Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. So far on this site I have been looking at the use of kayaks in terms of inflatable options for fishing. However, in my research I have noticed that kayaks may not be the only thing that you can blow up and fish in as today I discuss my 3 best inflatable fishing boats under $500 to land the big ones this year.
Now, I have to admit that my only real experience with these watercraft is to use them to ‘ferry’ all of our coolers, rods and reels, chairs and so on across our little estuary so that we can fish from the sand bank on the other side. It was however extremely sturdy and the more I think about it, the more I see that It could certainly be utilised within a fishing capacity as well.
So grab yourself a nice cold beverage and a snack and let’s see if we can get you started on a nice inflatable fishing boat for a nice price…
My 3 recommended inflatable fishing boats
I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:
|Inflatable Fishing Boat||Price||Get it|
|Intex Excursion Inflatable Boat||$||CURRENT PRICE|
|Bestway Hydro Force Inflatable 2 Person Fishing Boat||$$||CURRENT PRICE|
|Sea Eagle PF7K PackFish Inflatable Boat||$$$||CURRENT PRICE|
What is an inflatable fishing boat?
As the name suggests, inflatable fishing boats are generally made of thick PVC that can be inflated and deflated as required. In simple terms, they are essentially either a very wide kayak or a blow up row boat powered by two oars on each side and seats along the floor.
The advantage of Inflatable fishing boats lies in the fact that they can be deflated for easy transport and storage (i.e. you will not need a rack or trailer like the traditional hard bodied options). They are also very adaptable for recreational use as well – or even as a good ‘pack mule’ as we used it for above.
As with inflatable kayaks, they are not as easy to puncture as I thought they could be. That said, they do not handle any sort of strong current, waves or choppy water hence are only really suitable for lakes and slow moving waterways.
What should you be looking for?
Ok, so if an inflatable fishing boat is something that you are considering, let’s check out some of the things that you may want to consider prior to your purchase. Think about:
As mentioned above, whilst they are in fact quite strong, inflatable fishing boats are not generally the most stable option you can use on the water and can of course be punctured if run over sharp rocks or oyster beds etc. So when it comes to where you intend to use them, consider the following:
- Water type – Will you be on a lake, in an estuary or on the open sea? Check the recommended usage locations for any model that you are thinking about.
- Current – Estuaries generally are susceptible to tidal currents – if these are strong then a model with a rigid bottom might suit better if you have to paddle a distance to get to where you want to fish. If the fish are where you launch however, then the stability of a shorter, wider model will work better.
- Hazards – Some water locations (especially lakes) contain hazards such as rocks and fallen trees etc. which do offer extra ripping hazards if just under the water. Inflatable fishing boats are not as easy to turn around between rocks and/or trees in the water as kayak for example.
- Rapids – No – just no.
There is more to this but from the point of view of fishing from an inflatable fishing boat, as long as the water to relatively calm, then you should be ok in any model.
One of the main advantages of an inflatable fishing boat is that they will deflate down to a size that will fit in most vehicles – some even into a backpack. Regardless, it will pay to check the dimensions of the boat once deflated to make sure it will fit in whatever vehicle you plan to transport it in.
Inflatable fishing boats, like most other floating devices, come in a range of lengths starting at around 8 ft up to 13 – 14ft. Depending on the environmental factors we have discussed above, you may consider the following:
Short craft (8 – 9ft) – The shorter the craft, the easier it is to turn however not the fastest thing you will ever sit in. It will also not hold a glide over the water for very long and is very susceptible to anything other than flat water. Very good for lakes etc. where waters are not rough and maneuverability around trees and rocks etc. is required or estuaries with minor currents.
Medium craft (10 – 12ft) – In my research, I have found may articles where this is considered the perfect length for this sort of watercraft. They can handle slightly rougher water whilst maintaining stability with a little more speed. This is also a good length of you want to go with a partner.
Long craft (13ft+) – When it comes to inflatable boats, the longer the craft means that you can essentially fit more people and gear inside it. To be honest, even at this length you will struggle with more than two on board, however if you are going for a longer period of time (hence need more gear) or just want a little more wiggle room then a bigger boat may be worth it.
Width also plays a role here but to be honest, I have always looked at length as my main factor (other may disagree so please comment below if you do). In short though, the wider the craft, the more stable it will be on the water. Narrower boats tend to be faster and maybe a little more maneuverable (longer boats however still will not turn as well as shorter ones).
If you have read any of my other posts on fishing kayaks, you will know my golden rule that if you are looking at a kayak and it doesn’t have at least some rod holders, then it is not a fishing kayak. I could then obviously say the exact same thing about inflatable boats. This doesn’t make them useless for fishing in, just a little harder.
Another key factor is that there is only really a certain amount of space and fishing does generally need a little bit of equipment such as a rod and reel (obviously), bait and a knife at a minimum. So regardless of the width or length, look for a kayak with the following:
- Rod holders – As above, these are in my opinion a must for any vessel that you plan to use for fishing – even if these are the only fishing related options on the boat.
- Storage – These are standard in hard bodied options but not common in inflatable models so if there is somewhere to store your extra tackle, water, cell phone and car keys etc. then you are on a winner.
- Bait cavity – These are little sections in the top of the boat walls or in the floor where you can put your bait (some are round for drinks as well). These are not critical (as you can use a bait belt) but very nice to have.
- Netted storage – These are generally located inside the internal walls of the boat where you can put larger stuff such as a life jacket (if not mandatory to wear), tackle bags, drink coolers and so on…
- Hard bottom liner – In order to assist with puncture protection, some inflatable boats have hard plastic liners on the bottom to resist hazards such as coral and oyster beds etc.
- Space for a motor – One advantage that inflatable boats have is that the larger models will often pair well with a small outboard or trolling motor. If you plan the use these, check for mounting options at the stern.
The number and setup of these will obviously vary from boat to boat dependent upon the length (where they can fit more in, and price paid). For a good inflatable fishing boat however, I would love to see some of the above at the very least.
And finally, check out how they are inflated. Most come with push pump however others have powered pumping capabilities that are either battery powered or run from a car ‘cigarette lighter’ port. Push pumps can take a while so if a powered option is available – get it.
My three recommendations broken down
So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following options:
1. Intex Excursion Inflatable Boat
This first one is a very basic model that would work well for those looking to mix fishing with just plain recreational fun. It doesn’t have the features of many others however certainly has enough functionality to more than handle any basic fishing needs. It is light in weight with high pressure inflation for greater stability and maneuverability with specifications as follows:
- Length: 12 ft
- Composition: Heavy-duty, puncture resistant PVC with inflatable I-beam floor for rigidity
- Capacity: 5 (although I would think 2 for fishing)
- Seats: Double seat on each end with bench in middle
- Rod Holders: 4
- Dry Storage: Gear Pouch on side
- 1300 pound capacity
- NMMA and U.S. Coast Guard certified
- Fittings for motor mount included
- Intex high-output pump included
Why have I chosen it?
I like this one purely for its lightweight design and ease of use for those looking to fish or to simply ‘throw’ it in the car for a leisurely recreational paddle. At 12ft in length it is definitely more suited to calmer, inland waters and estuaries with great stability and maneuverability. Its strong PVC build however is highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight.
2. Bestway Hydro Force Inflatable 2 Person Fishing Boat
This next one adds a little more functionality and durability than above even though it is a little shorter in length at 9.5ft. However, it will give it a little more stability if the water gets a little rough with a few more inclusions as well. Its specs include:
- Length: 9.5 ft
- Composition: 3-ply reinforced vinyl
- Capacity: 2
- Seats: single inflatable cushioned seat on each end
- Rod Holders: 2
- Dry Storage: Dry storage bag attached to inside wall
- 594 pound capacity
- Permanently attached oars with clip holders
- Motor mount grommets
- 360-degree grab rope
- 14.5-inch inflation pump included
Why have I chosen it?
This is a great inflatable fishing boat for a good price. Its reinforced vinyl design makes it extremely tough and suited to many locations such as estuaries and lakes alike. It is easily maneuverable with a nice tracking run making it not a bad option should the fishing holes be a little further away from the launch point. And even though it is only built for two people it has good space for fishing and storage. This is a fishing boat suitable for beginners and experienced fishermen alike.
3. Sea Eagle PF7K PackFish Inflatable Boat
I have chosen this final one based on the fact that is the best I have seen as far as fishing suitability under the $500 mark albeit for a single fisher only. It is super strong with rod holders, storage and best of all, folds into a backpack for those who like to hike to their fishing grounds as well. Its specifications are as follows:
- Length: 7 ft
- Composition: 840D Nylon Protective Cover with overlapped and double-stitched seams
- Capacity: 1
- Seats: Inflatable single seat at the back
- Rod Holders: 2
- Dry Storage: Gear Pouch on both side and small option behind seat
- 300 pound capacity
- Permanently attached oars with clip holders
- PF7 Hull
- A42 Foot Pump included
- Folds down into backpack
Why have I chosen it?
As mentioned above, this is a great inflatable fishing boat for a great price. It is perfectly suited to many locations such as estuaries and lakes alike. It is easily maneuverable with a lot of extras not usually found on an inflatable vessel of this size. Good, solid boat for beginners and experienced fishermen alike.
And there it is – my 3 best inflatable fishing boats under $500 to land the big ones this year. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time