How to Choose the Right Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Inflatable fishing kayaks have become very popular in recent years. Once considered no more than toys to most fisherman, these boats have reached a point where some models rival traditional hardshell kayaks in terms of features, durability and ease of use.

There are many reasons you might consider an inflatable fishing kayak. Perhaps you're looking for something light and portable that you can carry around on your back, or maybe you live in an apartment and don't have much space to store your boat.

Whatever the reason for wanting an inflatable vessel, you can ensure you pick out the right one by answering some basic questions.

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  1. What do you plan to do with the kayak?
  2. What style of kayak do you want?
  3. How small of a footprint do you want?
  4. How much time are you willing to devote to assembly?

What do you plan to do with the kayak?

Before you even start looking at inflatable fishing kayaks, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “what am I going to do with this thing?” The answer to this question will point you in a definitive direction.

If you'll be using your inflatable fishing kayak to fish on lakes, marshes and other quiet bodies of water, you can use just about any kind of inflatable vessel. On the other hand, if you plan on going out into the ocean or on a fast-moving river, you'll want something that is more performance-oriented so that you can control your kayak and avoid tipping over.

Generally, shorter kayaks are easier to maneuver, but they aren't very fast. For instance, they are great for fisherman who want something simple to use and don't plan to go out very far.

Longer kayaks can travel more quickly than shorter ones, but they aren't that good at maneuvering. If you're out on a big lake or sea, this isn't a big deal because you have plenty of room to make turns.

The lengthier you want your kayak to be, the more important it is to pay attention to pressure. High-pressure kayaks are more rigid than low-pressure ones. As a low-pressure kayak grows in length, it will sag due to lack of support. High-pressure boats, on the other hand, are inflated with more air and are made with a special technique that adds strength, preventing sagginess from occurring.

High-pressure kayaks are necessary for fishing in rough waters as you'll want all the support and stability you can get in such environs, regardless of the size of your vessel. For instance, if you plan on standing in your inflatable fishing kayak, no matter whether you're in calm waters or rough, you'll need the strength and rigidity of a high-pressure watercraft.

What style of kayak do you want?

Inflatable fishing kayaks are available in as many different styles as traditional hardbody kayaks. These include:

Sit-in kayaks are designed with a cockpit that you slip into. These kinds of boats are ideal for a variety of uses. These units are especially helpful in rough waters as the snug fit of the cockpit allows you to use your body, as well as your paddles, to maneuver the boat.

As these kinds of kayaks place you inside an enclosed space, they're wonderful for keeping you warm and dry in windy weather. You can further ensure comfort by purchasing a skirt to seal off the cockpit.

Sit-on-top kayaks, on the other hand, don't have a cockpit. Instead, they offer an open space with a recessed seat. As there is no cockpit to protect you from wind and water, these kinds of boats are best suited in warmer weather regions. Most fishermen will tell you that if you purchase a sit-on-top kayak, you'd better expect to get wet and stay wet.

Tandem kayaks offer seating space for up to 3 riders. They're a good choice for couples or families who will often fish together. They don't make very good solo fishing vessels, so prior to buying Tandem kayaks make sure that you and your partner do plan to go out together often; otherwise, you may not get much use out of this kind of boat.

Hybrid, or canoe-kayak hybrids, bring together the look of a canoe with the convenience of a kayak. These fishing vessels look a lot like sit-on-top kayaks, but with a difference: they have higher walls. These walls offer a little more protection against water entering the boat. Plus, they tend to be more stable.

How small of a footprint do you want?

The most common reason for wanting to buy an inflatable fishing kayak is having a small footprint. But how small do you want it to be exactly?

Some inflatable kayaks can be torn down into a package almost the size of a backpack. Other inflatables are still much smaller than rigid kayaks, but they will require the use of a car trunk or back seat in order to transport them.

When deciding on an unassembled size, you have to think about 3 factors—where you'll be storing the kayak, where you'll be transporting the unit and how you'll be getting it there.

If you live in an apartment with little storage room, you may not have any choice but to buy the kayak that comes in the smallest package. This may also be the case if you're looking for a watercraft that you can stow in an RV or take on a plane.

If you have a little more room to devote to storage, you can elect to purchase something that will be a bit bigger but will also come packed with a few more features.

In addition to physical size, you also have to think about a kayak's weight. The lightest kayaks weigh as little as 10 pounds, making them wonderful options for backpacking or air travel. Other kayaks can weigh just as much as a rigid kayak. If you'll be kayaking on your own, you'll need to be sure that you choose an inflatable fishing kayak that is light enough for you to tote around without help.

How much time are you willing to devote to assembly?

Are you a patient person or are the kind who just wants to get up and go? If you're the latter, you may not have any interest in a kayak that takes time to put together. If so, you'll be happy to know that there are some inflatable fishing kayaks that can be assembled in as little as 10 minutes. These units tend to be very basic vessels, and they are best suited for calm waters and recreation.

If you want a kayak that has additional features and is geared towards performance — and you're not worried about spending time putting one together — there are many options from which you can choose. Most units take between 20 and 40 minutes to set up, though there are some kayaks that can take up to an hour for assembly. These sorts of vessels can be used for everything— from fishing in marshes to casting in the open waters of the sea.

Inflatable fishing kayaks offer you the opportunity to take your boat just about anywhere. Whether you're an international traveler who likes throwing a line wherever you go or someone who is simply short on space, an inflatable kayak allows you the chance to fish on your terms.

Inflatable fishing kayaks are much more than a float you might put in your pool. These units are made with 18 gauge rip resistant nylon, which oftentimes include a secondary layer of 1000D tarp material to reinforce the kayak.

Most units do not include traditional storage areas such as you would find in a hard molded yak, but some do include netted pockets for small items and areas where you can hook a storage unit to the side of the boat.

Generally, inflatable fishing kayaks are purchased as a spare kayak which can be used for fishing while camping out or as the first kayak as a test to see if you like kayaking in the first place. Prices on inflatable yaks are so much lower than a traditional one that it makes it a good investment if you choose a quality maker.

Top 3 Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
Inflatable Fishing Kayaks #1: Elkton Outdoors 10’ Inflatable #2: Coleman Colorado 2-person by Seylor #3: Sevylor Tahiti Hunt and Fish Inflatable
Storage Available 6 mesh side pockets plus D-right for off-Kayak storage Mesh side Pocket and D-ring for off-kayak storage No storage or D-rings
NMMA Certified Max Support Weight 450 lbs. 470 lbs. 360 lbs.
Seating 2 Adjustable, inflatable Seats 2 Adjustable, inflatable Seats 2 Adjustable, inflatable Seats
Width / Stability 35”/ good stability 36”/ good stability 36”/ good stability
Power Method 2 Paddles included Paddle only, trolling motor optional Paddle only
Unique Features 6 rod holders, excellent foot pump, repair kit and carry beg included Includes carry bag and pressure gauge Sevylor trolling motor can be added, paddle holders Includes carry bag, splash covers, weights only 19-pounds
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price

#Number 1

Elkton Outdoors Inflatable 10′ Foot Inflatable

Elkton’s inflatable fishing kayak comes with everything you need to put this yak into the water and start fishing. This is the perfect solution for fishing when away from home, whether for work, visiting family for the holidays or for those times you want to play hooky from work and scoot off to a nearby lake for the day.

Keep in your car or truck for use any time.

  • Weight capacity 450-pounds
  • Inflated dimensions – 118” x 35” x 16”
  • 18 gauge rip resistant PVC with 1000D tarp over that
  • 2 Adjustable, Padded Seats
  • 2 – vertical rod holders
  • 6 – trolling rod holders
  • 2 – Twist & lock, breakdown paddles
  • Quality foot pump
  • Repair Kit

All you have to bring are the rods, tackle, gear, clothing and lunch, and you’re all set! When all packed away in its carry bag the unit weighs only 39 pounds.

Pros:

4 rod holders, quality foot pump included, repair kit included, 2 adjustable padded seats, 6 mesh pockets, twist-lock breakdown paddles, plenty of D-rings.

Cons:

Instructions for assembly are horrible; but, contact Elkton and they will send good instructions by email

With an Amazon perfect customer rating of 5 stars (out of 3reviews), the Elkton Outdoors Inflatable 10′ Foot Inflatable is worth the big dollar price.

#Number 2

Coleman Colorado(TM) 2-Person Fishing Kayak

When you think “Coleman”, you’ve got to think “hunting, camping, fishing”. Their Coleman Colorado inflatable fishing kayak for two meets the quality you’ve come to expect from this name brand.

  • Weight capacity 470-pounds
  • Inflated dimensions – 10-feet 9” x 3-feet 3”
  • 18 gauge rip resistant PVC with 1000D tarp plus 840D nylon cover over that
  • 2 Adjustable, Padded Seats
  • 2- Berkley Quick Set Rod Holders
  • Sevylor trolling motor fittings ready to accept a motor
  • Double threaded inflate/deflate valves by Boston Valve
  • Mesh storage pockets
  • Molded D-rings for extra units
  • Pressure gauge
  • Paddle holders to keep paddles out of the way during fishing time
  • Carry bag approximately 19” x 12” x 30”

One of the many reasons that this yak scored so high among verified Amazon buyers is the triple method of construction to make it as safe from punctures as possible.

The yak is made of 18 gauge PVC with a 1000D tarp bottom over that and just to ensure the deal, Coleman includes an 840D nylon cover for the bottom. When all bagged up, this kayak weighs approximately 39 pounds.

Pros:

Quality triple layer construction, ready to accept a trolling motor, pressure gauge, Price

Cons:

Need to purchase paddles

With an Amazon perfect customer rating of 4.8 stars (out of 28 reviews), the Coleman Colorado(TM) 2-Person Fishing Kayak is worth the price tag.

#Number 3

Sevylor Tahiti Hunt and Fish Inflatable Kayak

This fishing and hunting inflatable kayak by Sevylor is strictly bare-bones! But, at a price of $127 it is just too good, plus the quality of the workmanship so exceptional that it made our list based on the ratings from Amazon verified customers.

  • Weight capacity 360-pounds
  • Inflated dimensions – 10-feet 4” x 3-feet 1”
  • 21 gauge PVC with Airtight System
  • 2 Adjustable, Inflatable seats
  • Netted spray/splash cover bow and stern
  • Double Lock valve system with two locking points for inflate/deflate
  • Carry bag approximately 24” x 35”

This Sevylor Tahiti inflatable fishing kayak used to be known (years ago) as the “Marlboro Rewards Canoe”. It has a long history of use for sportsman. Although, the name has long been changed but the units is recommended to use strictly on lakes or ponds. In fact, the 90-day warranty is void if used in other types of water. When all bagged up, this kayak weighs approximately 39 pounds.

Although a bare-bones fishing kayak, the unit is great for family outings when you’re at a camp ground and need to entertain the kids and get them out of your spouse’s hair for a while. For better tracking and control, Sevylor recommends purchasing one of their optional skegs along with this product.

Pros:

Price, price, price! Long history of satisfactory use, great for lakes and ponds, easy to transport

Cons:

Lacks foot pump, rod holders, D-rings and storage pockets; 90-limited warranty is the shortest warranty of the top 3

With an Amazon perfect customer rating of 3.9 stars (out of 16 reviews), the Sevylor Tahiti Hunt and Fish Inflatable Kayak is worth the price.