When you think of inflatable boats, it might conjure up images of cheap rubber rafts that kids used to splash around in at the seaside.
But the technology has come a long way since then.
If you’ve not explored the latest and greatest means by which to catch more fish – then you’re missing out.
So, take a look at this review of the best inflatable boats for fishing in 2023 – and prepare to have your mind blown.
Table of Contents
- A Quick Guide to Inflatable Fishing Boats & Our TOP 3 Picks for 2023
- The TOP 13 Best Inflatables for Fishing in 2023
- Saturn 10 Heavy-Duty Fishing Boat
- Sea Eagle PackFish7 Inflatable Fishing Boat
- Classic Accessories Colorado XT Pontoon Boat
- Sea Eagle FSK16 FishSkiff16 Inflatable Boat
- Airhead Angler Bay Inflatable Boat
- Inflatable Sport Boats Swordfish Dinghy
- Outcast Striker Raft Package
- Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker 10 Boat
- Orvis & NRS Hookjaw Raft Package
- Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat
- BRIS Catamaran-Style Inflatable Boat
- Solstice Outdoorsman Inflatable Fishing Boat
- Sea Eagle 375fc Inflatable FoldCat Boat
- Why Choose an Inflatable Boat for Fishing?
- A Buyer’s Guide to Inflatable Fishing Boats
Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.
A Quick Guide to Inflatable Fishing Boats & Our TOP 3 Picks for 2023
Before we get stuck into the reviews, here’s a quick guide to what we look out for, and the features and factors you should be considering when you’re in the market for a new inflatable boat.
- Type of vessel – “boat” is a broad term, and you should consider the type you would like to own. See below for a brief but useful glossary of terms.
- Materials and construction – durability is key for long-lasting products.
- Size/number of occupants – how large do you need your boat to be? How many people does it need to carry?
- Seating – inflatables aren’t usually the best when it comes to seating comfort. But is that always true?
- Storage options – the more space, the more stuff you can bring.
- Propulsion – how is the craft powered?
- Fishing features – if you’re fishing, fishing features are friendly for fisher people. What’s included in your preferred option?
- Cost – the very best inflatable boats are going to be the ones that come in under your budget.
What is an Inflatable Boat?
It’s important that we’re on an even keel from the get-go, so we should address the terminology so as not to cause any confusion.
There are many types of inflatable “boats,” including float tubes, kayaks, and even some stand up paddleboards.
But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to be focussing on rafts, dinghies, and pontoons.
And there are also some excellent inflatables in this review of the best SUPs for fishing, too.
To get you started, we’ve chosen our top three inflatable boats that represent what we believe to be the best of the best.
|Saturn 10 Heavy-Duty Fishing Boat||The Best Inflatable Fishing Boat Overall|
|Sea Eagle PackFish7 Fishing Boat||The Best Budget-Friendly Option|
|Classic Accessories Colorado XT Pontoon Boat||The Best Pontoon-Style Fishing Boat|
Up first, we’ve gone for the impressive Saturn heavy-duty fishing boat, which – although expensive – is actually great value considering what you get.
This is a top-quality fishing craft that will last you for many seasons with proper care, and takes our award for the best inflatable fishing boat overall.
For a more budget-friendly option, our number two position goes to the Sea Eagle Packfish.
We could have chosen any number of Sea Eagle products here, but this one is practical, highly portable, and just so darn cute!
A shoo-in for the most portable inflatable fishing boat available – boasting Sea Eagle’s trademark quality.
Finally, last but not least is the Classic Accessories Colorado XL pontoon fishing boat. Another highly portable option, this offers crazy stability and some excellent features for a fun day out on the water.
In our opinion, this is easily the best pontoon-style fishing boat out there.
Do you agree with our choices?
Keep reading for an in-depth review of these boats, as well as the complete list of the best inflatable fishing boats for 2023.
How Do We Choose?
Our team of dedicated experts examine as many products as we can possibly get our hands on, over the course of several hours.
That’s typically around 25-40 boats, examined over a couple of days, depending on what’s currently available and easy to access.
You won’t find obscure products that are hard to purchase, nor will you find fluff that’s been shoehorned in just for the sake of it.
Using our own little guide above, we sort the wheat from the chaff, and whittle down a longlist into a shortlist.
Once that’s done, we’ll explore interviews, YouTube videos, reviews, comments sections, and visit paddle sports stores to get the low-down on each product – from people in the know.
And where possible, we try the gear out ourselves, for a full, hands-on experience.
Finally, in compiling all this information, our shortlist becomes an even shorter list – and that’s what we bring to you.
The TOP 13 Best Inflatables for Fishing in 2023
Why Choose an Inflatable Boat for Fishing?
Now that we all know what we’re talking about, let’s briefly explore their advantages, and why you should be considering an inflatable boat for fishing in the first place.
Perhaps the most obvious plus point is portability and storage. You don’t need a large driveway and trailer with one of these inflatables, and it won’t take up all the space in your garage.
Likewise, when it comes to getting to and from the water, you can just throw the thing into the back of your vehicle and be off at a moment’s notice.
Inflatable boats are much more lightweight than their hardshell or aluminum counterparts, which also ensures that putting in and taking out will be easier along the water’s edge.
And you can do that almost anywhere – there’s no need to wait for a boat ramp to become available.
If it’s silence and stealth you’re after, inflatable boats have you covered. You don’t have to use loud, smelly motors that disturb the peace, and the hull in general is much quieter in and on the water.
But even if you do use one with a motor, you can still switch to paddles or oars, ensuring you don’t spook any fish – or anyone else who happens to be enjoying a relaxing day in the great outdoors.
When it comes to maintenance, you’ll find the inflatables to be very durable these days, and you might be surprised to learn they won’t get damaged as easily as a hardshell if you hit an obstacle.
Last but by no means least, inflatables cost considerably less than typical hardshell craft or bass boats – which can often set you back thousands of dollars.
A Buyer’s Guide to Inflatable Fishing Boats
There are plenty of factors to consider when you’re in the market for an inflatable fishing boat.
Read on for some great tips and advice on what to look out for.
Type of Inflatable
“Inflatable boat” can be a broad term used to describe a number of different watercraft.
However, as mentioned in the introduction, I’ve chosen to focus on the three types I most associate with the word “boat.”
You can check out this article on inflatable boats versus inflatable kayaks to see a more detailed explanation of the differences with each.
In this article, we’ve covered:
Raft inflatables – identified by an air chamber that encircles the whole craft, rafts typically do not use outboard motors, and are more like a floating platform powered by oars.
They’re certainly not the fastest boats in the water, but they can usually accommodate a lot of people and/or gear.
Rafts are commonly the most affordable of the three options, but there are more expensive, highly-durable models that are made with premium materials.
Dinghy inflatables – are designed to be used with a trolling or outboard motor, and are recognized by their pontoon-style stern with solid transom.
Ideal for use in larger bodies of water – including coastal environments, you can reach crazy speeds in an inflatable dinghy given the right motor.
They nearly always have aluminum seating slats that are placed perpendicular to the hull, with a reinforced floor that is usually reversible and/or removable.
Pontoon inflatables – are of a catamaran style, with two distinct air chambers on either side of the craft that offers unbeatable stability on the water.
They’re also highly maneuverable, and very comfortable given their raised seating position and foot bars for rowing.
The type you choose depends on a number of factors, including the conditions in which you’re fishing, how you want to power your craft, and how many people you want to take with you.
Materials and Durability
Perhaps the two biggest concerns with inflatable boats is how long they’re going to last, and how puncture-resistant they are. This boils down to what they’re made of – and how they’re made.
These days, most inflatable boats are constructed out of one of three materials – PVC, polyethylene, and Hypalon (or derivatives thereof).
They might also use aluminum flooring or framing – which is often powder-coated for anti-corrosion protection in saltwater.
The longevity of each will depend on the quality of the craft itself, but Hypalon is the preferred choice of the US Military and Coast Guard, so that’s head-and-shoulders above the other materials when it comes to durability.
That said, reinforced PVC and/or polyethylene is more than capable of standing up to the rigors of the great outdoors, and look for craft with electronically heat-treated seams for extra strength.
Check out the video below for some detailed information on how to ensure your inflatable enjoys the longest life possible with a bit of care and repair.
Size/Number of Occupants/Portability
Inflatable boats tend to be wider than they are longer – especially when compared with some kayaks.
You’ll find that they’re not often much larger than 10 feet from bow to stern.
This makes them super-stable, but they’re not going to be all that fast unless you’re using a motor.
The wider deck space will also afford you room to move around – as well as the chance to carry more occupants if you so desire.
That’s just not possible in most fishing kayaks – unless you’re using one of these tandem models, which some anglers prefer for the extra space.
The size of the inflatable should also be considered when it comes to how portable the craft is going to be. Will it fit in the back of your vehicle – or are you likely to need a trailer?
Bear in mind that you’re not going to be able to stand in all of them – so check to see if that’s possible if it’s something that is essential to your fishing technique.
And take a look at these articles on the best rods and reels on the market – in case you fancy an upgrade with your gear.
Comfort is very important when it comes to choosing the right kind of fishing craft for your needs, and you’ll notice that different types of inflatables have different types of seating.
You can find vessels where you simply sit on the deck, boats that use aluminum slats as seats, inflatable seats that are often removable, lawn-chair-style frames, and premium swivel chairs in more expensive models.
And speaking of expense, the better the seating, the more you’ll have to pay.
So, take this into consideration when deciding what is important to you. More often than not, you need to think about how physically fit you are, as well as your overall size.
Please don’t cram yourself into a tiny cockpit with a really uncomfortable seat just because it’ll save you a bit of money. Life is too short for that kind of nonsense.
Inflatable boats can offer a lot of space for storing extra gear and equipment, and some models are capable of handling high weight capacities, so you can bring even more stuff if you so choose.
However, they don’t have dedicated tank wells or storage hatches like kayaks do, so you’ll need to look for boats that offer other means of securing your belongings while you’re out on the water.
Check for boats with D-rings that you can lash your gear to, as well as under seat storage spaces if the craft offers raised seating positions.
You can always try using one of these kayak fishing tackle boxes, as some of them will work just as well with inflatable boats as they will on a kayak.
And I highly recommended getting a good quality fishing dry bag – to help protect your valuables and devices when you’re out there.
How you power the craft is another important consideration.
One of the main differences between inflatable boats and inflatable kayaks is the former are more commonly powered with gas or battery motors, while the latter will use a double-bladed paddle.
It’s essential you understand which boat is compatible with which motor. You don’t want to end up having a super-powerful engine weighing down the back of a tiny raft.
Check to see the maximum amount of horsepower each vessel is compatible with – if you’re 100% set on using a gas powered motor.
Alternatively, if you’d rather take things down a notch, make sure the craft has the option of adding a trolling motor. With that in mind, it will also need somewhere you can stash the battery pack.
At the very least, an inflatable boat needs to have a good set of oars, with quality oar locks to allow a smooth rowing cycle. The last thing you want is the oars floating off down the river.
And you never know when something might go wrong with the engine, or your motor battery dies to leave you stranded.
Remember, you need to have a modicum of fitness to manually pilot an inflatable boat – even more so than a kayak. They just don’t track nearly as well, are considerably slower as a result, and take a lot more effort to move.
As such, most anglers who choose to use an inflatable boat will be doing so with a suitable motor on board.
Fishing Friendly Features
You can fish from almost any watercraft, but it certainly helps if it comes with some decent fishing friendly features at the point of sale.
Of course, you can always feel free to kit out any inflatable boat to be an angler’s dream, but if you’re not so hot on DIY, or you’re just looking for convenience, it’s a good idea to look out for some FFFs as standard.
Rod holders and accessory mounting options are perhaps the two most popular additions, and the option of adding one of these awesome fish finders becomes much easier – for example.
Many inflatable boats come with a fish measuring ruler built-in, which makes things super-easy for an at-a-glance guide to the size of the whopper you just landed.
Oar parks are essential, so you can keep them out of the way when not in use – and close to hand in case of a problem if you’re using a motor.
Most of all, you’ll be looking to keep your hands free as much as possible, so you can actually get on with fishing, and spend less time worrying about the boat itself. Anything that helps you do that is a bonus.
And before I forget, take a look at this article on the best kayak anchors for fishing – which will also come in handy for all small boats.
As you can tell from the review, when it comes to price, inflatable boats vary wildly.
This is actually pretty awesome, as it ensures the sport is accessible to all, as there’s an affordable option out there for everyone.
You don’t have to spend the megabucks to get out there and enjoy fishing from an inflatable boat.
But if you are looking for alternatives, you can always check out this budget-friendly fishing kayak review.
Remember to buy the best you can afford, while suiting it to your own experience and skill level, as well as how often you’re actually going to use it.
And get something good the first time – as it seriously helps the planet by cutting down on waste.
I hope this article has encouraged you to consider the best inflatable boats for fishing in 2023. I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously impressed by the current technology.
They just keep getting better all the time.
Let me know which model you’re considering and why in the comments below.
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy fishing!