Best Cheap Fishing Kayaks Under $500 For 2024

Buyer’s Guide | Kayak Angler

Believe it or not, you can get a good fishing kayak for less than $500. As long as your expectations are realistic, you can be on the water and fishing for less than an annual gym membership.

Cheap kayaks offer a more simplistic experience but allow beginner kayak anglers to get out on the water without a large financial commitment. It is important to remember these cheap fishing kayaks are not meant to provide the same performance as higher-end kayaks. The key is to stick close to shore, stay on flatwater, only paddle in fair weather, and always wear a PFD.

When buying a cheap fishing kayak, it’s essential to look for ways to get the most for your money. We’ll show you how in the guide below. And don’t worry; it doesn’t have to cost much to get into kayak fishing. If you’re looking for a simple kayak to fish in calm water, you’ll find many options under $500 below.

Top Picks: Best Cheap Fishing Kayaks for 2024

Stop searching Google for the best cheap fishing kayaks under $500. Our team has curated a list of the top cheap kayaks for fishing. Now, you don’t have to compare features and prices; the Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide does the work for you.

Shop for Cheap Fishing Kayaks Under $500

There’s no need to feel intimidated by all the choices, options and places to buy a fishing kayak. Follow the links below to discover what’s best for you based on your paddling and fishing goals. The links below will take you to our comprehensive Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide, where you’ll find every cheap fishing kayak on the market, including specs, prices, reviews and retail outlets.

How to Buy a Cheap Fishing Kayak

Do good, cheap fishing kayaks exist? The short answer is yes. The more complete answer is that you can buy a good, cheap fishing kayak for around $500, but you must keep your expectations realistic. Cheap fishing kayaks tend to sacrifice performance, comfort and features, but a cheap fishing kayak can be a perfect fishing platform for casual anglers.

The first step in purchasing a cheap fishing kayak is evaluating your needs. Where will you fish? How do you fish? And how will you transport and store the kayak?

Anglers looking to stay close to the launch and fish calm waters might be happy with a cheap fishing kayak. Most kayaks in the $500 range measure under 10 feet long. These shorter kayaks favor maneuverability over speed and tracking, and are ideal for slow-moving creeks, lazy rivers and lily pad ponds. At this price point, the fishing kayak will likely be made of thermoformed or rotomolded polyethylene, or of an inflatable construction.

Dress For Immersion, Not Air Temperature
  • Your body loses heat much faster when immersed in cold water than it does when dry.
  • Avoid cotton clothing like t-shirts and jeans; they retain water and accelerate cooling when wet. Synthetic fabrics, or wool, are generally a better choice. If the water is very cold (60° fahrenheit or less), you should wear a wetsuit or drysuit.

There are three types of fishing kayaks available for around $500: Sit-on-top fishing kayaks are stable, comfortable and offer more space for rigging and gear storage—that’s why they’re the most popular design for anglers. Sit-on-top kayaks have plenty of space for rod holders and mounting electronics and other accessories. The sit-on-top design is easier to enter and exit and doesn’t have any cockpit restrictions for casting and fighting fish. Many sit-on-top kayaks have an elevated frame seat, which some anglers find more comfortable for long days on the water. A cheap sit-on-top fishing kayak likely won’t come with many fishy features, but it will provide a solid fishing platform.

However, cheap sit-on-top fishing kayaks are a bit heavier and a little more expensive than similarly-sized cheap sit-inside fishing kayaks. The lighter sit-inside models are ideal when carrying the boat to the launch or portaging between fishing ponds. And even though sit-insides offer less rigging space, anglers can still add a couple rod holders to the deck. Sit-inside kayaks often offer below deck storage space too. Another advantage to a sit-inside design is that it puts the angler closer to the water with a lower center of gravity, which increases its feeling of stability.

Inflatable kayaks are also popular amongst anglers and there is no shortage of blow-up boats under $500. However, to qualify as a fishing kayak, an inflatable must be sufficiently durable so that it won’t get punctured by fish hooks, spines and river rocks—not just any cheap inflatable will do. This limits the options available, but you can find a few inflatable fishing kayaks manufactured from heavy-duty PVC materials with multiple air chambers and even a few fishy features for around $500.

Cheap pedal drive fishing kayaks

By powering the kayak with legs instead of arms, pedal-drive kayaks allow anglers to go farther and fish longer. A cheap fishing kayak with pedals offers hands-free fishing to rig lures, troll, cast and catch fish while the kayak is underway. Unfortunately, a pedal system adds significantly to a kayak’s price. In recent years, cheap pedal-drive kayaks have dropped to around $1,000. If your budget is limited and you’re looking for a cheap fishing kayak, you’re better off with a paddle kayak.

How to Buy a Cheap Used Fishing Kayak

Another way to get the most for your money is to buy a cheap used fishing kayak. Many anglers purchase a cheap fishing kayak to test out the waters. Once the new angler is on the hook, he lists his cheap fishing kayak on the used fishing kayak market. This is a perfect opportunity to get a kayak for a deal, often around 50 percent of the original price.

Before purchasing, check the boat for cracks or holes in the hull and missing or broken components. Cheap fishing kayaks aren’t as durable as more expensive models with high-quality constructions, so pay extra attention to the condition of the plastic, seat and any special features. Whenever possible, try to get the kayak on the water to confirm it’s a good match.

When budgeting for a cheap fishing kayak, remember to put aside money for a paddle, life jacket, safety light and signal whistle. Expect to spend at least $200 on these accessories.

Carry A Whistle (And A Light For Night Use)
  • Every paddler should have a whistle attached to his/her life jacket.
  • Carry a light at night. Consider carrying a distress signal device.

For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used fishing kayak, read our article on How To Buy A Used Fishing Kayak.

Cheap Fishing Kayak Buying Advice

After almost 15 years of testing and reviewing fishing kayaks, Kayak Angler has come up with a few tips to get the most for your money. The choices for cheap fishing kayaks are limited, but you can still find a great deal on a sit-on-top, sit-inside, kid’s kayak, tandem or inflatable kayak.

  • How much does a cheap kayak cost?

    Kayaks range in price from $200 to $5,000. For the purposes of this article, we defined cheap kayaks as those under $500.

  • What is the best cheap fishing kayak under $500?

    There are sit-inside, sit-on-top and inflatable kayak options for under $500. However, to maximize the value of your money, consider a cheap sit-inside kayak. Entry-level sit-inside kayaks are often less expensive than similarly-sized sit-on-top kayaks. If you’re looking to paddle more, a cheap sit-inside kayak may offer better performance than a similar cheap sit-on-top kayak. You’ll sacrifice some rigging options and fishing comfort, but you can save money and still get on the water.

  • Where to buy a cheap fishing kayak under $500

    One of the biggest advantages when buying a cheap fishing kayak is availability. You find cheap fishing kayaks for sale at almost any discount box store or large sporting goods store. You can even order a cheap fishing kayak for under $500 from Amazon or other online retailers.

  • What’s the difference between a cheap fishing kayak that costs $200 vs $500?

    The cheapest kayaks cost as little as $200. For that price, you get a hull and a very basic seat. A $200 kayak uses the cheapest materials and design. However, a $200 kayak will float and you can paddle it a short distance. To get the most for your money, consider purchasing a recreational kayak without fishing accessories and then add an aftermarket rod holder and rigging. If your budget is $500, you can expect a kayak with a bit more comfort, durability and performance.

Education: Get Some!
  • Take a paddling safety course from the American Canoe Association (ACA), your local paddling shop or outfitter, or other reputable source.
  • Take a boating safety course from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons® or your own state’s boating agency.
  • Take on-the-water skills training.

Cheap Fishing Kayak Reviews

There’s no better way to choose a cheap fishing kayak than by kicking the tires and taking a test drive. The staff at Kayak Angler have run the best budget fishing kayaks through the gauntlet. We’ve rigged the boats for fishing, loaded them with gear and hit the water, allowing us to evaluate how the boat handles and performs for the intended angler and conditions. If you can’t get to the paddle shop or a demo day, take a test drive with our reviews of the best budget fishing kayaks.