Inflatable fishing kayaks are a small but growing niche within the greater fishing kayak market. They’re perfect for paddlers who don’t have tons of room, prefer lighter craft, or like to travel overseas with their boat. Modern inflatable fishing kayaks generally use higher grade materials that are puncture resistant and extremely durable.
The following statistics come from our data set on inflatable fishing kayaks. There are 16 different inflatable fishing kayaks currently available in the U.S. All of the kayaks on this list are paddle only with the exception of Hobie: their 4 inflatable models all come with the mirage pedal drive. There are currently no models that can be upgraded to accept a pedal drive – so if you need an inflatable pedal drive kayak buy a Hobie.
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Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
Click on a kayak picture to learn more about the specific model.
Most Expensive Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Hobie Mirage I14T
The Hobie Mirage I4T is the Cadillac of inflatable fishing kayaks. Premium lawn chair style seats, two 180 mirage pedal drives, built in rudder, and a drop stitch floor puts the I14T in the same league as plastic yaks. Standing up is easy due to the the stiff floor and wider beam. Measuring 14′ long and weighing 67.1 lbs the I14T folds up into a rolling case that’s 4′ long, 2′ wide, and 1′ thick. That’s a little too big for carry-on, but should work as over-sized luggage for most airliners.
The I14T retails for $4,089 and includes two paddles and a two year warranty for 2019 and newer models. If you’d rather yak solo than the Hobie Mirage I12S is effectively the same boat but scaled down for one paddler and has an MSRP of $2,669. Either option offers the conveniences of higher end plastic kayaks in a lightweight and versatile inflatable package.
Most Affordable Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Intex Excursion Pro
The Intex Excursion Pro is the cheapest inflatable fishing kayak on our list with an MSRP of just $299, and can often be found for far less. Although it may sound like an SUV the Excursion Pro isn’t exactly well equipped for going off-road. At 12’7″ the Excursion Pro comes equipped for tandem usage (including two paddles), but we think getting two full sized adults in this might be a little scary. The material on this inflatable isn’t as durable as higher end models, so you’ll need to be extra careful of hooks and spiny fish.
The Excursion Pro might not be perfect, but it will get you and one other out on the water. If you’re interested in getting into kayak fishing, but aren’t sure if it’s really for you, then this boat is a great option. Worst case scenario you’re out a few hundred and have a great gift for your nephews next birthday. Best case you’ve caught the yak bug for life.
Our Pick for the Best Value Inflatable Kayak
Sea Eagle 385fta Fast Track Angler
Sea Eagle’s been making inflatable vessels since the 1960’s and it’s an gross oversimplification to say that they’ve gotten pretty darned good at it. The 385 Fast Track Angler is their higher end 12’6″ long yak made for fishing. We chose the 385fta for several key features that put it ahead of the competition, as well as a robust accessory ecosystem that permits easy customization and upgrades.
One of the coolest features of the 385fta is its hull, in particular its shape. Sea Eagle’s patented needleknife rigid inflatable keel has a sharp bow and stern shape to help the 385fta slice through the water. Long length and stiff keel results in a yak that can paddle straight and fast. Rugged 1000 denier fabric and four separate chambers safeguard against punctures and sinking. Rod and lure management at both bow and stern provide ample storage room for tackle.
The 385fta is available in four different trim levels and can be outfitted in a variety of configurations. This yak can be set up as a tandem, rigged with swivel seats, or even a side mount trolling motor. The base trim, deluxe solo angler, includes an inflatable seat, pump, and carrying bag. Higher trim levels include more goodies, or they can be purchased separately as individual upgrades. For all these reasons we think the 385fta is a purchase that you won’t regret or replace in the long term.
Storage and Transportation
Most inflatable kayaks can be stored under your coffee table – which is something no plastic kayak will ever lay claim to. Inflatable fishing kayaks small form factor makes them perfect for anybody who simply doesn’t have the space for a 10 to 12 foot long boat. Inflatable yaks are perfect for urban dwellers who can’t fit a yak in the elevator, or doesn’t want to pay for extra monthly storage.
Transportation is also way easier. You don’t have to worry about getting the right roof rack or how to lift a boat up onto your car. Just throw your boat in the trunk and go (literally grab and go). We imagine it’s even possible to carry some of the smaller models on a bike or motorcycle; perfect for an easy paddler who’s born to be wild.
While there are some really great lightweight fishing kayaks, most of them just can’t compare to the weight savings offered by inflatables. The lightest model on our list, the Star Challenger, comes in at only 27 lbs. These lighter loads don’t come at the cost of capacity either – they can still carry quite a large payload. Paddling a lighter kayak is much easier as well – each stroke will require less energy than it would in a heavier craft. It’s true that lighter boats can get pushed around by the wind more, but a good anchor will typically solve that problem. Anybody with limited mobility or diminished upper body strength should seriously consider an inflatable kayak for getting out on the water.
Inflatable fishing kayaks are nearly impossible to sink as long as they’re inflated. Their increased buoyancy makes them great for big water – these yaks are right at home in the open ocean. High buoyancy and flatter bottoms also make inflatable fishing kayaks well suited for whitewater. It’s pretty cool that most of the yaks listed here can be quickly converted for some down river fun.
Inflatable fishing kayaks need to be pumped up before they can hit the water (obviously). Luckily manual and electric air pumps make the process a lot easier than blowing up your kids pool toys. Inflation and deflation isn’t a huge drawback; every kayak has some degree of prep and packing. The process with inflatables can take a little longer, so make sure to budget a little extra time at the boat ramp.
Tracking refers to a boats ability to stay straight while paddling, and it’s far more important than you might think. Plastic kayaks typically accomplish this through chines, keels, and other hull design elements. Inflatable fishing kayaks with flat bottoms have a very slight draft, meaning that they sit high in the water. This results in poor tracking – each paddle stroke will cause lateral movement in addition to forward momentum. Skegs can help diminish poor tracking to some degree. Inflatable kayaks with rubber keels, sharp entry bows, and v-shaped hulls will fare far better than flat hulled options.
Overview on Inflatable Kayaks
Inflatable boats offer a ton of advantages over heavier craft; that’s a reason U.S. Navy Seals rely on inflatables as one of their main watercraft. Lightweight, easy to transport, and extremely buoyant; these boats are adept in just about any salt or freshwater environment. If you’re in the market for an inflatable make sure to really do your homework because it’s not always the easiest to demo these on the water. If you have any tips or stories to share about your own inflatable yak experiences be sure to reach out and let us know.