two fisherwomen on inflateble kayaks with fishing tackle

TOP 9 Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks Reviewed in 2020 (Full Buyer’s Guide)

It might surprise some people to know that kayaking and fishing go hand in hand, and there are many advantages to paring the two for a fun and exciting day out on the water.

What might surprise even further, is that inflatable fishing kayaks are becoming all the rage, as we’ve come a long way from splashing about in a cheap, blow-up dingy.

Many folks are reluctant to try this fast-growing pastime, thus missing out on an affordable, practical option for lake and river fishing.

So, I’ve put together this review and guide to some of the best inflatable fishing kayaks of 2020, in the hope that it will encourage more people to take up the hobby.

Still, if you’d prefer something with a bit more room, or you’re not as energetic as you once were – then feel free to check out my previous article on the best inflatable fishing boats.

For everyone else looking for adventure – read on. A full buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow.

Let’s learn how to achieve total fishing freedom.

The 9 Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks of 2020

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

Review: We set sail with the most affordable of our inflatable fishing kayaks, this budget-friendly, tandem offering from Intex.

It’s made from a tough and durable laminated PVC with a polyester core for additional strength, which makes it highly resistant to punctures, damage, and UV rays.

Featuring high-pressure, spring-loaded valves for fast inflation and deflation, you’ll be out fishing sooner than you think.

Two removable skews are included for navigating shallow or deeper waters, along with a whole host of other useful features to help make your day a success, including a removable mounting bracket for adding rod mounts or one of these amazing fish finders for kayaks. The maximum weight capacity is 400 lbs.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Hand pump and paddles included.
  • Bow and stern storage space.
  • Two fishing rod holders.
  • Adjustable bucket seats.

Cons

  • Perhaps not the best for serious, regular use.
  • Questions over the air pump quality.

Takeaway

You’re getting a lot for your money here, and this is an excellent, entry-level fishing inflatable that won’t break the bank while offering plenty of bang for buck with loads of useful features. Then again, Intex probably makes the best budget-friendly yaks around.

Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak

Review: The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is never too far away from fishing kayak reviews – inflatable or otherwise – and for good reason.

This is another affordable, well-built, tandem fishing kayak with loads of extras to keep every angler happy.

NMMA certified, it’s made from 18-gauge PVC with a 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover for extra durability and puncture resistance. If somehow you do manage to damage this tank of a kayak, you have two air chambers that will see you back to shore.

The Berkley Quick-Set rod holders are a nice touch, while the paddle holders keep the deck uncluttered. The maximum weight capacity is 470 lbs.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Tough, durable build quality.
  • Trolling motor compatible.
  • Mesh storage pockets.
  • Plenty of D-rings for additional accessories and gear.

Cons

  • Paddles and pump not included.
  • Tracking isn’t the best.
  • Additional fixings might be a bit much for some.

Takeaway

A popular and durable fishing kayak that is highly customizable and yet comes with plenty of bells and whistles as standard. Just don’t expect to win any races or keep the straightest line in the water.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge Fishing Angler

Review: When I first started writing inflatable kayak reviews, I was blown away by how far the technology had come since those cheap, seaside rubber dinghies we had as kids.

And it was the Advanced Elements line that really caught my eye, with some outstanding inflatable yaks for beginners and pros alike.

This is their take on an angler’s inflatable, the first in this review to use an aluminum frame with multiple air chambers.

With a high-backed seat with two rod holders, lumbar support, and removable mounting rail, this yak is designed with the fisher-person in mind for comfort, control and performance on the water. The maximum weight capacity is 300 lbs.

Pros

  • Tough, durable, quality materials throughout.
  • Attractive, slim-line design.
  • Stern and bow bungee cord storage.
  • Abrasion pads.
  • Fish measuring scale.
  • Tracks well.

Cons

  • Paddle and pump sold separately.
  • Can take a while to dry.
  • Mounting bar might be too far out of reach for some.

Takeaway

A professional look and feel gives way to an easy-to-use, sit-on fishing kayak that is stable, comfortable and offers great handling and tracking through the water.

Advanced Elements have done it again with the StraitEdge, and you’ll find more of their products in a review of the best inflatable kayaks, period.

BIC Yakkair Fishing-2Hp Inflatable Kayak

Review: We return to the tandem yaks momentarily with this lengthy beast from BIC Sport (yes, the same folks who make the lighters).

With this model, two people can sit comfortably with two fishing-style backrests and rod-holders within easy reach.

The high-pressure floor and integrated keel system provide comparable tracking and performance with that of a standard kayak, with all the advantages of an inflatable.

Easily adaptable to become a solo craft by removing one seat, there’s also meshed storage to the bow and stern, safety grab lines, abrasion protectors, and paddle attachment. The maximum weight capacity is 550 lbs.

Pros

  • Pump and carry bag included.
  • Repair kit.
  • Durable PVC construction.
  • Easy to set up.
  • Lightweight.
  • Camo color design.

Cons

  • Paddles sold separately.

Takeaway

A quality tandem fishing kayak that performs very well in the water thanks to its keel design and high-pressure flooring. Not a bad effort from BIC.

Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak

Review: Based out of California, Elkton Outdoors have been making some quality fishing kayaks and gear – and this Steelhead fishing vessel is no exception.

With a solid, drop-stitch floor, it’s the first kayak in our review that I would be comfortable standing up to cast in – and that’s a huge plus point for many anglers.

With self-bailing drains to let out any water you may have accumulated, this yak is comfortable on rougher waters. Multiple ‘Scotty’ mounting points are ideal for adding extras, while the bow bungee storage is well-placed for all your gear.

Made with tough 1000D reinforced layered PVC with heavy-duty plastic cones front and back, this is a solid fishing kayak all round. The Maximum weight capacity is 400 lbs.

Pros

  • Pump, paddles, and bag included.
  • Removable skeg for tracking.
  • Adjustable seat and footrests.
  • Paddle parks.
  • Super lightweight.
  • Three flotation chambers.

Cons

  • Rod holders not included – but that’s a minor issue.

Takeaway

It was really hard to find fault with this stylish and practical yak – which has got so much going for it that I think I want one.

And at this price for what’s included – it’s one of the best inflatable kayaks for fishing on the market.

Star Challenger Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Review: Star is part of NRS, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of paddlesports gear and equipment. They’ve been on the go since 1972, so they bring nearly 50 years of innovation to the table.

This is an outstanding inflatable fishing kayak, beautifully designed and styled, with a comfortable raised seating position that can be folded down for easy transportation.

The screened drain port on the deck allows water to seep through so you don’t ever get swamped, and the premium construction materials ensure this yak is built to last, while being highly resistant to wear and tear.

Pros

  • Name to trust in inflatables.
  • Sleek, attractive design.
  • Storage bungees bow and stern.
  • Scotty mounts for accessories.
  • Carry bag, pump, and repair kit included.

Cons

  • No paddles.
  • No weight capacity listed for Star kayaks.

Takeaway

Another inflatable fishing kayak that’s hard to fault, and with the ability to stand and cast with the stable hull design, this is probably the best inflatable kayak for fly-fishing there is.

Star Pike Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Review: Star follows up with the Pike fishing kayak – a highly portable inflatable packed with loads of quality features to keep anglers happy.

Like the previous Challenger model, the Pike’s self-bailing, durable, drop-stitch PVC floor insert inflates to a rigid 8-10 psi, offering a stable and comfortable position above the water.

Five Scotty mounts are available for customizing your yak to suit your needs, while rigid steel keel inserts provide excellent tracking and performance.

There are plenty of D-rings to attach gear to, and storage space front and back. Built with advanced formula PVC, these yaks from Star have unbeatable abrasion resistance, air retention and longevity. And it comes in a cool lime color, too.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Excellent build quality with premium materials.
  • Removable seat.
  • Carry bag, pump, and repair kit included.

Cons

  • No paddles.
  • No weight capacity listed.

Takeaway

A home run again for Star Inflatables, with another expertly designed and built inflatable fishing kayak that performs as good as it looks.

You’ll turn heads on the water if you pick yourself up one of these.

Sea Eagle 350FX Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Review: Sea Eagle needs little introduction when it comes to inflatable water craft – manufacturing some of the best paddlesports products in the world.

This is their 350FX fishing kayak package – all you need to get started for a day on the water.

It’s built like a tank, with three air chambers, and a tough, durable construction that won’t let you down.

It can be easily adapted to fit a motor mount and trolling motor should you tire of paddling, with front and rear storage canopies for gear and tackle.

The high seating position is ideal for scanning for fish, while the built-in rod holders all for hands-free fishing as you troll. The maximum weight capacity is 575 lbs.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Solid build and construction materials.
  • Plenty of D-rings.
  • Everything included.
  • High weight capacity for one person.

Cons

  • Rod positions might be a bit awkward for some.

Takeaway

Sea Eagle have made another excellent watercraft with the 350FX, tough, durable and built to last. It’s not quite the best inflatable kayak for fishing, but it sure is extremely close to it. Check out this review for more solid ocean going fishing kayaks.

Hobie Mirage i11s Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Review: Hobie is the world’s leading manufacturers of fishing and sports kayaks, so you would expect them to bring their know-how to the inflatable scene.

And that they have, with this outstanding inflatable fishing kayak with their innovative Mirage Drive pedaling system (which is where the money is going – truth be told).

Aside from that, it’s built from premium materials, with a drop-stitch floor for increased air pressure and rigidity, vantage seating, finger-tip rudder control, locking valves, and more.

Enjoy the versatility of an SUP and fishing kayak depending on what you want to do on the water. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Pros

  • World leader in fishing kayaks.
  • Premium materials.
  • Bungee tie-downs for gear.
  • Twist and stow rudder.
  • Full kit with rolling travel bag.

Cons

  • Very expensive.

Takeaway

The best inflatable fishing kayak there is? Quite possibly. If you’ve got the money, then feel free to learn just how good Hobie’s products are.

But let’s face it – we just want it for how much fun that drive system looks.

How to Choose the Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak

There’s a fair bit to consider before parting ways with your hard-earned cash on a new fishing kayak – especially if you’re new to the sport.

Take a look at the full buyer’s guide below for some top tips, tricks and advice on what you should be looking out for.

And don’t miss the FAQs just in case there’s something we’ve missed.

two fisherwomen on inflateble kayaks with fishing tackle

Defining a Fishing Kayak

First, let’s take a look at what defines a fishing kayak – and why it’s different from other kayaks. This can be for both inflatable and hard shell kayaks alike.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for fiberglass, plastic or other hard-shells vessels instead, take a look at this article on the best fishing kayaks for more options.

Either way, I’ve only included kayaks here that have been specifically designed for fishing.

You might read many other reviews that claim any kayak is a fishing kayak – and while this might be true to a certain degree, they leave a lot to be desired for serious fisher-people.

Not all kayaks are suitable for fishing – particularly cheaply made inflatables – so be aware you’re not being misled.

Rant over, let’s look at what makes a fishing kayak exactly that.

Fishing kayaks will have a number of fisher-person-friendly features that sets the yak apart from other craft.

Here’s an inexhaustive list of some things you should be looking out for.

  • Wider, more stable hull.
  • Durable frame.
  • Higher weight capacity for extra gear/people/your whopping catch.
  • Increased storage options/tackle pouches.
  • Fishing pole/lure holders.
  • Trolling motor compatible.
  • Raised seating position – with swivel seating an advantage.
  • Fully customizable for fish finders or other electronics.
  • Fish measuring ruler – so you can prove those tall tales.
  • Camo, or muted “natural” colors.
  • More room in general.

Again, this list is not exhaustive, nor will every fishing kayak have all these attributes. These are just some of the useful features and inclusions you should be looking for – depending on what is important and useful to you.

man preparing for kayak fishing trip

Size

Does size matter? When it comes to inflatable fishing kayaks, it’s really up to you.

Perhaps the main consideration here is if you would prefer a single or tandem kayak. Or, if you’re not one to think that three’s a crowd – there are some models that can sit more than two.

Check out some of these tandem fishing kayaks for more options if that’s what you’re on the lookout for.

Sharing the water with a close friend or loved one who is literally in the same boat can be a lot of fun – providing you get on well, of course. Otherwise, you might find yourself swimming home.

Generally speaking, fishing kayaks tend to be on the larger side, due to their increased hull width for stability, additional storage room for gear, and the fact that they’re not designed for faster waters and adrenaline junkies.

Fishing kayaks are more at home in slow, calm conditions, where fast turns and emergency maneuvers aren’t normally required – and as such, their size reflects that.

Also bear in mind size will also increase weight, but inflatable kayaks tend to be much lighter than their hard-shell counterparts, anyway.

Materials

Heavy-duty PVC is the most common type of inflatable kayak material. It’s readily available, tough and durable, and it doesn’t cost the earth.

More expensive materials do exist, such as chlorosulfonated polyethylene (synthetic rubber, or CSPE to you and me) which is known by the name of Hypalon – a trademark of Dupont.

This is the stuff the US Coast Guard and military swear by, but its superior durability and performance comes at a price.

Nytrylon is also an option – which is stronger but heavier than PVC. However, it performs much better when the temperatures are low, and is more resistant to wear and tear.

Some kayaks might be manufactured with a combination of materials, including polyester, for multilayered construction to improve overall durability while keeping costs down.

Also, keep a look out for inflatables that have an aluminum frame. Many of the best blow-up kayaks these days aren’t solely made from just rubber and air.

Aluminum frames allow increased stability and strength, and give the craft a similar feel to a hard-shell – without coming close to the weight of one.

Regardless which material your kayak is made from, rest assured that a good inflatable fishing kayak was designed to be a water-going vessel – and it will perform as one.

Unless you’re stabbing at it with a knife, or deliberately piloting it into sharp rocks, these craft aren’t suddenly going to go pop! and then sink without a trace.

person sitting in kayak on calm water of river

To Inflate or Not to Inflate?

Why would you choose an inflatable fishing kayak in the first place? Surely a good hard-shell is all you need?

This is where some folks might be apprehensive about trying an inflatable – because regardless of how durable it is, a hard-shell will never burst. With care, it also will last a lifetime, whereas an inflatable will not.

But that’s pretty much where the disadvantages stop (and unless you’re misusing the thing it’s very unlikely that would happen). Let’s look at the plus points.

A decent inflatable fishing kayak isn’t going to cost as much as its hard-shell equivalent, nor is it going to take up nearly as much space, or come close to being the same weight.

Lighter, cheaper, more portable and storable – are the four huge advantages that an inflatable kayak commands over a hard-shell.

Throw the thing in the back of your vehicle at a moment’s notice and you could be on the water in a flash. Take it anywhere, put in everywhere (where legal) and when you’re done, pack it into a fraction of the space a hard-shell would take up back home.

Put it this way – you’ll do a lot more fishing with an inflatable than you will with a hard-shell, and what’s not to love about that?

Weight Capacity

This is an important consideration when choosing any water-going vessel, as getting your figures wrong could end up in very wet results.

Most of these recreational craft come with a maximum weight capacity that you must not exceed, otherwise you seriously risk sinking.

Don’t panic though – as inflatable fishing kayaks are designed to take a heavy payload before any problems are caused.

But this is where you should specifically choose a fishing kayak – rather than just any old cheap thing – if you’re going to be loading it up with tackle and gear. Not to mention Uncle Dave who weighs around 230 lbs.

Keep in mind that this weight capacity is a safety guideline and you shouldn’t be trying to reach it just because the manufacturer says this is what it can hold.

Stay well within limits and stay dry.

man in kayak by mountains

Other Features/Accessories

Inflatable kayaks may or may not come with plenty of other features and accessories that may or may not be useful to you.

Aside from all the fishing-specific additions I’ve already mentioned above, check out this list below for a few extras that might tempt you to part with your money.

  • Oars/paddles included.
  • Air pump – electric or manual.
  • Adjustable/removable seating.
  • Repair kits.
  • D-rings and carrying handles.
  • Adjustable foot braces.
  • Cup holders for beer. (Or, possibly water, I suppose).
  • Transport bag.

Again, not an exhaustive list – but just a few things you might want to check are included when you’re shopping for an inflatable fishing kayak.

Your Skill and Experience Level

Now, this is something that many people often overlook when buying a new kayak. Just how competent are you at piloting it?

And when you add fishing to the mix you get two sets of skills that you should be honest with yourself when it comes to just how good you are at both.

With that in mind, it’s unwise to purchase a top-of-the-line craft when you’ve never even been out on the water before.

Likewise, for a highly skilled pro, a cheap inflatable will probably leave a lot to be desired.

Just like suiting your choice of product to your budget, so you should suit it to your skill and experience level.

Future Modifications

Although I touched on it briefly above, it’s important to take into consideration just how much your kayak is open and able to be modified.

This is especially true for kayak fisher-people, who usually aren’t content with the bog-standard product, and need to pimp their ride exactly the way they like it.

It’s also possible to purchase a basic inflatable kayak and turn it into an enviable fishing vessel – providing you’re willing to put in the work.

Take a look at this informative and entertaining video below, which details how one man has modified a budget kayak into a veritable fish hunter.

Cost

Just to reiterate, the only kayaks I’ve included in this review are specifically designed for fishing.

As such, you might find that they’re not that cheap, and some high-end designs are actually more than you would like to pay.

Of course, you’re more than welcome to try fishing in a budget inflatable – and I’m sure it can be done – but you’re not going to be anywhere near as safe or comfortable as you would be if you spend a little more.

Always purchase the best you can afford – especially if you’re serious about kayak fishing.

Having said that, if you really are on a stricter budget, check out this review of the best cheap fishing kayaks on the market.

FAQ

Are inflatable kayaks good for fishing?

As I’ve mentioned several times in this article, the answer to this question is yes – providing the kayak is suitable for fishing in the first place.

I for one wouldn’t risk trying to fish in smaller, thinner, and less stable inflatable yaks, cheaper models, or the kind that are designed for just a harmless splash about near the shore.

Of course, you can feel free to modify such craft in order to turn them into full fishing kayaks, but I’d personally rather choose something that has clear fishing pedigree from the get-go.

Can you fly fish out of a kayak?

Good question – and it depends on the kayak.

Fly-fishing is much more dynamic in movement and action than simply throwing a line in and watching the world go by. As such, most fly anglers prefer to be standing when teasing the bait on the water.

And it can be tricky to stand and balance in a kayak, even if you’re as delicate as a ballerina.

Sit-on rather than sit-in kayaks are far more suitable for standing casts, and you should look for yaks with wider hulls for extra stability.

There are specific models of inflatable fishing boats that are designed for fly casting – so follow that link if you’d rather that option over a kayak.

Check out also TOP 6 Best Fishing Float Tubes Reviewed 2020.

fishing with a float tube

Do inflatable kayaks pop easily?

Providing you have a good quality inflatable kayak – then the answer is no.

Aside from that, most inflatable kayaks these days are designed with more than one air chamber – sometimes as many as four or five.

In the unlikely event of you puncturing the outer layer (which does happen from time to time – especially if the craft is being mishandled or treated in some way) then you will still remain afloat and be able to make the shore.

It’s an excellent safety feature that will give you peace of mind – particularly if your kids are out splashing around.

Regardless, you or your family should never venture out onto the water in any craft without a good quality personal flotation device.

And since we’re on the subject of fishing, check out these versatile kayak fishing PFDs that can save your life, and give you somewhere to store your hooks at the same time.

Is kayak fishing worth it?

Yes. Next question.

In all seriousness – if you enjoy being outside away from the rat race, and the feeling of being on the water while lazily throwing a line in, then it’s one of the best ways to spend an afternoon you could ever hope for.

Perfect for rest, relaxation, and one’s mental health.

And you don’t even need to catch anything for it to be totally worth it.

Alternatively, if you’re not keen on being in any kind of boat but still love fishing, why not try a different type of angling? Check out these bowfishing bows to get you inspired.

Which fishing kayak is the most stable?

The fear of falling in is probably the one thing that keeps would-be kayak fisher-people away from the sport, if not a little apprehensive about giving it a go.

However, fishing kayaks are super-stable these days, especially the sit-in variety, with a wider hull, flat bottom, and shorter length.

What you lose in speed with a well-designed fishing kayak you more than make up for in stability – it’s just a question of finding the right one for you.

Is it safe to fish in a kayak?

Yes – again – providing you choose the right kayak for fishing.

Sit-in touring and whitewater yaks might be a lot of fun for adrenaline and traveling great distances – but they’re all but useless for reeling in a catch.

Their longer keel and narrower hull might improve speed and tracking, but they are much more at risk of rolling if you were to try to fish from the cockpit.

As such, choose the right kayak for fishing to make sure you have the safest, most enjoyable experience possible – and remember to always, ALWAYS wear a life jacket.

Summary

For maximizing your time fishing on the water, at an affordable price tag, with the benefit of easy storage and transportation, there’s nothing quite like choosing one of the best inflatable fishing kayaks for 2020.

I hope this review and guide has inspired you to take up this awesome pastime, or perhaps encouraged you to up your fishing game with a new craft.

Either way, let me know which model you’ve chosen and why.

Happy inflatable kayak fishing!