Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today I am going to check out a side of kayak fishing that I have not really considered in the past with my 3 best inflatable fishing kayaks to blow up in 2021. I have fished on kayaks for years but have never considered an inflatable model due to the fact that, well, they are inflatable and fishing involves the use of lots of sharp implements such as knives and hooks – not to mention fish spikes.
However, the more research I have undertaken around kayak fishing, the more evidence I have seen around just how popular inflatable kayaks are when it comes to wetting a line from them. So grab yourself a nice cold beverage and a snack and let’s see if we can get you started on a nice inflatable vessel for a nice price…
My 3 recommended inflatable fishing kayaks
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:
|Intex Excursion Pro Kayak||$||CURRENT PRICE|
|Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler Inflatable Fishing Kayak||$$||CURRENT PRICE|
|Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Fishing Kayak||$$$||CURRENT PRICE|
What is an inflatable kayak?
So, as we know, kayaks are traditionally made of high density polyethylene (plastic) or even fiberglass for some of the sit in models. As the name suggests however, inflatable kayaks are generally made of thick PVC that can be inflated and deflated as required.
The advantages of Inflatable kayaks lie in the fact that they can be deflated for easy transport and storage (i.e. you will not need a rack like the traditional hard bodied options). They are also not as easy to puncture as I thought they could be – which I should have known as we do own an inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) which gets run over rocks and oysters etc and has not punctured yet.
That said, when fishing on these you still need to take greater care with sharp items such as knives etc. as if they are dropped at the right angle for example, they will pierce a hole straight through the bottom and you will be swimming home.
Types of Kayaks
Kayaks generally come in one of two options as follows:
1. Sit on Top kayak – As the name suggests, these are the style that you sit on top of as you paddle along. These are great for fishing as they are generally wider and more stable than some of the others as well as giving you the ability to swing a rod 360 degrees around the vessel with ease.
2. Sit in Kayaks – These are the ones where you site inside the kayak (via the little ‘cockpit’ at the top). They can be just as effective for fishing as the sit on top models and work well in areas with stronger current. They do tend to be narrower and longer making them a little faster across the water however this makes them a little less maneuverable as well.
From what I have seen, inflatable kayaks tend to fit in the middle of the above, riders do sit on top of the vessel however most have side walls that inflate with the base.
In addition to the above, there are a number of variations that you can look into as well. So as you start to look into the type of inflatable kayak you would be looking to purchase, the first thing to consider is where you will be using them. Think about:
As mentioned above, whilst they are in fact quite strong, inflatable kayaks can of course be punctured and are additionally not as maneuverable as they hard bodied cousins. 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 longer model 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. Longer, narrower kayak models are not as easy to turn around between rocks and/or trees in the water as the sit on top flatter models.
- Rapids – Look, if your kayak is built for fishing, it is probably not going to perform too well in any environment where there are rapids to deal with – such as a river, stream and upper reaches of an estuary. In all honesty, I would be looking at converting a more appropriate vessel to allow for fishing if you were looking at spending a bit of time within these areas.
There is more to this but from the point of view of fishing from an inflatable kayak, as long as none of the above are too extreme, then you should be ok in any model.
Can you transport a hard kayak? If no, then go inflatable. Do you have storage space for a hard kayak? If no, then go inflatable.
Kayaks, 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. They can handle rougher water whilst maintaining stability with a little more speed. They are a little harder to maneuver than the short craft but a little faster with better water glide (a.k.a. tracking) to keep the craft moving forward with momentum. The perfect length for those looking to fish in a number of areas and/or environmental factors.
Long craft (13ft+) – If speed a must, or are you planning to do a bit on the open ocean, then I would suggest a longer kayak option. Maneuverability and turning is a problem here (think Titanic) however but if you are chasing fast fish – or need to travel larger distances to get to the fishing grounds – then good length is a must. Longer models can also be fitted with foot pedals for faster movement as well however they are also a bit more on the expensive side (and often over the $1000 mark we are covering here).
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. This is especially pertinent when looking at inflatable kayaks as many do not have them as a standard inclusion. 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 a fishing kayak – even if these are the only fishing related options on the vessel. I mean, where do you put your rod when you are paddling otherwise?
- 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 kayak 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 at the very front or back of the kayak 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 kayaks have hard plastic liners on the bottom to resist hazards such as coral and oyster beds etc.
The number and setup of these will obviously vary from kayak to kayak dependent upon the length (where they can fit more in, and price paid). For a good inflatable fishing kayak however, I would love to see some of the above at the very least.
And finally, check out how they are inflated. Our SUP for example has a hard pushed pump that quite literally takes forever to pump up (well that may be an overreaction but it does take a while and I am pretty tired by the end of it). Some however have powered pumping capabilities that are either battery powered or run from a car ‘cigarette lighter’ port.
If you can get one of these – again – do it!
What Do I use?
Ok, so I do a lot of kayak fishing in a tidal estuary where I use an 8.5ft hard plastic sit on top model with all of the options listed in the previous section above. It is perfect for what I use it for which is drifting up and back with the tidal current with two small rods running a lure and locally sourced bait (small crustaceans we call ‘yabbies’).
If I were to be looking for an inflatable option, for where I am I would be looking for a 10 ft option (for better maneuverability) with rod holders and a pump as a minimum.
My three recommendations broken down
So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following options:
1. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak
This first one is a very basic model that would work well for those looking to mix fishing with just plain recreational paddling. 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: 10 ft (just under 2 ft folded)
- Composition: Laminate PVC with polyester core
- Rod Holders: 2 (detachable)
- Dry Storage: none (space around feet for small dry pack)
- Bait cavities: none (space around feet for small bucket)
- Netted Storage: No
- 2 x cell phone/GoPro mounts
- Inflatable seat booster
- Hi-output air pump with high pressure spring-loaded valves for easy inflation and fast deflation
- Carry bag
- Paddle included
Why have I chosen it?
I like this one purely for its lightweight design and ease of use for those looking to either get started with kayak fishing and/or just be able to ‘throw’ it in the car for a leisurely recreational paddle. At 10ft 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. Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler Inflatable Fishing Kayak
This next one adds a little more functionality than above even though it is a little shorter in length at 9.8ft. However, its aluminium rib frame will give it a little more stability if the water gets a little rough. It is also a little wider than the others which provides more stability as well. Its specs include:
- Length: 9.9 ft
- Composition: Double layer PVC with abrasion pads
- Rod Holders: 2 at back of seat – more can be mounted to aluminium rail however
- Dry Storage: no
- Bait cavities: no
- Netted Storage: yes x 1
- Adjustable high-back seat
- Velcro paddle holder
- Aluminum frame allows for rod holder or fish finder mounting
Why have I chosen it?
This is a good kayak for a good price. Its double layer PVC 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. It is also lightweight (41lb) with good space for fishing and storage. This is a kayak suitable for beginners and experienced fishermen alike.
On the downside, this one doesn’t come with a pump or paddle.
3. Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Fishing Kayak
I have chosen this final one based on the fact that is the best I have seen in the easily maneuverable 10.10ft range with all the added extras I like to see in a good fishing kayak. It is super strong and will handle most onshore and close offshore environments with specifications as follows:
- Length: 10.10 ft
- Composition: 1000D Reinforced Layered PVC
- Rod Holders: 5 x hard mounting points
- Dry Storage: 1 (Extra room for dry bag)
- Bait cavities: No (plenty of room for small bucket)
- Netted Storage: yes x 1
- Lightweight Breakdown Paddle
- Removable Skeg
- Travel Bag with Backpack Straps
- Padded High Back Adjustable EVA Seat
- Drop-In Adjustable Foot Rest
- Dual Action High Volume / High Pressure Hand Pump
Why have I chosen it?
As mentioned above, this is a great kayak for a good 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 kayak for beginners and experienced fishermen alike.
And there it is – my 3 best inflatable fishing kayaks to blow up in 2021. 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
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