If you’ve already decided to enjoy the great outdoors with a sit-on-top kayak, then you’re sure to have a rewarding fishing experience. But can you find a kayak that’s well-built, functional, and costs under $500? The answer is yes, as long as you know where and what you’re looking for, and are prepared to give up some features in favor of others.
It’s important to remember that for $500, you can’t have it all and will have to sacrifice one thing for another. For instance, you could choose an incredibly stable unit, but you’d have to compromise on the effectiveness of its paddling. Similarly, if you choose a kayak that boasts good paddling and tracking, you may end up losing some of the balance and stability.
A kayak under $500 is also bound to get scuffed, marked, scratched, and will generally look a decade old after only six months of use. It’s also going to have dried fish blood and other dirty fluids, so regular cleaning and maintenance are essential.
Sit-on-top kayaks provide users with a lot of space but aren’t the best choice in terms of security. This makes them perfect for fishing and paddling on calm waters where anglers won’t need to concentrate on keeping their balance.
Since the kayak is pretty open, it’s more susceptible to having water enter it. However, this extra space also gives users a lot of legroom and allows them to stretch or bend their knees according to their preference and comfort. This further means more room for fishing equipment.
These kayaks are suitable for casual use and are mostly used when the water is calm, and the weather is clear. Their open hull design enables you to enjoy a cool dip in the water and then ensures that you get back in easily. Sit-on-top kayaks are perfect for novice kayakers as they rarely capsize, which is usually the biggest fear when out paddling in the water. However, they are a bit heavy and bulky, making them extremely difficult to transport from one place to another.
The 5+1 Best Sit-On-Top Angling Kayaks
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
Lifetime is one of the most renowned brands in the fishing kayak market. Offering excellent value for money, this feature-rich kayak will certainly make any serious fisherman incredibly happy.
Although the Angler 100 is specifically designed for fishing, it can also be used for some recreational fun. It allows users to sit comfortably, and its 31-inch width offers plenty of packing space for any additional gear.
One of the key features of this kayak is its stability, as it ensures that the kayak firmly remains in position, even when you stand up to cast. Its rudder further retains the movement, thus preventing you from moving around the water in circles.
Moreover, the kayak comes with a top-mounted fishing rod holder and two flush-mounted ones that enable users to cast from multiple angles and sides, facilitating and simplifying the entire fishing experience.
Furthermore, its 6-inch compartment can be used to store all your fishing gear, while its 10-inch length breaks through the water with ease. Manufactured with high-density polyethylene, the kayak is extremely durable, and its flat bottom enables you to cast a line in low-water ponds as well.
In regards to the inner construction, the Angler 100 is designed with padded seats that boast back support for optimum comfort. It also features different footrest positions, so it can accommodate riders of all sizes.
To prevent any injuries and to ensure your safety on the water, this unit is constructed with rear and front shock straps. It’s also built to take all sorts of punishment. In fact, the company is so confident in its product’s durability and longevity that they’ve backed it up with a five-year limited warranty.
However, the kayak is not very lightweight. Weighing around 51 pounds, it’s not a suitable choice if you’re planning on pulling the kayak through paths to reach the water that you’re going to fish in. Lastly, the Angler 100 boasts a stable bottom and chine rails. While these features maximize the kayak’s stability and steadiness, they negatively affect its speed, making it a bit slower than other models.
Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak – Sentinel 100X – 9.5 Feet – Lightweight one Person Kayak
Although fishing kayaks have continued to get bigger, it’s important to remember that a smaller and more compact model will always be useful. And the Pelican Sentinel 100X is an excellent example.
Constructed with a twin-arched multi-chine hull, this kayak weighs around 45 lbs and has a width of approximately 30 inches. Along with being extremely compact, it can also hold loads weighing up to 300 lbs and is surprisingly stable. It can track incredibly well as well, which is a feature that’s difficult to find in the smaller models.
This unit is designed with an ERGOFORM padded backrest and a seat cushion to ensure anglers are comfortable during their long hours of fishing. It also boasts molded footrests to further enhance comfort.
When it comes to storage, the Sentinel 100X features a spacious tank in the rear with bungees that help users stow away their gear safely and securely. Unlike other fishing kayaks, this unit is not designed with any additional storage hatches, making it perfect for individuals who prefer keeping things simple.
Moreover, the front of the kayak features a swivel rod holder, while two flush mount holders are positioned just behind the seat. The company has also skillfully integrated a convenient dual-position bottle handler into the unit’s design.
The Sentinel 100X is light enough to make the task of loading and transportation manageable by one person, but it’s still designed with molded center carrying handles and bow and stern carrying handles to further enhance ease of use. It provides excellent stability, and coupled with its spacious cockpit, it’s extremely easy to get in and out of as well.
All in all, the Sentinel 100X is a very decent model for its price and is perfect for individuals looking for something lightweight and don’t need a lot of storage space. Since it’s constructed with RAM-X impact-resistant material, the kayak is incredibly sturdy, while its hull design provides a lot of stability.
Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 9 Foot
Measuring 9-foot in length, the Skipjack 90 weighs approximately 46 pounds, making it one of the most lightweight models available today. All four sides of the kayak are designed with easy-to-grab hanging grips, which enables even single paddlers to handle the unit easily.
Another benefit of its manageable size is that it can be stored in the back of most large SUVs and trucks. This means you won’t have to worry about any rooftop kayak racks or awkward J-hooks. The kayak’s lightweight design further makes it suitable for individuals who don’t have a basement or garage for storage, as the Skipjack can easily fit on an apartment balcony as well.
Although really big individuals might feel a bit cramped, this model has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds. It also boasts a wide-open deck that offers multiple footwells and plenty of space for taller individuals to feel comfortable.
Crafted with pronounced hull edges and a 32-inch wide beam, this kayak ensures a stable, rock-solid ride that won’t sway or tip when you’re reeling in a giant catfish. Its rotomolded single-piece polyethylene construction further makes it incredibly durable and protects it from any potential damage that may be caused by the rocky riverbeds you encounter.
Its razor-thin performance keel further makes the Skipjack ideal for anglers who want to chase a school of fish or reach that perfect fishing hole before sunrise. Its multi-use capacity and flexible design make it suitable for surf conditions, lighter waves, and lower-class moving rivers as well.
The Skipjack comes with four flush-mounted rod holders (two positioned behind the cockpit and two in front of it) and an optional fifth mounting location positioned in front of the seat, so you can take advantage of every opportunity. Anglers can also add a fish finder, GoPro, and a GPS easily. Along with fishing, this product is great for family use too. With excellent tracking and a lot of onboard storage, you can enjoy a relaxing evening by paddling with the kids.
Lastly, the kayak boasts two sealed, lockable dry-storage hatches and a bungee-covered stern tankwell, allowing easy storage of tackle boxes, drink coolers, dry bags, and any extra clothes you may need. However, the stock seat can be a bit uncomfortable for daylong paddling trips.
GoSea Glide Premium 1+1
The GoSea Glide Premium is a comfortable, fast, and stable sit-on-top fishing kayak that ensures exceptional performance on the water. Its innovative design integrates a molded seat in front of the main paddler, enabling adults to take their kid with them whenever they go out on the water. This design also gives users more room in the cockpit and ensures a comfortable ride for bigger kayakers as well.
This model is designed with an adjustable central fishing rod holder, four flush-mounted fishing rod holders, and plenty of storage space to safely stow away all your fishing gear. It’s incredibly versatile and is constructed with 5mm thick, high quality LLDPE, which makes the kayak impact-resistant, UV-resistant, and extremely durable.
Though the GoSea Glide is ideal for lakes, estuaries, rivers, and the sea, it also glides incredibly well through calm water and is flexible enough for having fun in the surf. Its unique second child seat is perfect for the little ones who are not ready for the tandem experience but can also be used for your dog or as an additional storage space.
Lastly, this unit comes with a Deluxe padded seat and a GoSea paddle to enhance comfort and ease of use. It’s also available in numerous attractive colors, so you can choose the kayak that best suits your personality.
Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot
If you’re serious about fishing, then the Sun Dolphin Journey is the one for you. Measuring 10-feet in length, the kayak is crafted with high-density polyethylene. The best thing is that it weighs approximately 44 pounds, making it incredibly lightweight and easy to carry.
The front of the kayak boasts an enclosed cargo hold to ensure that users don’t worry about their belongings getting wet. The cargo hold is also in reaching distance, so users won’t have to get up if they need anything for their fishing expedition.
Moreover, this unit has a maximum weight capacity of 280 pounds. Its shorter length means you’ll be able to turn faster, while its 30-inch beam offers an incredibly stable platform to sit on. It also features comfortable seating ancomfortable seating and protective thigh pads for enhanced comfort.The kayak also comes with a manual hand pump and a paddle. Although the paddle isn’t adjustable, it can be broken down to allow for more effective and compact storage.
To make paddling easier, the Sun Dolphin Journey is designed with paddle holders on each of its sides. It also features footpegs that provide comfort during long hours of fishing, while its swivel fishing rod holder enables users to enjoy hand-free fishing. However, the durability and design of the center rod holder can be improved as it tends to fall off occasionally.
The stability of this kayak could also be improved, as it does not offer enough balance to prevent it from capsizing and tipping over in the water. Nevertheless, the Sun Dolphin Journey is still a portable, stable, and reliable sit-on-top kayak that’s perfect for beginners. Its short length enables anglers to keep all their fishing supplies in reach and reach fishing spots that no one else can, while its wide beam makes it easier to move around in the cockpit.
+ 1 The Inflatable: Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak [for beginners]
The Sevylor Quikpak is a one-person kayak with innovative features and a clever design that make your entire kayaking experience easy and convenient. Boasting multiple air chambers, its unique design minimizes the risk and impact of puncture wounds.
If the unit gets punctured along your kayaking journey, then only the air chamber that has been punctured will deflate and lose air. All remaining chambers will remain inflated and will keep the kayak afloat, enabling you to easily paddle to the shore and fix the hole.
The kayak also comes with a manual hand pump and a paddle. Although the paddle isn’t adjustable, it can be broken down to allow for more effective and compact storage.
One of the best features of this model is that it can easily be folded up into a carrying pack, making it comfortable and simple to move around. This also saves time during assembly as the kayak only has a setup time of around five minutes.
The Sevylor Quikpak is also designed with double lock valves to make inflating easier and to ensure that no air escapes during inflation. Once you’ve assembled the kayak, carrying it into the water is also incredibly easy because of the carrying handles attached to its sides.
The convenience offered by this model continues on the water. It features a bungee equipped storage space and a cup holder that provide convenient access to your drink and gear. The kayak is incredibly comfortable as well. Its backrest and foam seat provide support and help prevent the backache that’s caused by most kayak seats, while its multi-level footrests offer comfort to your legs, regardless of your height.
However, this unit is not suitable for rough, wavy sea voyages or whitewater rafting trips. Like other inflatable kayaks, it’s extremely difficult to control in strong winds and rough, choppy waters but is perfect for calm waters.
Just because you’re planning on purchasing a budget model doesn’t mean you should choose one with poor performance and quality. Even if you’re not spending a lot of money, there are some important factors you should consider, such as:
- Tracking and Stability
- Weight and Portability
- Storage space
- Extra functions
Simply put, tracking means the extent to which a kayak can maintain a track once it’s underway. A unit with good tracking will be able to hold its course, even if a turning force such as a sweep stroke affects it.
When you’re fishing, you may want to stand up to cast your rod or gain more power, so it’s advisable to choose a unit that offers a good level of stability and enables you to balance yourself easily. Of all the aforementioned models, we found the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak to be the most stable.
It’s also important to remember that stable kayaks are a bit more difficult to maneuver and paddle, so make sure you choose a unit that offers a good combination of both.
Despite the advances, kayaks have continued to become heavier, so make sure you consider the weight before purchasing one. If you’re someone who tends to pack a lot of gear and accessories when going kayak fishing, then make sure your kayak goes straight into the water.
However, if you’re planning on dragging the kayak through some paths before reaching the water, then it’s best to go for a lightweight model. The inflatable Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak is the most portable and lightweight model, and it can easily be folded into a carrying pack.
If you’re planning overnight or long trips, then storage space is an essential aspect to consider. The stern and bow of traditional kayaks can easily hold dry bags, tents, backpacks, and sleeping bags. It’s better to choose a unit with watertight storage compartments, so all your gear is kept dry and safe. The Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 9 Foot and the Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot have an enclosed storage space that prevents your gear from getting wet.
In regards to size, a narrower and longer kayak is perfect for straighter and faster traveling. On the other hand, a wider and shorter model is more stable in the water and can be maneuvered easily, but only at the cost of speed. A wider kayak is a better and safer option for beginners, and it will help build their confidence as well.
Recreational kayaks are ideal for rivers, creeks, small lakes, and other still waters. They measure around 8 – 13 feet long and are able to navigate through narrow inlets easily. Meanwhile, touring kayaks are suitable for bigger rivers, lake waters, and larger waves, and measure approximately 14 -18 feet long.
There are several different accessories that will ensure an easier and more enjoyable fishing trip, but the three most helpful ones are rod holders, paddle holders, and keels. Almost all the aforementioned models come with paddle holders, but if you’re choosing an inflatable kayak, then make sure you choose one with puncture repair kits.
A kayak is an excellent multi-purpose sports equipment that can be used for long trips, recreational purposes, and exciting whitewater expeditions. Just because these models cost less than $500, it doesn’t mean that they lack in functionality, safety, or any key features. All the aforementioned kayaks have their own advantages, so make sure you read all the reviews before you finalize your purchase.