7 Best Fishing Kayaks

7 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $500: The Ultimate Guide in 2019

For centuries, maybe longer, fisherman have searched for the best fishing kayaks and loved sitting inside them while paddling the many bodies of water this earth has to offer.

Kayaks are one of the best ways out there to experience this but some of them are more expensive than a used car.

How about something a little more affordable?

You Want a Fishing Kayak on a Budget

You can definitely find great fishing kayaks at fire sale prices, you just have to narrow down the most important features.

Here are the specs that a kayak must have if you want to fish out of it:

  • Sit-on-top
  • Paddle holders
  • Stability


Can you fish out of a sit-inside kayak?


You could also theoretically fish standing on a blow up orca whale but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

Sit-inside kayaks are terrible for fishing due to 2 things:

  1. It’s nearly impossible to stand up in a sit-inside kayak and
  2. You’ve got a lot less elbow room (literally) to play with while casting

I’ll tell you a story. At first, it won’t seem like it has anything to do with kayaks but I promise it does.

Me and the girlfriend went to a lovely little lake for a romantic couples camping weekend. We settled into our campsite and while I set up the hammock I noticed a fisherman about 50 yards down the shoreline. It was just past sunset which is primetime for fishing. There were bugs on the water and fish were rising left and right.

I was planning on getting out my fly rod when I heard cursing.

I turned around and saw that the fisherman I just saw accidentally hooked the tree behind him.

If you ever fished before you know that this happens sometimes but I guess this guy was on a short fuse because you’ll never guess what he did next.

After violently yanking on the pole several times the line broke and the man stumbled back and almost fell over. Then, amid strings of profanity, he took his fishing pole in both hands, snapped it over his knee, and hurled the wreckage into the lake.

I was already doubled over laughing but it gets better.

He stormed off to his campsite to get his other fishing pole, grabbed it, walked back to the shore, snapped it too, and then punted (poorly I might add) the pieces into the lake.

Hilarious story, no? Here’s how it relates to fishing kayaks:

Fishing can be a frustrating sport and trying to fish out of a kayak that is poorly suited for fishing increases your chances of losing your marbles and making a fool of yourself like the poor gentleman in the story.

The moral of the story: Don’t fish out of a sit-inside kayak if you have a short temper.

Paddle Holders

In order to fish out of a kayak, you’ve got to have some way to secure your paddle while you cast. It’s pretty irritating when your paddle falls in the water while you’re trying to real one in.


Ideally, you should be able to stand up comfortably in a fishing kayak.

At the very least, staying upright should be easy because you don’t know what the fish is going to do while it fights for its life. You might release him after you catch him but he doesn’t know that.

I’ve never actually seen it because I’ve never seen anyone fish out of a jenky kayak but I bet that seeing a fish tip someone out of their kayak would be hysterical.

Don’t be that guy.

Get a sturdy kayak.

7 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $500

Without further ado, here are the 7 best fishing kayaks under $500:

1. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

Lifetime Muskie Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle, Tan, 120"

Model & Accessory Specs

  • Length: 10’0
  • Weight: 52 lbs
  • Material: High-density polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 lbs
  • Accessories: Paddle holder, front and rear shock cords, 2 rod holders, front and rear storage compartments, paddle included

It’s insane how much you get from the Lifetime Tamarack for the price. It covers the essentials like stability, paddle, and rod security plus a few bells and whistles that are nice to have like storage compartments and good tracking.

Why Choose This Model?

You’ll get more features out of other kayaks and it isn’t necessarily a looker but if you want the best possible fishing kayak for the least amount of money the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is for you.

2. Sevylor Colorado

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak

Model & Accessory Specs

  • Length: 10’6
  • Weight: 41 lbs
  • Material: 18-gauge PVC
  • Maximum Capacity: 440 lbs
  • Accessories: 2 paddle holders, 2 rod mounts, D-rings for gear attachment

Considering that this is a 2-person inflatable kayak you’d be surprised at how well it works for fishing. It’s got a tarpaulin reinforced bottom that holds up even to the sharpest rocks and it’s sturdy enough to real in the hogs.

Why Choose This Model?

If you’re looking for an affordable kayak to take your son fishing with or if you just want something versatile enough to go solo or with a friend the Sevylor Colorado is an excellent choice.

3. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-FK184

BKC UH-FK184 9'2" Sit on Top Single Fishing Kayak Seat and Paddle Included Green Camo

Model & Accessory Specs

  • Length: 9’0
  • Weight: 44 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Accessories: 5 rod holders (4 flush, 1 articulated), 2 waterproof storage compartments, 2 paddle holders, rear bungee storage

This is the most decked out budget kayak that I was able to find and trust me, I SCOURED the internet. Coming in just under five-hundred bucks, the Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-FK184 is a killer fishing kayak. It’s pretty small but still big enough for a 200 pound man fully loaded with a days worth of gear.

Why Choose This Model?

For those of you that aren’t looking for the absolute lowest cost option but still want a pretty legit kayak for a reasonable price look no further than Brooklyn Kayak Company’s UH-FK184.

4. Sun Dolphin Journey 10'

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

Model & Accessory Specs

  • Length: 10’0
  • Weight: 44 lbs
  • Material: UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Accessories: 3 holders (2 flush, 1 swivel), adjustable seating, shock cord deck rigging, adjustable foot braces, cup holder, protective thigh pads, rear dry storage compartment

I’ll be honest, the Sun Dolphin is not a sexy kayak, you’ve simply got to pay more if that’s important to you. BUT you’ll get the opportunity to catch just as many fish in this kayak as in something that costs a thousand dollars and for that much money you can get 2 of these, take your wife out for a nice dinner and you’d still be spending less than one of the more expensive Hobie Kayaks.

Why Choose This Model?

It’ll hold your rods while you paddle, it’ll hold your paddle while you cast, it won’t tip over even if you stand up -- The Sun Dolphin Journey gets the job done.

5. Sun Dolphin Journey 12'

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Journey Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak (Olive, 12-Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs

  • Length: 12’0
  • Weight: 48 lbs
  • Material: UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: 3 holders (2 flush, 1 swivel), adjustable seating, shock cord deck rigging, adjustable foot braces, cup holder, protective thigh pads, rear dry storage compartment

The Sun Dolphin Journey 12’ is almost the same as the Sun Dolphin Journey 10’ except, as the name suggests, you get 2 more feet in length. The extra couple of feet gives this 12 footer an extra fifty pounds of capacity too but it only weighs a little more.

Why Choose This Model?

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. The both models of the Sun Dolphin Journey are great kayaks. Here’s how to choose which to buy:

Are you over 6’3” and/or weigh more than 250 pounds? Get the 12’.

H2OGO! Jumbo Whale Rider Inflatable Pool Float

**Gag alert: The following is not a kayak but I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

H2OGO! Jumbo Whale Rider Inflatable Pool Float

Model & Accessory Specs

  • Length: 5’0
  • Weight: 3 lbs
  • Material: Cheap Chinese Plastic
  • Maximum Capacity: a small child
  • Accessories: HA!

Obviously, this is not a fishing kayak but a joke here and there never hurt anyone.

However, you could catch a fish while riding this thing and if you do please send us a picture because it would be a first.

I have seen someone go through class 5 whitewater on it though. It was legendary.

Why Choose This Model?

Please don’t actually buy this and try to fish on it, it will not work at all. It’s a funny gag-gift, though.

6. Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-on top Kayak (Ocean, 10-Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs

  • Length: 10’
  • Weight: 44 lbs
  • Material: UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Accessories: 2 paddle holders, rear covered storage, front and rear bungee cords

This kayak is not a dedicated fishing kayak but it covers the essentials for a fishing kayak: a stable sit-on-top with paddle holders.

It also has some covered storage which is nice if you want to take any fish home with you and the seating is comfortable enough to stay in for at least a few hours at a time.

Why Choose This Model?

All three Sun Dolphin models that we listed are pretty similar to each other but we like the Bali as a fishing kayak for someone that wants a little more versatility AKA may not always want to fish in it.

If you’re looking for an all purpose kayak the Sun Dolphin Bali 10 SS is your best bet.

7. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 9-Foot Angler Sit On Top Fishing Kayak Paddle Deluxe Kayak Seat (Blue Camo)

Model & Accessory Specs

  • Length: 10’
  • Weight: 51 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: None

Full disclosure, this kayak is slightly more than five-hundred dollars. I added it anyway and here’s why:

There were other fishing kayaks I could have chosen that are slightly less than $500 but are total pieces of junk. I simply refuse to recommend anything that I wouldn’t use myself. This is an incredible kayak for a price far less than its worth.

Why Choose This Model?

The Vibe Skipjack costs a little more but here’s the thing: people LOVE this kayak, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive, AND it’s one of the best looking kayaks out there. Seeing the Vibe Skipjack in the bed of your truck or on top of your SUV is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Benefits of Owning an Amazing Kayak

I want you to picture yourself in a brand new fishing kayak. You didn’t want to spend a ton so you did a little research and made a smart, reasonable, and economic choice. It may not be the fanciest fishing kayak but it’s the best fishing kayak FOR YOU.

  • A kayak allows you to access exclusive fishing spots
  • Kayaking is a hobby that won’t break the bank
  • Anyone in the family can take your kayak for a spin

Now you're cruising along in the open water, the sun is behind you, warming your back, and you see a boulder sticking out the water and know that fish will be hanging out under it. At least today you won’t be getting out of your kayak empty handed.

7 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $500: The Ultimate Guide in 2019

Thankfully, there are awesome fishing kayaks out there that are super affordable -- so you don’t have to make due with something totally unsuitable for fishing like a cheap sit-inside inflatable kayak (or a blow up orca).

For the same price as an expensive night out you can get killer fishing kayak and slay fish for years to come.

Here’s to enjoying days on the open water without paying a dime more than you need to!

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