So following on in our series of the best value fishing kayaks (see our other posts on the best fishing kayaks under $1000), this in-depth review takes a look at a set of fishing kayaks that can be had for under $500. Obviously everybody is looking for the best bang for buck and finding a good fishing kayak within this budget range can be overwhelming with all the choices about. In fact, the market for fishing kayaks under 500 bucks is hotly contested by a number of the usual kayak brands – Emotion Kayaks, Sun Dolphin, Vibe and even an inflatable fishing kayak from Elkton make the list, so our team have diligently taken a look at most of these fishing kayak brands to bring you our roundup of the top fishing kayaks for under $500.
Emotion Kayaks Renegade XT
Editor’s Choice – Best Fishing Kayak Under $500
The Emotion Kayak Renegade XT is a great kayak for both paddling and fishing, and is really one of those user-friendly kayaks that provides exceptional value for the money. It’s an extremely stable kayak with a wide width of almost 36 inches, and can accommodate larger paddlers (325lbs capacity) with both comfort and stability. What’s nice about the width is that when fishing, you can stand up on the kayak without fear of toppling over.
The Renegade XT is a 10ft sit-on-top kayak that is geared towards fishing, coming standard with 2 rod holders and plenty of storage space for all your fishing gear. What we really liked about the Emotion Kayak Renegade XT is its portability – with the built in luggage handle in the front and the two handles built into the kayak mould at the stern and sides of the kayak which make transportation super easy. In fact, with its Lightweight 49 lb. design, the Renegade XT is super easy to transport to and from the waterfront pretty easily.
Obviously storage areas and space for fishing gear is critically important for any fishing kayak, and the Renegade XT does not disappoint in this area. For storage beneath the deck, the Solace Storage hatch provides added storage options, but the greatest feature of the Renegade XT is the large Rear Tankwell area with Cargo Net Lacing for Storage.
In fact the rear tankwell is fairly large allowing for storage of any fishing gear and baskets that you may wish to take along. For those looking for some company on those long fishing trips, the spacious rear tankwell is large enough for even a small dog to ride in and still have some space for all your fishing gear.
[pullquote_right]Plenty of storage space for all your fishing gear[/pullquote_right]
[pullquote_right]Can accommodate larger paddlers (325lbs capacity) with ease[/pullquote_right]
Length: 10 ft. (304 cm)
Width: 36 in. (92 cm)
Weight: 49 lb. (22 kg)
Max-Capacity: 325 lb. (147 kg)
From a comfort point of view, the Renegade XT comes with 4 Molded-In Freedom Footwells for Comfort and Secure Foot Bracing – catering for varying sized paddlers. The Renegade XT now also comes standard with the low back seat which provides extra comfort for those fishermen that are out on the river for any extended period of time.
The Renegade XT is highly recommended as an affordable fishing kayak that is extremely comfortable and has exceptional stability on the water, even for larger kayakers.
Super Easy to transport
Exceptional stability on the water
Spacious rear tankwell is large enough for even a small dog to ride in
None that are evident
Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
Best affordable introductory fishing kayak
What an awesome little introductory fishing kayak from Sun Dolphin. Yes there is no doubt that the Sun Dolphin Journey kayak may be looked down upon by the kayak gear snobs, but for the price you will not get a better beginner kayak at such an affordable price. Sun Dolphin is known for making great entry level yaks – and the Journey 10 foot sit on top kayak is worth every cent (no matter what the gear snobs may tell you).
For a 10 foot kayak, it weighs in at 44lbs, and has enough room in the cockpit even with the adjustable front rod holder positioning. For its price, the Journey SS is easily one of the most affordable kayaks to start fishing with, but does suffer from some tracking issues. But seriously, pretty much all 10’ kayaks are tricky to track, but the benefit of a 10’ kayak is they are easy to transport.
Some users have suggested that the kayak feels tippy when being used and is not stable at all, but we certainly didn’t get that impression on our tests. Even trying to lean hard to one side or attempting to turn around in the kayak (as others have mentioned) to try and tip it had not much effect. The hull design provides maximum stability and performance. The Sun Journey comes with an adjustable padded seat for paddling comfort, and what we really liked was the swivel rod holder that is really conveniently located within the cockpit. It also includes 2 other flush mount rod holders if you are looking to use multiple fishing rods.
[pullquote_right]Great entry level fishing yak[/pullquote_right]
[pullquote_right]Easily one of the most affordable kayaks to start fishing with[/pullquote_right]
The Sun Dolphin has movable foot rests so you can adjust to your desired length, whilst the central cockpit has a central storage area and as mentioned previously the adjustable front rod holder. The cockpit also has a side storage area (open) that allows you to store some of your fishing gear that you need close to hand. The large open cockpit also allows for the easiest of entry to the kayak, and we found getting in and out of the kayak fairly easy.
If you’re on the fence regarding the Sun Dolphin Journey SS (sure there are some really nasty reviews out there, as well as some glowing reviews as well), well just understand that it is a kayak aimed at the beginner market. The one thing we really did notice though about the storage areas (specifically the one in the front of the seat) is that it fills with water even after plugging the rear scuppers, and even with genuine Sun Dolphin plugs. We didn’t have enough time to test with other more expensive scupper plugs – so this is one thing you may need to consider. It’s a quick fix anyways for the storage area, as you can seal the storage area with some marine sealant for quite cheap, or just get a dry box instead. We suspect the issue is with the lid but it certainly did not detract from the overall experience.
Length: 10 ft / (305cm)
Width: 30 in. / (76cm)
Height: 11 in. / (28cm)
Weight: 44 lbs. / (20kg)
Max-Capacity: 250 lbs. / (113kg)
Highly recommended for beginners or paddlers seeking an inexpensive fishing kayak and not worried about other kayak gear snobs looking down on it. For a beginner the Sun Dolphin Journey series sit on top fishing kayak provides everything a beginner kayaking angler needs for a relaxing day on the water.
Swivel rod holder that is really conveniently located within the cockpit
Easily one of the most affordable kayaks to start fishing with
Super easy to transport
Does suffer from some tracking issues
Not suited for kayak snobs
Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 foot Kayak
Best Sit-Inside Fishing Kayak Under $500
Another great fishing kayak from Sun Dolphin, this time in sit-inside guise. In fact, your next fishing trip will never be as exciting as taking your kayak and cruising down the river or the lake in the Olive Green colored Sun Dolphin Excursion fishing kayak. The Sun Dolphin Excursion is made for calm waters as well as slow-moving rivers, so not really an appropriate kayak for rougher waters , but at this price, you really cant go past just how affordable this sit inside kayak really is.
Built from a high-density polyethylene material, the Excursion 10 fishing kayak has a low cockpit that allows the paddler to enter easily into the large sitting area. The Excursion 10 does come with a molded seat and a padded back rest (but we found that on longer trips your bottom may get sore, so purchasing a seat cushion would really assist in this regard). Being a sit-inside kayak, the remaining part of the rider’s body (from the thigh below) fits under the closed part of the kayak, and really gives you a sense of snugness and stability as you are fishing or paddling.
Just like most other fishing kayaks, the Excursion has aplenty of storage compartments that allow you to bring extra gear along with you on the trip. What we really likes about the Sun Dolphin Excursion was the hands-free electronics console, as well as the shock cord deck rigging.
The Excursion comes well specced for anglers, with ample fishing rod holders (2 at the rear and a swivel holder at the front of the boat). A note for those buying this kayak as a gift, it is especially great for beginners and easy to use and to carry – so would even be suitable for kids and teenagers looking for their first fishing kayak. In fact, due to its lightweight design, the kayak can be single-handedly carried in and out of a truck or other vehicle.
[pullquote_right]Affordable sit inside fishing kayak[/pullquote_right]
[pullquote_right]Perfect for beginners or even children[/pullquote_right]
Length: 10 ft / (305cm)
Width: 30 in. / (76cm)
Height: 11 in. / (28cm)
Weight: 44 lbs. / (20kg)
Max-Capacity: 280 lbs. / (127kg)
Level: Beginner / Intermediate
The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-foot sit inside kayak is one of the best kayaks for short distance kayaking, and for fishing on rivers and slow moving waterways. Paddlers will benefit from the good sitting posture which will reduce cramps and aches on those longer fishing trips. The kayak has many user-friendly features for both novices and more experienced anglers, and for the price, its a kayak that really is quite exceptional. The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 is suitable for both beginners and intermediate kayakers, and would also suit children and teenagers.
Lightweight and quite easy to load into car trunks or trucks
Enough storage space to keep your fishing gear, food for the trip, or even catches from fishing trips
Affordable and pretty stable
Moulded seat does not have a bottom pad – a simple seat cushion would suffice though
Can suffer from poor tracking on rougher waterways
Vibe Skipjack 90
Best portable fishing kayak under $500
If you’re looking for a smaller fishing kayak that still has great manoeuvrability as well as stability, you cannot go past the Vibe Skipjack 90 fishing kayak. Measuring just 9 foot in length and weighing in at just 46 pounds, the small form factor allows for easy portability and due to its shorter length can actually fit into many SUVs with the back seats down.
The Vibe Skipjack 90 is a sit on top fishing kayak and has plenty of storage for your next fishing trip. With 2 sealed hatches and a rear storage area (tankwell) bungee tie down system, you can take all your gear with you and it doesn’t affect the stability of the kayak.
For fishing enthusiasts, the Skipjack 90 comes with 4 flush mount rod holders and an extra mounting point to mount even further fishing accessories.
Sitting in the kayak feels comfortable and certainly does not feel cramped with the 32” width, whilst the Vibe Skipjack comes fully equipped with the Vibe Deluxe seat and the Vibe Journey paddle as well (i.e. no need to go and purchase a separate paddle adding extra costs to your initial purchase)
[pullquote_right]Super easy to transport and with its shorter length (9 foot) can easily be transported in most SUVs.[/pullquote_right]
For longer fishing trips, the Deluxe seat may become slightly uncomfortable so you may look to replace the seat with an aftermarket kayak seat if you wanted extra padding, but for general use it wouldn’t really need to be replaced. In our view, the Vibe Skipjack 90 is a much better quality fishing kayak than you could ever get at one of the big box stores like Walmart or others.
The Vibe Skipjack 90 is truly a great shorter length (9 foot) fishing kayak that comes with all the features you would want in a fishing kayak. Highly recommended!
Perfect beginner fishing kayak
Paddle and seat included in package
Seat probably not suited for longer fishing trips
Elkton Outdoors 10′ Foot Inflatable Two Person Fishing Kayak
Best affordable two person fishing kayak under $500
There is no doubt that this is one of the most affordable two person fishing kayaks available on the market today, and we must admit that prior to testing it (in our hastily formed teams of 2) we had apprehensions of an inflatable kayak made for 2 people.
Rest assured, the Elkton Outdoors 10’ foot kayak was designed with us anglers in mind, and comes fully equipped to get you fishing in no time.
First thing we were worried about was how quickly we could inflate this kayak – all your buddies are out there on the lake and you are still struggling with blowing the thing up! With the Elkton inflatable kayak, we needn’t have worried, as the kayak inflates in only a couple of minutes from its compact storage size to a full size kayak.
In fact, once inflated, we were quite impressed with the sturdy design and how wide it actually felt (measuring 35in wide). One thing to remember is that you cannot rush the inflation of the kayak – as you may be tempted to use an electric pump. DON’T! Elkton actually warn you against using any type of electric pump to inflate the kayak due to their design. Basically the kayaks were designed to be pumped up with very little air pressure, and trying to fast track the inflation with an electric pump will only cause the bladders to burst – and you wouldn’t want that to happen and ruin your fishing day!
So the next concern you might have is probably something everyone is quietly chuckling to themselves – inflatable kayaks versus fishing hooks! Well lets dispel that little concern, as each Elkton inflatable kayak is built tough and built to last from 18-gauge PVC (18-Gauge rip resistant 1000D PVC) which is touted as HOOK and tear resistant. , a thick tarpaulin and a tough nylon cover for years of appropriate use. Or engineers designed our Fishing Kayak with adjustable seats for added comfort. With 2 vertical rod holders and 4 trolling rod holders, fisherman have the ability to set up their rods in a variety of combinations for the ultimate catch. We designed this boat to exceed fisherman’s expectations, so we included 6 mesh pockets for storing gear throughout the kayak.
[pullquote_right]Great inflatable fishing yak for beginners that is both affordable and durable as well[/pullquote_right]
Anglers will love this 2-person inflatable kayak
So affordable, yet built to last, this yak is designed with high quality and durable components. Featuring adjustable seats for added comfort, and multiple rod holders, you can set this yak up in a number of different combinations to ensure you get that perfect catch.
Inflates in only minutes from its compact storage size to a full size kayak (118in. x 35in x 16in)
Constructed with 18-Gauge rip resistant 1000D PVC making it tear and HOOK resistant
Don’t rush the inflation with an electric pump – these inflatable kayaks are designed to be filled with very little air pressure.
I have been kayaking since I was 10 years old and am now the Editor-in-Chief of ModernKayaking magazine. My role allows me to spend time out on the water whilst requiring me to review the latest kayaks and kayaking gear, and when I'm not working you will usually find me doing some fishing from my kayak out on some lake somewhere!