Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today, for those looking to get themselves out of the water to get amongst them, I have had a good look around and come up with my 3 best inflatable fishing pontoon boats to cruise the waters with this year. Fishing is a lot of fun in any vessel however pontoon boats are great for those who want a little more stability than a kayak without the need to make the move to a larger hard bodied boat.
As with anything however, there is some great variation in options here so let’s check out what we can get in terms of a good inflatable pontoon boat for fishing...
My 3 recommended inflatable pontoon boats for fishing
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:
What are inflatable fishing pontoon boats?
Ok, so an inflatable pontoon boat is a dual hulled vessel (think catamaran without the sail) with a stable ‘deck’ connecting the hulls where the fisher sits. As the name suggests, the hulls are pumped up as per an inflatable kayak making them a little more portable than hard bodied options.
The advantages of Inflatable pontoon boats lie in their stability and as above that fact that they can be deflated for easy transport and storage. They tend to be a little more stable and roomy that kayaks however are obviously not as maneuverable around tight structures such as rocks and branches etc.
And even though the hulls are inflatable, they are not as easy to puncture as you would think however when fishing 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.
What should you consider?
When it comes to your purchase considerations, there are some things you should think about as you check things out. These are:
As mentioned above, whilst they are in fact quite strong, inflatable fishing pontoons can of course be punctured and are additionally not as maneuverable as their kayak 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 smaller model might suit better if you have to paddle a distance to get to where you want to fish (unless you have a trolling motor attached of course). If the fish are where you launch however, then the stability of a larger, 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. Again in general, pontoon boats are not as easy to turn around between rocks and/or trees in the water.
- Rapids – No… Just no!
There is more to this but from the point of view of fishing from an inflatable fishing pontoon, as long as none of the above are too extreme, then you should be ok in any model.
Can you transport a hard kayak or boat? If no, then go inflatable. Do you have storage space for a hard bodied option? If no, then go inflatable.
Inflatable fishing pontoons, like most other floating devices, come in a range of lengths starting at around 9 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 you are planning to cover a bit of distance, or want to take another person with you, then I would suggest a longer option. Maneuverability and turning is a problem here (think Titanic) however longer models can also be fitted with trolling or even outboard motors for faster movement as well although they are also a bit more on the expensive side.
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, just as it is with a SUP, 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 is 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. Well I am going to add the same rules to pontoon boats as well. If it doesn’t have at least a rod holder, then it is a recreational vessel and not a fishing one. This is not to say that you can’t add one yourself but you know what I mean.
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 Fishing pontoon with the following:
- Rod holders – As above, these are in my opinion a must for any fishing vessel – even if these are the only fishing related options included. I mean, where do you put your rod when you are paddling otherwise?
- Storage – By design, the larger space found within a fishing pontoon boat generally means that there are more storage options. Look for options that give you space to store your extra tackle, water, cell phone and car keys etc.
- Seat – Unlike kayaks, most inflatable fishing pontoon have hard ‘stadium’ seats installed. Some swivel and others are padded. I guess it just comes down to your personal preferences here – and of course if there is more than one included on larger models.
- Netted storage – These are generally located at the very front or back 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 kayaks have hard plastic liners on the bottom to resist hazards such as coral and oyster beds etc.
- Casting rail – Many who fish with lures or fly fish etc. like to stand whilst they do it and even though pontoons are generally a lot more stable anyway, a good standing pole can help here.
The number and setup of these will obviously vary from vessel to vessel dependent upon the length (where they can fit more in, and price paid). For a good inflatable fishing pontoon boat however, I would love to see some of the above at the very least.
And finally, check out how they are inflated. Most have a hand or foot powered push pump whilst others have 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!
My three recommendations broken down
So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following options:
1. Colorado XT Pontoon Boat
This first one is for those after a smaller option that doesn’t skimp on the extras with everything you could possibly need for a day out on the water. It is tough, durable and will handle most water conditions. Its specifications include:
- Length: 9 ft
- Width: 4.6ft
- Composition: Abrasion-resistant PVC and nylon with powder coated steel tube frame
- Rod Holders: 2 (detachable)
- Storage: 20 pockets of various sizes located around the vessel
- Seat – Padded fold down stadium seat
- Paddle – 7-foot two-piece aluminum oars
- Adjustable foot rests
- Rear storage basket
- Anchor system included
- Carry bag
- Trolling motor mount at back
- Transport wheel attached
Why have I chosen it?
I like this one purely for its huge range of additions for the price. At 9ft in length it is definitely more suited to calmer, inland waters and estuaries with great stability and maneuverability. Its strong PVC build is highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight and at the end of the day it folds down into a portable carry bag.
2. AQUOS Inflatable Fishing Pontoon Boat
This next one adds a little more stability and versatility than the option above albeit without as many additions and inclusions. This comes from its four individual air chamber hull design and an aluminium floor board that will provide a few more fishing options and space for larger extras such as coolers and trolling motor batteries etc. as well. Its specs include:
- Length: 10.2 ft
- Width: 5.7ft
- Composition: Abrasion-resistant PVC and nylon with aluminium floor and 304 high grade stainless steel guard bars
- Rod Holders: 4 (as part of fishing bag at back)
- Storage: Fishing bag at aback with bait bag, bottle pocket, tool pocket and stainless steel hanging ring. Side storage bag
- Seat – Padded fold down swiveling boat seat
- Paddle – Two attachable 5.4 ft paddles
- Guard rails allowing for addition of rod holders, fish finder, anchor lock etc.
- EVA anti-skid pad on floor
- Trolling motor space at back
Why have I chosen it?
This is a good pontoon boat for a good price. Its four cavity hull design and anti skid floor pad make it extremely versatile suited to many locations such as estuaries and lakes alike. It is not too long making it maneuverable with a nice tracking run if a trolling motor is attached and large enough to take a friend too. This is a fishing pontoon suitable for beginners and experienced fishermen alike.
3. Sea Eagle Green Inflatable FoldCat Fishing Boat
I have chosen this final one based on the fact that is the best I have seen for more than one fisher at a time. As with option two above, it doesn’t come with as many extras however there is certainly the space to add it all after market. It does have rod holders and two seats however with specifications as follows:
- Length: 12.4 ft
- Width: 4.6ft
- Composition: 1000 Denier Reinforced PVC with Overlap Seams, full fabric floor and aluminum cross bars
- Rod Holders: 4 Scotty rod holders and mounts
- Storage: None
- Seat – 2x Padded swiveling stadium seats
- Paddle – 7-foot two-piece aluminum oars
- Motor mount to handle 3 hp gas (15″ Shaft) or 70 lbs. thrust Electric Motor (45 lbs. max wt.)
- Removable casting bar
- Folds down to travel bag with carry straps
- Front and back carry handles
Why have I chosen it?
This is a great option for two fishers (even if they both wish to stand) and perfectly suited to many locations such as estuaries and lakes alike especially if the fishing grounds are a little further away from your launch point. Storage options are a little skinny however the fabric floor will certainly allow for any tackle bag or soft cooler bag to be laid flat.
And there it is – my 3 best inflatable fishing pontoon boats to cruise the waters with 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