Check out this incredibly detailed 2023 guide to inflatable fishing boats! By the time you’re done with the article, you will know:
- What an inflatable boat is
- What the main features of an inflatable fishing boat are
- Why do you need an inflatable boat for fishing
- What the best inflatable fishing boats are
When you were kids, you most likely went fishing from time to time. And if fishing is what you know from your childhood past, you must remember how limited your fishing options were. You had to fish sitting on the bank of a river or using an old aluminum boat. And those old days fishing boats were not something a kid could handle. Back in the day, it used to take two grown-ups to mount such a boat on top of a family van. And then, when the family arrived at the river, it was time to untie the boat and get it off the van’s roof.
Experienced fishers how loud the whole procedure may get and how easily fish get scared. So by the time you’re done untying and dragging your fishing boat to the river, no wonder the fish are gone because you’ve just been too darn loud.
The good thing is that nowadays, fishing has gotten a lot easier. Not only thanks to modern-day equipment and fishing gear, but also (and, in this case, foremost) thanks to inflatable fishing boats that are everywhere these days.
But the fact that fishing inflatables are available in every fishing store all across the country does not mean that it’s easy to pick the right one. The choice is really vast and might get confusing for a beginner. There are pontoon fishing boats. Fishing kayaks, float tubes models, you may even get a trolling motor mounted on your boat, or buy an inflatable fishing platform or a raft. Of course, such a wide variety of fishing inflatables comes with a variety of price points, as well.
So, however convenient a fishing boat can get in terms of usability, improving your fishing experience, choosing the right one might get quite difficult. But don’t get upset. By the end of this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about inflatable fishing boats.
TOP Best Inflatable Boats
In this part of our guide, we will show you examples of the best inflatable fishing boats in the market, breaking them into several categories that will include different boat types.
Inflatable Fishing Kayak
What you have to know about fishing kayaks from the start is that they are divided into two types:
- Sit-on-top kayak
- Sit-inside kayak
The difference between the two is plainly obvious: they are designed for different positions while fishing.
a) The first type of inflatable kayaks will let you sit on top of the kayak.
Such a construction will let you easily get back on the kayak should you accidentally fall in the water. However, there is a downside. A sit-on-top inflatable kayak would not suit those who don’t wish to be in constant contact with water. If you’re planning to use your kayak in cold water, you should better have a wetsuit on.
And finally, sit-on-top inflatable kayaks are not designed for rapid floating. They are best fit for still waters like lakes and ponds.
b) Sit-inside inflatable kayaks, on the contrary, are good for rivers and faster floating. With such a kayak, you get to sit firmly inside and have more stability during fishing. Should the kayak capsize, it will bail the water thanks to the self-bailing system.
Below are the best models of inflatable fishing kayaks of both types that you can choose from.
This is a sit-on inflatable kayak. It only takes a couple of minutes to get it ready for action. Its weight capacity is 400lb.
Another model by Sevylor is a one-person inflatable sit-inside kayak. One of the main features of this kayak is multiple air chambers that make for the best stability while on water. Should one of the air chambers get damaged, the kayak will stay afloat. Perfect for lakes and ponds.
This 2-person inflatable kayak by Elkton Outdoors will perform equally great on calm lakes and quick rivers. Setting up this kayak will take just a few minutes. Another thing to know about this 2-person model is that it is extremely durable. Coming with a set of fishing accessories like rod holders, adjustable seats, two sets of oars, and a double-action pump, Elktron Outdoors’ kayak is one of the best inflatable fishing boats on the market today.
Stand-Up Paddleboard Fishing Boat
Stand-up paddleboard boats are for those who like to fish while standing on their feet. Basically, such a boat resembles a raft. So why would anyone want to stand while fishing? Well, one of the main reasons is that you will get a higher viewpoint which will come as an advantage when you fish.
A stand-up paddleboard fishing boat (or a SUP) may come with extra accessories like a swivel seat and a rod holder.
SUPs are best used on flat waters like lakes and ponds for obvious reasons.
FishSUP 126 by Sea Eagle may be your number one choice when it comes to SUPs. It is stable and boasts a 500lb weight capacity. So it is practically a 2-person model.
When undeployed, this Sea Eagle FishSUP 126 is easily stored and carried. It comes with a swivel seat and has the option to be equipped with a small trolling motor or a gas motor.
By the way, Sea Eagle is a trendy brand producing top-rated fishing boats. Among its best products is a Sea Eagle Packfish boat. Despite the fact the Sea Eagle Packfish did not make our list, we strongly recommend doing your own research on the model.
This SUP by Aqua Marina will be a perfect purchase for an angler. Thanks to a separate side chamber design, this boat will stay afloat better than any of its rivals. The SUP comes with rod holders and a seat.
Float Tube Inflatable Fishing Boat
A flat tube will be a perfect purchase for those who like to fish alone on lakes, ponds, or gentle streams. Float tube boats come in different design solutions, the most popular being covered inner tubes and U-shaped models.
Float tube models would have a wide variety of extra accessories like seats, rod holders, storage compartments.
The construction is simple – a user sits in a seat between two tubes filled with air. Because of such design – a fisherman is up to their waist in water – these models are best to use in warm waters. But still, it is possible to fish in cooler waters with the proper garments.
The biggest advantage of these models is that they are the most portable of all the inflatable fishing boats. Such boats are perfect for lakes, ponds, and slow rivers.
But there is also a downside to this boat-type – to get the float tube going, you must use your feet which restricts your mobility.
If you like taking long trips to remote fishing spots in the wilderness, this float tube by Classic Accessories is definitely something that deserves your attention. With its weight of only 14lbs, Cumberland Inflatable Float Tube boasts a 350lb weight capacity.
Classic Accessories managed to create a highly portable model for those who like to fish further away from civilization. Thanks to carrying straps, it is extremely easy to travel with the float tube behind your back.
For the best comfort, Classic Accessories added a seat to go with the float tube boat. The model also includes rod holders, two spacious storage units, and a fish ruler.
And finally, Cumberland by Classic Accessories is extremely durable.
Inflatable Fishing Raft
However, float tubes or SUPs are mostly for solo fishing only. For those who would like to have some company to fish with, there are inflatable fishing rafts.
Inflatable fishing raft boat models come in a variety of prices. There are cheap inflatable rafts, and there are more expensive models.
This is the self-bailing model that will accommodate up to six average grown-ups. The Tributary Twelve HD raft is extremely durable and is equipped with three air chambers.
A slightly smaller raft by Intex is capable of holding 4 persons and is perfect for lakes. Seahawk 4 is equipped with two air chambers and comes with two-rod holders. It can also be upgraded with a motor mount to install a trolling motor or a gas motor.
Another popular Intex fishing boat is Intex Excursion 5. Although it did not make our list, we recommending checking it out.
Inflatable Pontoon Boat
What is an inflatable pontoon boat? It is a combination of stability and mobility that also comes with a lot of storage space. There are models that will include extra bags for hiking gear, coolers, and dry boxes.
Pontoon boats are bigger than the rest of the boat types on this list and are often more expensive. But they are perfect for proper purposes.
First of all, inflatable fishing pontoon boats fit any kind of water temps. Secondly, there are more easily controlled compared to other inflatable fishing boat types. Some models include anchors for comfortable fishing in strong currents. Many customers choose to upgrade their pontoons with a motor mount to be able to install a motor on the boat.
This Aquos’ frameless pontoon boat has enough space for two fishers. When packed, the pontoon will easily fit into a car.
With its four separate air chambers, Inflatable Pontoon Boat by Aquos is extremely stable, so the two fishermen can fish standing on the same side of it without the risk of capsizing.
As with most inflatable pontoons, this frameless pontoon boat can be upgraded with a motor.
Coming with a handy rod holder, Colorado XT by Classic Accessories includes an anchor system, two drink holders, a storage platform, and twenty pockets for smaller items.
We will finish our list of the best inflatable fishing boat options with inflatable dinghies – a type of fishing boat for large lakes and coastal waters. Dinghies are great for cold waters and even for coastal ocean trips because, thanks to their construction types, they keep a fisherman fairly dry.
Although not originally designed for fishing, dinghies will often support fishing accessories like rod holders.
Designed for the United States coast guard, Newport Dana Dinghy comes with a self-bailing system, three stainless steel D-rings, durable carrying handles, and an emergency rope.
With a weight capacity of 400lb and three air chambers, Goplus Dinghy comes in two different options – for two or four users. The model includes a durable grab rope, anti-collision strips, and a light keel. The model can be upgraded with a 10 HP motor.
What Are Inflatable Fishing Boats?
An inflatable fishing boat, as you can see from the name, is a type of boat used primarily for fishing trips. Not only fishers make use of this piece of gear, though. An inflatable boat can be used for a wide variety of needs really.
But whatever the reasons you’re thinking about buying an inflatable boat are, first you will have to decide what type of such a boat you need. There are several basic inflatable fishing boat types:
- A sit-inside kayak / a sit-on-top kayak;
- A raft;
- A small fishing pontoon boat;
- Afloat tube;
- A dinghy;
- A stand-up fishing platform.
As you can see, these are drastically different design concepts. But don’t let them confuse you – all of the mentioned boat types are inflatable. So it does not matter really what kind of design it is – pontoon boats or kayaks, float tubes, or fishing platforms – the models qualify as inflatable boats. However, not every inflatable boat is a fishing-type boat. What makes a boat appropriate for fishing trips is a set of fishing features.
So basically, as far as fishing goes, you can fish from any type of floating vessel. Still, to fish properly with all the fishermen’s items and necessities at hand, your best bet is to go for an inflatable boat specifically designed for fishing—more on the key features of fishing inflatables in the next section of our guide.
What A Proper Inflatable Fishing Boat Must Be Like
Let’s have a look at the key features that make an inflatable boat qualify to meet your fishing needs. Understanding what you want your fishing boat to have onboard will help you with the choice.
Not much of an item or a piece of gear you can touch or use but definitely something every boat must have – the ability to stay firmly on the water keeping balance. This is especially important for a fishing boat since struggling to keep a fish on a hook pretty often involves a lot of moving. When fishing, the last thing you want to think about is your boat’s stability – you must be completely sure that your boat will not capsize.
The next thing that is necessary for a fishing boat is its ability to be controlled with ease because when you’re on the water, you will want to be able to move your boat quickly, depending on the situation.
Generally, shorter size boats will move with a lot more ease than their longer and heavier counterparts. Besides, with a smaller boat, you will have more options of maneuvering around trees or rocks while searching for perfect fishing spots.
Of course, a smaller boat is not that speedy as a longer one but is a great choice in terms of mobility.
How durable your future fishing boat must be will depend on how often you’re planning to use it. For instance, serious anglers and fishing professionals will go for the most heavy-duty models on the market. And those models are not too cheap inflatable boats from discount stores, as you might guess.
However, on the other hand, low price models are not your option either since they are made of way too thin vinyl. They will not last long, even if you don’t fish too often. There’s a lot of things that will ruin such boats in no time – sharp rocks, fish spines, hooks, etc. So even if you’re not one of the serious anglers, go for a boat only made from durable materials. Most often, such boats are reinforced with fabric for a longer lifetime.
But however durable your fishing boat is, keep in mind that it still needs more care and caution than an aluminum boat does. Treat your boat carefully:
- Don’t drop it;
- Don’t drag it on the ground (you may damage it with stones, tree roots, etc.);
- Don’t slam your boat;
- Don’t kick your boat (even if you’re completely dissatisfied with the results of your fishing).
The good idea is to keep a set of patches at hand, just in case. There are fishing holes with lots of sharp rocks under the water, and however careful you are, anything can happen when fishing.
Finally, what makes a regular inflatable boat a fishing inflatable boat is a set of proper equipment, or, to be more precise, a place to store all of your fishing gear. So when choosing an inflatable boat, choose among the models with storage space where you can keep all the classic accessories you commonly use (like hooks, fishing baits, etc.).
The best inflatable boats come with a storage platform or any other kind of storage space that every fisher will find extremely useful. Besides, you might also need some space to store your first-aid kit or your emergency essentials.
Rod holders are another kind of extra feature that makes for better boat fishing. Fishing rod holders will keep your rods intact and in place so they won’t be lying around the boat randomly.
As an option, you can always have a couple of swivel seats for the best comfort while fishing. Swivel seats don’t come too often with inflatable boats, though, But still, many customers choose to equip their boats with swivel seats. This is especially useful for inflatable pontoon boats and fishing platforms. Float tubes, however, are often equipped with swivel seats from the start.
Another common feature for properly equipped inflatable fishing boats is an anchor system that helps your boat stay in place.
Why You Need an Inflatable Boat for Fishing
In this section, we will delve deeper into the five main reasons why the best option for boat fishing is an inflatable fishing boat, be it an inflatable kayak, an inflatable pontoon, a float tube, etc.
1 – You Won’t Scare The Fish Away
What you need to understand about all sorts of inflatable fishing boats is that they are all about functionality. Where it is their weight, portability, or price (yep, they are mostly not too expensive) – inflatable boats will satisfy the needs of almost any boater looking for the most functional purchase.
And exploring how functional fishing inflatables are, we will start with the most obvious – they will let you keep as quiet as you can get, so no fish will even suspect you’re out there.
Scaring the fish away is something every fisher had to deal with at least once in a lifetime. Especially while fishing in an aluminum boat. Let’s say you drop something accidentally on the bottom of such a boat. You will make a tremendous amount of noise that in no time will scare away the fish under your boat. Fish can’t make sounds but do they hear them so well!
But should drop something on the bottom of an inflatable platform, a float tube, or a kayak, the object will quietly bounce off of it. Of course, it does not mean that you can go around dropping things in your inflatable bottom or not bothering with keeping quiet at all, but that’s a fact – vinyl (the material that inflatable boats are made of) is in no comparison quieter than aluminum. Should you bump into a rock or a log while on the water – there will be practically no noise either.
Besides, even preparing an inflatable boat for the water makes far less noise than taking your aluminum boat off your van.
2 – Inflatable Boats are Easily Portable
The second best point of why inflatables are so awesome is that they are lightweight and easily portable.
Having an inflatable fishing kayak, an inflatable pontoon boat, etc., you will forget how annoying it used to be getting your old aluminum boat out of your garage and tying it to your vehicle’s rooftop. When undeployed, inflatable boats have the size of a large duffle bag. You can easily carry one while choosing the right fishing spot and then – when you’re ready – deploy it and enjoy fishing.
Your fishing boat will always be with you – in the back of your car, lying right next to your camping kit and a tent. If you’re one of the prepper-enthusiasts, you can add your inflatable fishing boat to your bug-out-kit. This is just great that to keep and travel on an inflatable boat, you don’t need any trailer.
3 – Travel Light with Your Inflatable Boat
Speaking of trailer and such, an inflatable fishing boat will let you travel easier and faster since you won’t have any trailer to give you unnecessary headaches.
When you arrive at the fishing spot, you won’t have to waste a single moment looking for a spot in a parking lot or waiting your turn to park.
4 – Improve Your Garage Stuff Management
Let’s face it – sometimes it seems that there’s not enough space to store everything you need in your garage. With an inflatable boat, you will improve your managing skills and free up some space at the same time.
Like we said earlier, when packed, inflatable boats don’t take up too much space. You can even store some of them under your bed. That’s how compact they are. Even if you live in an apartment, storing an inflatable kayak or a fishing pontoon will not be too much of a problem.
5 – An Inflatable Boat Won’t Break the Bank
That’s true. Mostly, inflatable fishing boats are not too expensive. Well, at least they are not that expensive as regular fishing boats. For instance, a conventional fishing boat can cost you up to $15k, which is pretty tough. But with inflatable fishing boats, you get price options for almost any kind of budget.
Best Inflatable Fishing Boat Summary
Today, an inflatable fishing boat is something every fisher can afford. The boats vary in sizes, features, and prices. There is a wide choice of various types of inflatable boats for fishing to choose from. We hope that our top fishing boat list above will help you.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
What exactly is an inflatable boat?
An inflatable fishing boat is a portable and lightweight inflatable type of boat specifically designed for fishing. Such boats are easily carried and stored. They also come with a number of special fishing features and add-ons like rod holders, storage pockets, motor mounts, etc.
Inflatable fishing boats come in a variety of options in terms of type, weight capacity, and person that a boat can hold. Inflatable boats for shipping divide into several groups: SUPS, kayaks, pontoons, float tubes, rafts.
Among the best fishing inflatables are:
- Intex Excursion 5
- Intex Seahawk 4
- Sea Eagle Packfish
- Colorado XT
What is the difference between the toy and fishing rafts?
To tell a toy raft from a fishing raft is easy. Toy rafts are smaller and cheaper in price. Also, toy rafts don’t come with any kind of fishing gear necessary for fishing-type rafts. Another important point is that a toy raft is made of cheaper materials.
Where can I fish with an inflatable raft?
Depending on the size and features, you can use an inflatable raft for fishing on a lake, a river, or even a moderate stream. However, for faster streams, you should use sit-inside kayaks.
Where can I fish with a framed/frameless pontoon?
Fishing pontoon boats are the largest inflatable boats for fishing. Due to their size and construction features, pontoons fit a wider range of use. Basically, one can use pontoons on practically all kinds of waters. It does not matter which pontoon types you’re using – a framed or a frameless pontoon – you can rest assured that they both fit for fishing on lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams.