Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks: Buying Guide and Reviews

Man catching fish on inflatable kayak
Man catching fish on inflatable kayak
Man catching fish on inflatable kayak

The connection between kayaks and fishing spans back over several millennia, and was forged out of the need for survival in a primitive, often unforgiving wilderness. These days, kayaking plays a far more recreational role in modern culture, and is focused primarily on a desire for leisure and physical fitness than upon utilitarian necessity.Yet, as more and more anglers begin to realize the advantages of using a kayak to help them catch more fish, the timeless connection between kayaks and fishing remains intact.

Today’s hard-bodied fishing kayaks tend to be a bit ungainly, and also require a suitable vehicle with a top rack or a bed to help transport them from place to place. However, a new breed of inflatable kayaks constructed from durable synthetic amalgams are now available. These can be stored right in your trunk or back seat, and then easily transported virtually anywhere that your vehicle can go.

But before you actually commit to purchasing any given inflatable fishing kayak, there are a few things that you should take into consideration:

  • Your level of experience
  • Your budget
  • The type of fishing that you plan to do
  • The locations where you plan to fish

There are a wide variety of quality inflatable kayaks on the market that are designed to be used for fishing. Just remember that the word “best’” should be used subjectively. The “best” product for you is the one that’s most capable of meeting your own personal needs and expectations.

Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks

Buying Guide

Construction

An inflatable boat of any kind is only as good as the materials that it’s made from. The three most popular fabrics currently used in the construction of inflatable kayaks and boats are PVC, Nitrylon, and Hypalon. Each of these comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. As a compromise, many inflatable kayak manufacturers are now using multi-layered combinations of these materials to achieve optimum strength, longevity, and performance.

  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) PVC combinations were the first ones used in the manufacture of consumer-grade inflatables, and have vastly improved with the advent of new technology. PVC remains the most economical material for this application. The downside is that it can be vulnerable to ongoing exposure to intense sunlight. It’s also not resistant to certain chemicals, gasoline, and excessive abrasion. If you select an inflatable fishing kayak made from PVC, you can extend its life by regularly spraying it with a heavy-duty UV protectant.
  • Nitrylon is stronger than PVC. As a result, it’s more puncture-resistant, easier to patch, and performs better in cold weather climates. Fishing kayaks constructed from Nitrylon are more resistant to wear and tear, but tend to weigh 10 to 15 percent more than the ones made out of PVC.
  • Hypalon is the most dependable material for inflatable boat construction and has been selected for use by the U.S. Coast Guard and military for decades. When combined with an interior coating of neoprene, it offers the durability, reliability, and puncture resistance necessary to perform at the highest level on the water. Inflatable fishing kayaks that are constructed with Hypalon are often the most expensive, but they also offer enhanced safety and performance.

Capacity

Kayakers come in different sizes, and so do inflatable fishing kayaks. Always select a product that conforms to your individual requirements regarding height and weight. By law, inflatable boats must be tagged by the manufacturer with a maximum weight capacity, which should be strictly observed at all times.

This recommendation is intended to include the weight of the passenger(s), as well as that of everything else onboard. Hence, in the interest of safety, it’s a good idea to limit your overall load to about 90 percent of the kayak’s rated capacity.

Accessories

Most inflatable kayaks come a la carte, and generally do not include paddles, an air pump, or a patch kit in the initial purchase price. If they do, those items are sometimes not of a truly premium grade. There are a lot of accessory products on the market in all of these categories, but we believe that these three should be at the top of your shopping list:

  • BEST Kayak Paddle with Carbon Fiber Shaft – BEST kayak paddles are an excellent value. They feature strong, carbon fiber shafts and durable, reinforced fiberglass paddle blades that help you move smoothly through the water. Each paddle can also be broken down into two pieces for easy transportation and storage.
  • Airhead Bellow Foot Pump – Although electric air pumps may be quick and convenient; they’re of little use if you happen to be out on the water and suddenly need to go ashore to tighten up the pressure in your kayak. The Airhead Bellow Foot Pump is extremely durable, and easily collapses to store onboard. With three separate adapters, it’s designed to fit virtually any type of valve configuration. It also features a 54-inch hose and offers air displacement of .5 liters per stroke.
  • West System Kayak Repair Kit – The West System patch kit offers an advanced repair option for fixing cracks, holes, and bonding issues on your inflatable kayak. It’s excellent for making both small and medium repairs, and provides excellent bonding for ABS, HDPE, LDPE and PVC. Detailed, step-by-step instructions are provided to help you get the job done right, and the tubes of adhesive can be resealed for later use and convenient storage.

Kayak Selection

Unlike expensive, hard-bodied fishing kayaks that can cost up to $3,000 or more, a majority of the inflatable fishing kayaks on the market have a bottom line of $300 to just over $1,000.

For many consumers, the overall purchase price is a primary concern. While that’s understandable, it’s also vital to look for a sensible balance between price, performance, and safety before making your final choice.

When it comes to fishing from an inflatable kayak, most seasoned anglers select a model that will accommodate a single passenger; however, several models of quality tandem fishing inflatables are available as well.

Although having another person onboard can offer a pleasant and convivial paddling experience, things can get a bit complicated when the fish start biting.

If you plan to fish in a tandem, it’s advisable to assign one passenger to do the paddling and one passenger to handle the fishing pole. That way, you’ll derive maximum benefit from your collaboration.

Reviews of Inflatable Fishing Kayaks

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NRS Pike Angler IK Inflatable Fishing Kayak – Our Pick!

Weight: 35 lbs.

Size: 12’8” long, 3’3” wide

Maximum weight capacity: 400 lbs.

Don’t be fooled by the name: the NRS Pike Angler IK Inflatable Fishing Kayak is an outstanding choice for targeting a wide variety of fresh and saltwater species.

Constructed of thick, abrasion-resistant PVC, this boat is specifically designed for a single angler and their gear. It also has the unique and enviable feature of a removable floor that’s composed of a 4-inch drop-stitch pad, which is incredibly stiff and supportive for those who like to stand and sight fish.

PROS
  • Offers a comfortable, collapsible seat that can be positioned wherever you like.
  • Comes equipped with three conveniently positioned Scotty Mount pads, which allow you to mount fish finders, rod holders, and other onboard gear.
  • Roomy, with lots of space to accommodate your tackle box, backpack, or even a small cooler.
  • Provides two attached carrying handles for easier transportation and plenty of bungee lacing
CONS
  • Heavier than most, even when deflated, because of the double-sided materials used in its construction.
  • A bit slower than many other inflatable kayaks, due to its wide surface area.
  • Happens to be one of the priciest inflatable fishing kayaks in its category.

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Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler Kayak

Weight: 41 lbs.

Size: 9’8” long, 2.11” wide

Maximum weight capacity: 300 lbs.

Built from high-quality, multi-layered fabric, the Advanced Elements Straitedge Angler Kayak offers aluminum rib-frame technology, which assists in better tracking and improved on-the-water performance.

It offers multiple air chambers and special anti-abrasion pads that provide enhanced puncture resistance. It’s very stable, and can handle ongoing exposure to extreme conditions both on and off the water.

PROS
  • Equipped with a very comfortable, high back seat.
  • Features reliable stainless steel D-rings and a web of sturdy bungee lacing to keep things organized onboard.
  • The removable accessory frame allows you to customize the ways you access your boat.
  • An optional rail mount is also available.
  • Can accommodate a fish finder, rod holders, and other necessary equipment.
CONS
  • The mounting bar can be difficult to reach when sitting.
  • It can take longer to dry off after use than other inflatables.

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Sea Eagle 385FT FastTrack Deluxe Solo Inflatable Kayak

Weight: 32 lbs.

SIze: 12’6” long, 36” wide

Maximum weight capacity: 635 lbs.

Although the Sea Eagle 385FT FastTrack Deluxe Solo Inflatable Kayak is not actually called a fishing kayak, it has earned a reputation for performing extremely well within that application. Sea Eagle has been making quality inflatable boats for over 40 years, and this model strictly adheres to their ongoing reputation for excellence.

The 385FT FastTrack Deluxe Solo Inflatable Kayak is lightweight, fast, stable, and highly responsive for excellent performance out on the water. It also features Sea Eagle’s patented NeedleKnife rigid inflatable keel, which further enhances its buoyancy and handling.

PROS
  • Extremely durable
  • Walls and floor inflate to an impressive 3.2psi, which helps to create a rigid, but flexible hull
  • Provides plenty of room onboard to handle small coolers, tackle boxes, and a couple of fishing rods.
  • Optional pole holders are readily available and can be mounted in several convenient places for easy access.
CONS
  • One of the higher-priced boats in its class.
  • Doesn’t include a host of fishing accessories, so you’ll need to individually purchase other angling-related gear.

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Saturn 13’ Pro-Angler FK396

Weight: 43 lbs.

Size: 13’ long, 3” wide

Maximum weight capacity: 700 lbs.

The Saturn 13’ Pro-Angler FK396 is constructed from heavy-duty PVC, which makes it strong and durable, but also lightweight for convenient transportation. Because of its narrow profile and oversized, high-buoyancy tube construction, this inflatable kayak is easier to paddle out to where the fish are biting.

PROS
  • Instead of conventional seating, it features two aluminum benches that can be placed in various spots to adjust to your preferences.
  • The benches can be used to mount a depth finder, GPS, or other electronic gear that will assist you in locating the fish.
  • Features an optional vertical plate for the stern, allowing for the addition of an electric trolling motor.
CONS
  • This kayak is only recommended for fishing in lakes, slow rivers, and calm bays because it’s not designed to be self-bailing.

Reviews of Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Most of the inflatable tandem kayaks that were sold 20 years ago were constructed from relatively thin PVC, which lacked the rigidity and durability to be classified as anything much more than a glorified pool toy.

Today, the strength and thickness of the polyvinyl chloride has greatly improved. Still, many of the budget-priced, inflatable tandem PVC kayaks that claim to be made for “fishing” are actually designed more for lightweight “family fun fishing” on ponds and small lakes.

Because this type of tandem inflatable does not truly address the stringent needs and expectations of serious anglers, we ultimately eliminated several well-known brands from consideration in our product comparison.

In the end, however, we were able to determine two overall winners in this category that we feel offer excellent value, construction, and virtually all of the features necessary to enjoy a pleasant and productive day of fishing.

Check out the latest price on:
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Elkton Outdoors Cormorant

Weight: 27 lbs.

Size: 10’ long

Maximum weight capacity: 470 lbs.

The Elkton Outdoors Cormorant is our pick as the best all-around value in a heavy-duty, tandem inflatable fishing kayak. Priced lower than many other comparable inflatables, it’s durable, dependable, and offers sufficient room for passengers and gear.

PROS
  • Fully equipped for fishing.
  • Features six rod holders, two adjustable seats, double-sided oars, and an air pump.
  • Includes a carrying bag for easy storage and transport.
CONS
  • The seats sit a bit low, so you may want to consider adding inflatable seat cushions for extra height.

NRS Pike Angler IK Inflatable Fishing Kayak— Our Pick!

The fact of the matter is, the markets for both inflatable and hard-bodied fishing kayaks are highly competitive. Most offer quality construction and similar features; but when it comes to selecting the best, only one can be judged to be the overall winner. In this case, it’s the NRS Pike Angler IK Inflatable Fishing Kayak.

Sturdy and dependable, it can handle a 400-pound load and is equipped with 3 Scotty Mount pads that allow you to deck out your kayak with more accessories and gadgets than any of the others that were reviewed.

Its biggest selling point, however, is the stiff inflatable floor pad insert. This feature allows you to actually stand and cast if you like, which is a valuable addition that is not often found on inflatable fishing kayaks.

The competition was keen, but in the end, it was the NRS Pike Angler IK Inflatable Fishing Kayak that ultimately prevailed. However, if you’re on the market for a tandem fishing kayak, the Elkton Outdoors Cormorant is also an exceptional choice!