak can be stood in. For this kayak, it isn’t possible to do so because it is strictly a sit-on kayak, and one needs to be very good at fishing while sitting in order to use the Journey 10 SS Sit-On kayak.Check Latest Price
2. Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak – Lifetime
This is one of the most popular and high-quality fishing kayaks under $500. While various retailers sell it at different prices, this can be bought for much lower than our $500 dollar budget. The type of this kayak is sit-on-top.
This fishing kayak weighs around 52 pounds and can carry weight up to 275 pounds. Made from ultraviolet-protected high-density polyethylene (HDPE), it has a length of 120 inches, a height of 14 inches, and has a width of 31 inches.
This kayak is available in olive green color, which is perfect for blending in, especially in surroundings with a lot of trees and greenery.
One of the best things about this one is that it can be customized in a number of ways. While the original kayak has plenty of useful features, as confirmed by reviewers, it is very easy to add on more if that’s what someone prefers. In addition to this, many buyers go for this kayak because of how lightweight it is, which makes carrying and transporting it easier.
The build of this kayak is very strong, and the hull is extremely durable. That being said, this is considered to be one of the most comfortable fishing kayaks under $500. In fact, when it comes to the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak, its comfort is one of the most highlighted features since its padded seat back and seat pad are quite popular.
Apart from these, there are shock cords at the front and rear of the kayak. It also comes with different footrest positions to accommodate paddlers of different sizes. Moreover, its seat is also adjustable, so people of various heights and sizes can easily use this kayak for fishing effectively.
Length 120 inches
Height 14 inches
Width 31 inches
Weight Capacity 275 pounds
In addition to these, this kayak has an extremely stable flat bottom. It also provides large storage capacity in the form of two hatches underneath its deck. There is also a paddle keeper that keeps the paddle attached to the kayak.
Lastly, with one adjustable fishing rod holder and two flush-mounted fishing rod holders, this kayak offers one of the highest numbers of features among fishing kayaks under $500.
This fishing kayak comes with a warranty of five years.Check Latest Price
3. Emotion Renegade 10 XT Fishing Kayak
The Emotion Renegade 10 XT Fishing Kayak is a sit-on-top type of fishing kayak. It is known for its extremely high weight capacity. Also, with its large width, it is also considered one of the most stable ones, making it among the top choices of the buyers.
Measuring 10 feet in length, this kayak has a weight capacity of 325 pounds. The weight of this kayak is 49 pounds, and it is constructed from ultraviolet-protected high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The cost of this one is at the higher end of our budget.
Some of the top features of the Emotion Renegade 10 XT Fishing Kayak include its built-in deck seat. The kayak has a removable seat, which is padded very well to provide comfort. Moreover, it also offers self-bailing scupper holes.
In addition to the aforementioned features, this kayak has a bow bungee cord and two fishing rod holders. Furthermore, its tankwell placed at the rear has cargo net cover, which can easily be used to seat a child or a small pet. Not only this, but there are also molded-in footwells, which are excellent for use if they are the right size.
Besides these, there are also stern and side handles that facilitate carrying the kayak. This is very convenient when moving the kayak to and from the waterfront and gets the job done with less energy.
Another major reason why the Emotion Renegade 10’ Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak is very popular in the market is how suitable it is for a variety of weather and water conditions. This adds to the versatility of the kayak and allows it to outperform many other options. Besides its versatility and stability, this kayak is also well-known for its high speed.
Length 10 feet
Weight 49 pounds
Weight Capacity 325 pounds
This is also the reason why this kayak rarely ever tips over. In fact, reviewers report that even in multiple outings, this kayak barely comes close to tipping. This vouches for the stability of this kayak.
This kayak comes in olive green, which is a favorite among many due to how well it blends in and helps in easily going near fish.
This kayak has a limited warranty of three years on its hull. It is recommended to beginners due to how stable and comfortable it is, as it would enhance and facilitate their learning experience.Check Latest Price
4. Sevylor Coleman Colorado
This is a 2-person fishing kayak, which is among its most notable features. This is a very attractive option for the buyers because it is very rare for a 2-person fishing kayak to be so inexpensive.
The rugged yet lightweight body of this kayak is owing to its being constructed from polyvinyl chloride. Also, this is a very safe and durable choice because the bottom of the kayak has nylon and tarpaulin construction, which means that sharp objects in the water are very unlikely to rupture the body of the kayak.
The dimensions of this kayak are 30.1 x 11.6 x 19.6 inches. This makes it quite spacious to comfortably seat two people. The weight capacity of this kayak is 470 pounds, whereas the kayak itself weighs around 40 pounds. This makes for a very fun and fulfilling fishing trip with a large amount of fish is usually caught.
In case the kayak gets stuck in a fishing hole, which is quite rare given how durable the body is, there are many air chambers to help the kayak get out of it and onto smooth waters; the air chambers work by letting an air chamber stay inflated if others are punctured. Apart from this, it also boasts Sevylor trolling motors, which can be used when fast speed and high power are required. In this case, the paddles can be stored safely in the holders.
The kayak is available in a dark, dirty green color that helps to blend in. Also, there are sufficient accessories for each of the two users, and these can be stored in the mesh pockets, which act as containers for additional storage.
Length 30.1 inches
Height 19.2 inches
Width 11.6 inches
Weight Capacity 470 pounds
Moreover, to prevent any leaks, the entire system is made airtight. Furthermore, there are also paddle holders that keep the paddles attached to the kayak. In addition to these, there are D-rings in this kayak with which additional accessories can be attached – further helping with customization.
Besides these, the seats can be adjusted to make sure each person is seated well and can move around their limbs comfortably. Also, the seats are padded, so they are extremely comfortable, even during long trips.
Lastly, this kayak comes with a limited warranty of 1 year.Check Latest Price
5. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 9 Foot Angler
This is a highly in-demand fishing kayak available at such a low rate. Like other kayaks in this list, its type is also sit-on-top.
The kayak measures 9 feet in length and is 32 inches wide. Weighing 46 pounds, it has a weight capacity of 300 pounds. The low weight of the kayak makes it highly portable and eliminates the need for a carrying trolley, etc.
The Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 9 Foot Angler is known for how well it glides over water in a number of weather and water conditions. This is due to the very intelligent design of the kayak, which helps it move in a streamlined manner and avoid obstacles that could halt or tip other kayaks. Not only this, but it is known for being very easy to maneuver.
Other features of this fishing kayak include 4 rod holders and 4 molded-in handles. Also, the kayak is constructed from rodo-molded high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is why it is so durable and can hold itself well-balanced even in risky water conditions.
The backrest of the kayak is highly comfortable, so even during long trips, the user can easily be seated and fish without feeling any backache. Moreover, there are storage wells in the kayak located at the stern and bow. These allow for additional storage space, which is a huge requirement in small kayaks.
In addition to these, the great stability of this kayak also ensures that it doesn’t trip or sway too much while fishing. This makes for an excellent and peaceful fishing experience. This is partially why this is a smart choice of a fishing kayak for beginners and amateurs.
Length 9 feet
Weight 46 pounds
Width 32 inches
Weight Capacity 300 pounds
The purpose of this kayak is to be a recreational fishing kayak, so it is slightly unfit for the use for tourism or other professional ventures. To ensure that those using the kayak thoroughly enjoy themselves, maximum and the simplest of features have been provided to add to the ease of use.
For those looking for excellent value for money, this is the right option!Check Latest Price
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all fishing kayaks come with a warranty?
While most of the fishing kayaks from major manufacturers come with a warranty, not all of them do. And even the ones with a warranty usually only offer it against defects or major damage.
What size is ideal for a fishing kayak?
There is no ideal size as it varies from person to person. For instance, if someone wants to use large anglers or multiple baits and lures, a larger kayak is preferable.
How difficult is it to fish in a kayak?
It is definitely not a walk in the park because a kayak is not as fast as a motorboat. However, once a person learns a few smart fishing strategies and tricks, fishing in a kayak would become relatively easier. Another helpful tip is to have many different lures to attract the fish.
Do colors make any difference to a fishing kayak?
While many people think that a fishing kayak’s color is all about personal choice, the color actually plays a major role. It is usually suggested to go for camouflage, earthy or light shades to blend in well. Similarly, for oceanic bodies, shades of blue, green, and grey are preferred.
If someone is worried about not being visible to others, instead of going for a very bright-colored kayak, they can simply add bright-colored accessories, such as cap, to the kayak.
Why are bright colors not preferred for a fishing kayak?
This is because bright colors are more noticeable, and they have a tendency to scare away or warn the fish. However, if one really wants a bright-colored kayak and doesn’t want the fish to move away, they can paint the bottom of the kayak with earthy or dark tones, such as brown, dirty green, dark blue, etc.
What is the maximum weight a kayak can hold?
This completely depends upon the kayak. However, knowing this upper limit for the kayak is essential because as soon as one is close to approaching it with the fish, they need to immediately return to the shore to avoid accidents, such as sinking.
Is a fishing kayak likely to tip over?
While fishing kayaks are built to be very durable and to stay balanced in the water, they might tip over by the excessive weight of the fish or rough water conditions.
How to avoid a fishing kayak from tipping over?
If the water condition is severely rough, it can get immensely hard to control a fishing kayak and avoid it from tipping over. However, for lesser extreme situations, practicing different strategies of keeping the kayak balanced can help.
Are any accessories required before kayak fishing?
Yes. A few accessories can come in very handy while kayak fishing, such as paddles, a whistle, a first-aid kit, and a compass, etc.
What material is a fishing kayak made from?
Most fishing kayaks are made from polyethylene.
What is the average size of a fishing kayak?
Fishing kayaks mostly range from 12 to 16 feet in length.
Can you stand up in a fishing kayak?
Yes, there is a type of fishing kayak called the ‘stand-up kayak,’ which is often used by very experienced fishermen.
Are only sit-on-top kayaks used for fishing?
No, other types of fishing kayak can also be used. However, the kayaks mentioned in this list are all of the sit-on-top types.
What to do if the seat is uncomfortable?
While many manufacturers pad the seat to add comfort, if that is not the case, then a cushion can be placed on the seat or against the backrest.
What kind of fishing kayak is the most stable?
Kayaks with a large length and, more importantly, a large width, are usually very stable on the water in various conditions.
Is a fishing kayak worth the money?
Absolutely! This is because a kayak is much more inexpensive than a proper boat, often powered by a motor. Also, some people prefer fishing on a kayak because the experience is more organic and exciting.