Inflatable fishing kayaks are the best way to get out on the water without needing to invest in expensive hard-shell watercraft and their various accessories.
The market for inflatable yaks has exploded in recent years, making the choice a difficult one. Anglers searching for the best inflatable fishing kayak need only read through this guide to find the perfect choice.
Max Load Capacity
Intex Excursion Pro
Elkton Outdoors Steelhead 130
Sevylor Coleman Colorado
Advanced Elements StraitEdgeame
Advantages of Using an Inflatable Kayak for Fishing
The most obvious benefit of an inflatable fishing kayak is the reduced cost. There’s no need for expensive insurance or additional gear like trailers and boat covers.
For anglers without trailers and boat lifts, kayaks are a fantastic way to get out on the water on a craft that is portable and often easy enough to set up that one person can do it alone.
Paddling on an inflatable fishing kayak is easy thanks to their comparably lighter weight. For folks who don’t want to have to bother with paddling, low-power gas motors are compatible with many inflatable fishing kayaks.
Inflatable Fishing Kayak Buyer’s Guide
The toughness of a fishing kayak depends on its construction, which involves the materials used and the way it’s put together. An in-depth look at specific materials comes after our reviews of the 6 best inflatable fishing kayaks in this guide, but in terms of construction, the most important aspects are the stitching and strategically tougher materials such as tarpaulin on the bottom to prevent punctures. Stitching prevents punctures as well as air leaks.
Comfort & Capacity
Every inflatable fishing kayak is rated by its manufacturer for the maximum weight it can hold. This rating includes fishing gear, personal items, and the angler themselves. Higher ratings will be needed if multiple rods and lots of additional gear (or refreshments) will be brought on board.
Another important factor is comfort. Older inflatables lacked the comfort of hard-shell models, but modern designs have high, comfortable seats that make it easy to sit and fish for hours.
Speed & Propulsion
Some yaks have pedals that are operated by foot rather than by hands like oars are. Some fancier models even give anglers the option to mount a motor for hands-free propulsion.
Now, the motor will give the pilot the greatest amount of speed, but oars are still the least cumbersome and most dependable way to propel an inflatable fishing kayak. Some kayaks have design features in the hull that allow them to cut through the water faster, too.
Stability & Mobility
One of the greatest fears kayak anglers have is overturning. A tip-over creates the risk of lost tackle and damage to electronics such as kayak GPS devices. Thankfully, many manufacturers have developed ways to keep their inflatable fishing kayaks stable.
Some methods, like bracings in the bow, also help make the craft easier to steer. As with other kayaks, inflatables may turn slightly when you cast, so it’s wise to invest in a small anchor.
Rolling over is one danger on a kayak, but it’s not the only one. Personal flotation devices (PFDs) such as life jackets are important to have. In fact, it’s required by law to have them in some jurisdictions.
The construction of the kayak itself can also increase safety. The yak should inflate to the proper level and have multiple chambers inside so that if one is punctured, the yak will still float while the pilot returns to shore.
Single Vs. Tandem
Fishing kayaks can fit anywhere from 1 to 3 people depending on the particular model. The majority of 2-person (tandem) fishing kayaks have removable seats so that solo anglers can maximize space when they go out on the water without a partner. These are often the best bet because they have extra width in the cockpit for more comfort. That being said, they are also longer and therefore handle a little differently.
Ease of Setup
A kayak that takes too long to inflate can get you winded before you even make it out onto the water. The most optimal inflatable fishing kayak is one that has been designed to fold out and pump up with a high-capacity hand or foot pump.
Specialized valves and reverse modes on pumps make deflating and packing a kayak up a breeze, too. Make sure the yak comes with a pump to save time shopping around for one.
Storage & Extra Features
Dry watertight storage isn’t available on inflatable fishing kayaks, but they do have storage via bungee cables, rod holders, and space for tackle trays and electronics. Anglers who like to stay hydrated should look for a model with built-in cup holders. One other useful feature is a paddle holder that will allow the rider to stow the paddle when it’s not in use, freeing up their hands for more fishing.
Price & Warranty
The price range for inflatable fishing kayaks is relatively broad. The top-of-the-line models have better construction with tougher materials, plenty of storage space, and extras like a motor attachment. However, many of the less costly models around the $200-300 level are plenty strong enough for typical angling excursions.
Warranties aren’t always included with the purchase of one of these yaks, but some manufacturers back their products with warranties that last a year or longer.
6 Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks Reviewed
1. Intex Excursion Pro
Best Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Max Load Capacity
12 feet 7 inches
3 feet 1 inch
Not only does this yak have the sleek look of a hard-shell, but it also has tons of convenient design features, durability, and ease of use that rivals kayaks of all kinds. Just about everything an angler needs to get out on the water in a kayak is included with the purchase of an Intex Excursion. Some accessories like an anchor or PFD might be desirable depending on the conditions where you like to fish, but things you can’t do without like a pump, pressure gauge, and paddles are included.
The pump puts out enough air to inflate this yak in a short amount of time, and the stitching prevents air leaks. A three-chamber interior construction ensures proper balance and adds a safety dimension in the off-chance that one chamber is compromised during use.
The pressure gauge makes it easy to check that everything is properly inflated, and there is also an included repair patch for emergencies. Packing the yak up in its carry case is a simple enough procedure, although the whole thing weighs about 35 pounds, which might prove to be too heavy for some anglers to carry single-handedly. That being said, the grab line and handles on either end make it really easy for two people to carry it to the launch site.
Some features that one generally would not expect to see on an inflatable fishing kayak like adjustable footrests and a directional skag on the bottom give this yak an excellent feel when piloting it through the water. It definitely tracks well, and the gear mount makes it easy to carry a kayak fish finder on board to add a new strategic edge to your fishing. This is the best tandem inflatable fishing kayak from its seating and storage capacity to the ease of its inflation and storage.
2. Elkton Outdoors Steelhead 130
Best Inflatable Kayak for Fly Fishing
Max Load Capacity
10 feet 10 inches
The star feature of the Steelhead 130 is undeniably its robust construction. Drop-stitching on the floor of the craft not only allows for the base to be inflated until it's rock hard but also allows the angler to stand up and cast with ease. Fly fishing enthusiasts will find everything they need in this yak, which may be surprising since it's an inflatable model.
The reinforced PVC is durable, and nose cones at either end allow this yak to cut through choppy water without issue. An included optional spray shield on the front keeps most water out, but just in case some water does get into the yak, there are self-bailing drainage holes that prevent it from building up.
This is a yak built for only one angler to use, but they were thoughtful enough to put backpack straps on the included carrying case to make one-person transport of the kayak much easier. The hand pump also makes it possible for one person to set up the kayak without running out of breath or succumbing to fatigue. Additional features like the five mounting points give fly fishing enthusiasts ample places for rod holders, fish finders, or bait trays. Moving around to access these mounting points is easy because this kayak is very well balanced on the water, provided it has been properly inflated.
Seating on this inflatable fishing kayak is not inflated and locked in place, which can be inconvenient if you prefer to have lighter-weight seats or a huge plus if you prefer the extra support of a solid chair. Either way, this is the best inflatable kayak for fly fishing thanks to all its storage space for flys, its stand-up casting, and its portability. Best of all, the whole package is backed up by a one-year guarantee and a 30-day hassle-free return policy.
3. Sevylor Coleman Colorado
Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak for Lakes
Max Load Capacity
10 feet 10 inches
Sevylor touts the Boston valves on their Colorado yak so much that they guarantee the craft to be completely leak-free. It must be said that the valves on this kayak do work well; it's easy to link the pump to them, and they don't tear or otherwise fail even after using them for a long time. There are also plenty of places where the user can attach fishing rods or stow their paddles to keep their hands free to fish. The only downside is that the pump and paddles need to be purchased separately from the Sevylor Colorado itself.
Adjustable and removable seats allow one or two anglers to use this kayak at the same time. There’s also a mount where a trolling motor can be installed so the angler or anglers can troll or get to their preferred fishing spot without paddling. It would be wise to keep paddles on board just in case the motor fails or runs out of fuel, but having the option to put a motor on is a huge benefit to purchasing this inflatable fishing kayak. The stability of this kayak when it’s in motion and the option to add a motor makes it wonderfully easy to use on lakes, especially when the water is calm.
There is one design flaw in this model, which is that oars occasionally come into contact with the rods holders while paddling. It's not enough to hinder paddling, but it can be annoying if you’re trying to dig deep or have a lot of paddling to do. A fin is included with purchase to give this kayak better tracking, but make sure to put it on before the kayak is inflated.
Despite some minor flaws, it’s still the best 2-person inflatable fishing kayak for calm water and lakes, and it doesn’t do too bad in faster-moving water either.
4. Advanced Elements StraitEdge
Most Rugged Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Max Load Capacity
9 feet 8 inches
Built with aluminum rib-frames in the bow and stern, the StraitEdge is the most rugged inflatable fishing kayak. It can absolutely take a beating for long periods and still come out of it no worse for the wear. Self-bailing holes keep water from building up inside the craft, but they can also be closed in cold conditions.
Though it has been rated to ride through up to Class III whitewater rapids successfully, they still built this yak with great tracking in calmer waters, making it an excellent all-around fishing kayak. While it doesn't hold as much weight as some competing models, it can still handle bigger anglers, and there's plenty of room for gear on board.
The material used to build this yak is a super-durable PVC tarpaulin. This yak is tough enough to withstand rocks and sticks without puncturing, or even durable enough to catch alligator gar on the Atchafalaya as this kayak angler was able to do. Unlike some other inflatable fishing kayaks where the durability is the main draw, everything on this yak is really comfortable. The seats attach readily and have extra padding for comfort.
In addition to the comfort and durability of this kayak, the portability and ease of its setup are also likely to be appealing to a wide range of anglers. There’s no need for complicated assembly processes with this yak: the whole kayak is ready to go straight from the factory, all the angler needs to do is unfold it and inflate it. Air is divided into five different air pockets to safeguard against complete deflation in the unlikely event of a puncture.
The whole thing folds up into a duffel bag that’s easy to carry to the water’s edge and back to the car after the conclusion of a fishing trip.
5. Sea Eagle 330
Best Value for Money
Max Load Capacity
11 feet 2 inches
Special PVC material called PolyKrylar (also known as K80 PVC) gives this Sea Eagle durability comparable to much more expensive inflatable fishing kayaks. It's a puncture-resistant material that may not lead the industry in toughness. Still, it does give enough protection to withstand rocks, sticks, and overland transportation to the level that most anglers will require.
The seams appear to be very strong as well. There's no feeling that the craft loses any air even after a long time out on the water. Additionally, while there is room for two people aboard this yak, it is also effortless for a single angler to carry, inflate, and paddle on it.
This is one of the lightest inflatable fishing kayaks on the market, weighing in at just 26 pounds when it’s deflated and packed up in the included carrying case. It’s also one of the roomiest kayaks around, which suits it’s increased max load capacity. Despite its extra width, two attachable skags give it great tracking and handling on the water. Some features found on other fishing kayaks are missing on this one, such as rod holders and gear storage space, but for the ease of use and durability, there’s hardly a better model than this one for this price point.
Easily the best thing about this yak is that it comes with everything you need to get out on the water. No need to hunt around for the right paddle, pump, or patch set. All of that comes with the purchase, although some anglers enjoy upgrading paddles, seats, and other features as they become better acquainted with kayak fishing.
For that matter, this makes a great intro model for those just getting into the sport and looking for a high-quality inflatable fishing kayak that doesn't require a considerable upfront investment. It's also backed up by a 3-year limited warranty, which is longer than just about any other yak on the market.
6. Sevylor Quikpack K1
Best Cheap Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Max Load Capacity
8 feet 7 inches
Everything from the transportation and setup to the paddling and breakdown of this cheap kayak is quick and straightforward. It packs up into an included backpack and pumps up in about five minutes. It’s only meant for one person, but it’s also one of the easiest inflatable fishing kayaks for one person to use.
The oar that comes with this yak collapses to make it extra-portable. Tarpaulin on the bottom of the craft protects it from punctures and holes caused by protruding sticks or rocks. That, plus the durable stitching in the seams and the yak's ability to hold air reliably, gives the impression that this kayak will last a long time.
Individual anglers who need to drag this craft a short distance to the water for launch don't need to worry about its durability. It can definitely handle the trek. After the fishing is done, the double-lock valve makes it fast and simple to deflate the yak and get it back into a portable shape. The seat is a bit low and not the most comfortable chair to sit on for long periods, but it's not so unbearable that it impedes fishing. There may be some DIY methods of replacing the seat, but this isn't a very customizable kayak generally speaking.
There are a few features on the Quickpack that are handy to have, like a gear net on the front and the cupholder. It isn’t ideal for electronics like kayak GPS units or fish finders, although it's a very stable kayak that didn't seem likely to tip over in normal circumstances. If getting out on the water is your primary goal and a huge investment isn't realistic, this is the best bang for your buck. Still, there are certainly some benefits to the other, more sophisticated inflatable fishing kayaks in this guide.
3 Common Materials for Inflatable Kayak Construction
Inflatable vs. Hard-Shell Kayaks
Both kinds of kayaks have their benefits and drawbacks. If pricing and portability is the biggest concern, inflatables are better. If you want superior handling and no risk of puncture and don’t mind more involved maintenance, hard-shell is the way to go.
No risk of puncture
More watertight storage
Generally more comfortable
Higher weight maximums
Better tracking (most of the time)
Easier solo use
No large equipment required
More stable overall
Tips for Using Your Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Always use a hand, foot, or electric pump to preserve energy for fishing.
When launching, put half to two-thirds of the kayak in the water, sit in it, and kick off backwards into the water using a paddle.
Paddling should be even on both sides if you want to go straight ahead. Plunge the paddle in up to the bottom of the handle. Keep both hands on the paddle for proper leverage.
Rod holders and gear mounts generally go on with screws. Make sure the screws aren't too long, or they could puncture the inflatable and ruin it.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Are inflatable kayaks good for fishing?
Inflatable fishing kayaks are optimal for fishing in remote locations where the angler might have significant overland trekking beforehand. They’re also great for getting into shallows and navigating hazards, provided they’re tough enough. Casting while standing up is much easier on most inflatable kayaks since they offer better stability than hard-shell yaks.
Are inflatable kayaks prone to leaks? How can I patch up my leaking yak?
Most inflatable fishing kayaks are not prone to leaks, but there are few that never leak at all. The best models have patch kits included so anglers can make quick fixes to get back to shore. There are also longer-term patches for less lethal leaks. Typically, these patches have adhesive on them and fix over open areas like a band-aid.
What are the best inflatable kayak fishing accessories to buy?
Many anglers don't like the paddles and seats that come stock with kayaks. More comfortable seats and additional or longer-lasting repair kits are also very smart to have around just in case. A pressure gauge will help keep an eye on the inflation level of the yak. Gear that will help when fishing off a yak includes an anchor, a life vest, attachments for fish finders, rod holders, and lure trays.
How much weight can inflatable fishing kayaks hold?
The typical lower end of the range is around 250 pounds, but many models can hold more weight than that. Larger inflatables have been known to hold 400 to 500 pounds, but keep in mind that the balance of the weight is just as important as the amount. Prevent a tip-over by keeping the weight the same on either side and in the front and back.
How long does it take to deflate and blow up a kayak?
It depends on the particular model. Some inflate and break down in five to ten minutes, while others might take a little bit more time. Having a partner to help set it up can also speed up the process. Generally speaking, an inflatable fishing kayak should inflate and deflate in 20 minutes or less.
Inflatable kayaks should track well, hold a lot of weight, set up easily, and come with all the equipment you need to get out on the water.
The Intex Excursion Pro meets all these requirements and has a high-quality construction that is sure to last anglers through many fishing seasons.