Don’t Break the Bank! The 16 Best Budget Fishing Kayaks in 2021


One of the best things about fishing, is that it can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be.

It’s a pastime that suits all budgets and accessible to everyone – no matter your means.

One of the most expensive aspects happens to be kayak fishing – but it’s also the most enjoyable.

Those things don’t come cheap, especially if you’re in the market for a high-end pedal powered kayak that costs thousands of dollars.

Thankfully, there are cheaper options out there if funds are tight, so you don’t miss out on all the fun.

Here then, are the best budget fishing kayaks on the market.

Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.

The 16 Best Affordable Fishing Kayaks 2021

Pelican Sentinel 100X Kayak

Let’s get the ball rolling with this awesome little kayak from Pelican, which – for a budget-friendly model – I think happens to be one of the best river fishing kayaks on the market. Follow that link for more.

This is probably because it has a multi-chine bottom for added stability, and is a nice compact size at just over nine feet in length.

And at 44 lbs in weight, it’s easily one of the lightest kayaks out there, helping you get to and from the water in no time.

A convenient center console and rod holders help you keep organized, and it comes with the ExoPack removable storage solution for extra tackle and gear.

Pros

  • Durable, stable construction.
  • Large stern tank well with bungee.
  • Front storage section.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Rod tie-downs.
  • Drain plug.

Cons

  • Low weight capacity.
  • Might be a little short for some.

Takeaway

I think this is simply the best fishing kayak under $500 out there. A compact and highly portable recreational craft that will give hours of fun on the water – even if you don’t get a bite.

Lifetime Triton Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Lifetime makes some immensely popular and accessible no-frills fishing kayaks that are responsible for getting more people out on the water.

The Triton Angler 100 is one such option, and one of the cheapest fishing kayaks on the market (if not the cheapest).

Made with a solid and durable single-piece molded polyethylene, it has an integrated skeg for improved performance, multiple molded footrest positions for different sized paddlers, and two flush mounted rod holders and one adjustable rod holder on the gunwale.

Tank well storage is located to the rear, and self draining scupper holes keep the decks clear if you take on water.

Pros

  • Cheap price point.
  • Adjustable, quick-release seat.
  • T-handles for transport.
  • Solid, durable construction.
  • Drinks holder.

Cons

  • As basic as they come.
  • Limited storage.

Takeaway

A great entry-level fishing kayak that’s also versatile enough for lazy recreational days on the water, this is a seriously no-frills option for anyone just looking for the bare minimum in order to get out there.

Intex Excursion Inflatable Pro Kayak

Intex are synonymous with making some quality inflatables, and the Excursion Pro is their designated fishing model.

A tandem yak, it’s made from a super-tough laminated PVC with polyester core, which keeps it lightweight yet durable, with a UV protective coating.

All the features are doubled-up, with two adjustable foot braces, two integrated recessed fishing rod holders, two removable tracking skegs, and two adjustable bucket seats.

Perhaps the best part, however, is the two removable mounting brackets for adding accessories – which is a real winner when considering this is an inflatable at this price point.

Pros

  • Paddles and pump included.
  • D-rings for accessories.
  • Bow and stern storage.
  • Tough and durable.
  • Carry bag.
  • Very highly rated.

Cons

  • The paddles are not the best.

Takeaway

Easily one of the best inflatable fishing kayaks out there, the Intex Excursion Pro packs in a lot of features for your money, and that removable mounting bracket is ingenious.

Lifetime Muskie Angler Kayak

Lifetime Muskie Angler Kayak

Another Lifetime option, the Muskie Angler is a slight step up from the Triton, and offers a few more useful fishing features for a bit more of your hard-earned cash.

At 52 lbs it’s easy to store and transport, and made from one-piece, high-density polyethylene. It offers a gunwale-mounted rod holder and two flush-mounted rod holders, as well as a central and stern storage hatch.

Two paddle cradles with shock cords keep your hands free for fishing, and bow and stern tank wells have bungee webbing to hold extra gear.

Multiple, molded footrests accommodate all sizes of paddlers, and the stable flat bottom will give larger users peace-of-mind.

Pros

  • Paddle included.
  • UV protected.
  • Padded backrest and seat.
  • Stability chine rails.
  • T-handles for transport.

Cons

  • The hatch storage isn’t the best.

Takeaway

A significant improvement on the Triton, this is a good cheap fishing kayak that certainly offers plenty of fun for recreational water adventures. And while it’s UV protected, so should you be, with one of these cool fishing hats to keep the sun at bay.

Emotion Stealth Angler Fishing Kayak

The Emotion Stealth Angler is probably the best Lifetime fishing kayak out there, a one-piece molded polyethylene craft, with improved tracking and performance thanks to its 11-foot length and sleek design.

Right in the center you have a handy storage hatch for extra gear and valuables, as well as a deck-mounted rod holder which is conveniently located for quick access.

Two flush rod holders are found to the rear, as well as bow and stern tank wells with bungee cord and cargo net.

Self bailing scupper holes keep you dry if you do take on some water, and multiple foot wells are molded in to accommodate paddlers of all shapes and sizes.

Pros

  • Improved tracking.
  • Durable construction.
  • Skeg wheel.
  • Four carry handles.
  • UV protected.
  • Very stable hull design.

Cons

  • Not the fastest craft on the water.

Takeaway

A solid kayak fishing option at a great price, this is definitely the best Lifetime model in its class, and you should even be able to store one of these awesome fishing coolers in the rear tank well. Not bad for under $500.

Sun Dolphin Excursion Fishing Kayak

Now, this is something of a unique beast for a number of reasons.

The first is that it’s one of the few sit-in fishing kayaks that regularly feature in such reviews, and the second is that it’s often sold out.

That might have something to do with the excellent price point, and the fact that Sun Dolphin makes some very affordable, entry-level kayaks that are ideal for beginners.

With the Excursion it looks like they’ve taken the Aruba model, colored it olive green and added a fishing rod holder to it – but hey – that works for me, and it saves you doing it yourself.

In a pinch – this is a versatile little yak that will get the job done – if you can find one.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Super compact and lightweight.
  • Rear storage compartment.
  • Side paddle bungee.
  • Rear and cockpit rod holders.
  • Comfort leg braces.

Cons

  • Very short on space.
  • You’ll want to upgrade the seat.

Takeaway

You get what you pay for, and this little yak is a great price, but you might want to make several modifications to improve overall comfort. Still, for getting out onto the water without breaking the bank – you could do much worse than this.

Ascend 12R Sport Kayak

Ascend 12R Sport Sit-On-Top Kayak

The Ascend 12R Sport kayak is a new sit-on-top fishing craft that has been developed to offer a budget-friendly option that still provides excellent performance.

The result is this attractively designed vessel, with a custom-crafted hull that is stable in a variety of conditions, and improves on the tracking and maneuverability from other craft in a similar class.

Molded foot braces and adjustable seating offer the paddler a comfortable experience, while the giant rear storage tank well could easily accommodate one of the larger tackle bags for saltwater in that review.

Pros

  • Attractive design.
  • Good all-round performance.
  • Spacious, roomy cockpit.
  • Watertight storage hatch.
  • Threaded, sealed drain plug and scupper drains.
  • Tackle storage trays and drinks holders.

Cons

  • No rod holders to speak of?
  • A choice of colors would have been nice.

Takeaway

A high-performance kayak at an affordable price, this is a great option if you’re not happy with the performance of “budget” yaks, yet you’re not quite ready to splurge. It’s probably one of the best cheap fishing kayaks out there, to be honest.

Sevylor C001 Tahiti 2 Person Kayak

The Sevylor Tahiti is another inflatable option which also happens to be a tandem kayak.

Made with a rugged PVC for calmer lakes and rivers, the multiple air-chamber design helps you get back to shore in the unlikely event that you do get a puncture.

The AirTight system is guaranteed not to leak, and bow and stern spray covers block unwanted splashes as you paddle.

NMMA certified to hold up to 360 lbs, it’s a rugged and durable inflatable that’s versatile enough for any adventure. But you might want to check out this article on the best fishing rain gear if you are going out in wet weather.

Pros

  • Excellent price point.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Easy-carry handles.
  • Adjustable seats with backrests.
  • Carry bag included.

Cons

  • Limited fishing features.
  • Small storage space.

Takeaway

Another great option for on-the-go kayaking at a budget-friendly price, the Tahiti is a versatile inflatable ready for your next spontaneous excursion on the water. You’ll likely need to add your own rod holders, though.

Old Town Trip 10 Deluxe Angler Kayak

Old Town Canoe Trip 10 Deluxe Angler Kayak

Here we have another sit-in kayak option, this time from Old Town – the oldest canoe company in the world, and one of the best kayak fishing brands to boot.

The Trip 10 is a charming little yak with a super-stable hull that offers excellent tracking and turning in the water.

Made of single-layer polyethylene, it has Old Town’s trademark quality throughout, with a comfort-flex seat, foot bracing system, and thigh pads added for all-day-long use.

Flush-mounted rod holders give you a place to store your poles, and the large storage hatch to the stern is ideal for extra tackle and gear.

Pros

  • Name to trust in kayaking.
  • Deck bungee webbing.
  • Anchor trolley system.
  • Drain plug.
  • Solid carry handles.
  • Molded cockpit tray and cup holder.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

Aside from the usual disadvantages of sit-in fishing kayaks, I can’t find fault with this excellent little yak that’s suitable for use by just about anyone and with any skill set. And for more information on sit-in versus sit-on-top kayaks for fishing – follow that link.

Ascend 10T Sit-On-Top Kayak

Ascend 10T Sit-On-Top Kayak

Now, I like the look of this kayak a lot. It’s got the feel of a much more expensive craft, with an improved and enhanced seating system that certainly offers the most comfortable set up we’ve seen so far.

Then it just keeps getting better, with a custom-crafted tunnel hull that offers the ability for standing casts and retrievals, gunwale and center accessory rails, adjustable foot braces, and dual flush-mounted rod holders with rod leash eyelets.

A practical center console with storage hatch is within easy reach, and two large tank wells are found at bow and stern for holding even more tackle and gear.

Pros

  • Amazing price for what you get.
  • Non-skid foam mat.
  • Six scupper drains with plugs.
  • Powder-coated steel D-rings.

Cons

  • Not for heavier users or weighty loads.

Takeaway

I can’t quite get my head around how affordable this kayak is considering the design, features, and comfort frame seating.

It could well be the best fishing kayak under $700 as a result. You’re seriously not going to get much better for this kind of money – that’s for sure – so get it while you can.

BKC FK184 Solo Fishing Kayak

It wasn’t going to be a review about budget-friendly fishing kayaks without an entry from the Brooklyn Kayak Company.

This nine-foot solo sit-on-top fishing yak is packed with user-friendly features for a fun and comfortable experience on the water.

With two, large watertight storage hatches in the center and bow positions, no less than five rod holders, two paddle parks, and a rear tank well with bungee cord tie down.

Able to support a maximum weight of 330 lbs, the roto-molded body has been made from durable polyethylene, and stable enough for standing casts.

And given the size and actual weight of the yak, it’s almost as portable as an inflatable. Almost.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Versatile use.
  • Stable hull design.
  • Paddle included.
  • Four carry handles.
  • Lightweight and highly portable.

Cons

  • Let me know if you find any.

Takeaway

Designed to offer the best possible fishing experience in a compact and lightweight platform, this option from the BKC is a terrific budget-friendly yak that’s packed with quality features.

And that center console offers the perfect place to store a pair of quality saltwater fishing pliers – or any other useful fishing tool you need to keep to hand.

Sevylor Coleman Colorado Tandem Fishing Kayak

Rated to whitewater class IV, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado is a two-person fishing kayak that’s actually built more like a tank.

Made with the toughest materials, it’s fully NMMA certified, with a 1000 Denier tarpaulin bottom and 840 Denier nylon cover to provide durable protection from punctures.

Fully adjustable Berkley QuickSet rod holders are included for hands-free fishing, and it’s even compatible with a trolling motor should you wish to add a bit more pep.

If you’re looking for durability with an inflatable, then you’ve come to the right place.

Pros

  • Rugged and durable construction.
  • Highly portable.
  • Boston valves for easy inflate/deflate.
  • Accessory D-rings.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Mesh storage pockets.

Cons

  • Hardware can get in the way.
  • Limited storage options.

Takeaway

A kayak that constantly features on tandem, inflatable, and budget-friendly fishing yak articles, this is a beast of a craft that is going to be around for some time to come.

And check out this article on the best fishing brands out there for more gear from Berkley and other legendary fishing companies.

Perception Pescador Pro 10 Fishing Kayak

The Pescador Pro 10 is easily one of my personal favorite fishing kayaks, and a superb investment if you’re looking to stretch the budget a little further for a world-class yak.

The premium, lawn-chair-style seating offers unbeatable comfort and knocks spots over pretty much anything at a cheaper price point, fully adjustable with added mesh for breathability and all-day use.

The leak-proof, one-piece construction provides good tracking and maneuverability, and includes additional buoyancy for increased safety.

Adjustable foot bracing caters for paddlers of all sizes, and integrated accessory rails are ready for you to customize your ride.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Large tank well storage.
  • Raised/lowered paddle/fishing positions.
  • Bungee cord and net.
  • Rear watertight hatch.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

This is a brilliant fishing kayak for anyone looking to up their game on the water, and scrape a few more dimes together in order to do so.

BKC TK181 Tandem Kayak

Here we have another BKC sit-on-top yak, this time a tandem version that comes in at 12.5 feet in length.

It’s fitted with two soft padded seats, two watertight storage hatches, two articulated rod holders in the center console position for each paddler, as well as flush mounted rod holders and paddle parks.

A bungee cargo tie-down is to be found to the rear, and the durable, roto-molded hull has been designed to tackle a variety of water conditions with ease.

It can also be paddled solo, which is ideal if you want more space for your gear, or maybe even bring a furry friend along for the ride.

Pros

  • Solid, durable construction.
  • Scupper holes.
  • Two paddles included.
  • High weight capacity.
  • Choice of colors.

Cons

  • Strong chance of getting wet.

Takeaway

Another great option from the BKC that is packed with quality features and won’t break the bank. You should check out this review for more of the best tandem fishing kayaks – if two’s company is for you.

Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Kayak

Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Kayak

Vibe’s famous Sea Ghost fishing kayak is not just one of the best budget-friendly options out there, but one of the best fishing kayaks, period.

At 11 feet long with a toe-controlled rudder system, it’s perfectly suited to a variety of conditions, and it tracks and turns well in the water.

Designed to be fishing-friendly, it’s packed with features, including the ability to do standing casts, super-comfort seat, multiple rod holders and paddle parks, and plenty of storage options.

But the center console is probably the most notable feature, dual hinged to stay dry, and offering the ability to mount fish finders, GPS, or any other accessory you could possibly want while on the hunt.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Outstanding design and build quality.
  • Great price for what you get.
  • Magnetic tackle tray.
  • Six accessory gear racks.
  • Watertight storage hatches.

Cons

  • None.

Takeaway

A legendary fishing kayak all round, I can’t quite believe that the Sea Ghost is offered at this price point. Pick up these premium features while you still can.

Old Town Canoe Sportsman 120 Kayak

Old Town Canoe Sportsman 120 Kayak

We finish with another Old Town entry, the revered Sportsman 120 – which is, admittedly, pushing our “budget” fishing kayak criteria at just under $1000.

But I simply had to squeeze it in, as what a piece of gear this is. Super spacious and comfortable, it can accommodate standing casts and retrievals with ease, and has a removable, multi-position seat for all day long fishing.

A huge rear tank well with bungee and watertight bow hatch offer excellent storage solutions, while there’s even more room with side pockets and dry section under the seat for extra tackle.

Adjustable foot braces cater for paddlers of all sizes, and a side paddle clip mount keeps your hands free to catch more fish.

It doesn’t get much better than this at this price point.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Highly rated.
  • Durable, solid construction.
  • Very stable in the water.
  • Non-slip foam deck pads.
  • Custom tackle box included.

Cons

  • It’s on the more expensive side.

Takeaway

I simply don’t have enough room to wax lyrical about this immense fishing kayak from Old Town – there’s so much more here we could talk about. Suffice to say, it’s easily the best fishing kayak under $1000 – and you should pick one up before the price goes any higher.

How to Choose the Best Budget-Friendly Kayak

Just because you’re not spending a fortune doesn’t mean that a cheap (or cheaper) kayak doesn’t have a bunch of cool features you need to consider.

Take a look at our buyer’s guide below for some handy tips, tricks, and advice for choosing the right craft for you.

man fishing from inflatable kayak on the autumn river

Hardshell vs Inflatable

A debate as old as time (or at least since inflatable technology improved) is the old hardshell vs inflatable dust up.

While I could write a very in-depth article exploring the pros and cons of each, it can actually be boiled down to a few key factors.

Inflatables are much more portable than hardshells – which is a huge plus point. They’re also less prone to dings, dents, and other damage. Check out this review for even more inflatable fishing kayaks.

Hardshells offer better performance in the water, and when it comes to speed and tracking, will leave inflatables in their wake.

A good hardshell fishing kayak will nearly always offer more storage room than an inflatable, all things being equal, with more opportunity for mounting accessories and customization.

Tandem vs Solo

Do you have a loving partner or dear friend you could happily spend a couple of hours with – literally in the same boat?

If so, perhaps a tandem fishing kayak is the way to go? They’re generally larger than solo yaks, which means they’re also useful if you want to go out alone and take more gear.

And in many tandem boats, you can even take a furry-friend in place of a human if you so choose.

Just make sure if you are doubling up – the kayak has a high weight capacity that’s going to accommodate anyone and anything you want to put on board.

But for true freedom and fewer arguments, surely solo kayak fishing is the way to go?

angler fishing from the kayak in the river

Sit-In vs Sit-On-Top

Sit-on-top kayaks tend to be the preferred option for fishing, given the fact they have more “primary stability” and a wider, flatter hull.

Standing casts and retrievals aren’t really possible in kayaks with V-shaped or rounded hulls – which accounts for the vast majority of sit-in options.

But there are sit-in angling yaks out there, and they can be fun when fishing in choppier conditions, or if you think you’ll encounter a bit of whitewater.

And they tend to be much smaller and more compact than their sit-on-top counterparts, which makes them ideal for transport and storage.

Seating and Storage

When it comes to budget-friendly fishing kayaks, certain features might need to take a back seat in order to keep costs down.

Two examples are seating and storage.

A lot of money goes into premium seating for high-end kayaks, and you’ll clearly see the difference when it comes to cheaper models.

That’s not to say you can’t find adequate seating on an inexpensive kayak, and you can always upgrade it with a bit of DIY at a later date.

Likewise, premium storage hatches might not be so common in cheaper yaks, and smaller craft won’t have the room for large tank wells you can fit some of these kayak fishing tackle boxes and crates in.

But you can still find room for all your gear, especially if you’re looking at the “more expensive” budget options.

red inflatable fishing kayak on the autumn river

Fishing Features

Fishing kayaks need fishing features – otherwise, it’s not a fishing kayak.

While you can customize almost any yak for fishing, it’s much better if you have a good basis to start from.

Budget fishing kayaks tend to be a little light on fishing-friendly-features, but you should look out for rod holders and paddle parks at the very least.

Accessory mounting rails are an excellent addition.

And if your yak is stable enough for standing casts and retrieval with a non-slip deck – then you’re onto a real winner for the money.

Skill Level

More than any other kayak fishing article, I think it’s important to mention skill level when it comes to budget craft.

While cheap kayaks make the sport more accessible than ever, it’s not an automatic pass for having the ability to use one safely.

This is why some folks want to see a “kayak license” brought in, which doesn’t make it fair for people who are already perfectly competent with paddle sports.

Before making a purchase of a cheap(er) kayak – make sure you’re capable of using it, and you have at least a modicum of water safety knowledge.

You could always take a paddle safety course beforehand.

And always make sure you’re wearing a certified fishing PFD – no matter how experienced you are.

man wearing life jacket and fishing on a kayak in the sea

Cost

This is why we’re here – discussing the best cheapest fishing kayaks on the market.

I’ve tried to include as many yaks under $500 as I could find, but I’ve strictly kept everything under $1000 as the absolute maximum price point.

And as you go through the article, you’ll clearly see the quality rise with the price. You get what you pay for when it comes to kayak fishing.

Either way, choose something you can afford, is practical for your circumstances, and you’re actually going to use.

Summary

Kayak fishing shouldn’t be an exclusive sport – and thankfully it isn’t – as this review has proved.

It’s more accessible than ever, thanks to some of the best budget fishing kayaks ever to come off the assembly line.

I hope you’ve found the right one for your needs – let me know which model you’ve gone for and why.

Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayaking!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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