Kayak fishing has become one of the fastest growing sports over the last few years.
That’s largely due to how accessible it’s become – in no small part thanks to the improved technology of inflatables.
Portability and storage need no longer be a concern when you have one of the best inflatable fishing kayaks in 2023.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s currently on offer in our review, with a full buyer’s guide to follow.
Inflatable Fishing Kayaks – At-a-Glance
Before we get fired into the reviews, let’s take a look at the features and factors you should bear in mind while shopping for an inflatable fishing kayak.
- Type of kayak – sit-on-top vs sit-inside, tandem vs solo.
- Performance – how good is it on the water?
- Materials and construction – inflatable boats should be tough and durable.
- Size and weight.
- Weight capacity – how much can it safely hold?
- Fishing friendly features – what makes it a fishing kayak?
- Customization – can you add your own touches?
- Safety – look for practical features.
- Cost – inflatables are usually cheaper than hardshells, but they can still be pricey.
Here’s my picks for the top three inflatable fishing kayaks on the market.
|Sea Eagle 385fta FastTrack||The Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak|
|Intex Excursion Pro Tandem||The Best Budget-Friendly Inflatable Kayak|
|Bote LONO Inflatable Kayak||Pedal Drive Compatible Inflatable Kayak|
The Sea Eagle FastTrack range are some of the finest inflatable fishing kayaks ever made, and the swivel seat 385 model is arguably the best of the bunch.
This is an awesome fishing kayak that comes with everything you need to get started, is very highly rated in the community, and is as tough and durable as they come.
For budget-friendly fishing, look no further than the Intex Excursion Pro, which has an astonishing amount of quality reviews, at an equally astonishing price point.
In fact, I believe this to be the cheapest fishing kayak on the market, but you can follow that link for more budget-friendly options.
And if you really want to push the boat out, so to speak, then you simply must have a look at the new Bote LONO – which takes inflatable fishing kayak technology to the next level.
This is a pedal drive compatible inflatable that offers a lot of versatility in a striking design that’s sure to turn heads.
See all of them and more in the review, below.
Table of Contents
- Inflatable Fishing Kayaks – At-a-Glance
- The 9 Top Rated Inflatable Fishing Kayaks in 2023
- Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack Inflatable Kayak
- Intex Excursion Pro Tandem Inflatable Kayak
- Bote LONO Inflatable Kayak
- Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 Kayak
- Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak
- NRS Pike Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler PRO Kayak
- STAR Rival Fish Inflatable Kayak
- Sevylor Coleman Colorado Tandem Fishing Kayak
- How to Choose an 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?
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.
The 9 Top Rated Inflatable Fishing Kayaks in 2023
How to Choose an Inflatable Kayak for Fishing
Selecting the right inflatable kayak isn’t a straightforward task – there are lots of things to consider before you take the plunge.
Especially when it comes to fishing!
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
Here’s a quick, bite-sized guide to the pros and cons of an inflatable.
- Highly portable.
- Easy to store.
- Generally cheaper.
- Remarkably tough and durable.
- More buoyant.
- Higher maximum weight capacity.
- Inflating and deflating takes time.
- Packing up can get messy – (always take an old towel with you).
- Still a (small) chance of puncture.
- Hardshells perform better in the water.
- Hardshells also last longer.
There’s a lot more to it than that, and we have, in fact, written a dedicated, in-depth article on the differences between hardshells and inflatables, so follow that link for more on this fascinating head-to-head.
In short, though, inflatable technology is getting better all the time, and should be on your radar for on-the-go fishing kayaks you can take anywhere, anytime.
Sit on Top vs Sit Inside
Almost all inflatable fishing kayaks are of the sit-on-top variety. In fact, the most popular fishing kayaks are of this style anyway.
Sit-on-top kayaks tend to offer more onboard storage space, with wider, flatter hulls that improve stability.
That’s not to say sit-inside fishing kayaks are obsolete, and you can see some great examples at this link.
And read this article comparing sit-on-top kayaks to sit-inside models in detail, which will help you choose the right type for your needs.
While inflatable fishing kayaks aren’t as good as hardshells for performance, they’re steadily catching up, and there are some models available that can give them a run for their money.
For fishing, wider hulls are preferable to V-shaped hulls, as you probably don’t need to travel great distances, or tackle class IV rapids.
That said, you’ll still want a modicum of tracking ability (how straight a kayak travels through the water), otherwise it’s going to take a lot more effort to get from A to B.
Look for inflatable kayaks with a more hybrid-style hull, with rudders and/or removable skegs (tracking fins) that can help keep the boat straight when paddling.
Materials and Construction
Do you remember those flimsy seaside dinghies you splashed around in as a kid?
Modern inflatable kayaks have 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.
More advanced, higher-end inflatable fishing kayaks will be made from fabrics like nitrylon, or hypalon – which are preferred by the US Military and Coast Guard.
Some inflatable kayaks might also include an aluminum frame – which helps achieve similar performance levels to that of hardshells.
Electronically heated seams keep things durable and watertight, with many kayaks guaranteeing not to leak as a result
In short, you can rest assured these things are built to stay afloat, and won’t let you down when you’re on the water.
Size, Weight, and Maximum Weight Capacity
As with all kayaks, size matters.
So does how heavy or light the craft is.
And its maximum weight capacity.
The sweet spot for most fishing kayaks is between 10-12 feet in length.
Are you looking at solo or tandem inflatable fishing kayaks?
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, which allows you to bring along a nice big fishing cooler to store your food, snacks, beer, or keep anything you catch on ice.
As well as a good saltwater tackle bag – if you’re fishing in such conditions.
For a more detailed look into this, check out this article, which explores what kayak size you need.
When it comes to how heavy the craft is, you’ll find that inflatable fishing kayaks are some of the lightest models you can buy – which makes it easy to get to and from the water.
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.
And thanks to their increased buoyancy/multiple air chambers, a typical inflatable fishing kayak is going to have a much higher weight capacity than a hardshell.
Comfort and Seating
It used to be that the cockpit and seating were the worst things about inflatable kayaks – particularly for long paddling trips.
Today, we’re seeing more and more inflatables including super-comfortable, stadium-style chairs, adjustable seats, and more spacious staging areas.
Lessons have clearly been learned.
Fishing Friendly Features
To my mind, a fishing kayak isn’t a fishing kayak unless it has some dedicated accessories that are designed to help catch fish.
And although hardshells generally offer more scope and space for “FFFs”, the best Inflatable fishing kayaks aren’t far behind.
Look out for some or all of the following fishing features when shopping for inflatable boats/kayaks.
- Articulated rod holders.
- Flush mounted rod holders.
- Bow and stern tank wells.
- Cargo pockets.
- Stainless steel D-rings.
- Sturdy bungee lacing.
- Lure holders or staging area.
- Tackle trays.
- Accessory gear tracks for fish finders, sports cameras, GPS, etc.
- Scotty mounts.
- Paddle parks for hands-free fishing.
- Anchor mounts for a good kayak anchor.
- A fish ruler.
- Mesh storage pockets.
- Other useful fishing accessories.
Now we get to the really fun part.
Just because a kayak is sold as seen, doesn’t mean you can’t modify it to suit your needs.
If the kayak you’re interested in appears to have 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.
You might want to add somewhere to stash one of these awesome kayak fishing nets – if the yak 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 dedicated 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 suitable for the conditions you’re going to be fishing in.
Most inflatable fishing kayaks are designed for calm, flat water, but many are capable of handling choppier conditions. Check the whitewater rating before purchasing.
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 you could be in trouble.
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.
Traditionally, Inflatable fishing kayaks tend to cost less than hardshells.
But with the technology improving all the time (coupled with the rise in popularity of the sport), they are getting more expensive.
That said, you can still find some great deals – especially if it comes in a kit, with paddles, hand/foot pump, and carry bag included.
Advanced inflatables can easily cost more than $1000.
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 more expensive kayak will be a sound investment.
For a look at the more budget-friendly end of the scale, check out this review of the best fishing kayaks under $800.
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 – 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 have been certified safe to use on the water. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer, and buy something else if you’re not convinced.
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 quite straightforward 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 yaks 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 cheap, blow-up pool toys for the kids.
They’re professional-level fish-catching beasts, capable of reaching fishing spots you can usually only dream about.
Are inflatable kayaks worth buying?
Want to get out on the water to fish?
Don’t have the budget for a boat?
Short on space?
Would you like a convenient, versatile, recreational craft for fun?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then an inflatable kayak is absolutely worth it – for fishing or otherwise.
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.
Which is also available in a solo version.
Mainly because I believe it’s the only dedicated inflatable fishing kayak below $500!*
*At the time of writing.
Fishing and kayaking go hand in hand, and it’s even more convenient and accessible if you’re using an inflatable.
There are 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 2023.
Let me know which model you’ve gone for and why – or if I’ve missed a product off that should be included.
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!