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Can I Fish From An Inflatable Kayak?

Mark Armstrong
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Fishing from inflatable kayaks might give you the upper hand when it comes to accessing remote waters.

While these boats offer convenience and portability, there’s actually a lot more to them than that.

Whether you’re an occasional angler who lives in a downtown apartment or you’re simply looking for a fishing boat that’s easy to carry on your own, an inflatable fishing kayak might just check all your boxes.    

Can I Fish From An Inflatable Kayak? - Pinterest ImagePin

Can You Fish In An Inflatable Kayak?

The good news is, yes. You can absolutely fish from an inflatable kayak. There are many inflatable kayaks on the market that are specifically designed for fishing.

Are Inflatable Kayaks Good Or Bad For Fishing (Pros and Cons)?

Easy To Transport (pro)

One of the main benefits (and probably the biggest selling point) of a good inflatable fishing kayak is that it is easy to transport. It can be a lot easier to carry and store compared to a traditional hardshell fishing kayak.

Hardshell fishing kayaks are notoriously heavy compared to non-fishing kayaks. But an inflatable kayak, while generally heavier than a non-fishing inflatable kayak, is often significantly lighter than a hardshell equivalent.

Heavy fishing kayaks can often require kayak carts and load-assist racks to transport them to and from the lake or river. An inflatable fishing kayak, on the other hand, can fit in the trunk of a small car or on the backseat.

Depending on the overall size of the kayak when deflated, you could even carry the kayak on public transportation – perfect if you live in a big city.

Fisherman caught pike fish on inflatable boat with fishing tacklePin

Easy To Maneuver (pro)

Because of the generally shorter lengths of inflatable fishing kayaks compared to hardshell fishing kayaks, they can be easier to maneuver in tight spaces.

This can make them useful for fishing in creeks and streams with sharp bends.

High Capacity (pro)

Another excellent advantage of inflatable fishing kayaks is that they tend to have a much higher load capacity than comparable hardshell kayaks.

This means you can take heavier gear with you without sacrificing performance. Inflatable kayaks can also be ideal for larger or heavier anglers.

Durable (pro)

Despite what you might think, inflatable kayaks are built to be tough. These are incredibly durable little boats that can be ideal for fishing. Most quality inflatable kayaks will be made with tough materials that are resistant to abrasions and punctures.

Some inflatable fishing kayaks will also feature extra material on the floor of the deck to boost durability. This means when you drop a fish hook or any of your tools on the deck, your kayak should remain undamaged.

The durability of inflatable fishing kayaks can make them great starter kayaks for new paddlers or new anglers (or both).

Versatile (pro)

Inflatable kayaks are incredibly versatile. Because of their high level of stability in a range of conditions, they can be great for fishing in a variety of different places, such as rivers, lakes, and even oceans.

Most inflatable fishing kayaks are able to handle moderate rapids so they usually perform well in rivers. This could make them ideal vessels for fly fishing.

It’s not just fishing that these boats are good at. Inflatable kayaks can also be ideal for kayak camping. The large load capacity means you should be able to bring all the gear you need, providing you have enough deck space to store it all.

Not Easy To Customize (con)

Because an inflatable kayak is inflatable, it is not as easy to add aftermarket accessories. Most fishing kayaks can be easily customized by installing mounts or gear tracks. Mounts and gear tracks usually require drilling into the hull of your kayak to fix them to the deck.

On an inflatable kayak, you cannot drill into the hull, for obvious reasons. So you generally can’t install traditional mounts to these types of kayaks.

However, some inflatable kayaks that are purposely designed for fishing may have mounting points pre-installed on the deck. This can let you attach your own accessories, such as fishing rod holders or electronics.

Takes Time To Dry Out (con)

Waiting for your inflatable kayak to dry out can be time consuming and inconvenient. But drying out your kayak is an important step to follow before you can pack your boat away for storage.

Inflatable kayaks ideally need to be completely dry before you pack them into their storage bags. This is so that you prevent the growth of mold and mildew, which can destroy the materials on your kayak.

In some cases, it can take several hours for your kayak to dry out completely, depending on the environment.

Not The Best In Windy Conditions (con)

A downside of inflatable fishing kayaks is that they tend to be more susceptible to the wind compared to hardshell kayaks. This is generally because they are much lighter than hardshell boats.

This can make them more difficult to control in open water where there is wind. Similarly, they may also be more tricky to control in currents for the same reason.

> Are inflatable kayaks safe to use?

Not Always Spacious (con)

While an inflatable kayak might have a generous weight capacity to hold you plus all your gear, inflatable kayaks are not always the most spacious.

The side walls on most inflatable fishing kayaks tend to be relatively wide, which can reduce the amount of space on the deck both for you and your fishing gear.

While inflatable fishing kayaks are generally very wide boats, the deck space is usually not as wide as the bottom of the hull. 

Another downside of inflatable kayaks is that most of them do not offer dry storage. On hardshell fishing kayaks you will generally find storage hatches.

Stand Up Fishing? (con)

Whether you are able to stand up to fish from an inflatable kayak will generally depend on the kayak (and probably your balance). Standing up in a traditional inflatable kayak may not be the best idea, as the deck might not be rigid enough to provide enough stability.

If you have an inflatable fishing kayak with a drop-stitch floor, you’ll probably find that it lends itself well to standing up. This kind of technology provides a rigid floor and is similar to a stand up paddleboard, making it stable and safer for standing up to fish.

Will Inflatable Kayaks Puncture If Fishing From Them?

Inflatable kayaks are generally very durable. They tend to be made from strong materials such as PVC and coated nylon and polyester. The added coatings to these tough fabrics give extra protection against punctures.

This means if you drop your tools or hooks, your tough kayak should be able to handle it.

Likewise, if you plan to fish in areas with rocky shorelines or submerged logs, an inflatable kayak should be able to withstand occasional bumps and scrapes without any problems.

It’s best to opt for an inflatable kayak that has multiple air chambers. So if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a puncture, it should only affect the chamber with the hole. This means you can continue to stay afloat in your kayak until you reach the shore to repair your puncture.

Are Inflatable Kayaks As Good As Hardshell Fishing Kayaks?

It depends what you’re looking for. They can be just as good if the features suit your lifestyle and fishing style. In terms of performance and comfort features, a hardshell fishing kayak may offer more. But if portability is a key feature for you, an inflatable fishing kayak can be the better option.

For frequent kayak fishing, a hardshell fishing kayak may be more convenient as it is ready to launch whenever you need it. There is no need to inflate and deflate, or wait for it to dry, so a hardshell fishing kayak can give you more time on the water to fish.

But hardshell fishing kayaks are much heavier than your average inflatable fishing kayak. So it can be easier to carry an inflatable kayak to and from the water on your own.

Fishing From An Inflatable Kayak: Tips And Tricks

Use Waterproof Dry Bags

Because there is usually no dry storage on an inflatable fishing kayak it can be beneficial to take a couple of dry bags with you. You can protect your gear from rain or splashes.

A waterproof battery box can be useful if you plan to attach an electric trolling motor to your kayak.

How To Rig An Inflatable Kayak For Fishing

Whether you have rod holders built into your inflatable kayak or not, a fishing crate with built-in rod holders can be a good idea to have. This can let you organize your gear and give you a safe space to store extra fishing rods.

Some fishing coolers may also have built-in rod holders and could be used instead of a crate. This could give you additional storage, and much needed covered storage. 

Video: Inflatable Fishing Kayak Setup

Make use of all the available space to keep your gear both within reach and out of your way while paddling or casting. It can be useful to keep any items that you’re going to need on the trip toward the front or center of the kayak, so you can reach them easily.

Anything you might not need till you reach your camp or go home can be stored at the back of the kayak, such as your hand pump.

Some fishing PFDs have additional pockets and pouches for storing small items, such as tools and some tackle, which could save you space on deck.

The Final Verdict

Now that you know you can fish from an inflatable kayak, it’s time to start thinking about the features you might want. Inflatable fishing kayaks can be durable, lightweight, and versatile. And you don’t need a garage to store one at home.

Let us know your favorite spots to take your inflatable kayak and tell us if the fishing’s good.

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