Inflatable kayaks are becoming more popular by the day. Paddlers of varying skill levels are making it their watercraft of choice because of how easy they are to use and how much space they save.
If you love fishing and are thinking about investing in an inflatable kayak, you probably want to be sure that the vessel can get the job done before you finalize the purchase.
In this article, I’m going to cover everything you need to know about fishing from an inflatable kayak from its advantages and drawbacks to practical tips you can use to stay safe while chasing after your first or next catch.
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- Are inflatable kayaks safe for fishing?
- Are inflatable kayaks stable enough for fishing?
- Can I use an inflatable kayak to fish in the ocean?
- Tips for fishing from an inflatable kayak
- Pros and cons of fishing from an inflatable kayak
- What kind of inflatable kayak should I buy for fishing?
- Final Words
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The first thing you need to know about inflatable kayaks is that they are a perfectly safe choice for fishing.
Modern-day inflatable kayaks are made with high-strength materials like PVC, polyester, and coated nylon, making them highly durable and resistant to punctures.
Just like hard plastic kayaks, there are inflatable kayaks that are specially designed for fishing. But even if you don’t own an inflatable fishing kayak, you can still go fishing in whatever type of inflatable kayak you have although it won’t give you the most optimal experience.
Inflatable kayaks are far less complicated to use than they seem. Most inflatable kayaks are sold with a hand pump so you can easily blow them up whenever you plan to spend your day relaxing and fishing on the water.
You even have the option of investing in an electric kayak pump if you don’t want to put any effort into inflating your kayak yourself.
Keep in mind that you will still have to take the same precautions when fishing from an inflatable kayak as you would when using a traditional hardshell kayak to ensure utmost safety.
However, you don’t have to worry about being more prone to accidents in an inflatable kayak because they are just as safe to fish from as their plastic counterparts.
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Yes, inflatable kayaks offer the same measure of stability as hard-shell kayaks within the same price range, especially if you’re going to be doing your fishing sitting down. For increased stability, opt for inflatable kayaks with larger pontoons on the sides.
Flat-bottomed designs are typically more stable than their round-bottomed cousins but they can be challenging to paddle. Some high-quality inflatable kayaks even allow you to stand up and move around in the watercraft while fishing, without undermining the vessel’s stability.
In addition to being pretty stable, inflatable kayaks don’t require you to exert yourself as much when paddling them, so you’ll be less likely to end up with sore muscles and aching joints after a long day of trying to catch something.
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Technically, nothing is stopping you from fishing from an inflatable kayak on the ocean, but I would advise against it. You’re better off choosing a hardshell kayak with lots of scupper holes for long fishing expeditions that require you to go far out into the water.
This is because they’ll be better equipped to drain water from your kayak efficiently if you get into a dicey situation when you’re far away from shore.
Here are some best practices and safety measures you can take to ensure you have a great time fishing without risking personal injury or damage to your inflatable kayak.
Before investing in a particular inflatable kayak for fishing, make sure it’s made with quality materials and built to last. It must be able to withstand being exposed to the elements and spending long hours in the sun.
Create a list of the things you want or need to take with you on your fishing trip to minimize the chances of forgetting something that could jeopardize your safety or the purpose of the trip.
Make sure you use waterproof dry bags to pack your belongings and protect them from getting wet.
Fishing requires movement. If you don’t succeed in catching anything in one spot, you can paddle to a different area to try your luck.
You also need to react to the water’s rhythm as you move, so you won’t be able to apply both of your hands to either activity if you’re doing them simultaneously.
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Although inflatable kayaks are pretty tough, you still need to apply caution when handling sharp objects like knives, hooks, and fish fins. Try to guide your catch away from your kayak so their fins and teeth don’t puncture your boat.
Nothing cramps the fun of fishing like having to pause and rig your rod differently every time you want to switch up your strategy or attract a different kind of fish.
To avoid this, make sure you bring along several rods—between three to five—so you can rig each one to hold different fish lures or cater to a specific fishing style. This way you can alternate your approach quickly and easily without interrupting your flow.
Since inflatable kayaks sit higher in the water and are more easily influenced by wind, you are more likely to drift. Instead of being afraid and spending most of your time trying to right your kayak, use it to your advantage.
Just relax and float away. Instead of staying in your spot, you’ll be able to cover a wider area and catch more fish while drifting. So you can channel all your focus into trying out different fishing techniques rather than dividing it between paddling and casting.
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As with most things, there are certain benefits that you can enjoy from using an inflatable kayak to fish, as well as drawbacks you will have to contend with when using one. Let’s take a look at some of them.
If you don’t have a lot of kayaking or kayak fishing experience, you actually can’t ask for a better and easier kayak to kick off your journey with than inflatable kayaks.
They require the least amount of effort to prep and carry around, while still being spacious enough to hold your kayaking gear and fishing equipment.
When it comes to cost-effectiveness, inflatable kayaks blow hardshell kayaks out of the water.
If you’re just learning to fish or can’t afford to invest thousands of dollars in a high-end fishing kayak with all the bells and whistles, you can get an inexpensive inflatable kayak of good quality worth about $300 to $500.
An inflatable kayak within this price range will offer you better durability, stability, and performance than a similarly-priced hardshell kayak.
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The portability of inflatable kayaks is easily their biggest advantage. The ease of transportation that they offer simply cannot be beaten, especially if you live far away from your favorite fishing spots and don’t own a truck or a car fitted with a kayak rack.
Unlike traditional plastic kayaks, you won’t have to deal with the stress of loading, unloading, and carrying your inflatable kayak to the river or lake whenever you want to go angling or enjoy a leisurely paddle.
Your inflatable kayak can sit in the backseat or trunk of your car, no matter how small the vehicle is. You can even carry it around in a bag when using transportation.
Since you won’t need anyone’s help loading or transporting your inflatable kayak, it will free you up to go on fishing trips whenever you please rather than having to align your schedule with someone else’s.
You need ample space to store a plastic kayak when not in use but that is not the case with inflatable models.
After deflating and drying them, you can just roll them up, place them into a bag and store them anywhere you like be it your wardrobe, garage shelf, or underneath your bed frame until the next time you’re going fishing.
Inflatable kayaks—especially fishing models—generally have more roomy deck space and a larger load capacity. This means you can pack heavier fishing and kayak camping gear without endangering the kayak’s performance in any way.
It takes a couple of hours for an inflatable kayak to dry out completely which can be an inconvenience because you can’t just store it away the moment you return from your fishing trip. You have to wait for it to be completely dry or else you’ll create a supportive environment for mildew and mold to grow and damage your kayak.
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Inflatable kayaks do not lend themselves well to customization. Many fishing accessories can help improve your experience as an angler but it may be difficult to install most of them on an inflatable kayak.
This is because, unlike plastic kayaks, you can’t drill holes into inflatable kayaks to attack gear tracks, mounts, fish grips, rod holders, fish finders, and the like on them. You can get around this by buying inflatable kayaks that are specifically built for fishing and have factory-fitted mount points.
The lightweight nature of inflatable kayaks makes them more vulnerable to wind and rough weather and water conditions than plastic kayaks. As a result, they’re harder to control when fishing in areas with intense currents and open waters with greater wind flow.
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While you can fish from any type of inflatable kayak, the option you choose can affect your experience for better or worse. So before you decide to purchase an inflatable kayak, you need to understand your options and their best use cases.
Inflatable fishing kayaks are specialty kayaks that are customized for fishing purposes. They typically come with reinforced floors to provide stability for stand-up fishing and elevated seats for flexibility of movement.
They also feature mounts for rod holders and fish finders, as well as keel canopies, optional trolling motors, oars, and paddles. Inflatable kayaks are designed to tolerate large waves and high winds and they’re the perfect companion for any angler who takes the craft seriously.
If you plan on fishing frequently, covering long distances, or embarking on multi-day trips on lakes and flat water, you’re going to need a lake & flat water inflatable kayak to help you cut through the water efficiently.
This type of inflatable kayak is ideal for fishing in waters that don’t have strong currents or class II and lower rapids. You can also use it in any temperature whether it’s freezing cold or a burning hot summer day.
Also, it has impressive cargo capacity so you can pack a weekend bag and turn your fishing trip into a camping opportunity.
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Inflatable expedition kayaks are best for multi-day or multi-week float trips through rough or remote terrain. Although they’re not specially designed for fishing, expedition kayaks are perfect for intermediate or casual anglers.
These kayaks are versatile enough to suit other purposes and water bodies including lazy floats, smooth-flowing rivers, and lakes. However, if you plan to spend most of your time going on long or frequent fishing explorations on lakes, you’re better off choosing a recreational kayak.
You can use inflatable expedition kayaks to run whitewater rapids of Class IV and lower, or to go angling or paddling in sub-freezing conditions since it doesn’t have temperature constraints.
Also, these kayaks have a large cargo capacity and can fit two people and enough gear to last up to a week.
As the name suggests, these kayaks are designed for short recreational paddles across ponds, rivers, and lakes. They can also be used to take on rapids rated Class III or lower.
Recreational inflatable kayaks are relatively cheaper than other types of inflatables. However, they have limited weight capacity so they’re better suited for day fishing trips that don’t require you to haul too much stuff around.
These kayaks are temperature constrained and should only be used in above-freezing air temperatures.
If you’re an adrenaline hound or an experienced paddler looking to combine fishing with the challenge of maneuvering through whitewater rapids, this is the best inflatable kayak for you.
Whitewater inflatable kayaks are built with sturdy denier fabric so they’re capable of withstanding high-speed impacts and long drops.
Fishing from an inflatable kayak is not only possible, but it is also safe and enjoyable. If you don’t have room to store a traditional plastic kayak or you want a portable kayak, an inflatable kayak is the answer to your problem.
It comes in different variants so no matter what your kayaking preferences and plans are, you’re bound to find a type that works for you.