Last updated on August 23rd, 2023.
Inflatable fishing kayaks are becoming more popular. Here is why, plus a look at the best inflatable kayaks out there.
Disclaimer: All products in this guide are independently researched by our team. We only recommend products we believe in and never get paid for the reviews. Learn more about our review process here.
No matter if you’re at the sea, close to lakes or rivers. You’ll see more and more fly fishermen and traditional anglers use a fishing kayak. The reason behind that is simple: they offer great possibilities to get to places you otherwise wouldn’t reach. Plus they often give you the chance to bring more gear than when using a belly boat / float tube or fishing paddle board / SUP.
Fishing kayaks are a great way to get around comfortably if you want to spend a whole day on the water. However, they are often difficult to transport. This is where inflatable kayaks come into play. They need very little space when stored at home or to transport them in your car. This is why more and more fly fishermen and women opt for an inflatable kayak instead of a traditional hard shell one.
In this buyer’s guide we want to tell you about the differences between these two kinds of fishing kayaks. We tell you what to pay attention to before buying an inflatable kayak. Afterwards we’ll show you the best inflatable fishing kayaks currently on the market. We’ll take a look at models for one person and also dive into tandem fishing kayaks.
Table of Contents:
Best Fishing Kayaks Quick Answer List
Normal Fishing Kayaks vs Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
Thinking of inflatable kayaks for fishing you might assume that they are much softer than a traditional fishing kayak. You will be able to tell the difference for sure, but just like with SUPs (stand up paddle boards) these inflatable ones have gotten so much better in recent years that you don’t have to worry about buying an inferior product.
In the market of SUPs (often also called paddle boards), the inflatable ones have become the gold standard and it’s hard to still find normal ones. The reason for that is simple: inflatable ones offer much more flexibility and need much less space, no matter whether when storing them at home or when taking them to the water.
While a traditional fishing kayak is made of hard plastic, inflatable ones are made from a softer plastic that can be filled with air. You can either use a hand pump to do so (that often comes with the best inflatable kayaks for fishing) or an electric pump that will get the job done a lot quicker. You will be surprised how tough and sturdy these inflatable kayaks feel once fully inflated.
What to Consider before Buying
When you consider buying an inflatable fishing kayak there are a few things you should think about:
Passenger capacity: How many people do you want to fit into the kayak? Are you going to be fishing on your own or do you want to have the chance to bring another person? Depending on that, you can choose between a model for one person or a so called tandem inflatable kayak.
Weight capacity: This is another important factor to consider: make sure to estimate the overall weight you’ll be putting into the inflatable fishing kayak. This should also include the gear you want to bring.
Manoeuvrability: Usually you’ll be paddling your inflatable kayak sitting down. However, the advantage and fun of fishing from a kayak is the possibility to stand up to cast. That’s why inflatable fishing kayaks need to be stable. As a rule of thumb you can remember that the wider the kayak, the more solid it will be.
Weight of the kayak: The packability of inflatable kayaks allows for them to be taken along on any trip. Most of the time you’ll probably be transporting them in your car. However, you can also take them on your back if you want. Most inflatable kayaks weigh in at around 40 lbs which is heavy but can still be carried by a fit person for a certain distance. This really depends on your physique and fitness level.
Gear options: Inflatable kayaks come with different amounts of extra gear such as rod holders, pumps, paddles and bimini tops to protect you from the sunshine. Every fisherman or woman has a different approach here. Some want to keep it simple while others want to bring as much gear as they can.
Sturdiness: For this review we have chosen the most sturdy inflatable kayaks. Yes, there are cheaper ones out there but as you know when fishing, you might be handling a knife, pliers or other pointed objects such as hooks. The outer shell of your kayak needs to be sturdy and able to withstand minor punctures.
Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks on the Market in 2023
Now that you know what to pay attention to before buying an inflatable kayak, we want to give you an overview of some of the best products out there on the market. We’ll take a look at options for one person inflatable kayaks for fishing and also throw in a couple of options if you are looking for a 2 person inflatable kayak. Let’s go!
– Lower seat position gives it a solid kayak feel
– Highly versatile accessory frame in the front and back
– Rides almost like a hardshell kayak
Why we picked it:
The ADVANCED ELEMENTS StraitEdge Angler PRO Inflatable Kayak comes with a sturdy drop-stich floor that increases stability and facilitates a solid stance when casting. Just like the Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack Inflatable Kayak it features multiple air chambers for increased safety.
The biggest asset of the ADVANCED ELEMENTS StraitEdge Angler PRO Inflatable Kayak is its accessory frame system that easily enables you to attach additional gear such as a fish finder or rod holders for extra rods.
The ADVANCED ELEMENTS StraitEdge Angler PRO Inflatable Kayak features an airframe seat made form mesh fabric which comes in handy especially on hot summer days. Features multiple deck lacing options and a ruler on the floor. Multi-layer construction ensures longevity.
Verdict: Great durability and flexibility thanks to the accessory frame system.
– Accessory frames on both ends offer great attachment options
– Great seat position provides extra stability
– Excellent lacing options in the stern and bow
– We found the seat to be a bit uncomfortable if you spend a whole day on the water
– Sit on top & inflatable
– Comes with a fishing cooler
– Adjustable seat
Why we picked it:
The Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler is a fantastic option if you are looking for an inflatable fishing kayak that ticks all the boxes of a premium product. The PVC coating ensures durability, stability and abrasion resistance. Multiple mounts allow you to attach a rod holder, a fish finder or a camera.
The Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler features cargo bungees in the front and back to safely stow away any gear you might want to bring for a long day of fishing. Carry handles on each side make it easy to transport the kayak to and from the water. Comes with a 2-year limited warranty. The max weight capacity of 650(!) lbs makes this inflatable fishing kayak an excellent choice for bigger people and even allows for a second person to come along on your fishing trip.
– Max weight capacity of 650 lbs
– 2 year warranty
– Carry handles on the side facilitate transport
– Finding the right seat position for optimal balance can be a bit tricky
– Sit on top kayak with great seat adjustment system
– Rulers on each side make measuring your catch easy
– Lots of storage option
Why we picked it:
The Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack Inflatable Kayak is an inflatable fishing kayak that leaves no wish unfulfilled. With exterior dimensions of 12’6″ x 36″ (interior 11’7″ x 18″) it provides ample room and stability. The Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack Inflatable Kayak can hold up to 635lbs (or three people) which makes it one of the top choices in this regard.
The Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack features rulers on each side to easily measure your catch. Two cut outs in the front and two in the back can hold several rods. Non-skid footpad provides a solid stance and stability. Reinforced side walls where hooks could most easily damage the fabric.
The Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack has four chambers that prevent deflation even in case one of them should be damaged. Comes with a foot pump that inflates the Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack within minutes. A bag for transportation is also included.
Verdict: The Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack doesn’t come cheap but will provide fun for years to come.
– Hight weight capacity of 635 lbs
– Cut outs for fishing rods
– Reinforced side walls offer extra protection against sharp hooks
– Demands a little more stability than the Aquaglide due to more narrow shape
– Great floor for extra stability
– Extra width comes in handy when casting
– Can be turned into a tandem kayak
Why we picked it:
At 38″ of width, the BOTE Zeppelin Aero offers a high degree of stability which is important if you want to stand when casting. We particularly like the fact that you can turn the BOTE Zeppelin Aero into a tandem kayak with ease. Simply add another seat.
A capacity of 600lbs and the removable floor provide an increased level of stability. At 12’6″, the BOTE Zeppelin Aero has the same length as the Sea Eagle 385fta Fasttrack. Weighing in at 41lbs it can still be carried on your back for a while.
The BOTE Zeppelin Aero Inflatable Kayak‘s seat is deflatable as well. Multiple options to attach gear but no option to store rods standing up. You will have to get rod holders separately. Does not come with a paddle.
Verdict: Great versatility with the option to add another full seat.
– Highly versatile
– Extra width increases stability
– Seat is also deflatable
– Rod holders have to be purchased separately
– Feels like a hybrid of a kayak and a SUP when riding it
– 10ft8″ at 38″ width
– Very sturdy fabric
Why we picked it:
The Star Challenger Inflatable is another great option if you are looking for a sit-on-top fishing kayak. Made from a highly durable PVC outer shell, it features a width of 38″ (just like the BOTE) making the Star Challenger Inflatable a great choice if you want to cast from your kayak and are looking for to provide a high degree of stability. It comes in at 10ft8″ which increases its maneuverability. Riding it, it felt like a mix of a kayak and a stand up paddle board to us.
The seat of the Star Challenger Inflatable is fully removable. Lashing points in the front of the kayak can secure your fishing essentials. The Star Challenger Inflatable comes with a carry bag in which you can nicely stow it for easy transport no matter where you go to fish. A pump and a fin are included as well.
– Straightforward build without any fuss
– Seat is fully removable
– Comes with pump and fin included
– A few more fishing specific features such as rod holders would be a nice add-on
– Deep seating position makes it easier for beginners and intermediates
– Comes with paddle, pump and fin
– Weight capacity of 400lbs
Why we picked it:
The Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak sets itself apart from the rest by its dimensions. At only 10’10” in length it is 39.5″ wide. This shape provides great stability despite the shorter length.
The Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Kayak features an adjustable padded seat and an adjustable foot rest for increased comfort during long days on the water. A solid drop stitch floor makes for a sturdy base. The Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Kayak offers great versatility and options to attach rod mounts featuring several hard mounting points in the front as well as the back (rod holders are not included).
The Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak has a load capacity of 400 lbs which is less than the other single person contenders in this test but will still easily be enough. If you are unsure whether you will be fishing alone or with another person, the Elkton is also available as a 2 person inflatable fishing kayak.
Verdict: Great choice if you are looking for the most compact inflatable fishing kayak.
– Multiple attachment options for rod holders etc.
– Set comes with everything you need to head out onto the water
– Good seat positioning for beginners
– Low weight capacity of 400 lbs
– 2 person inflatable kayak with adjustable seats
– Comes with a pump and two paddles included
– 400 lbs weight capacity
Why we picked it:
Now that we have given you a couple of options to choose from, we want to give you our two favorites when it comes to 2 person inflatable fishing kayaks. One of them is the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak. at 12’7″ the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is only a fraction longer than most one person inflatable kayaks which makes it a good choice if you want to use it on your own as well.
The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak features a sturdy three-layer construction and a three-chamber construction for increased safety. A mounting bracket for fishing accessories offers great versatility. The footrest is adjustable.
The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak comes with two removable and adjustable seats with backrests. One of the seat boosters is removable in case you want to use the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak on your own. The capacity of this kayak is 400lbs.
Verdict: Great tandem option that can be used as a single inflatable fishing kayak as well.
– Comes with footrests
– Compact size despite being a two person kayak
– Multiple gear mounting options
– Low weight capacity, especially for a tandem kayak
– Built with the angler in mind
– Weight capacity: 470 lbs
– Adjustable seats
Why we picked it:
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is another great tandem inflatable fishing kayak option that comes fully equipped for the angler’s adventure. The big asset of the Sevylor Coleman Colorado is the rich set of features it is equipped with.
Two Berkley quick rod holders can be placed in several rod mounts on either side of the Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak. Just like the other quality inflatable fishing kayaks, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak features multiple air chambers.
On the inside the Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak comes with multiple mesh storage options for small items and gear – a great feature. The load capacity is 470lbs.
Verdict: Excellent tandem inflatable fishing kayak with attention to detail.
– Sufficient weight capacity of 470 lbs
– Rod holders come with the kayak
– Maneuverability could be improved
– Lightweight inflatable fishing kayak
– Lashing options in the front and back
– Weight capacity of “only” 250 lbs
Why we picked it:
The Aquaglide Backwoods Purist 65 Inflatable Kayak is the perfect choice if you are looking for the utmost in lightweight and want to bring your fishing kayak on any trip. It packs down to the size of a sleeping back and is hence easy to slip into your backpack no matter where you are going.
At only 6ft7in, the Aquaglide Backwoods Purist 65 Inflatable Kayak is much smaller than the previous products in our review. It’s incredibly lightweight at only 6lbs4oz. The flipside is a lower capacity of “only” 250lbs which should still be enough for most fishermen and women. Made from a rugged TPU nylon fabric, the Aquaglide Backwoods Purist 65 Inflatable Kayak still provides a high degree of abrasion resistance despite its low weight.
A cushy seat and backrest promise comfort even when out on the water for several hours. A fish ruler is printed on the side of the Aquaglide Backwoods Purist 65 Inflatable Kayak and makes measuring your catch as easy at it gets. Comes with a hand pump, repair kit and storage bag. Excellent choice if you want to take your inflatable fishing kayak anywhere.
– Compact dimensions make it highly transportable
– Good abrasion resistance despite lighter fabric
– Set includes hand pump, repair kit and storage bag
– Durability is a weakness on the long run
Taking Care of your Kayak
The most important thing in taking care of your inflatable fishing kayak is to dry it properly after every use. Make sure it’s fully dry before storing it for longer periods of time.
If you don’t have the time to let it dry on location, pack it up. However, you should always make sure to let it dry properly once you arrive at final destination. You can leave it inflated for the entire summer if you want since the best inflatable fishing kayak will hold the air over months. When fall comes, you should deflate it and store it in a dry place. Also, when using it on hot summer days, don’t let your fishing kayk lie around in bright sunshine when there is a shady place around. The same holds true for storing it in the car when the temperatures rise.
If you are using your inflatable fishing kayak in saltwater, make sure to rinse it with freshwater after using it. This will increase the lifespan of your product by a lot.
Additional Gear to Consider when Getting an Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Many of the products we reviewed come with gear to make your day on the water more enjoyable. Here are a few more items you should consider getting when you’re going for an inflatable fishing kayak: a life vest, an electric pump and a roof carrier.
Conclusion on the Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
We hope we could show you that not all inflatable fishing kayaks are created equal. Yet the best ones have similar features that guarantee you will enjoy them for a long time.
No matter which model you go for in the end, make sure you get acquainted with your inflatable fishing kayak and take some time to feel comfortable riding it before starting to fly fish from it. You will realise that it takes some time to get accustomed to using an inflatable fishing kayak, especially standing up in it. Once you’ve mastered the art, we’re sure you’ll have a great time and come to realise that fishing from an inflatable fishing kayak adds another level to your game.
What should I look for in an inflatable fishing kayak?
When selecting an inflatable fishing kayak, consider its stability, ease of inflation/deflation, durability, weight capacity, and the inclusion of useful fishing features such as rod holders and storage space. The material of the kayak and the quality of its seams will also be a determinant of its durability and longevity.
How durable are inflatable fishing kayaks?
The durability of inflatable fishing kayaks can vary based on the quality of the materials used and the construction of the kayak. Many modern inflatable kayaks are surprisingly durable and resistant to punctures, made with multi-layered, heavy-duty materials. However, they might not hold up to very sharp rocks or hooks without caution.
Can an inflatable kayak handle rough waters?
While some inflatable kayaks are suitable for calm waters only, others are designed to handle rougher conditions such as rapids and ocean swells. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of water the kayak is designed for.
Are inflatable fishing kayaks stable?
Many inflatable fishing kayaks are quite stable due to their wider design and lower center of gravity. This is particularly important when fishing, as stability allows for the movements of casting and reeling without the risk of capsizing.
How do I store and maintain my inflatable fishing kayak?
After each use, rinse your kayak with fresh water, especially if it’s been used in saltwater. Let it dry completely before deflating and storing to prevent mold and mildew. Store it in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight to prevent damage to the material. Regularly check for and repair any leaks or damage.
Is it difficult to inflate and deflate a fishing kayak?
Most inflatable fishing kayaks can be inflated within 5-10 minutes using a hand pump or an electric pump. Deflation typically involves opening the valve and rolling up the kayak to remove air. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you inflate and deflate your kayak safely and correctly.
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Leonard Schoenberger and his team spend plenty of days out fishing. Their goal is to test and review products for you so you can make a solid purchase decision and improve your fly fishing game. We always express our honest opinions, never get paid for reviews and are proud of our editorial independence.