Best Inflatable Fishing Boats Reviewed
Not everyone has the money or space to own and accommodate a conventional fishing boat. Some anglers only want to get onto the water now and again. If this sounds like you then it mightn’t make sense to splurge on a top-of-the-range craft.
Inflatable boats are a great alternative to other fishing boats. Depending on the model, they’re relatively inexpensive and most can be stored away in the cupboard when not in use – taking up less room than even canoes and kayaks!
Inflatable boats are also safe options for less-experienced boaters as they’re relatively stable and aren’t likely to sink. Even in the event of a capsize the boat will float safely, and most are designed with multiple air chambers so if a puncture occurs there will still be flotation in the craft.
In terms of fishing, inflatable boats have an element of stealth due to their soft PVC construction. This makes a very quiet boat on the water that won’t spook fish unnecessarily.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Intex Excursion 5
- Large Size
- Intex Seahawk 4
- Good Price
- Classic Float Tube
What to look for in an inflatable fishing boat
Not all inflatables are created equal and there are several factors to consider when shopping around.
What comes in the box?
A lot of inflatable crafts are sold as a complete package so that they’re ready to go as soon as they’re inflated. This makes them great for beginners who mightn’t know what they need; or families that just want to get out and enjoy time together without the fuss.
It’s worth checking what actually comes with the boat before making the choice to buy.
In general, you’ll want to make sure that oars and oar locks are included. That’ll get you moving, regardless of whether you may want to fit a motor or not – as some boats are horse power compatible.
- Seats make the ride a lot more comfortable, raising you off the floor into a more ergonomic position – especially for rowing – as well as giving you greater visibility when it comes to monitoring for obstacles, hazards, and fishy spots. A higher vantage point makes all the difference in spotting fish themselves – and gives you greater casting distance and precision.
- Rod holders are very handy, keeping your expensive rods out of the way of feet and other gear. In an inflatable craft, keeping hooks and rigs out of the way also protects against the risk of punctures.
- Integrated storage – not all inflatables have it but it can be very useful. Not only does it keep your fishing gear organised and out of the way – in the event of capsize you can rest assured that your gear isn’t going to be lost to the deep.
Some boats come with motor mounts. Sometimes these are integrated into the boat itself; others have fittings for a motor mount to be assembled to. If you want to get around under power you’re going to need a stable platform to attach the motor to – so check the design to make sure it suits your needs.
The boat isn’t going to get far without a pump to inflate it. Make sure to check whether the boat you purchase comes with one – otherwise you might be disappointed when you first take it to the water! Boats take a lot or air to fill, so a high output pump will get the job done faster. Some pumps are powered by electricity and others by manual effort.
Less expensive inflatable boats are basically air sacs connected together. Their rigidity comes entirely through the air pressure contained within them. These crafts are less efficient travellers because the hull deforms around weight placed within the boat. They are best suited to gentle propulsion on calm waters. It’s also easier to remain seated in these boats as walking around can be awkward on the soft floor.
More expensive tender dinghy style inflatables often incorporate pontoon style inflation tubes fitted with a rigid transom and floor. These boats can be fitted with more powerful motors and will plane out and travel quickly over water. The incorporated rigidity creates a more stable craft and one that the angler can stand in to fish or move about.
One of the great benefits of inflatable boats is their small size when deflated. This allows them to be packed away in the boot of the car or a cupboard – taking up virtually no space. Because of this they’re great for anyone with limited storage space who still wants to get out on the water.
With that in mind, it’s worth checking how compact a boat is. Boats with rigid parts can only be packed as small as those parts and may require more space.
Some boats come with a storage bag while others don’t. It’s worth investing in some kind of container for the deflated boat to make sure it’s protected from damage when tucked away.
Motors can be fitted to many of the boats included in this list. Some are best suited to electric trolling motors while others will easily handle a sizeable gas powered motor.
Electric motors require a battery for power, so ensure that the boat has space for a battery if you want to fit an electric. Electric motors can be fitted to some of the least expensive boats listed below, ensuring that motor mounts are either included or purchased separately. These motors are good for travelling short distances as well as moving around and repositioning while fishing.
Gas motors require a strong transom to cope with the weight of the motor and the power exerted by it. There must also be space for a fuel tank. Some boats are capable of handling larger motors. Ensure that the PVC of the boat will not be damaged by fuel leakage or spillage.
10 Best Inflatable Fishing Boats
1. Intex Excursion 5
Plenty of Room
With capacity for 5 people, there’s plenty of room in the Excursion for a couple of anglers and all of their gear; or several people wanting to spend an enjoyable day on the water. Two seats with back rests give some extra comfort so you can sit back and wait for the next bite.
5 person capacity
Heavy duty PVC vinyl construction
Inflatable I Beam floor
Two inflatable seats with backrests; one inflatable middle seat
2 welded oar locks on each side
4 fishing rod holders
Can be fitted with a motor mount
Oars, oar holders and high output pump included
This is another inexpensive, great value inflatable for getting out on the water and catching fish.
The Intex Expedition 5 is a great low-cost inflatable with plenty of room for fishermen and their gear to have a good day on the water.
Large size with plenty of room
Seats with backrests for comfort
4 rod holders
Not as rigid as some inflatables
2. Intex Seahawk 4
Keeping it Simple
The Seahawk keeps boat design straightforward so that you don’t have to spend a lot to get on the water. Quick inflation gets the boat ready with a minimum of fuss and there are no extra components that require fitting before heading out.
Capacity up to 4 people; 11’ long
30 gauge PVC vinyl construction
2 air chambers
2 inflatable cushions
Welded plastic oarlocks, oar holders and oars
2 fishing rod holders
Inflation pump included
The Seahawk is an inexpensive option for anyone wanting to get onto the water. It’s not as durable as some of the boats on this list but is great if you are unsure how often you’ll be on the water.
The Intex Seahawk is a cheap inflatable for fishermen that want to test the waters of boating.
Inexpensive boat – great for beginners and families
Super-fast assembly as only requires inflation
Not as durable as other boats
3. Classic Accessories Cumberland
Carry to the Fish
With its lightweight and backpack design when deflated – including adjustable shoulder straps – the Cumberland float tube lets adventurous anglers carry their boat with them wherever the fish may be. After all, making the effort to fish untouched waters rarely disappoints.
Maximum capacity: 350lb
Padded seat with adjustable backrest
2 cargo pockets
2 rod holders
Mesh stripping apron with fish ruler
Hydrodynamic hull design for control and tracking
Mesh storage platform
Backpack-able – adjustable straps
The Cumberland inflatable float tube is great value for a single-person fishing platform. Its price is comparatively low given the features incorporated into the craft.
The Cumberland float tube is a great choice for the solo fisherman looking to get onto remote waters or who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on an easily controllable fishing craft.
Easy to carry to remote areas
Functional and easy to control shape
Integrated stripping apron for fly line, with fish ruler
Only suitable for one person
Requires flippers to operate effectively
4. Classic Accessories Colorado
Row or Motor
This craft incorporates a three-position oar system that allows the user to adjust the row-locks to suit them. The use of oars gives this craft great manoeuvrability and makes it a capable river running craft. If rowing isn’t your thing, tough, hook up a trolling motor to the sturdy mount and let electric power propel you to your favourite fishing spot.
400lb capacity; 9’ long
Moveable anchor system included
Versatile rod holder
Three oar lock positions
Foldable, padded seat
speed (IBO) 350 fps
axle-axle length 32 5/8”
Wire storage platform behind seat
20 storage pockets and two insulated drinks holders
This is a great value craft considering its versatility and stable design. For the solo fisherman, it’ll take you to all kinds of fishy places.
The Colorado Inflatable Pontoon boat is an affordable pontoon boat that will open up all kinds of fishing options. It has plenty of secure storage space which makes it great for running rivers and keeping your gear safe.
Stable craft capable of running rivers
Option to fit trolling motor
Plenty of storage capacity
2 year warranty
Awkward to transport by hand
Suited for one person
5. Classic Accessories Colorado XT
Transport Wheel and Detachable Pockets
To improve portability when inflated, the Colorado XT includes a stowable transport wheel. This makes the craft much easier to get to the water and move between pools or around obstacles. In addition, the included gear bags are detachable and fitted with shoulder straps – so you can leave the craft and still take what you need.
400lb capacity; 9’ long
2 year warranty
Stowable transport wheel
Detachable gear bags
Meets ABYC safety standards
The Colorado XT is relatively expensive but still great value for a ready-to-go river pontoon boat. This platform is made to fish.
It improves on the basic Colorado from Classic Accessories and makes a fantastic solo pontoon boat.
Easy to transport when inflated
Detachable gear bags for easy transport of equipment
Incorporated anchor system
Suitable for one person
6. Sea Eagle SE9
Affordable Fishing Inflatable
The SE9 is a very affordable craft considering the features included in the sale package. Inflatable seats and floor put the angler at a higher vantage point which is all important in spotting fish and the places they live before they see you. The included motor mount adds to the versatility of the boat.
1200lb maximum capacity; 11’ long
38mm Polykrylar (K80 PVC) construction; high frequency welded
4 inflation chambers
3hp engine capacity or 74lb thrust electric motor
The SE9 is an affordable package that includes several features suited to the angler. It’s a good value inflatable dinghy for general use.
The Sea Eagle SE9 is a reliable and affordable inflatable boat for anglers looking for a boat that can be stored away and quickly assembled whenever the urge to fish arises.
Includes inflation pump and repair kit
Removable floor and seats put the angler at a higher vantage point
Easily stowable for transport with included bag
Moulded oar locks can break and aren’t easy to repair
7. Intex Mariner 3
The Mariner 3 is constructed using three layers for increased durability. Two outer layers of laminated vinyl PVC stand up to abrasion and sun damage, and an inner layer of polyester mesh supports the rest of the boat. The extruded plastic floor gives the craft much more rigidity than some of the cheaper inflatables.
660lb capacity; 9’8” long
3 layer construction – 2 outer layers heavy gauge PVC and inner polyester mesh
Floor made from heavy duty extruded plastic for rigidity
2 inflatable seats
2 fishing rod holders
Gear pouch and battery pouch
Rotational welded plastic oar locks, oar holders and oars
Motor mount fittings
For the quality of construction this boat is fantastic value, being one of the least expensive crafts on this list.
It makes a great fishing platform for a variety of situations on rivers, lakes and sheltered waters. It’s much more durable than other boats of similar price.
Durable, multi-layer construction
Rotational oar locks
Professional series watercraft
Smaller than other inflatables – suited to three people
8. Killer Whale 10.8’
Reliable Design and Construction
All effort has been taken to make the Killer Whale a boat to be counted on. Its design incorporates features that allow the boat to handle higher capacities than its counterparts, while still handling and planing out quickly and smoothly. The boat’s construction also aims to eliminate failure points so you know the craft will take you there and get you back again.
1268lb maximum capacity; 10’8” long
3 year warranty
9mm thick, 1100 denier reinforced PVC construction
Entirely welded seams
Extended rear pontoons to carry greater maximum weight and larger motors
The Killer Whale is the most expensive craft featured in this list – and gets that classification through its design and construction. For a totally reliable little boat, this is worth the extra cost.
It makes a handy fishing platform – especially used in conjunction with larger ‘base’ boat. It’s still useful as a fishing boat on its own – but considering the cost there are other more specifically designed fishing boats on the market.
Can be fitted with motor
Aluminium floor for stability and rigidity
3 year warranty
Not a lot of room for multiple people fishing
Limited storage space
9. BRIS 14.1’
An Easy Cruiser
With the extra length and narrow beam, the BRIS Kayak Boat will run surprisingly smooth and fast with smaller electric or gas powered motors suited to the boat – or under paddle/oar power.
Capacity 770lb; 14.1’ long
1100 denier 0.9mm PVC construction
4 fins for improved tracking and predictable drifting
Integral oar locks
Suitable for small motors; rowing or paddling
Seats, oars, foot pump, carry bag and repair kit included
It is a moderately expensive inflatable. It’s a handy mix of boat and kayak.
For a fisherman, the BRIS Kayak Boat may be a good platform. It’s very stable due to the air chambers and strong floor, and suited to motor power or manoeuvring tricky spots with oars or paddle. For one or two anglers, there’s plenty of room.
Versatile crossover design suitable for rowing, paddling or motors
Narrow but stable design easy to manoeuvre
Easy to stand and move about in for fishing
Reduced weight capacity compared to conventional inflatables
More impacted by wind than conventional kayaks
10. BRIS 10.8’
Having a rigid floor makes this boat a comfortable ride capable of cruising at speed under motor. It’s also easier to stand and fish in – getting those long casts and increased fish-spotting capability.
Maximum capacity 1213lb; 10’8” long
1100 denier 0.9mm PVC tube and floor fabric
Marine plywood transom
Maximum 15hp motor
Built in oar locks
Includes seats, oars, foot pump, carry bag and repair kit
The BRIS 10.8’ is a more expensive inflatable but this is offset by its quality design and rigid construction. It’s a cheaper option than some inflatable tender dinghies.
This is a great quality inflatable that’s compatible with gas powered motors. It has a sturdy construction that makes it easy and comfortable to use.
Rigid and strong construction
Integral oar locks are well designed
Suitable for up to 15hp motor
Floor can be tricky to assemble (but very strong)
Criteria for Evaluation
When purchasing any kind of boat, knowing what it’s capable of carrying is extremely important. The solo angler may be better off getting a small capacity craft to cut down on size and weight when transporting – as well as ensuring they’re got a responsive craft to get around in that’s not unduly affected by wind and current.
Families are better off with larger inflatables so that everyone has room. Remember that in-board size of inflatable boats is significantly less than that of conventional boats because of the inflatable components.
Tender dinghies are designed with the assumption that they’ll spend a lot of time inflated and out in the weather. Construction is therefore highly durable when it comes to abrasion, UV resistance and other factors. The quality of PVC of these boats is very high and they’ll last a long time.
Less expensive crafts aren’t as resistant to daily wear and tear and will require more maintenance. They shouldn’t be left in the sun for extended periods as the PVC may deteriorate. They’re best deflated and packed away when not in use.
If you plan on using the boat regularly, it’s worth the extra investment to get a craft with rigid floor. This makes a more stable craft that is easier and more comfortable to stand and move about in – which is particularly important for lure and fly fishers.
Because inflatable fishing boats are marketed towards those that don’t want to spend too much time fussing over equipment, it’s best to choose a craft that has all the bells and whistles required to make an enjoyable day on the water.
Seats, oars, oar locks, storage bags, rod holders and air pumps are all vital to the angler.
How long does it take to inflate the boat?
Depending on the construction – and the pump – it’ll take more or less time to get your boat water-ready.
Simple two or three air compartment boats won’t take very long to get ready and are extremely straightforward. More complex designs take more time. Fitting separate rigid floors can sometimes be tricky, especially if the boat must be stretched around the frame.
How easy is the boat to control?
Inflatable boats control differently to conventional crafts. They sit on top of the water which can cause them to skate around on the surface with poorly timed rowing strokes or when dealing with wind. They are less affected by water currents, however, as they ride over them to a greater degree.
One failing of several inflatables is in the oar locks. Being placed on the inflatable pontoons causes them to compress into the boat itself under excessive power – limiting the amount of force that can be efficiently applied to rowing strokes. As the row locks are commonly plastic, they are also more prone to breakage. Rotational locks are much better for sustained use than those that don’t move with the oar.
Boats fitted with motors control quite well under power. The better ones have extended pontoons beyond the transom to give better tracking and stability under the weight of the motor. The light weight and high-riding profile of inflatables means that a small motor will push them well and use minimal fuel to get around.
Are oars included?
All of the boats included on this list come with oars. Most inflatable crafts come with oars as part of the package – which adds to the value of the purchase. Not all oars are suited to strenuous rowing so it may be worth purchasing strong oars if you intend on rowing for long distances or in rough conditions.
The Final Choice
There are many good options for an inflatable fishing boat. From solo float tubes and river-running pontoons; up to 4 and 5 person rowboats; there’s a craft available to suit your needs. Because they can be stored in confined spaces, and are easy to handle for beginners – they make great alternatives to conventional boats.
It’s worth determining your boating needs when shopping around for an inflatable – as they aren’t all created equal. Working out exactly what you hope to get out of your craft will ensure that you enjoy your purchase well into the future.