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I grew up floating a river in a small inflatable boat until it got a hole during a trip down the river. My parents then upgraded the family to fiberglass and plastic canoes and kayaks.
So while I prefer the solid fishing kayak I now own, I will forever fondly think back on the great times I had in an inflatable kayak.
I learned what features were needed for a kayak to be crowned the best inflatable fishing kayak on those adventures on the river, such as durability, fishability, and transportability.
After recently testing several models, the NRS Pike Pro checked all my boxes for the best overall.
However, if you like to fish with a partner, the Aquaglide Chinook 120 has plenty of room to paddle and fish tandem.
If neither of these kayaks strikes your fancy, don’t worry; several others made the top six, and one is sure to meet your kayak fishing needs!
Our Top 3 Picks for Inflatable Kayaks
After testing some of the top inflatable kayaks, here are my three favorites:
Table of Contents
When testing inflatable fishing kayaks, I look for many things, but they can be summed up in durability, fishability, transportability, and cost.
I’ll break down each below so you know exactly what I mean and why each kayak was rated as it was.
- Durability: I’m not looking for a pool inflatable that’s going to pop the first time it gets poked by a stick or sharp rock. Even though these are inflatable kayaks, they should be able to handle the unique challenges kayak anglers face.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve hit sticks and rocks in my kayak, so any kayak should, at a minimum, be able to withstand that. If it couldn’t, it didn’t make the list.
- Fishability: This is really the design of the kayak. Is it stable and designed for anglers or is it a recreational inflatable kayak posing as a fishing kayak?
When I’m talking about fishability, I’m talking about how easy does it make fishing or does it over complicate to where you don’t want to fish from it.
- Handling: Inflatable kayaks can be hard to manage sometimes, so any additional features that help the kayak track or handle better, especially in the wind, is an advantage.
- Transportability: The biggest advantage of an inflatable kayak is how easily it transports. However, some blow-up kayaks are much easier to transport because they’re lighter and will fit in a travel bag.
- Price: Budget is always a factor. However, it’s more of a factor for some than others. This is why I listed some high-quality, expensive kayaks and some decent-quality budget-friendly kayaks.
If you want the best, be prepared to pay a little extra for it.
BEST INFLATABLE KAYAK OVERALL
NRS Pike Pro
- Length: 12’ 6”
- Width: 38”
- Weight: 48lbs
- Max capacity: 375lbs
Why We Chose It
There’s no question the NRS Pike Pro is the best inflatable fishing kayak I’ve ever used. This kayak will hold up to just about any situation you throw at it (I wouldn’t recommend whitewater kayaking in it unless you’re VERY experienced).
There are so many things to love about this kayak. It has EVERYTHING I look for in a blow-up fishing kayak; it’s easy to transport, designed for fishing, durable and handles well.
When testing this kayak, I was most impressed with its durability. I wouldn’t be afraid to take this in a range of bodies of water, from ponds and lakes to rivers.
The 1000D PVC felt very tough, and even I would have a tough time popping it in the rocks and sticks I often fish.
I also liked how compact everything folded up after I was done. Which made transporting it back home very easy even though I was in the family SUV.
The aluminum-framed seat is similar to the Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 seat, so it does take up extra room, but since it’s more comfortable than most of the other seats, I’m okay with that.
Speaking of comfort, the EVA foam deck pads were easy on my feet while standing to fish. I found the fish ruler in between the pads to be very handy in helping my fish stories to be more accurate!
We all know anglers tell honest fish stories; HAH!
I’m used to a hard-plastic kayak, but I was impressed with how well this kayak handled. I could paddle in a pretty straight line thanks to the rigid keel and skeg.
Speaking of excellent accessories, this kayak comes with several YakAttack fishing accessories, including paddle holders, rod holders, and a Black Pak Kayak fishing Crate.
It’s designed to give anglers every advantage possible in an inflatable fishing kayak.
However, the one reason I won’t be adding this to my kayak collection is the price. No, it’s not overpriced considering everything you get, but I would rather spend my $1,300+ on a hard-plastic kayak.
That single con is personal preference, as I understand some anglers need the flexibility that inflatable kayaks have, which is why I still rated the NRS Pike Pro as the best inflatable fishing kayak on the market.
BEST 2-PERSON INFLATABLE FISHING KAYAK
Aquaglide Chinook 120
- Length: 12’
- Width: 37”
- Weight: 29 lbs
- Max capacity: 550 lbs
Why We Chose It
Aquaglide came in clutch with a two-person inflatable fishing kayak. The Aquaglide Chinook 120 is the perfect family kayak because it has room for two adults and a small child or a four-legged family member.
When I first picked this kayak up, I found that even though it’s a two-person kayak, it’s lightweight, so one person can easily carry the Chinook 120. My 11-year-old daughter could pick it up whether it’s inflated or deflated.
Once I felt the HexShell 600-denier ripstop polyester, I didn’t have any worries about popping it while testing it at the lake on a rocky shoreline.
I was also comforted with the fact that it won’t wholly deflate, thanks to the multiple air chambers.
These chambers will slow down inflation and deflation, but you’ll be thankful for them if you ever have to patch a hole because they will keep you afloat until you reach the shore.
I paddled it solo, so if you don’t always have a paddling partner, it will still work just fine. That means there’ll be more room for your fishing gear! The removable fin helped me paddle in a straight line instead of zig-zagging.
As great as this 2-person kayak is, it has a couple of drawbacks.
The biggest downside is that it’s not designed for fishing like the Blackfoot Angler 130.
The seat height was super low, which made it tough to fish and uncomfortable to sit for very long; plus, there are no accessories like rod holders.
The other con is that it doesn’t come with paddles; I’m still not sure why kayaks do this; well, actually, I know they want you to spend extra on the paddle, but in my opinion, a paddle should be included with all kayaks.
The Aquaglide Chinook 120 is an excellent investment in quality outdoor family time. It’s large enough for two paddlers to occasionally fish from and handles well enough for one person to use.
BEST INFLATABLE OCEAN KAYAK FOR FISHING
Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130
- Length: 13 ft
- Width: 38 in
- Weight: 41 lbs
- Max capacity: 650 lbs
Why We Chose It
Aquaglide is known for making quality inflatable kayaks. The Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 is perfect for ocean anglers because it provides lots of storage space and stability while being easy to paddle and transport.
The main reason this kayak stands out is the seat. It’s an adjustable aluminum-framed foam seat that slightly raises you off the kayak floor so you stay comfortable while fishing.
The raised seat also helps with paddling and handling.
One of the reasons I chose this as the best inflatable ocean fishing boat is because it’s 13 feet long.
Not only is there enough room for all your fishing gear, including the soft-sided cooler that comes with the kayak, but it’s also much safer while you’re on the water.
It also has some spray skirts at the front and back of the kayak to try to help keep you and your gear as dry as possible. But you will get water in the kayak; at least, I did when testing this at a lake.
However, the four self-bailing scupper drains quickly returned the water back to where it belonged.
The biggest con, in my opinion, is as expensive as the Blackfoot Angler 130 is, it doesn’t come with an air pump or a paddle, which is very inconvenient and frustrating because you’ll have to add those items to the overall cost, which is already only a few dollars less than the NRS Pike Pro.
However, it’s expensive because it’s durable. The high-pressure drop stitch floor and Duratex-reinforced PVC will hold up to nearly all fishing environments for years when it’s properly maintained.
The Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 is the best inflatable ocean fishing kayak because of its comfortable seat, large size, and storage capacity. It is expensive but don’t worry.
There are budget-friendly options below like the Intex Excursion Pro Single Person Inflatable Vinyl Fishing Kayak found on Amazon.
BEST INFLATABLE 1 PERSON KAYAK
Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler PRO
- Length: 10′ 6″
- Width: 38.5″
- Weight: 45 lbs
- Max capacity: 400 lbs
Why We Chose It
The Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler PRO is perfect for one angler. It’s designed for anglers, with several beneficial features like an accessory rail system, carrying case, and removable fin.
This kayak is very stable. I stood and fished, but getting to a standing position was challenging because of the low seat height.
You might be able to use the accessory frame system to help you stand but don’t solely rely on it, as it’s not designed for that.
The accessory frame system is designed for mounting a fish finder or rod holders onto the kayak. You’ll find two accessory rails, one in the front and one in the back.
So no matter where you prefer to have your gear, you can store it there.
The Airframe seat kept me comfortable while testing the kayak, and I couldn’t imagine it getting too uncomfortable.
I could really tell the removable fin helped me to paddle straight. A cool add-on is the Current Drives ElectraFin (sold separately), which is like an electric trolling motor that replaces the removable fin, so you won’t have to paddle!
The backpack carrying case is nice and easy to carry because the kayak only weighs 45 pounds.
A couple of things that I found while researching and testing that I didn’t like were that Advanced Elements doesn’t include a paddle or air pump with this kayak, so leave room in your budget for both of those items.
I’m also not a fan of low-sitting kayak seats for fishing, they just make everything more difficult, from casting to paddling to trying to grab your fish, and the Airframe seat definitely qualifies as having a low seat height, unlike the seat of the BOTE DEUS Aero Sit-On-Top Kayak.
The Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler PRO was designed to mimic the shape of hardshell kayaks to track better, which means you spend less time paddling and more time fishing which is why it made the list of best inflatable fishing kayaks.
MOST BUDGET-FRIENDLY INFLATABLE KAYAK
Intex Excursion Pro
- Length: 10’
- Width: 36”
- Weight: 36lbs
- Max capacity: 220 lbs
Why We Chose It
The Intex Excursion Pro is much cheaper than most inflatable fishing kayaks.
Unlike all the other kayaks on this list, it comes with everything you’ll need to get on the water, so it is an excellent option for kayak anglers on a tight budget.
I like that it’s designed with kayak anglers in mind. It has removable rod holders and an adjustable mounting bracket for sonar or other fishing accessories you might need on your fishing trip.
There’s also a little storage at the front and back of the kayak, but no way to secure your gear to the kayak if you encounter rough waters.
You’ll just need to grab your fishing license, gear, and this package to have everything you need to have a safe and enjoyable day of kayak fishing.
It’s very inexpensive compared to other kayaks on this list or the Sea Eagle 12’6” Inflatable FishSUP Fishing Stand-Up Paddle Board, which comes with almost everything you need but is more than three times the price of the Excursion Pro.
Some anglers might find the low seat height and floor-mounted footrests uncomfortable.
The seat and backrest are inflatable, so they should be reasonably comfortable, except they may make you sweat more than a mesh or foam seat.
This kayak is not a good choice if you weigh over 175 pounds because once you add your gear, you’ll likely be pushing the weight limit, which could lead to a disaster.
The Intex Excursion Pro K1 is constructed of abrasion-resistant material, so though it’s our budget-friendly option, it will handle nearly every kayak fishing situation.
Buyer’s Guide: Factors To Consider Before Buying A Blow-Up Fishing Kayak
Inflatable kayaks have unique advantages and disadvantages. This means you’ll need to keep a few considerations in mind when purchasing an inflatable boat, especially when you plan on using it for angling.
The seat is one of the most critical features of any kayak, especially inflatable fishing kayaks. Since you’ll be spending most of the day seated, you will need a comfortable seat.
The most comfortable seats are adjustable mesh seats with a high backrest.
They are more comfortable, making paddling, fishing, and standing easier because you’re sitting higher. The added comfort often comes at a higher price.
Maneuverability is vitally important in any kayak, especially in a fishing kayak. You need to be able to position yourself perfectly to make the best cast possible.
The wind is often the biggest adversary to kayak anglers. This is even more true for inflatable kayaks because of their lightweight nature.
Kayaks with fins or skegs maneuver much better than kayaks with flat bottoms. The fins allow you to track a straight path instead of zig-zagging your way to your fishing spot.
The problem with fins is when you fish shallow water, you will often catch it on the bottom, so you’ll need to pay close attention to your depth.
The most significant safety factor is the stability of the kayak. I highly recommend getting as stable of a kayak as you can afford.
With that said, most inflatable kayaks are very stable because most of the buoyancy comes from the inflated sides. The closer you get to the weight capacity, the less stable the kayak becomes.
If you buy a stable kayak, it also means you can fish while standing, which is great for stretching your legs, and it gives you an advantage while sight fishing.
You don’t want to buy a kayak and only get to use it a handful of times before it gets a hole in it. I don’t want you to waste your money on junk, so I want you to purchase the most durable inflatable kayak you can afford.
The durability is determined by the materials used and if the company decides to add abrasion pads to the kayak. Kayaks are intended to be used in shallow water situations.
This means you’re likely to run into sticks and rocks that could potentially pop a hole in your kayak.
That’s why you should purchase a kayak constructed out of heavy-duty PVC.
Maximum Weight Capacity
As I mentioned earlier, the closer you get to the maximum weight capacity, the less stable the kayak becomes. If you want to haul a lot of gear, I suggest purchasing a high-weight capacity.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Good For Fishing?
Yes, inflatable kayaks are good for fishing because they’re stable, haul a lot of fishing gear, and are easy to transport.
Many inflatable kayaks are designed with anglers in mind, which means they have features that greatly benefit the average angler.
However, they are not the best fishing kayaks, in my opinion. I believe hardshell kayaks offer more benefits than blow-up kayaks as long as you have a way to transport a hardshell kayak.
You’ll Also Need
After purchasing your kayak, you’ll realize several other items you need and others that would make kayak fishing less complicated.
Below, I listed several things that you can’t leave the shore without, and I made a few recommendations for gear that will increase your chances of catching more fish from your inflatable kayak.
Kayak Fishing PFD
In my kayak fishing tips article, always wear your life jacket. I know they are uncomfortable at times and make you sweat more than you want to, but none of that would matter if an emergency were to happen.
If you want the best kayak fishing PFD, I highly recommend the NRS Chinook. It’s designed to be worn while kayak fishing, so it’s comfortable and won’t make you sweat profusely.
A PFD will only save your life if you wear it, so don’t just have it lying in the boat.
I’m surprised that many inflatable kayaks don’t come with at least a hand or foot pump. Which means you will need to purchase one separately.
Most companies recommend using a 12-volt electric air pump and then topping it off with a hand pump so you can control how much air your kayak holds.
It’s never a bad idea to have a backup hand pump on the kayak if you need to adjust the air pressure while on the water.
When I bought my first kayak, I was surprised at how many kayaks didn’t come with a paddle, but I quickly learned that’s pretty common even when purchasing a hardshell fishing kayak.
To buy the best fishing kayak paddle, you should keep these three things in mind:
- Your height
- Kayak width
- Seat height
These three are the most significant factors in determining the paddle length you need. There are paddles on the market designed for kayak fishing, and they help, but they’re not necessary.
Most inflatable kayaks come with at least one repair kit, but it’s wise to have multiple kits if you misplace one or have numerous punctures.
Buying a repair kit is cheaper than purchasing a new kayak, so I’d instead buy several kits to have on hand.
Eventually, you will need to purchase a new kayak instead of fixing it. If you have more patches than the original material, it’s probably to buy another one.
Kayak Fishing Rod
Unless you plan on catching fish by hand, you’ll need a fishing pole.
Lucky for you, I reviewed the best kayak fishing rods, so you won’t have to guess which one will work best for you.
You can use any rod to use while fishing from a kayak; however, specific rods work best in the confined space of a kayak.
When buying a fishing pole, keep the species you’ll be targeting the most in mind. If you’re fishing for smaller fish, the heavy-duty gear won’t help you much, and the opposite is true.
Light tackle isn’t going to help you when battling a large fish.
Rod holders are a tremendous help for keeping your kayak organized. If you plan to take multiple rods, I believe they’re a must. Thankfully, most inflatable fishing kayaks come with rod holders and the option to add more.
Many different brands make kayak fishing rod holders, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one to fit your kayak. Just be sure that the brackets on your kayak will work with the rod holder you buy.
A tackle box is the best way to keep all your lures organized. Suppose you’re on a small budget. Any tackle box will do, but the best kayak fishing tackle box is compact and holds enough lures for your entire fishing trip.
I have a kayak tackle management system. This means I have several tackle boxes full of lures and tackle that I leave in a tote in my truck while I’m on the water.
I only bring a couple of compact boxes with all the lures I think I’ll need for the day. This way, I don’t overload my kayak with the gear I never use.
Kayak Fish Finder
Adding a fish finder to your kayak will give you more clues to catch fish.
The most basic fish finder will tell you the depth and contour of the bottom, while the best kayak fish finders allow you to see brush and fish within the brush piles, plus the water temperature, density of the bottom, and what’s to the side of your boat underwater.
If you decide to add a fish finder or trolling motor to your inflatable kayak, you’ll need a battery. The best batteries are Lithium-Ion because they are lighter, more powerful, and more efficient than Lead-Acid batteries.
If you want the best kayak trolling motor battery, check out my article.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we get about inflatable fishing kayaks:
What is the weight capacity of the best inflatable fishing kayak?
The weight capacity of the best inflatable fishing kayak is 375 pounds.
Other kayaks might have a higher weight capacity, but they have other disadvantages that make them not as good a kayak.
What type of inflatable fishing kayak is best for a beginner?
The type of inflatable fishing kayak best for a beginner is a very stable kayak like the Elkton Outdoors Steelhead.
What are the most popular colors for a fishing kayak?
Green, blue, black, and red are the most popular colors for a fishing kayak.
What is the best inflatable fishing kayak to buy?
The best inflatable fishing kayak to buy is the NRS Pike Pro. It is designed for kayak fishing, is durable, tracks really well, and deflates to transport easily.
One More Cast
While inflatable kayaks are not my favorite, they have characteristics that make them beneficial to many anglers. If you’re one of the people who love inflatable kayaks, don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you!
The best inflatable fishing kayak is the NRS Pike Pro because it has a comfortable seat, is designed for fishing, and is made from durable materials.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Intex Excursion Pro will cover all the basics you need to get on the water kayak fishing.
Be sure to leave your questions about the best inflatable fishing kayak in the comment section below!