Fishing is not only a hobby, but it’s also a lifestyle, and many people don’t just do it to pass their time, but they do it because they like it and it’s a productive way to lose stress and have fun.
In this article today, I am going to try to deliver you the most accurate and precise information that I can, which includes 5 product reviews and also some informational articles which may come in handy to you.
Some people think of fishing as an expensive sport, and for the most part, it is, but for the most part, it’s not true. Once you have all the equipment you need, you won’t have to buy stuff all the time, and a fishing kayak is probably a one time purchase, so before buying it, make sure it’s the one that will fill your needs the most and one that will satisfy you in every aspect, whether it’s quality, durability, aesthetics, or price.
A fishing kayak will truly help you get closer to your next catch, and they are designed in such a unique way to accommodate poles and tackle boxes, which means the models that we’ve chosen are different in some ways from those standard kayaks.
Now, taking the kayak into the water is where the beautiful part starts, and I assure you that these kayaks will offer you much better results than any other boat out there.
As you can imagine, kayaks tend to come at relatively higher prices, however, since many people are after kayaks that cost less than 400, for this article, every kayak that is listed is below 400$, and I hope I’m able to help with finding the best fishing kayaks under $400.
Now from what I’ve gathered, United Nations FAO statistics show that the total number of fishermen is approximately 38 million, however, only 30-40% of them use kayaks as their runaway in the water gear, so if you’re having second thoughts on whether you should buy a kayak or not, don’t hesitate, you won’t regret your decision.
Before we start, if you’re new to Kayak fishing, I think it’s important to fill you in with history a bit. Originally, such kayaks were found by indigenous people that lived in the Arctic regions, while these kayaks were constructed from stitched animal skins. If you do your research, you’ll probably find out that kayaks date back at least 4000 years ago, so that tells us that they were even used back then, while today, they are pretty popular.
Okay, now, let’s get more into details and review each product individually, and see what makes these kayaks be so special.
Top 5 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $400
5. Elkton Outdoors 10′
As we all know, kayaks can sometimes be troublesome because they take so much space. For example, when you want to store it in your car, that can be a challenge because they are huge in size, and it’s mandatory that you have sufficient space in your home in order to hold it, and that as well can be troublesome.
However, inventions today have come a long way, and fortunately for you, there are other alternatives available, so think of it this way, you want to have more fun while fishing than having a heavy-duty kayak in which to paddle, so the alternative, in this case, is an inflatable two-person kayak, the Elkton is the best example for this.
So first, let’s start by pointing out a couple of interesting facts about its construction.
This particular model features a tough construction, more precisely, it’s made of 1000 denier nylon and PVC, and as you may know, such materials are resistant to tears and hooks. Assuming that you’re going to have to work with sharp points, this will help greatly because you won’t have to worry about losing buoyancy due to an errant cast.
Most people that want to purchase an inflatable kayak think that inflating such a unit will be a hard task and it will take much time, but in fact, it’s quite the contrary. Nowadays, inflatable kayaks are built with efficiency in mind, so basically, you’re going to be good to go in a matter of minutes. In fact, you have to take in mind that if you use a motorized inflator it could cause the kayak to burst, so that’s the level of efficiency that this model features.
Now, since we’re talking about a fishing kayak, let’s get to fishing now. This is the perfect choice for the task, and what’s the good part of it is that it has two sits, which means you can take your sibling, your son, daughter, or some other relative with you when you go fishing.
In addition, you’ll be happy to know that there are six-rod holders, so you can bring all kinds of fishing gear with you, but that’s not all, you’re going to notice that there are also six mesh pockets available, which means you’re going to be able to hold onto any other items that may come in handy to you.
All of these advantages, you’re going to say there has to be something bad about this kayak, and you’re right, there’s a downside to this model. There’s no dry storage, and that’s my only remark regarding its negative sides. And of course, as it is standard with all inflatable kayaks, there’s no skeg on the bottom, so you have to take into consideration that the kayak will be floating on top of the water, which means more maneuvering will be required to turn. Now, these are my only remark regarding this inflatable kayak, however, to pay the debt, you’ll be provided with two paddle clips so that you can keep those handy, and nothing is going to get in the way of your line as a benefit.
To conclude, if you’re looking for a portable and a remarkable inflatable kayak, then this would be your best pick.
4. Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
Next on the list, we got a Sun Dolphin product, and this is not the only Sun Dolphin kayak that we’re going to mention today. It is similar to all the other Sun Dolphin kayaks that we’re going to mention, but of course, it is also special in its own way.
In terms of the design, you can get this kayak in two colors, Olive, which we are currently reviewing, and in Sand color, and probably one of these colors is going to match your tastes, but in my opinion, Olive looks more appealing.
This is a good kayak especially suited for anglers, it’s a lot easier to use, and you will probably get with it everything else that you could ever need. What I like most about the Sun Dolphin Journey is that it comes with a portable accessory storage compartment, and that’s maybe one of the most essential things to have.
If you’re a fisherman, then you probably know that it’s really convenient to have a place where to put all your dry belongings into the pouch and tow it behind you. Afterward, you can always set the fishing gear back to where it was, which will free you much more space for your equipment when you’re on the water.
Now, one main advantage that this particular model has over the other Sun Dolphin models that we’re going to mention is the fact that it comes with three fishing rod holders, and yeah, that’s pretty much it.
No, just kidding, there are two flush-mounted options as well, you can find them behind the seat, and one swivel-mounted holder which would be in the front. Now, considering the fact that this is an open-air kayak, it will work a lot better than all the other models in this list.
I hope this is not already your favorite kayak, because there are 3 other models left. Now, what’s also appealing is the fact that you can adjust the footrest, so it doesn’t matter if you’re taller or shorter, you’re still going to feel comfortable. In addition, the manufacturer has also implemented two high pads on the sides, which means that you can always bring your feet up and maintain stability while fishing.
Some people will find it beneficial the inclusion of the swivel rod holder in the front, it just gives you an advantage of bringing your first catch.
Before we end, let’s also mention some weight details. This particular model can accommodate up to 280 pounds, and don’t worry about your gear weight if you’re body weight is close to 280 pounds because the portable accessory storage compartment will do a great job with towing any extra weight that you might bring along.
Overall, if you’re looking for a premium kayak that has premium features, lots of compartments and UV-resistant polyethylene lightweight build construction, then this would be your ideal choice.
3. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is probably the best all-rounder fishing kayak that you’re going to find, and I’m going to show you why. This unit is built specifically for fishermen, and it definitely shows.
Design-wise, this particular model was built with stability in mind, and it will be as stable as it gets in water, while on the other hand, what you might like is the hull which features a unique shape that will greatly help with tracking and maneuvering easily, and it’s definitely a lot better than all the other units out there.
As an advantage over the inflatable kayak that we mentioned in the beginning, the Tamarack features an integrated skeg on the bottom, so you can already tell that this will cut through the surface tension, thus making your turning and gliding easier.
But that’s not all, the bottom features such a design which keeps you afloat and it will reduce any risk that might tip you over. For your information, this bottom part design can be referred to as a multi-chine design.
This is great because it adds some extra confidence, we all know that a robust catch can throw us off balance, and having this as extra protection will make your fishing experience more enjoyable and convenient.
When it comes to the roads, you get three places for holding them, but the ones that I like the most are the swiveling rod holders because you can always brace yourself when you cast, and the Angler 100 offers excellent choices for this.
Since we mentioned casting, once you start doing that, you also get a top-mounted rod holder on the side and take in mind that each holder is crafted with stability and perfection in mind, and they will never break down.
Durability is truly a strong area of this kayak, and this kayak will be a lifetime purchase for you because it will last you for decades to come. To be more specific, it features a high-density polyethylene construction which is known to be quite durable, and also UV resistant.
Well, some of you may think like “why should UV matter”, and the answer is quite simple, you don’t want your kayak to lose colors and fade right? So, being UV resistant is quite an advantage because it will look like brand new even after long periods of time.
Moreover, you’re also going to like the integrated footrest, it just elevates your comfort experience to a whole new level. Unlike most of the models that you’ve seen, the rests here are carved into the hull itself, which means that you can move up or down very quickly and easily.
Before we end, let’s not forget to mention the storage options. You do get two screw-top dry compartments, one of which can be found in front of the seat and one directly behind it.
All and all, if you’re looking for the most well-rounded fishing kayak out there, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is your answer.
2. Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak
Remember in the beginning when I said that we’re going to mention more than 2 Sun Dolphin kayaks, well this is one of those products. You really can’t ignore the quality kayaks that this company provides us with. For the most part, people like this model because it is a sit-on-top kayak, and as you may know, that perfect for most types of fishing.
But in the end, it all comes to size and dimensions, and that’s a crucial part when it comes to choosing a kayak because they tend to come at huge sizes, which means that you should consider how you’re going to take it to the water, and does your garage have enough space for storing it.
Although as it is usual, the most preferred and popular dimensions are the 12-foot models, in my perspective, they’re a bit too big, so I’m really happy with the Bali SS since it is a 10-foot model. Being smaller isn’t really the only advantage, smaller kayaks can also be easily maneuvered, and the turns can be a lot tighter.
It may take some time to get used to it, however, once you adapt, you will never let go of this kayak.
What I like most about this kayak is the PAC, or also referred to as the portable accessory carrier, and for those professional fishermen, this is a truly great feature to have. You can usually find it in the rear of the kayak, and that offers dry storage. If necessary, you can always pull it out and tow it behind, and this is great since it means that you can bring along more items when you go for fishing, without even weighing the kayak down.
Although a major downside to this kayak is that it lacks the fishing mounts, and that’s something most customers complain about. Nonetheless, if you’re a professional fisherman to some point, you can always hold onto your rods manually.
However, you do get a water bottle holder and a paddle holder in front of you, and that definitely gives you freedom of movement. It’s important to note that it can get frustrating to keep your rods accessible, and what you can do is use the bungee cords, no matter where in front or back, or sticking it in the water bottle holder, you can always hold your drink in a side pocket.
As it is standard for Sun Dolphin models, the padding on the sides where you put your legs is pretty thick, and for shorter people that might be a problem since they’ll have to slouch to reach them, however for most anglers out there, they’re fine.
Moreover, the seat pad is adjustable and it definitely adds an extra layer of comfort to the kayak, while the materials used to build this model are quite durable as they are lightweight. What’s even better is that you can get this model in a variety of colors, starting from blue which we are currently reviewing, lime, ocean, red, and tangerine. However, no matter what you choose, color is the only thing that makes them different. Before we end, let’s also mention that the kayak can accommodate up to 250 pounds, and this is the total with the gear also included, so that’s something you should consider before setting out on the water.
To conclude, the Sun Dolphin Bali SS is definitely a must-have, it’s convenient and it checks all the boxes of how a kayak under 400$ should be like, but this offers a bit more value than that.
1. Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
In the end, we got yet another Sun Dolphin kayak, and this time the Excursion 10-foot Sit-In model. Before buying a kayak, make sure you check the kind of seating that you’re going to get along with the product because you do want to be comfortable while fishing, right?
For your information, there are two options for seating available, you can sit on top or inside. In this case, the model that we are currently reviewing is a sit-in kayak, and such kayaks are great for either fishing or standard kayaking, which also means that this kayak packs incredible versatility for those water lovers.
The design that this kayak feature is actually quite unique, since it also enables it to perform great for standing water, and in cases where you want to go out on the lake, this will be a perfect choice for that as well.
However, don’t get your hopes too high, it isn’t recommended for ocean or rivers since waves can really add for an uncomfortable experience.
To continue, let’s also mention a couple of things about construction, shall we? The Excursion is made of Fortiflex polyethylene, and it’s rugged as well as it’s lightweight, while if you combine all of these specs into one, it means that it will last you for many years to come.
In addition, you’ll be happy to know that the kayak comes with two handles, that’s great because two people carrying the kayak means less effort. On the other hand, I also like it because it’s quite efficient, to be more precise, the handles that we mentioned are attached via rope and their not built into the shell itself, so that placement will definitely make it a lot easier to manage, you can either pull it up or drag it, whatever feels better.
To get more into the details, on the back behind the seat, you will find two flush-mount rod holders, while they do a great job at keeping your rods pretty stable, you can paddle out to different areas on the water comfortably at the same time.
For more convenience, there’s also a swivel rod holder in the front, which means that you will never lose balance while reeling in your next catch. It’s important to note that the holder features thick plastic construction, while for the most part, I like it because it moves smoothly without having to put much effort.
Simply put, if you’re looking for a reliable and reasonably priced fishing kayak, then the Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-foot sit-in would be the ideal choice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I put a motor on my kayak?
Well, that depends actually, because first, you need to check if you have the right holes, and if you do, you should be able to mount a motor with ease, but it will definitely take some hours to do it.
Do kayaks require lights at night?
There are waterways that restrict kayaks and canoes, and for that moonlight or starlight should be enough, however, red/green running lights are not mandatory on a kayak, and that goes for the U.S or on any other international water.
Can you stand up in a fishing kayak?
You can stand up in a fishing kayak, or to be more precise, you can stand up in a “Stand-up fishing kayak” since such kayaks have a unique designed platform on either side in the center of the deck, thus, they are designed to be stood on.
As we reached the end of this article, by now I believe you have enough facts and arguments to support your decision on which is the best fishing kayak under $400. If you decide to get a kayak, i also recommend you get a fish finder for your kayak, because it makes your job a lot easier.
As you saw, there were a couple of things that first needed to be considered before purchase, starting from size, as we mentioned kayaks tend to come at huge sizes, and that can be troublesome for transport or just set it up in your garage.
If you don’t really have enough space in your garage, then maybe you should consider an inflatable kayak and it’s also easier to carry with.
Our editor’s top pick from this article is the Sun Dolphin Journey, it’s complete in every way, it’s quite durable yet lightweight at the same time, and it has plenty of space to store things which will make your fishing experience a lot more convenient and enjoyable.
Although we can’t really leave out the Lifetime Angler 100, and I’m really having a hard time in choosing which is better, Sun Dolphin Journey or the Angler 100, so I decided let’s mention them both, as they are both worth the money and they bring great value along which will last you for many years to come. The Angler 100 is great because you get a plethora of storage compartments, rod holders, and integrated footrests for extra stability.
Overall, all the listed kayaks are under $400, and if you read the reviews, you can already tell that all of them are fantastic, and since the point of these units is to bring the catch, I value more the fun and joy that comes along rather than the price.