This may be the best fishing kayak on a budget.
Nothing keeps fishermen off the water quite like not having your own boat. It can be really frustrating to be stuck with bank fishing adventures only because your budget doesn't allow a boat.
At $300 (or less), this is a boat that can fit into any fisherman's budget and it's available nearly everywhere, even Walmart!
Sit-on top style
At 10 feet long and approximately 52 pounds, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 fishing kayak is moderate in size. In my experience, 10 feet is ideal for small lakes and slow-moving lakes and streams. It has a weight capacity of 275 pounds, so larger anglers might need to look for a different size.
This kayak is a sit-on-top style, which might scare some people who have never kayaked before, but the stable flat bottom and chine rails make for a very pleasant paddle. It's not going to be as stable as something like a jonboat or paddleboard, but if you're seriously looking at getting into kayak fishing, this is the style you want.
Take it from a guy who has fished out of a sit-in kayak not designed for fishing before. It's not a comfortable experience a few hours in when you can't stretch your legs.
I have found videos of people standing up in this kayak. Make sure you practice first in a spot where you're not afraid of falling in. Odds are you will end up in the drink the first time you try it!
The length of this kayak makes it easy to maneuver on long paddling trips and should be easy to store in most garages. I know plenty of people who have bought much longer kayaks and then had buyer's remorse afterwards because storage issues.
Another bonus with this kayak is that it comes with a kayak paddle. The only extras to buy are a life jacket and maybe a roof rack system for transport on your vehicle.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Features
Built of impact resistant high-density polyethylene, the Tamarack 100 is built to take a beating. That's important if you want to get back into hidden pockets and down shallow rock-filled streams that other boats won't dare venture.
This kayak features deep hull channels to help it track better. Trust me, you'll be regretting it if you get a kayak that doesn't track well in the water, especially when you're trying to get to a precise spot in fast-moving currents.
The most important feature of any fishing kayak is storage. You might not think you have much fishing gear, but you quickly realize how small your kayak is when you're trying to find a place to put it all. The Tamarack 100 features two storage compartments. These compartments aren't huge, but there is adequate space for small amount of gear. You might want to buy some small, soft tackle bags for these storage hatches.
There are also bungee cables on the bow and stern of this kayak where you could potentially secure a larger tackle box.
A paddlekeeper paddle holder helps keep your paddle out of the way when you're trying to cast. Trust me, this is an important feature. You don't realize how vital one of these is until you're trying to fish out of a kayak that doesn't have one.
One nice thing about the Tamarack is that the manufacturer thought to add carry handles to not only the bow and stern, but also to the sides of the kayak. This is a nice feature not just for easy transport, but for lifting or lowering your kayak into a tight spot too.
Rod holders are another important part of any fishing kayak. The Tamarack features two flush mounted fishing rod holders behind the seat and one adjustable top mount rod holder mounted on the right side. If you're a lefty, or you just want a second adjustable fishing pole holder, there is room on the left side to add another.
The Tamarack is a little bit different than other kayaks in that it doesn't feature adjustable footrests. Instead, there is a series of molded-in footrest positions. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes simplicity is best, and I've had plenty of frustrations from the adjustable kind.
But probably the most important part of this kayak is the back rest. Remember that you're going to be sitting for long periods of time in a hard plastic boat. Nothing ruins the fishing experience faster than being so stiff you can't move the next day.
Fortunately, it seems Lifetime was thinking about that. An adjustable padded seat back means your back shouldn't be stiff when you finally head in for the day. They've included some of that same material on the seat pad. We definitely recommend sitting in one before you buy to find out if you'll like the backrest and seat or not. Remember there is only so much you can gleam from kayak reviews. Sometimes you just have to sit in one to decide if you like it or not.
Other comparable models
More and more companies are starting to branch out into the world of cheap fishing kayaks and there are a few other models and companies to look at. If you like the Lifetime kayaks, but have a little bit more to spend, you might consider the Tamarack 120 instead. This kayak is the same length and has many of the same features. However, the spot where you sit is also slightly lower in the craft for more stability and the storage areas are a little larger. This kayak is a little bit more expensive at around $500.
Two comparable alternatives to the Tamarack are the Sun Dolphin Journey and the Ozark Trail fishing kayaks. Don't let the names fool you, these two kayaks are basically identical in design and price. The biggest difference you'll see is in the color. Both come in at around $250. These kayaks feature a deeper hull design and larger storage areas. The adjustable rod holder is mounted in the center of the kayak instead of the edge. These models offer less options for adding more rod handlers just because of the steep design of the hull edges. The seat back is also not adjustable because it is part of the molded-in design. Just something to keep in mind.
Another option is the 10-foot Pelican Bounty 100X Angler, which costs around $280. This is another sit-in style with a decent amount of storage. I own a Pelican myself, but I can't say I'd recommend this one over the Tamarack because the storage areas are my Pelican are too difficult to reach when I need to swap out lures or get at other fishing gear. From the photos I've looked at, it appears the Bounty 100X has its storage in the same position.
Another option is the 10-foot Pelican Bounty 100X Angler, which costs around $280. This is another sit-in style with a decent amount of storage. I own a Pelican myself, but I can't say I'd recommend this one over the Tamarack because the storage areas are my Pelican are too difficult to reach when sitting in it. It's a pain when I need to swap out lures or get at other fishing gear. From the photos I've looked at, it appears the Bounty 100X has its storage in the same awkward position.
A very affordable option
When it comes to top kayaks for fishing, the market is absolutely flooded with models in the $500-900 range for paddlers to consider. But for someone looking for a more affordable option, the Tamarack 100 is a good choice packed with a decent amount of features often found on higher-end kayaks.
The low price tag means that you can squeeze one of these into almost any budget. It's very durable, it has a decent amount of storage and nice rod holders. The fact that Lifetime has a paddle included in this package just makes the deal even better.
Summer is the perfect time to take up kayaking and take your angling to the next level and the Tamarack 100 helps make it more affordable than ever to get into kayak fishing.