Fishing on a Budget: The 10 Best Fishing Kayaks under $500 (The 2024 Edition)

While kayak fishing has become more popular in recent years, not everyone can afford those high-end craft with all the bells and whistles.

But that shouldn’t prevent anyone from getting onto the water and trying the sport.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options at the lower end of the price range, because this awesome pastime should be accessible for all.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of the best fishing kayaks under $500, so you can find your very own vessel without breaking the bank.

Dream no more – it’s time for exploration, discovery, and kayak fishing!

The Best Budget-Friendly Fishing Kayaks under $500 – At-a-Glance

There are a few things you should bear in mind before diving on into the reviews, so be sure to look out for these features and factors that will help you make the right decision.

  • Cost – Perhaps the most important consideration when looking at fishing kayaks under $500 – is it actually under $500?! All the kayaks in this review have made the cut.
  • Type of kayak – choose between sit-inside, sit-on-top, hardshell, inflatable, tandem, and solo versions.
  • Size and weight – make sure it fits in with your needs.
  • Cockpit and seating – budget fishing kayaks don’t always offer the highest levels of comfort, so be prepared for that. There are, however, notable exceptions, as you’ll see, below.
  • Stability and performance – again, you’re not going to get a world-beater here, but you can still find something that is up to the task.
  • Fishing-friendly features – cheaper fishing kayaks won’t come with all the mod cons, but remember – you can always pimp your ride with aftermarket accessories and a spot of DIY.
  • Storage options – how much gear do you want to bring, and how would you like it organized?
  • Skill level – always be honest with your kayaking ability when choosing the best craft for your needs.

That’s just scratching the surface of each point, and we’ll explore them all in more detail in the complete buyer’s guide following the reviews – so stay tuned.

For now, here’s our top three choices for the very best fishing kayaks under $500.

In first place, it’s hard to overlook the Lifetime Teton 100 Angler. Not only is it one of the best budget boats, but at this price, for what you get, it’s also one of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks, period.

That’s largely thanks to the lawn-chair seating, which you would usually only come to expect in a kayak that’s twice the price; and it’s also packed with other premium features that will keep most anglers happy.

And you can check out our full review of the Lifetime Teton 100 at that link. The only problem is I wonder how long it’s going to stay under $500?!

Next up, we’ve gone for the Intex Excursion Pro, which has also enjoyed the full Bonfire Bob review treatment.

Again, at this price point, this is one of the best angling inflatables around, and comes with some excellent fishing friendly features considering it’s also one of the cheapest fishing kayaks on the market.

Alas, we couldn’t quite include the Pelican Basscreek given that it’s just over $500, but the Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler is still worthy of the third place spot.

It’s a fun, accessible fishing kayak that is highly portable, versatile, and customizable, and will suit beginners and more experienced kayak anglers alike.

Go here for our in-depth review of the Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler.

Do you agree with our picks? Read on for the full reviews of each, as well as the rest of our best fishing kayaks for under $500 roundup.

TOP 9 Budget Angler Kayaks Under $500

Lifetime Teton 100 Angler Kayak

Lifetime Teton 100 Angler Kayak

Somebody pinch me, because I really can’t believe what I’m seeing with this kayak.

Anyone who has ever ventured into a Walmart, Home Depot, or similar big box store in the summer will surely be aware of Lifetime – a popular manufacturer of basic, but budget-friendly kayaks. And then there’s the Teton 100 Angler, which actually manages to offer adjustable frame seating at this price point.

Made from UV-protected high-density polyethylene, this is a smart, stylish, and functional craft that certainly doesn’t look as cheap as other models in its class, largely thanks to the attractive scheme and that seating setup.

Two flush-mounted rod holders are included, as are two, 12-inch gear tracks for accessory mounting – which is rare for fishing kayaks under $500. I genuinely can’t believe my eyes, but hopefully the only catch is the fish.


  • Excellent price point for what you get.
  • Choice of attractive color schemes.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Large stern and bow tank wells with bungee cord.
  • Self-bailing scupper holes.
  • Multiple molded foot braces.
  • Highly portable and lightweight.


  • Are you kidding? At this price, I’m not going to find faults.


For me, this is hands down the best sit-on-top fishing kayak under $500 on the market, unless you’re counting the Lifetime Yukon when it’s on sale.

This kind of seating usually drives the price sky-high, so if you want a super-comfortable, spacious, and relaxed day on the water, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bargain than this. For the love of the fishing gods, get it while you can.

Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Fishing Kayak

When it comes to making affordable inflatables, Intex is a go-to, extremely popular, and reliable brand. And this is one of those rare beasts, a dedicated, budget-friendly, practical, inflatable fishing kayak.

The Excursion Pro features regularly in these reviews, not least because it’s very highly rated, but also because it just works.

Made from a super-tough vinyl PVC, it’s resistant to damage, abrasion, and sunlight, and is unaffected by gasoline, oil, and saltwater.

It’s a tandem kayak – but can be piloted alone – and comes with two removable skegs for tracking, two inflatable seats, two paddles, two sets of floor-mounted foot rests, and two recessed fishing rod holders.

But perhaps the best part, is the awesome adjustable mounting bracket for adding accessories, such as sports cameras, fish finders, and GPS.


  • Outstanding price point for what you get.
  • Rugged and durable construction.
  • Paddles and pump included.
  • Carry bag and repair kit.
  • Rigid, high-pressure inflation.
  • D-rings for holding gear.
  • Bow and stern storage.


  • Not the most comfortable seating out there.


The Excursion Pro is one of the best tandem fishing kayaks under $500, one of the best budget kayaks, and one of the best inflatable kayaks on the market.

You can see why I like it so much, and you can even get a cheaper solo version if you prefer to paddle alone. And at this price, it makes a great gift for the wannabe kayak angler in your life.

Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler Kayak

Available in a choice of colors, the Pelican Sentinel is a fun, sit-on-top craft that also made our list of the best river fishing kayaks.

If you’re looking for the fishing kayak, however, make sure that you’re choosing the Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler, as otherwise, it’s just the plain recreational version.

The Angler offers additional storage space with bungee webbing, a center console, adjustable foot braces, a more comfortable seat, and flush mounted rod holders.

Suitable for calm lakes and rivers, as well as inlets and bays, the Sentinel is a highly portable fishing kayak that’s super easy to use, and will have you out on the water in no time.

It also lends itself to customizations, and is a great starting option if you want to upgrade it into a more serious fishing machine.


  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Rod holders.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Smartphone holder.
  • Scupper holes.
  • Accessory eyelets.
  • Molded carry handles.


  • Not the best performance.


I think the Pelican Sentinel 100X angler is a great little kayak that fits perfectly between the cheaper play boats and when you’re starting to encroach on mid-range models. Simple, affordable, and with some decent features, for under $500 you really can’t go wrong here.

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Kayak

You can’t have a budget fishing kayak review without including the stalwart that is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100.

Although this model has been on the market for some time, it still represents great value for money, and is an awesome kayak if you’re new to kayak fishing.

Lightweight, affordable, and suitable for slow moving rivers and calm lakes, this is a terrific entry-level craft that offers all you really need for some casual, light, recreational angling.

It offers plenty of rod holders and storage space, with bow and stern bungees and a dry hatch at midships.

Built as solid as they come, with a bit of TLC you’ll have this kayak for years, and it makes a great back-up option if and when you ever decide to upgrade.

Check out our complete review of the Lifetime Tamarack at that link.


  • Durable construction.
  • Flush mounted and articulated rod holders.
  • Dual storage hatches.
  • Multiple footrests.
  • Easy to use and accessible.


  • It’s not the best looking fishing kayak on the market.


Still doing the business after all this time, the Lifetime Tamarack would probably survive the apocalypse. It’s not going to win any awards for aesthetics, but it more than gets the job done in a pinch.

Pelican Mustang 100X Kayak

Pelican Mustang 100X Kayak

Now, this is a fun kayak. I actually got to sit inside one of these great little craft on a recent yakking adventure, and I was pleasantly surprised considering the price point.

You’re getting plenty of bang for your buck here, with a compact and super-lightweight play boat that will give you hours of fun.

A sit-inside design, it’s been made with something called RAM-X, a multi-layer polyethylene, with advanced resin, for a solid and durable construction.

The ErgoForm seat offers all-day comfort, and there’s ample storage on board for all your fishing tackle and gear.

Two, flush-mounted rod holders are present and correct, and the ergonomic carry handles allow almost effortless transportation to the water and back.

Check it out at our complete Pelican Mustang 100X review.


  • Great price point for what you get.
  • Rugged construction.
  • Bow storage hatch with bungee.
  • Removable stern storage container.
  • Center console with drink and phone holder.
  • Choice of fun, funky colors.
  • Very highly rated.
  • Paddle holder.


  • The stern storage bag isn’t waterproof.


An attractive, fun kayak that offers a nice balance of performance, features, and practicality. It’s surprisingly comfortable to sit inside, and the wacky choice of colors ensures it’s great for beginners or younger paddlers looking for a versatile, cheap fishing kayak.

Lifetime Muskie Angler Kayak

Lifetime Muskie Angler Kayak

Another Lifetime entry, the Muskie Angler is a no-nonsense, rugged, sit-on-top kayak that weights just 52 lbs, ensuring it’s easy to transport with its front and rear T-handles.

Made from UV-resistant high density polyethylene, it features multiple molded foot rests to accommodate paddlers of all sizes.

Designed with a flat hull to be super-stable on calm waters, it boasts two large tank wells with bungee cord webbing, two six-inch storage hatches in the center and to the stern, and two flush mounted rod holders.

A third, articulating rod holder is in a convenient location on the gunwale, close to the padded, adjustable seat with backrest. It might not be the prettiest boat on the water, but this will certainly get the job done.


  • Great price point.
  • Paddle included.
  • Tough, durable construction.
  • Deep hull tracking channels.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Stability chine rails.
  • Easy to customize.


  • Not particularly attractive.
  • The paddle isn’t the best.


A super-stable, tough, and durable angling kayak that won’t win prizes for looks, but will help you catch a lot of fish.

And although it comes with a paddle, I would heartily recommend upgrading as soon as possible. Check out this article on the best kayak fishing paddles on the market.

Field & Stream Blade 97 Elite Kayak

Field and Stream Blade 97 Elite Kayak

The Blade 97 Elite is a fun and functional sit-inside kayak from Field and Stream. A versatile craft, it’s super-compact at just 9.5 feet, and weighs 45 lbs.

The cockpit is roomy for easy access, with adjustable footrests, a padded seat and backrest, and thigh braces to protect thighs and knees from those longer paddles.

For storage, you have a choice of a stern tank well with bungee cord, a built-in mesh bag for smaller tackle and gear, and a six-inch, watertight hatch to keep valuables dry while on the water.

Two, flush-mounted rod holders are conveniently located for trolling and hands-free fishing, while the dual paddle parks provide options to keep your paddle out of the way.

And there’s even two action-camera mounts on the front deck, so you can capture your best fishing moments – and your worst.


  • Affordable price.
  • Versatile design.
  • Center dashboard.
  • Bow and stern carry handles.
  • Scupper holes and drain plugs.
  • Beverage holder.
  • Easy to transport.
  • Choice of funky colors.


  • The seat isn’t the most comfortable.
  • Low weight capacity.


Altogether a smart, versatile, and lightweight kayak that offers a surprising amount of practical features.

I’m particularly impressed with how much storage they’ve managed to cram in, including a watertight mesh bag, and tank well that will accommodate a five gallon bucket. And the sport camera mounts are a nice touch, too. Great stuff.

Lifetime Payette Angler Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Payette Angler Fishing Kayak

I couldn’t resist adding one more Lifetime kayak before we sign off, and so last but not least, we have the Payette Angler.

Another sit-inside design, it’s just under ten feet in length, and offers a nice marriage of speed, maneuverability, and stability with its sleek, compact design, and hard chine.

An articulated rod holder is located on the dashboard, and you’ll find two flush-mounted holders just behind the cockpit. Multiple footrests allow comfortable paddling no matter your height, and the generously-spacious cockpit has a padded backrest.

To the stern, there’s an enclosed hatch with shock-cords for storage, and easy-carry T-handles for transportation. A ledge-lock paddle keeper can help you fish hands-free, and a front bungee offers extra space to lash useful gear, like one of these practical fishing jackets.


  • Excellent price.
  • Durable construction.
  • Deep hull channels.
  • Chine rails for stability.
  • Sharp keel to improve tracking.
  • Lightweight and portable.


  • Low weight capacity.
  • You might need to add a cushion in the cockpit.


With plenty of useful fishing features and a satisfying balance of stability and performance, you’ve got to say this is an impressive fishing kayak from Lifetime – considering the price.

Just another option to give you a selection headache, but keep reading for additional help in our buyer’s guide.

Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak

As popular as it is sturdy, this tandem fishing kayak from Sevylor Coleman is another one of those tried and tested kayaks for the ages.

Aside from the fact that you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck, it’s absolutely packed with premium fishing features that will cater for all anglers.

Berkley Quick Set rod holders are adjustable for enhanced hands-free fishing, while it’s fully compatible with a Sevylor trolling motor to really make your day as effortless as possible.

Made with a highly durable, 18-gauge PVC construction with a 1000 Denier tarpaulin bottom and 840 Denier nylon cover, this is a fully NMMA certified inflatable that always manages to make it onto the list of the best inflatable fishing kayaks on the market. Check out that link for more.


  • Tough and durable construction.
  • Mesh storage pockets.
  • Paddle parks.
  • D-rings for attaching gear.
  • Multiple air chambers.
  • Adjustable seating.


  • The abundance of hardware can be a bit restrictive.
  • Not the most comfortable seats.


This inflatable fishing kayak has been around the block and has the stories to prove it. As tough and durable as they come, but as one reviewer put it – you should still wear some quality fishing gloves when paddling. You should be doing that with any kayak, really.

Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS Fishing Kayak

Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS Fishing Kayak

Sun Dolphin are generally known for their budget-friendly sit-on-top recreational kayaks, and if you’ve ever been anywhere near a beach or lake, there’s a chance you’ll have seen someone splashing about on one of their craft.

Occasionally, they like to add some fishing features to one of their models, and the Journey 10 SS is the result.

Compact at just 10 feet in length, it still manages to include an impressive array of features, including a removable storage pod, bow and stern bungees, adjustable foot pegs, and an articulated rod holder located at midships.

Two, flush-mounted rod holders are also available, and with a carry weight of just 44 pounds, you can certainly take many journeys with the Sun Dolphin Journey.


  • Compact design.
  • Durable construction.
  • Easy to transport.
  • Paddle park.
  • Storage hatches.
  • Three rod holders.
  • Protective thigh pads.
  • Water bottle holder.


  • Not for serious anglers.
  • You might need to upgrade the seating.


This is the ideal play boat for light, recreational paddling, where you might also want to bring a fishing rod along if the mood takes you. But more serious anglers who like to spend a long time on the water might want to look elsewhere.

How to Choose the Best Budget Fishing Kayak

red inflatable fishing kayak on the autumn river

Cost and Quality

Normally, in compiling a kayak review, I save the cost factor until the end. However, when we’re considering the budget fishing kayaks – I think it should come to the forefront.

What kind of quality can you expect in a kayak for under $500?

Well, let’s not be under any delusions of grandeur – you’re going to get the most basic, no-frills craft on the market at this price point.

Aside from the fishing friendly features (or lack thereof – more on this below), you can expect a dip in performance when comparing these craft to higher end models.

And with one or two exceptions, they’re not going to be nearly as comfortable, particularly when up against kayaks that have fully adjustable, lawn-style seating on board.

But that’s not to say they don’t have a place in the world, and will let you down when you’re out on the water.

Anyone with an ounce of fishing skill can catch the same monster in one of these affordable recreational boats, as you would in one of these top-of-the-range pedal-powered fishing kayaks.

So long as you understand the performance and features are stripped back – you get what you pay for, after all.

angler fishing salmon from sit-in fishing kayak

Type of Kayak

Just as with the more expensive models, when it comes to choosing the type of kayak at this end of the budget scale, you have a choice of options.

Sit-on-top kayaks are by far the most popular for fishing, as they offer good primary stability, and are ideal for fishing calmer waters.

However, it appears that sit-inside kayaks are more common for budget-friendly craft, and certainly have their place as versatile recreational craft that can handle a bit of whitewater.

Check out this article to explore the merits of both when it comes to fishing, and go here if you want to further explore the best sit-inside fishing kayaks on the market.

Furthermore, you need to decide if you want an inflatable or hardshell kayak, which will come down to how portable you’d like the craft to be, plus how much space you have to store it when not in use.

This article on the best inflatable kayaks for fishing will go into the advantages and disadvantages of each in more detail.

Finally, you need to choose between a tandem or solo kayak. Remember that tandem kayaks can be piloted by a lone paddler, and are often preferred for their extra storage space and room.

Check out this article for the best tandem fishing kayaks, if you would like more options in that class.

Size and Weight

Kayaks under $500 tend to be on the smaller side, and for the most part, you’re looking at craft that are not much more than 10 feet in length.

However, the benefits of a more compact kayak are numerous, including improved maneuverability on the water, as well as being lightweight, easy to carry and store.

And pay attention to the kayak’s maximum weight capacity – how much weight you can load it up with (including yourself) before it might get into difficulty.

For the most part, kayaks at this price point tend to have lower weight capacities than more expensive models, so be sure it’s going to accommodate you, all your gear, and any potential catches before adding to cart.

two fisherwomen on inflatable kayaks fishing at lake

Cockpit and Seating

As mentioned, fishing kayaks in this price range will have the most basic seating, usually with the bare minimum of padding – if any at all.

Cockpits are likely to be on the small side – comparatively speaking – particularly if it’s a sit-inside model.

However, you can always upgrade your seating, or add waterproof cushions and padding to create a more comfortable experience.

And using one of these telescopic fishing rods can be perfect when you’re short on space on board.

Stability and Performance

As mentioned, budget-fishing kayaks usually offer the bare-bones of what is necessary to have a functioning, safe, and practical boat.

So, you’re not going to break speed records, or enjoy the best tracking (how straight a kayak travels in the water), or the finest maneuverability.

You might be able to add one of these kayak trolling motors to pep things up a bit, but just make sure the boat you choose is compatible and can handle it.

Primary stability is often talked about when discussing good fishing kayaks, which is important for craft in this class.

This is how stable a kayak feels when you first get into it, and how stable it feels when you’re on calm waters.

The wider the hull, the more stable the kayak – generally speaking.

Cheap fishing kayaks tend to offer a happy medium of stability and performance, with tracking groves, pronounced keels, and hard chines regularly featured in their design.

Check out the video below for more information – as this is an important topic, and one that can make a big difference in the kayak you choose.

Fishing Friendly Features

Even the best inexpensive fishing kayaks are likely to come up short on fishing friendly features – those all-important touches that make a fishing kayak a fishing kayak.

At the very least, these kayaks should offer rod holders – either flush mounted or articulated. Flush mounted are the most common in basic fishing kayaks, but it’s nice to have both options on board.

You can always add an extra kayak rod holder or two at a later date. Follow that link for more.

With one or two exceptions, accessory rails and tracks aren’t common at this price point, but again, you can always add them yourself aftermarket, if you’re confident with a drill and a spot of DIY.

Some models might come with a basic mounting bar for installing extra gear and tech, like one of these awesome kayak fish finders.

You can head over to this article on the best kayak fishing accessories for even more ideas on how to customize your loadout, and the video below offers some excellent advice for customizing on the cheap.

Storage Options

All good kayaks should come with adequate on-board storage, particularly if you’re going to use them for fishing.

You need somewhere to safely stash extra tackle and gear, as well as a place to put a potential catch – if you’re not releasing.

Look for fishing kayaks with watertight storage hatches, as well as bow and stern tank wells with bungee tie-downs.

Sit-inside kayaks might be limited in this department, which is generally why sit-on-top models are preferred for angling. They have more space to carry one of these kayak fishing tackle boxes or crates, for example.

Skill Level

When considering budget recreational kayaks, for fishing or otherwise, I always like to add a word of caution.

While I think it’s awesome that kayaks are becoming more affordable, it doesn’t mean that everyone is suddenly going to be an expert out on the water.

In recent years, avoidable accidents and fatalities have occurred because cheap kayaks were purchased for beginners or youngsters with no knowledge or awareness on how to use them.

As such, please make sure you have a modicum of skill and common sense before purchasing, or ensure you take them out on shallow, calm waters to gain practice and experience.

Check your local swimming pool which might offer kayak lessons in a controlled environment. Your local paddle sports club can also point you in the right direction if you’re a beginner.

Read this article if you’re looking for more information on how to choose a fishing kayak, head over here for some expert kayak safety tips, and here’s some great advice if you’re kayaking with kids.

And always, ALWAYS, wear a certified PFD. These fishing PFDs are awesome for saving lives, and storing tackle.


It’s not going to cost you the earth if you want to join in with this booming pastime, and these budget-friendly fishing kayaks under $500 prove it.

Let me know which model you’ve gone for and why, or if I’ve missed any that might have snuck under my radar.

Tight lines, y’all, and happy kayak fishing!

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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