Kayak fishing has become one of the fastest growing sports over the last few years. Along with bowfishing, it has seen a steady rise in popularity as more folks get involved.
That’s largely due to how accessible it’s become – in no small part thanks to the improved technology of inflatables.
Storage space and transportation need no longer be a concern when you have one of the best inflatable kayaks for fishing in 2021.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s on offer in our review, below.
A full buyer’s guide with FAQ section will follow.
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.
Table of Contents
- The 9 Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks in 2021
- Hobie Mirage i11S Inflatable Kayak
- Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack Inflatable Kayak
- Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler Pro Kayak
- Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- Advanced Elements Straightedge 2 Inflatable Kayak
- Norestar Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Sea Eagle FishSkiff 16 Inflatable Fishing Skiff
- How to Choose the Best Inflatable Kayak for Fishing
- Can you fish from an inflatable kayak?
- Are inflatable kayaks good for fishing?
- Are inflatable kayaks stable and safe?
- Can inflatable kayaks be used in the ocean?
- What to do if an inflatable kayak gets a hole?
- What are the advantages of an inflatable kayak?
- What is the best inflatable kayak for fishing?
- Do inflatable kayaks pop easily?
- Are inflatable kayaks worth buying?
- What is the best inflatable fishing kayak under $500?
The 9 Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks in 2021
How to Choose the Best Inflatable Kayak for Fishing
Selecting the right inflatable fishing kayak isn’t a straightforward task – there are lots of things to consider before you take the plunge.
To help you out, I’ve included an in-depth buyer’s guide below that will hopefully point you in the right direction and get you out on the water as soon as possible.
Why an Inflatable Fishing Kayak? The Pros and Cons
Perhaps the most important consideration when it comes to fishing kayaks, is choosing between a hardshell or an inflatable.
It’s the most important decision for any kayak for that matter.
Now, we could spend a whole article on this subject alone – and you’ll no doubt have heard the arguments for both – especially if you’ve been in the market for a kayak for any length of time.
But let’s just touch on the pros and cons of an inflatable, so you have a bite-sized reminder to hand.
The single greatest advantage of an inflatable kayak is its portability. You can sling that thing into the back of even the smallest vehicle, drive to the nearest water’s edge, and be out on it in no time.
I won’t labor the point – they’re so lightweight you can even carry some models on your back, they’re that portable.
On a similar note, inflatables are much easier to store. Hardshells and boats can take up a lot of room (I have to heave our kayaks up into the garage roof rafters), whereas our inflatables simply sit nicely on the shelf.
Or under the bed, in the closet, down behind the couch – you get the idea.
All things being equal, inflatable kayaks are cheaper than hardshells. While there will always be one or two exceptions – especially with the latest, cutting-edge tech or high-end models, this is still the general rule of thumb.
Finally – and this is an advantage that might surprise you – inflatable fishing kayaks are a lot more durable than people give them credit for.
For example, if you plow into a solid surface (such as a rocky bank or other hazard) in a hardshell kayak – it will likely take on damage. Dents, dings, scrapes, scratches and other cosmetic issues.
An inflatable kayak will simply bounce off. Not – as is contrary to an often popular option – burst like a balloon.
Just think, if only the Titanic was an inflatable…
In the interest of being transparent, fair and unbiased, let’s take a quick look at inflatable fishing kayak disadvantages.
The most obvious, is that they need inflating and deflating. Now, this doesn’t take that long – particularly if you’re using a quality pump – but it still needs to be done. And some kayaks take a lot more time and effort than others to inflate.
That said, packing a used inflatable backup can be a total pain in the butt.
Top tip: Make sure you bring an old towel with you as the kayak is going to be filthy. The last thing you want is mud and damp spread across your back seat.
It should also be noted that there is a chance – however small – of getting a puncture. Good inflatable fishing kayaks will have multiple air chambers, so even if that happens you’re not going to sink.
However, they will still need repair – which can put some people off. For the most part, though, you don’t need to freak out if you accidentally drop one of these fishing multi tools onto the deck of your inflatable.
Performance wise, inflatables don’t come close to hardshells. End of story. However, as you’re using it for fishing, you don’t exactly need a gold medal winning speed machine.
But they simply don’t last as long as a hardshell, either. While you should get several years out of them with the right care – they will give out on you eventually.
In the end, when it comes to balancing them out, I’d say honors were even – for fishing kayaks at least.
This probably won’t change until we see the next generation of inflatables, and it’s exciting to speculate on what that might be.
Next, you need to think about the style of the kayak. I’m not talking about what it’s wearing this season, I’m talking about sit-in or sit-on-top kayaks.
I’m also talking about the shape of the hull, and what that means for you and your comfort on the water.
Almost all inflatable fishing kayaks are of the sit-on-top variety. In fact, most fishing kayaks are of this style anyway.
That’s because you’ll find the hulls to be flatter and wider, with more “primary stability.” This is how sturdy a kayak feels when you first step into the craft. It’s much easier to board a sit-on-top kayak than a sit-in kayak.
For fishing, wider hulls are naturally superior to V-shaped hulls. That’s because you’re not really going to be traveling great distances, nor are you likely to be tackling class III whitewater rapids.
That said, you’ll still want a modicum of tracking ability (how straight a kayak travels through the water), as you might end up doing yourself in with effort, otherwise.
Look for inflatable kayaks with a more hybrid-style hull, and rudders and/or removable skegs (tracking fins) are always a nice addition.
Material and Construction
Inflatable kayaks are often thought of as being similar to those flimsy seaside dinghies you splashed around in as a kid.
They’ve come a long way since then.
Now made from high Denier, durable, reinforced PVC, these things can take a beating. You can watch someone attack some inflatable kayaks with a claw hammer, and it just bounces off.
High-end inflatable kayaks might also include an aluminum frame – which helps achieve similar performance levels to that of the hardshells – again, all things being equal.
Electronically heated seams keep things nice and sealed, with many kayaks guaranteeing not to leak as a result.
Size and Weight Capacity
Figuring out how large you’d like your fishing kayak is also another key consideration.
First, are you looking for a solo or a tandem kayak? Do you like going it alone, or is two company?
Even if you do just want to fish on your own, don’t dismiss a tandem kayak out of hand. Most are capable of being piloted solo, and they offer a lot more room for storage, given the fact that an extra human isn’t present.
This allows you to bring along a nice big fishing cooler to store your food, snacks, beer, or keep anything you catch on ice.
And plenty of options for a good saltwater tackle bag – if you’re fishing in such conditions.
It’s not rocket science here. Choose larger kayaks if you need more room, or if you’re looking for something with a bit more speed. The longer and narrower a kayak is – the faster and straighter it will cut through the water.
But don’t forget about the kayak’s weight capacity either. The more people and/or stuff and/or animals you’re taking with you, the higher this will need to be.
One of my favorite parts about reviewing the best kayaks for fishing is seeing what features it includes that actually makes it a fishing kayak in the first place.
As mentioned, you can pretty much fish from any kayak, but to be a true fishing kayak – it needs to have some practical accessories on board that cater to the sport.
The most common of these are rod holders. Without rod holders – a fishing kayak it is not. Look for the type of holder you would prefer – as there’s a fair selection out there.
Flush mounted holders on the gunwale, Berkeley holders, Scotty mounts, swivel/articulated holders on the deck – there’s a lot to choose from. Some kayaks try and cram them all in – which might do more harm than good.
Don’t overlook where they’re positioned either – as this can be the difference between a five star and a three-star kayak. And always make sure a fishing kayak has paddle parks. You’re not an octopus – you can’t hold rods and paddles at the same time – at least not efficiently.
Aside from the rod holders, some fishing kayaks also have other fishing-friendly-features to keep anglers happy.
Mounting rails for additional accessories are highly useful – especially if you want to add fishing finders, GPS, flashlights, sport cameras, or other extras to pimp your ride.
Center consoles are useful for storing extra tackle and gear. They’ll give you a great place to stash one of these super-sharp fishing knives, for example. Any fishing kayak that helps keep your tools close to hand are to be commended.
Now we get to the really fun part.
Just because a fishing kayak is sold as seen, doesn’t mean you can’t modify it to suit your needs.
If the kayak you’re interested in has everything but is still missing a key ingredient – then why not add it yourself?
If you want to customize your inflatable, then look for models that are capable of doing that. Aside from the accessory railings mentioned above, there should be plenty of space, with room to add extra hardware as you see fit.
You might want to add somewhere to stash one of these awesome kayak fishing nets – if the kayak doesn’t have this feature already.
You might even want to build a platform to accommodate extra tackle boxes – or even a furry friend.
Just check out what this guy did in the video below for inspiration – and the kayak he used isn’t even a fishing kayak!
It might not be the most fun topic, but safety should always be a concern when choosing the right inflatable fishing kayak for you.
Obviously, you’ll want something that is capable of handling the conditions you’re going to be fishing in.
It’s all well and good protecting yourself from the elements with the best fishing jackets out there, but if your kayak isn’t rated or safe to tackle rougher waters or tricky swells – then it could all be for nought.
Look for kayaks that have solid handles and/or grab lines, so you can easily cling on should an accident occur.
Kayaks that come in brighter colors aren’t just for making a fashion statement – they can be much easier to locate in an emergency.
As mentioned, inflatable fishing kayaks tend to cost less than hardshells – providing they’re in the same class, of course.
But with the technology improving all the time (coupled with the rise in popularity of the sport) inflatable kayaks are getting more expensive.
That said, you can still find some great deals – especially if it comes in a kit, with paddles, pump, and carry bag included.
If you’re looking at a more heavy-duty, advanced inflatable, then you’ll be paying $1000+ easy.
Stick to your budget, your skill level, and take into account how often you’re actually going to use it. If you’re fishing all day every day, then a 2K kayak will be a sound investment.
Can you fish from an inflatable kayak?
You most certainly can. Inflatable kayak fishing is a great way to get out onto the water quickly and conveniently, and I highly recommend it – particularly if you don’t have the money or space for a boat or hardshell.
Are inflatable kayaks good for fishing?
Yes, they are. They’re every bit as good for fishing as their hardshell counterparts – and sometimes, they even outperform them.
Check the review above for some great examples.
Alternatively, you could always go a different route and try one of these fishing float tubes instead.
Or, a pair of good, old-fashioned fly-fishing waders should do the trick, if you’re not quite comfortable with your sea legs.
Are inflatable kayaks stable and safe?
Providing you’re getting a good-quality inflatable kayak – then yes.
Look for tried and trusted brands, and don’t buy knock-off products, as while they might save you a bit of money, they’ve probably cut a lot of corners when it comes to quality control and safety.
All the kayaks in this review should have been certified safe to use on the water. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer, and buy something else if you’re not satisfied.
Can inflatable kayaks be used in the ocean?
It depends on the kayak and the conditions. Ocean going kayaks (both hardshell and inflatable) tend to be longer and have a more V-shaped hull which actually makes them more stable in tides and waves.
Fishing kayaks, by their nature, will have flatter, wider hulls to make them more stable in calmer waters.
I would err on the side of caution here, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t take a good inflatable kayak out onto the ocean if the conditions aren’t too wild.
What to do if an inflatable kayak gets a hole?
Great question. While holes are rare in good-quality inflatable kayaks, accidents do happen. The good news is – they are usually easy to repair. It’s not too dissimilar from fixing a bike tire puncture.
Check the video below – from inflatable boat legends Sea Eagle, for some expert advice on how to repair an inflatable boat or kayak.
What are the advantages of an inflatable kayak?
In a nutshell – portability, price, convenience, versatility, and storage. Next question.
What is the best inflatable kayak for fishing?
A question that’s almost impossible to answer, as there isn’t one inflatable fishing kayak that beats out all others.
But all the kayaks in the review above are great fishing options. Make your own mind up and let me know in the comments.
Do inflatable kayaks pop easily?
No. Banish that thought from your head. These things aren’t blow up pool inflatables for the kids.
They’re professional-level fish-catching beasts, capable of reaching fishing spots you usually can only dream about.
Are inflatable kayaks worth buying?
Love water? Check.
Want to get out on the water to fish? Check.
Don’t have the budget for a boat? Check.
Short on space? Check.
Would like a convenient, versatile, recreational craft for fun? Check.
Then yes, an inflatable kayak is definitely worth it.
What is the best inflatable fishing kayak under $500?
That’s actually one of the easiest questions to answer – it’s the Intex Excursion Pro.
Mainly because I believe it’s the only dedicated inflatable fishing kayak below $500!*
*At the time of writing.
Fishing and kayak go hand in hand, and it’s even more convenient and accessible if you’re using an inflatable.
There’s a lot of options out there, and loads of factors to consider, but I hope this article has helped you choose the best inflatable kayak for fishing in 2021.
Let me know which model you’ve gone for and why – or if I’ve missed a product off that should be included.
Happy kayaking – and happy fishing!