The 9 Best Inflatable Kayaks for Fishing in 2021 (You Don’t Need a Boat!)


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.

The 9 Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks in 2021

Hobie Mirage i11S Inflatable Kayak

As you might expect, a Hobie kayak leads the way, an inflatable that has been built to use their famous Mirage Pedal Drive system.

Capable of the same performance as a hardshell without the extra weight, this is a unique machine that will turn heads on the water, and probably turn everyone green with envy.

As well as the kick-up fins, an ambidextrous steering handle can be mounted on the left or right, which controls your rudder, while the premium, elevated seating provides a commanding and comfortable view point.

Capable of a 400 lbs carrying capacity and made with a drop stitch hull with triple-chamber construction, this is a durable, super-fast inflatable that is a real kayak fishing game-changer.

Pros

  • Market-leading brand.
  • Four-piece paddle included.
  • Hand and electric pumps.
  • Super-stable hull.
  • Rolling travel bag.
  • Bungee cord storage.

Cons

  • Exorbitantly expensive.

Takeaway

Alright, so it don’t come cheap, but that’s the price you have to pay when offering one of the best inflatable kayaks for fishing on the market.

And I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – once you’ve tried those Hobie Mirage Pedal Drives – you’ll never go back.

Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack Inflatable Kayak

It wouldn’t be a review of inflatable kayaks without a Sea Eagle option – one of the best in the business at recreational inflatables famed for their durability.

You can even watch a YouTube video of someone driving over one of their products in an SUV.

The Fast Track Angler is a super-lightweight and portable fishing kayak that is capable of carrying up to three people, or a load-bearing 635 lbs weight limit.

With four inflatable chambers, it offers superior durability and peace-of-mind, with electronically welded seams and an inflation time of just seven minutes.

Whitewater rated to class II rivers, this is a versatile inflatable that will take a beating and then some.

Pros

  • Name to trust in inflatables.
  • Durable, rugged construction.
  • Two rod holders.
  • Raised, swivel seating.
  • Non-slip EVA floor.
  • Customizable spray skirts.
  • Paddle and pump included.

Cons

  • Pricey.

Takeaway

Yet another premium inflatable from Sea Eagle, this is an excellent fishing kayak that is packed with quality features and built to last.

Wear a pair of these practical fishing shoes, and you’ll feel even more comfortable with standing casts on that solid EVA deck.

Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler Pro Kayak

Advanced Elements is another company at the top of their game when it comes to cutting-edge inflatable technology.

It stands to reason they should have an offering here, and it comes in the form of this Straight Edge Angler Pro kayak.

Designed for unbeatable tracking and stability, it features a durable, drop-stitch floor for standing casts, and comes with two aluminum accessory frames – so you can easily add extra rod mounts, GPS, fishing finders, or anything else you fancy.

Two flush mounted rod holders come as standard, and the AirFrame Pro seat is fully adjustable, with a high back for extra comfort, so you can fish like a king or queen.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Front and rear carrying handles.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Removable deep fin.
  • Bungee webbing for storage.
  • Duffel bag with shoulder straps.
  • Stainless steel D-rings.

Cons

  • Reports of the seat needing some work.

Takeaway

Advanced Elements are famous for their inflatable kayaks that use cutting edge tech and frame systems to give you the most sturdy, yet lightweight and portable kayak experience possible.

This model is no exception, and with those ingenious accessory railings, just might be one of the best inflatable kayaks for fishing out there.

Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Fishing Kayak

The Steelhead fishing kayak from Elkton Outdoors is one of my personal favorites, and I love reviewing this versatile little package.

A durable and solid design, it features a drop-stitch floor for extra strength and stability, so you can be sure of rock-solid standing casts with no fear of falling in.

The kayak comes with multiple hardware mounting points to kit the craft out to your preference, and it’s been designed to tackle rougher waters, with self bailing ports that are well-positioned in case you’re excessively splashed.

Made with a 1000 Denier, reinforced PVC, and with solid plastic nose and tail cones, this little kayak will handle just about anything you or the environment can throw at it.

Pros

  • Durable construction.
  • Paddles, pump, and backpack included.
  • Front, rear, and side carrying handles.
  • Super lightweight.
  • Bungee storage.
  • Adjustable EVA seat.

Cons

  • No actual rod holders included.

Takeaway

Easily one of the most portable inflatable fishing kayaks on the market, this is a great little kayak that will get you out on the water in no time.

It’s also highly versatile, so even if you wanted to try a spot of whitewater, or simply a leisurely day on the lake – this is a great choice.

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak

As popular as it is sturdy, this tandem fishing kayak from Sevylor Coleman is one of the tried and tested kayaks for the ages.

Aside from the fact that you’re getting a lot of kayak for your money, it’s absolutely packed with premium fishing features that will cater for all anglers.

Berkley Quick Set rod holders are adjustable for enhanced hands-free fishing, while it’s fully compatible with a Sevylor trolling motor to really make your day as effortless as possible.

Made with a highly durable, 18-gauge PVC construction with a 1000 Denier tarpaulin bottom and 840 Denier nylon cover, this is a fully NMMA certified inflatable that is one of the best tandem fishing kayaks on the market. Follow that link for even more.

Pros

  • Tough and durable construction.
  • Mesh storage pockets.
  • Paddle parks.
  • D-rings for attaching gear.
  • Multiple air chambers.
  • Adjustable seating.

Cons

  • The abundance of hardware can be a bit restrictive.
  • Not the most comfortable seats.

Takeaway

This inflatable fishing kayak has been around the block and has the stories to prove it.

As tough and durable as they come, but as one reviewer put it – you should still wear some quality fishing gloves when paddling. You should be doing that with any kayak, really.

Advanced Elements Straightedge 2 Inflatable Kayak

Here we have another good example of a tandem inflatable kayak, this time from Advanced Elements.

As far as durable inflatable kayaks go, this is one of the very best – and it needs to be for this kind of money.

Designed with a heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin material for extreme puncture resistance, you can take this kayak just about anywhere and tackle just about anything, given that it’s at the sweet spot of 13 feet long and super stable.

Of course, it also features Advanced Elements’ signature aluminum frame, located bow and stern for improved tracking and overall performance in the water, and self bailing holes can be set to tackle any deck flooding that might occur in choppier waters.

Finally, three different seating positions allow it to be used as a solo or tandem craft, so it offers a lot of versatility even if you’re not fishing.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Excellent build quality throughout.
  • Folding seats.
  • Durable storage bag included.
  • Large weight capacity.

Cons

  • No real fishing features.
  • Expensive for what it is.

Takeaway

A rugged and durable tandem kayak that will be at home in calm and rough waters, the Straight Edge might not be a dedicated fishing kayak, but it can certainly be a kayak you use for fishing, and a bunch of other water-based activities, too.

Norestar Inflatable Fishing Kayak

This Norestar inflatable fishing kayak is a great little package that offers a durable craft that’s highly portable and super-lightweight.

It comes with two, premium fishing rod holders, and a foot pump that inflates the kayak in under eight minutes.

Designed to take a maximum weight capacity of 330 lbs, it has a drop-stitch floor for standing casts, and plenty of storage options bow and stern for all your extra gear.

The two pontoons add to the overall stability, with three inflation chambers for your safety and comfort.

The performance of a hardshell with the convenience of an inflatable – this is a great little kayak that will keep anglers happy.

Pros

  • Highly portable.
  • Adjustable padded seating.
  • D-rings for accessories.
  • Plenty of rod holders.
  • Compact, lightweight design.

Cons

  • Not the best inflatable kayak for ocean fishing.
  • The seating isn’t that great.

Takeaway

This is the very definition of kayak portability, while the hull pontoons give you that extra peace-of-mind for stability when you’re reeling in a monster catch.

But if you’re looking for something that will take on rougher conditions, check out this article on the best ocean fishing kayaks.

Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable Fishing Kayak

The most affordable inflatable fishing kayak must surely be this effort from Intex, who are synonymous with quality inflatable products that won’t break the bank.

Made from a super tough laminated PVC with a durable polyester core, it’s a rugged kayak that is protected against punctures, scrapes and abrasions, as well as being UV protected.

A tandem kayak, it comes with two removable seats, adjustable footrests, two rod holders, and two removable skegs for improved tracking through the water.

And Intex have also added a nice touch with a removable and adjustable mounting bracket, so you can be free to add extra fishing accessories if you so choose.

Pros

  • Great price point.
  • Paddles and pump included.
  • Spring-loaded valves.
  • Bow and stern storage.
  • Durable construction.

Cons

  • No paddle parks.
  • Seating isn’t the best.

Takeaway

Easily the best inflatable fishing kayak under $500 (and one of the few) this is a great option if you’re on a budget, and you want to get out there as fast as possible.

And as much as it’s protected from UV rays – so should you be – so try one of these awesome fishing hats for keeping the sun off when you’re exposed.

Sea Eagle FishSkiff 16 Inflatable Fishing Skiff

Alright, so it’s technically more of an inflatable fishing boat than it is a kayak, but I decided to include it to give you more options.

Again, it’s another quality inflatable from Sea Eagle, a fishing skiff that is capable of carrying two people, with a huge weight capacity of 1765 lbs.

Of course, part of that has to do with the outboard motor you need – which isn’t included. Super stable and built to last, the drop stitch design offers you an excellent platform for standing casts and reels, with a non-slip floor for extra comfort and peace-of-mind.

Constructed of three air chambers, you’ll get back to shore with ease if you do run into problems – but there’s not much chance of that given just how well this has been made.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • 360 degree swivel seat.
  • Built in fish rulers.
  • Scotty rod holders.
  • SUP paddle included.
  • Highly customizable.
  • High-pressure hand pump and carry bag.

Cons

  • Not hard to guess – you need a motor.
  • Expensive.

Takeaway

The next step up from an inflatable kayak, this is a quality fishing vessel for serious anglers.

And although you really should use it with a motor, it can double as a high-end stand up paddleboard with the paddle included – but you’d better be fit enough to try it. Alternatively, you can check out this review on stand-up paddle boards for fishing.

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.

fisherwoman on inflatable kayak at lake with fishing tackle and net holding pike

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.

Pros

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…

Cons

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.

However, I feel the time you’ve saved in transporting it does more than cancel this out. In a race to the water from an equal distance away, you might well have already caught a fish by the time a hardshell owner gets there.

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.

two fisherwomen on inflatable kayaks fishing at lake

Kayak Style

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.

red inflatable fishing kayak on the autumn river and fishing rod

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.

Fishing Features

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.

Customization

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!

Safety

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.

And don’t forget to wear an approved fishing PFD whenever you venture out on the water. A good fishing headlamp is also a nice addition if you’re going to be out in lower light conditions.

Cost

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.

FAQs

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.

Personally, I like the Sea Eagle, The Advanced Elements, and the Elkton Outdoors models.

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.

Summary

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!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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