Best Fishing Kayaks Under $400 | 2017 Buyer’s Guide & Pro Reviews
One of the best boats for fishing trips is the kayak. This is, in part, due to the smaller nature of kayaks--they allow you to get places a rowboat or pontoon simply cannot allow you to reach. In this guide, we'll be covering the best fishing kayaks for under $400.
Fishing kayaks are also individual in nature, meaning you can fish with a group of fishermen, all in individual kayaks. Doing this allows you to separate or fish closely together. In a rowboat or pontoon, you are “trapped” together, often tangling lines, hooking shirts, or crossing over each other’s lines.
With all of these things considered, it is important to purchase a kayak designed for fishing. If you do not, it can be incredibly difficult to hold your position in the water, as you will not have a rest for your paddles or for your pole. This can cause many distractions while fishing, making a peaceful activity a stressful one.
Table of Contents
- 0.1 5 Top Fishing Kayaks Under $400 in 2017
- 0.2 Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
- 0.3 Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak
- 0.4 Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak
- 0.5 Lifetime Muskie Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle, Tan, 120"
- 0.6 Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
- 1 5 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $400
- 1.0.1 1. Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
- 1.0.2 Further Review of the Sun Dolphin Excursion
- 1.0.3 Pros
- 1.0.4 Cons
- 1.0.5 2. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak
- 1.0.6 More on the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10
- 1.0.7 Pros
- 1.0.8 Cons
- 1.0.9 3. Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak
- 1.0.10 Reviewing the Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 Further
- 1.0.11 Pros
- 1.0.12 Cons
- 1.0.13 4. Lifetime Muskie Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle, Tan, 120"
- 1.0.14 Reviewing the Lifetime Muskie Angler Further
- 1.0.15 Pros
- 1.0.16 Cons
- 1.0.17 5. Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
- 1.0.18 Extra Perks with the Sun Dolphin Journey Kayak
- 1.0.19 Pros
- 1.0.20 Cons
- 1.1 How to Buy a Fishing Kayak for Under $400
- 1.2 Our Final Review for Best Fishing Kayak Under $400
Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak
Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak
Lifetime Muskie Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle, Tan, 120"
Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
When purchasing a fishing kayak, it is important to consider several different features. The first is where the kayak can be used. Most fishermen want to use their boats on lakes.
However, the occasional river fisherman wants to make sure the deck on the kayak is high enough to withstand strong currents. This also means ensuring the beam is narrow enough to allow for control on strong waves.
Secondly, fishing is typically not a one or two hour activity, but often an all day activity. Fishermen want to ensure they are comfortable in their boat and have the ability to adjust seating and foot braces as needed.
Considering how much gear can be carried in the kayak is also of great importance. Kayaking fishermen want to make sure they can bring an adequate number of poles, their tackle boxes, and haul any catches they may want to keep. This means appropriate storage options and a high weight capacity.
The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak is not meant for many different terrains. Due to a wide beam, of 30 inches, this kayak simply does not handle waves or strong currents well.
This, combined with a deck height of only 13 inches, means the Excursion should not be used in rivers or in the ocean. However, it’s an excellent boat for lake fishing.
Fishing is often an all day experience. The Excursion does not deny this need in anyway. Beginning with the very large cockpit, it suits kayakers of all sizes.
It also has adjustable seating and adjustable foot braces. These features mean that kayakers of any size can find the perfect settings in this kayak. Additionally, the Excursion has a very high back support, allowing for extended support all day.
One area in which this kayak is lacking is paddle rests. It simply does not have them. This can be discouraging for many fishermen, as it can be important to set the paddles down in order to fish well.
The Excursion can only hold 250 pounds. This is not a great deal of extra weight in the kayak, aside from the kayaker him or herself. That being said, it does have some great storage/equipment features.
One of these features is the various rod holders this kayak boasts. Like many of the great fishing kayaks for under 400, it has three rod holders.
Two of these rod holders are flush mounted rod holders just behind the main seat of the kayak. This means they are added to the kayak and mounted along the surface.
Further Review of the Sun Dolphin Excursion
Many kayaks of the price range come with a third flush mounted rod holder in front of the cockpit. However, this kayak has a swivel mounted rod holder in front of the cockpit.
The swivel mounted rod holder is an excellent addition, as it allows the fishing pole stored there to rotate around--this can be a major perk for many fishermen.
The Excursion also comes with a small storage hatch in the rear of the boat. The hatch is only 10 inches by 12 inches and approximately 6 inches deep. This is not a very large storage hatch and cannot be used to store a tackle box.
However, the hatch is secured with a shock cord system, and keeps fairly dry. As with any kayak, it is recommended to purchase a drybag to ensure your items stay safe in case the kayak tips.
- Great for lake use
- Comfortable for large fishermen
- Two Flush Mount Rod Holders
- One Swivel Mount Rod Holder
- Large cockpit opening
- Adjustable seat
- Adjustable foot braces
- High back support
- Steady in the water
- Difficult in strong currents
- Difficult in high waves
- Short deck
- Small storage hatch
- Only holds 250 pounds
The Old Town Canoe and Kayaks Vapor 10 is a recreational kayak, not a fishing kayak. While this may be a disadvantage to some, the Vapor provides a little more versatility than the Excursion does.
This kayak is heavier, longer, and a little more narrow than the Excursion. The deck height is also 17 inches, as opposed to 13. This means the Vapor can handle much more difficult waters than the Excursion.
Feel free to take the Vapor out on rapids as high as class 2--it certainly can withstand the current and waves.
As far as comfort goes, the first thing to note on the Vapor is how large the cockpit is. Coming in at 48 inches by 20 inches, this cockpit is absolutely huge. For many fishermen, this is a major plus.
The reason this is such a huge benefit is because the fisherman can store gear in the cockpit with him, instead of strictly resorting to any sort of storage well. Additionally, if you plan on using this kayak for more than fishing, it would be easy to take a pet or small child in the cockpit with you.
Another advantage with the Vapor is the adjustable foot braces and seat.As is to be expected, these are very easy to adjust while kayaking. The Vapor also has both knee and thigh braces, making it easy to brace one’s self while kayaking.
More on the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10
A storage well is in the stern of this kayak, meaning it is very easy to access. While this is a benefit, it is only a day well.
This means the storage well is not covered--not even with shockcords. If this kayak should tip for any reason, the kayaker would run the risk of losing all of the stored gear.
Additionally, this kayak has no fishing rod holders. While some fishermen prefer their kayaks not to have holders, this can be a detriment to many others--especially if you are hoping to troll as you kayak.
Trolling is the act of allowing your bait to trail behind you as you kayak. Fishing rod holders can make this process easier, as they allow the pole to stand behind the fisherman. Having to balance the pole in your hand and paddle can be rather difficult.
- Paddle Rest
- Thigh Pads
- Knee Pads
- Adjustable Foot Braces
- Adjustable Padded Seat
- Stern storage is easy to access
- Large cockpit (big enough for gear or pet
- Day well does not have shock cords; not waterproof
- Paddle holder is across kayak--can cause issues if trying to sit alongside something
3. Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak
The Bali SS is another kayak made by Sun Dolphin. It is a 10 foot sit on top kayak.
Sit on Top kayaks are a really amazing type of boat. THey allow the kayaker to literally sit on top of the kayak. This typically allows for more storage and more room for larger kayakers.
This also means that, should the kayak tip over for any reason, the kayaker does not need to know how to do an eskimo roll to get out. Eskimo rolls are very difficult and often require training to do properly.
Like the other Sun Dolphin Kayak, the Excursion, this kayak is not meant for difficult waters. With a 13 inch deck and a 30 inch beam, it is stable in the water, but can also take on a lot of water quickly.
Thankfully, this kayak is extremely comfortable for kayakers to spend their day in. It has an open cockpit (as it is a sit-on), which makes it very easy to get in and out of.
It also has adjustable foot braces and an adjustable seat. As is common with Sun Dolphin kayaks, the Bali also has thigh and knee pads. These features allow fishermen to sit in this kayak all day long
Some additional features are a cupholder and an electronics holder. Be warned that the electronics holder is not waterproof, so ensure your phone or other item has a waterproof case.
Reviewing the Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 Further
For the fisherman, this kayak is not specifically for fishing. That being said, it still has quite a few features which make it great for anglers!
As far as storage goes, the Bali boasts a Portable Accessory Carrier. This means the waterproof compartment in the rear of the kayak can be popped out.
It can be worn as a backpack, towed behind the kayak, or placed in the cockpit for extra storage. When the waterproof compartment is removed, a day storage well is left, covered with shockcords which holds your gear in place. This means that the kayak has an incredible amount of storage space.
That being said, as this is not a fishing kayak, this boat does not boast any rod mounts. It does, however, have paddle rests, which means it is easy to set your paddle down and cast away.
- Sit on Top
- P.A.C. (Portable Accessory Carrier)
- Tow Behind
- Extra Storage
- Dry Storage Compartment
- Paddle Holder
- Adjustable foot braces
- Adjustable seat
- THigh Pads
- Knee Pads
- Shockcord storage on bow
- Electronics holder
- No fishing pole mounts
- Not an angler kayak
4. Lifetime Muskie Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle, Tan, 120"
The Muskie Angler is decked out with lots of additional features. Starting with the fishing rod holders, all the way down to the hull, this kayak is built for anglers.
To begin with, this kayak is another sit on top. As shared with the Bali SS, that means the kayaker does not need to learn how to do an eskimo roll and extra room is provided for larger kayakers.
That being said, this kayak also has a wide beam and a short deck. It’s not particularly wise to take this kayak on rough rivers or rough ocean water, although it can handle decent currents and waves due to hull tracking channels.
As far as comfort goes, the Muskie Angler is about as good as they come. To begin with, the Muskie Angler has molded foot rests. While this means there are varying heights for kayakers, this also means that the leg lengths are predetermined and not as flexible as adjustable foot braces, or foot braces on a track.
The kayak does have an adjustable seat back. So, though there aren’t as many options with the leg lengths, the seat back does give kayakers some flexibility.
For storage, the Muskie is, again, decked out. To begin with, it has two storage compartments each of approximately 6 inches. One is located at the rear of the kayak. The other is located in the center of the cockpit.
Reviewing the Lifetime Muskie Angler Further
It also has three fishing rod holders, just like the Excursion, with two flush mounted behind the main seat. However, this kayak also has a top mounted fishing rod holder to the right of the cockpit.
This is not a swivel fishing rod holder, like the one in the Excursion. Additionally, because there is a small storage compartment in the middle of the cockpit, the rod holder has to be on the side of the kayak. Because the rod holder is on the side, it can interfere with paddling.
Speaking of paddles, the Muskie has two paddle holders and they are covered with shock cord to secure the paddles. Additionally, the paddle is included for this kayak, which is a great addition if you are hoping to save money by buying this boat.
- Molded foot rests
- Two 6 inch storage compartments
- Two paddle cradles
- Sit on Top
- Shock Cord Straps on front and rear for extra storage
- Two flush mounted fishing rod holders
- One top mount fishing rod holder
- Paddle included
- Adjustable seat back
- Top Mount FIshing Rod Holder can get in the way of paddling
- Bullet Point 2
5. Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
The final kayak on this list in another Sun Dolphin sit-on-top kayak. However, this has the added bonus of being a combination of the Excursion and Bali.
That being said, much like the Excursion and the Bali, this kayak is simply not meant for much other than calm lake water. This is due to the wide beam, short deck height, and 10 foot length of the boat.
When it comes to comfort, the Journey has all the features of the Excursion and the Bali with a few bonuses. First, this kayak is a sit on top, which means it is very comfortable for kayakers who are larger in nature. However, if you have long legs, you may want to invest in a 12 foot kayak.
Additionally, it has a foot brace track system instead of molded foot rests. This means you have several more options for leg length. This kayak also has an adjustable seat back.
As far as storage goes, this kayak also has the Portable Accessory Carrier (or P.A.C.) like the Bali. This means it is a waterproof container which you can wear as a backpack, pull behind the kayak, or place in the cockpit with you.
Extra Perks with the Sun Dolphin Journey Kayak
The Journey also has a small waterproof compartment in the cockpit, which would be a great place for car keys or electronic devices.
Just like the Excursion, the Journey has two flush mount rod holders behind the main seat. It also has a swivel rod holder in the center of the cockpit. Unlike the Muskie, this should not interfere with paddling at all.
The Journey does have a place to store your paddle, which gives it an advantage as you can fish without trying to hold your paddle as well.
Finally, the Journey has two sections of shock cord deck rigging, which allow for extra storage. Just keep in mind this storage is not waterproof.
- Two flush mount rod holders
- Swivel rod holder
- Open Cockpit
- Tow behind
- Shock cord deck rigging
- Adjustable foot braces
- Adjustable seat back
- Cup holder
- Waterproof storage in cockpit
- Paddle holder
- Not river friendly
- Not ocean friendly
Ultimately, purchasing a great fishing kayak for under 400 dollars comes down to several key features. The first is what body of water the kayak can be used on.
The second is the amount of comfort the kayak affords, as you will be spending a long period of time in the kayak.
Finally, storage is crucial as, again, fishermen can spend all day in their boats. Food, water, bait, and other fishing gear is essential to making sure the trip is successful.
For many fisherman, being able to take your kayak out on the lake is all that is needed. However, some fisherman prefer being able to use their kayak for river fishing.
If that is the case, any of these kayaks can work for river fishing, it is just essential to make sure waters will be calm that day.
Comfort is determined by the kayaker, but typically the more features a kayak has, the more comfortable it will be.
Perhaps the most important features as far as comfort goes is adjustable foot braces and adjustable seat backs. Though molded foot rests do provide a certain level of comfort, they also limit the leg length which can be placed in the kayak.
Another feature which is important for comfort are knee and thigh braces. THis is especially true if you know you will be leaning in your kayak, perhaps against the pull of a strong fish.
Knee and thigh braces are also important if you like to sit at all sorts of different angles. Some kayakers like to sit with their knees propped out of the cockpit opening. If this is your case, thigh braces are crucial.
Finally, for fishermen, storage is essential on a fishing kayak. You must have room (and weight capacity) for all of your bait, food, water, and fishing pole needs.
This means you want to make sure your kayak either has fishing rod mounts or has enough room in the cockpit for your fish rods.
You also want to ensure your kayak has large storage areas, either in the cockpit or in the rear storage unit for bait or a tackle box.
It’s also important to make sure you have paddle rests. When fishing, your hands are taken up completely by your rod. YOu want to ensure you have a safe place to set down your paddle so you do not lose your paddle in the water.
Fishing and kayaking are two of the most peaceful activities in nature. Combining the two only seems natural. However, many issues can arise if your kayak is not set up to handle fishing properly.
Make sure you have the best possible fishing experience by researching your kayak and knowing it is prepared for your individual fishing preferences.
And, if you decide you can spend more than $400, consider reading our fishing kayaks under $600.