Fishing kayaks are different from standard kayaks as they’re built with more space to better accommodate fishing gear such as rods and tackle boxes. They also provide a wider range of motion that would allow for more stability so the angler can cast more accurately.
Fishing kayaks come in different sizes with different features. There are many things you would need to consider when choosing the best fishing kayak for you, particularly if you’re on a limited budget.
That’s why it’s very important to do a sufficient amount of research on various kayak models in the market to be able to choose a functional kayak that suits your needs as an angler and offers you the best value for your money.
In order to help you narrow down your options, here’s a compilation of some of the best fishing kayaks under $400 as well as a detailed review of the benefits and features each of these kayaks can offer you.
|Intex Excursion Pro Kayak||Inflatable||Tandem||3-Ply PVC||39.01 lbs.||400 lbs.||12’7″ X 3’1″|
|Intex Challenger K1 Kayak||Inflatable||Solo||Vinyl, Tarpaulin||23.9 lbs.||220 lbs.||9′ X 2’6″|
|Sea Eagle 330 Kayak||Inflatable||Tandem||K-80 Polykrylkar||26 lbs.||500 lbs.||11’2″ X 34″|
|Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak||Inflatable||Solo||Reinforced PVC||18 lbs.||400 lbs.||8’7″ X 36″|
|Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Kayak||Hard-shell, Sit-Inside||Solo||Fortiflex Polyethylene||40 lbs.||250 lbs.||10′ X 30″|
|Perception Zip 9.5 Kayak||Hard-shell, Sit-on-Top||Solo||High-Density Polyethylene||45 lbs.||250 lbs.||9′ 6″ X 32”|
List Of the Best Fishing Kayaks Under $400
1. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak – Best Overall
The top recommendation on our list is this excellent model from Intex. The Excursion Pro kayak is equipped with many features and accessories that make it perfect for fishing.
The kayak is manufactured from a strong 3-ply PVC material which increases the durability of the kayak and makes it more resistant to impact. This material also allows for high-pressure inflation which makes the kayak more rigid.
It has 2 removable skegs to enhance your stability and balance when fishing in deep or shallow waters. The Excursion Pro also ensures you’re comfortable while fishing as it comes with 2 adjustable seats and 2 floor-mounted footrests.
The design of the kayak includes 3 air chambers with spring-loaded valves which ensures that the inflation and deflation process is very quick easy. It also comes with a high-output pump.
It comes with built-in rod holders and a removable adjustable mounting bracket for any additional fishing accessories such as a GPS or a fish finder.
It’s light in weight for its size, and it comes with a carry bag to make transportation a lot easier. It also comes with 2 aluminum collapsible paddles and a repair patch kit.
Even though it’s very light, this kayak has a high weight capacity of 400 pounds. It comes with extra storage space in the bow and stern as well as stainless steel D-rings to tie down any additional fishing gear.
Pros vs Cons
- It’s very durable and resistant to impact
- It comes with all the essential accessories such as paddles, a pump, and a repair kit
- It comes with 2 adjustable seats and 2 adjustable footrests
- It’s lightweight and easy to transport
- It has a high load capacity
- It comes with extra storage space and d-rings
- It comes with 2 fishing rod holders and a mounting bracket
- The aluminum paddles are too short
- The material of the carrying bag is not very durable
The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is the perfect choice for anglers looking for a functional fishing kayak with many features and accessories at a very affordable price.
2. Intex Challenger Kayak – Best for Beginners
Another top model from Intex is this solo inflatable kayak. It combines many great features at a price that’s under $400.
The Challenger K1 kayak is perfect for fishing in lakes or slow-moving water. It comes with grab lines on both ends as well as a detachable skeg to increase the balance and stability of your kayak. It also has two separate air chambers to increase safety.
The process of inflating and deflating the kayak is fast and simple as the kayak is designed with Boston Cap valves and comes with a high output hand pump.
It’s compact and very light in weight which makes it easy to transport. It also comes with its own carry bag.
This kayak is made from a heavy-duty vinyl material with a tarpaulin bottom. These materials make the kayak highly durable and puncture-resistant. The design is decorated with bold sporty graphics which greatly improve the kayak’s visibility.
This kayak can carry one person and has a maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds. It has sufficient storage space for your fishing gear with a cargo net for added security.
It comes with an emergency repair patch kit and 84-inch collapsible aluminum paddles. It also comes with a removable adjustable seat to increase your comfort while fishing.
Pros Vs Cons
- It’s durable and puncture-resistant
- It’s designed with two air chambers for added safety
- It comes with two grab lines and a detachable skeg for more balance
- It has extra storage space for your fishing gear
- It comes with its own paddle, a hand pump, a carry bag, and a repair kit
- It light and easy to transport
- It’s decorated with bold eye-catching graphics
- It has a low weight capacity
- The material used to make the carrying bag is of low quality
- The material used to manufacture the kayak doesn’t dry easily
- It doesn’t come with rod holders
The Intex Challenger Kayak K1 kayak is ideal for beginners looking for a simple cheap kayak to get started with kayak fishing.
3. Sea Eagle 330 – Best for Accessories and Space
The Sea Eagle 330 tandem kayak is one of the best inflatable kayak models under $400. It’s also NMMA certified which makes it one of the safest kayaks on the market.
The hull is manufactured from a thick material called K-80 polykrylkar which makes it more puncture-resistant and very durable.
The kayak is designed with 3 deluxe one-way valves, 9-inch tubes, I-beam floor construction, and high-frequency welded seams which all contribute to making it more rigid.
It comes with grab lines on the bow and stern as well as 2 adjustable inflatable seats. It also comes with 2 skegs on the bottom to improve the kayak’s tracking and speed.
It’s very light in weight and comes with its own nylon carrying bag with a shoulder strap for easy transport. It has a high weight capacity of 500 pounds which is sufficient to carry all your essential fishing gear.
What makes the Sea Eagle 330 really stand out is that it comes with a deluxe package of accessories that includes two paddles, inflatable spray skirts to protect you against the elements, an emergency repair kit, and a foot pump for quick inflation.
Pros Vs Cons
- It’s durable and puncture-resistant
- It’s NMMA certified for more safety
- It’s very stable with good tracking and speed
- It comes with a high-quality carrying bag for easy transport
- It has a very high weight capacity
- It comes with a full package of accessories including paddles, spray skirts, a repair kit, and a foot pump
- It doesn’t come with sufficient storage space
- The inflatable seats are not very comfortable
The Sea Eagle 330 would be the perfect option for you if you’re looking for high-quality inflatable kayaks that come with all the essential accessories at a very cheap price.
4. Sevylor Quikpak K1 – Best Performance
This inflatable sit-on-top kayak from Sevylor offers many great benefits at the cheapest price. The Quikpak K1 would be perfect for recreational use and fishing on calm and flat water.
This kayak is manufactured from a high-quality reinforced PVC material and a tarpaulin bottom which makes it more durable and resistant to impact from external objects.
The design is wide with a rigid floor and a flat hull bottom which makes the kayak more responsive and stable. It also very safe as it has 5 air chambers, 2 large and 3 small, to prevent the kayak from sinking if one of them gets punctured.
It’s easy and quick to inflate as it comes with its own high-pressure pump. It will not accidentally deflate or leak while you’re on the water because it’s designed with an airtight system and double lock valves.
It’s a lot lighter in weight than other kayaks, weighing only 18 pounds, which makes it very easy to transport and store. However, it still has a very high weight capacity of 400 pounds and for storage, you can use the bungee cord to secure any gear.
It comes with a handy backpack to help you carry your kayak anywhere you want. It also comes with a double-bladed paddle that’s collapsible for compact storage.
Pros Vs Cons
- It’s very light and portable
- It durable and resistant to impact
- It’s responsive and has high stability
- It’s can be easy to inflate and deflate
- It has an airtight system to prevent leaking
- It comes with a pump, backpack, and double-bladed paddle
- It has a high weight capacity and bungee storage
- It’s not suitable for rough waters
- The paddle it’s equipped with is not very durable
- It doesn’t come with rod holders
The Sevylor Quikpak K1 inflatable kayak would be the perfect option for you if you’re looking for a durable kayak with good performance at an affordable price.
5. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 – Best Sit-In Fishing Kayak
The Aruba 10 kayak from Sun Dolphin is one of the best sit-inside kayak models under $400.
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak is manufactured from Fortiflex high-density polyethylene material which makes the kayak highly durable and UV-resistant.
The wider design of the kayak increases its stability and gives it excellent tracking properties. This makes the kayak very ideal for fishing in lakes and rivers.
Although it is short in length, it’s designed with a large and spacious cockpit that allows for a wide range of movement to make casting and reeling in fish much more efficient.
It also comes with a storage hatch in the back and a built-in bottle holder. The maximum weight capacity of the kayak is 250 pounds which is enough to carry your fishing gear.
It’s light in weight, weighing 40 pounds, and is also designed with carrying handles which makes it easier to transport than most hard-shell kayaks.
It has a built-in adjustable seat with a padded backrest as well as adjustable foot braces to maximize your comfort while fishing.
Pros Vs Cons
- It’s strong and UV resistant
- It’s very stable with excellent tracking properties
- It comes with a storage hatch and a bottle holder
- It’s light in weight and portable
- It has a spacious cockpit
- It doesn’t come with rod holders
- It doesn’t come with a paddle
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is the perfect choice for you if you’re a beginner looking for a reliable and affordable sit-inside kayak to fish in.
6. Perception Zip 9.5 – Most Versatile
The perception Zip 9.5 is one of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks under $400. It’s perfect for fishing in lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers, and calm coastal environments.
The design of the sit-on-top kayak makes it simple to maneuver. The lack of a cockpit allows for more casting accuracy while fishing. It’s also safe for beginners as it’s easy to re-enter from water in case of capsizing.
The perception Zip 9.5 kayak is manufactured from a durable high-density polyethylene material and it comes in 3 vibrant colors.
It’s light in weight for a hard-shell kayak and the design includes molded-in handles in the front, rear, and side which allows for easier transport.
It comes with a molded-in seat for the best back support as well as footrests that allow you to adjust your leg position to maximize your comfort level while fishing. It also comes with 8 scupper holes to keep the deck dry as well as a drain plug for easy cleaning.
The maximum weight capacity of the kayak is 250 pounds. It has a large and easily accessible storage area in the rear with bungee cords to secure your fishing gear. It also has a convenient cup holder in the center to keep your favorite drink within reach.
Pros Vs Cons
- It’s made from a highly durable material
- It’s safe for beginners
- It has 8 scupper holes and a drain plug
- It comes with a molded-in seating area, footrests, and carrying handles
- It has a high weight capacity
- It comes with a large and secure storage area with bungee cords
- It doesn’t come with fishing rod holders
- It doesn’t come with a paddle
The perception Zip 9.5 kayak is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a versatile sit-on-top model that’s easy to use and maintain.
Do you want even more budget options? It’s amazing what just an extra $100 could give you. Check out my guide on the best fishing kayaks under $500 here.
What To Expect Out of A $400 Fishing Kayak?
Buying a kayak on a limited budget doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to settle for a poorly made kayak or sacrifice good quality.
Fishing kayaks under $400 in the market come with different features. You just need to prioritize some features over others and take some factors into consideration before you reach the choice that’s the most beneficial to you.
Factors To Consider Before Buying a Fishing Kayak
Type of Kayak
Kayaks are classified into types depending on their design and the material used to make them. Each type has its benefits and drawback.
- Sit-on-top kayaks are built without a cockpit, so you’ll be positioned above the kayak’s deck instead of being inside the kayak.
- They are ideal if you’re a beginner because they’re relatively safer and can be easily entered from the water.
- They’re definitely the best for fishing because they provide enough space to allow you a range of motion when casting and reeling in fish.
- They have enough space on deck to attach your fishing gear and some are also designed with standing platforms so that you can stand up while fishing.
- Sit-inside kayaks are typically built with an enclosed cockpit, so you will sit inside the hull of the kayak.
- The presence of the cockpit would provide you with more protection against the elements, however, it would limit the range of motion you would need for casting and reeling in fish.
You can learn more about them in my comparison of Sit-in VS Sit-on-top kayaks here.
- Hardshell kayaks are made from rigid materials such as hard plastics, fiberglass, and carbon fiber.
- They’re highly durable and provide you with more speed and control.
- They’re heavy which makes them difficult to transport and they can take up more storage space.
- They’re more expensive than inflatable kayaks.
- Inflatable kayaks are made from soft materials such as synthetic rubber or inflatable plastic.
- They are lighter in weight than hard-shell kayaks which makes them easier to transport.
- They can also be deflated to fit in small storage.
- They may not offer the same level of speed and durability as hard-shell kayaks but they’re a lot cheaper.
- The material used to manufacture the kayak affects its durability, so you need to make sure the kayak you’re buying isn’t made from poor materials as this will make the kayak more prone to damage and wear with prolonged use.
- Kayaks made from hard plastic are usually more durable but heavier in weight while kayaks made from inflatable plastic are less durable but light in weight.
- Kayaks made from composite materials such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, and fiberglass are a lot lighter in weight but they’re also more expensive.
- You need to choose a kayak that offers you a good amount of stability and balance as you might want to stand up while fishing to increase your casting accuracy.
- The stability of the kayak is mostly affected by its width. So, wider kayaks have a higher center of gravity, which means they have a higher degree of primary stability. While narrower kayaks have a lower center of gravity, which means they have a higher degree of secondary stability.
You can learn more about Kayak stability in my post on how to improve your kayak’s tracking as I dive deep into what makes a kayak stable.
Speed And Tracking
- The kayak’s performance mainly comes down to its speed and tracking. Both of them are directly affected by the kayak’s length and width.
- Longer and narrower kayaks will usually be faster. While shorter and wider kayaks will be more stable and track better.
Weight And Capacity
- The weight of the kayak affects how easy it is to carry and transport it while the capacity is the amount of weight the kayak can handle.
- To avoid overloading your kayak, the weight capacity should be 100 pounds more than your weight and the weight of your fishing gear combined.
- You would need a kayak with enough storage space to carry your fishing gear. The storage space should also be easy to access, tightly sealed, and easy to open and close.
Accessories And Comfort
- When going on a fishing trip, you’re likely to spend a long time in your kayak. That’s why you should look for a kayak that would provide you with maximum comfort.
- The seat of the kayak should be sufficiently padded and adjustable with a solid backrest to avoid getting back pains when paddling for a long time
- Some kayaks even come with built-in rod holders and standing platforms to make your fishing experience more comfortable.
- There other features that contribute to the kayak’s comfort level such as built-in accessory mounts, drink holder, footrests, and pedals.
- Generally, your kayak should be able to withstand the average conditions of turbulence.
- Fishing kayaks are usually designed for flatwater conditions such as lakes where you would expect a more controlled water flow.
- However, if you prefer fishing in volatile rivers, it’s better to go for kayaks that are designed to specifically withstand turbulent water rapids.
Paddler’s Skill Level
- Depending on your skill level, you might find some kayaks and equipment to be more suitable for you.
- For a beginner, sit-on-top kayaks will be more suitable for you as they provide more stability and have more space to move around and learn. Experts, on the other hand, prefer sit-in kayaks as they better when it comes to speed.
- The majority of recreational fishing kayaks in the market are sit-on-top as they are the most suitable for the activity.
- However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot use sit-inside kayaks for recreational purposes. There are many anglers who actually prefer the experience and features that sit-in kayaks provide
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Sit-Inside Kayaks Good for Fishing?
No, sit-in kayaks are not the best for fishing. Because they’re built with a cockpit, they have a limited range of motion which anglers need for better casting and reeling in fish. They also do not have enough space for storing fishing rods and tackle boxes. Yet, many anglers prefer to fish in sit-inside kayas as they offer more protection from the elements.
What Kind of Safety Gear Do You Need While Kayak Fishing?
The most essential item of your safety gear is the PFD (Personal Flotation Device). Other safety gear items you should also pack include rope, a whistle, signal flares, gloves, a headlamp, a knife, a first aid kit, a paddle leash, a fishing rod leash, and an emergency kayak repair kit. Make sure all of these items are packed in a waterproof bag so that nothing is forgotten and that they can be easily accessed whenever you need them.
How To Increase your Kayak’s Stability?
To increase your kayak’s stability, you can lower the height of your seat to create a stronger center of gravity. You need to distribute your weight and the weight of your gear evenly throughout the kayak to keep it more balanced. You can also purchase a stabilizer that can be attached to your kayak to help you create more stability.
What Are the Factors That Affect a Kayak’s Tracking?
The main factors that affect the kayak’s ability to track straight are the kayaker’s paddling technique and body posture. Tracking can also be affected by how the kayak is built and whether it is in a good condition. There are other external factors such as wind and current conditions that have a great effect on the kayak’s ability to track straight.
How To Troll Fish from A Kayak?
To troll for fish in a kayak, you need to set up your rods properly. Make sure to install a rod holder and keep your rods angled out. It’s best to go with one or two rods so that you can manage them more easily. Next, you need to let out enough line and paddle through the water with just enough speed to give your lure the proper action. The movement of the kayak will attract the fish and get them to bite.
Kayak your way to Freedom
- On a budget? Check out the best fishing kayaks under $500 here and the best Fishing Kayaks under $1,000 here. Or Check the best Cheap Kayaks here.
- Going fishing? Here are the best Ocean fishing kayaks, and here are the best River Fishing Kayaks.
- You can also find the best Fly Fishing Kayaks here and the best Bass Fishing Boats here.
- A bit experienced? Check out the best modular kayaks here and the best tandem fishing kayaks here.
- Looking for something special? Check out my favorite Ducky kayaks here.
- Navigate your way with these awesome and beginner-friendly Kayak compasses.
- Going Hunting? These Duck hunting kayaks will give you an unfair advantage!
- Have a need for speed? These motorized kayaks will get you moving.
- Protect yourself from the sun with these Kayak shades, and make your kayak more comfortable with these Kayak seats.
- Keep your feet dry and warm with these superb Kayaking shoes.