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
  • Intex Excursion 5
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Large Size
  • Price: See Here
Intex Seahawk 4
  • Intex Seahawk 4
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Good Price
  • Price: See Here
Classic Float Tube
  • Classic Float Tube
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Functional
  • Price: See Here

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.

Hull Rigidity

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.

Deflated Size

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.

Motor Compatibility

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

1. Intex Excursion 5
The Intex Excursion 5 is another entry-level priced inflatable fishing boat that’ll meet the requirements of many anglers.

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.
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Features and Specifications

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

Price/Value

This is another inexpensive, great value inflatable for getting out on the water and catching fish.

Verdict

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.
Pros

Large size with plenty of room

Seats with backrests for comfort

4 rod holders

Cons

Not as rigid as some inflatables

2. Intex Seahawk 4

2. Intex Seahawk 4
The Intex Seahawk is a great entry level inflatable suited to up to four people. It’s a great craft for enjoying calm waters.

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.
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Features and Specifications

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

Price/Value

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.

Verdict

The Intex Seahawk is a cheap inflatable for fishermen that want to test the waters of boating.
Pros

Inexpensive boat – great for beginners and families

Super-fast assembly as only requires inflation

Cons

Not as durable as other boats

3. Classic Accessories Cumberland

3. Classic Accessories Cumberland
If you’re after an easy to manoeuvre craft fit for the solo angler, this float tube from Classic Accessories might be right for you.

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.
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Features and Specifications

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

Price/Value

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.

Verdict

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.
Pros

Easy to carry to remote areas

Functional and easy to control shape

Integrated stripping apron for fly line, with fish ruler

Cons

Only suitable for one person

Requires flippers to operate effectively

4. Classic Accessories Colorado

4. Classic Accessories Colorado
For the solo angler that wants to tackle rougher waters or motor between spots, the Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon boat is a great fishing platform.

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.
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Features and Specifications

400lb capacity; 9’ long
Motor mount
Moveable anchor system included
Versatile rod holder
Three oar lock positions
Foldable, padded seat
speed (IBO) 350 fps
axle-axle length 32 5/8”
4.3lb
Wire storage platform behind seat
20 storage pockets and two insulated drinks holders
Oars included

Price/Value

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.

Verdict

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.
Pros

Stable craft capable of running rivers

Option to fit trolling motor

Plenty of storage capacity

2 year warranty

Cons

Awkward to transport by hand

Suited for one person

5. Classic Accessories Colorado XT

5. Classic Accessories Colorado XT
The Colorado XT adds a few new features to the standard Colorado, also on this list, which takes it to the next level as a solo river-runner.

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.
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Features and Specifications

400lb capacity; 9’ long
2 year warranty
Stowable transport wheel
Detachable gear bags
Meets ABYC safety standards

Price/Value

The Colorado XT is relatively expensive but still great value for a ready-to-go river pontoon boat. This platform is made to fish.

Verdict

It improves on the basic Colorado from Classic Accessories and makes a fantastic solo pontoon boat.
Pros

Easy to transport when inflated

Detachable gear bags for easy transport of equipment

Incorporated anchor system

Cons

Suitable for one person

6. Sea Eagle SE9

6. Sea Eagle SE9
The Sea Eagle SE9 includes fishing specific components in the ‘Fisherman’s Dream Package’ – an inflatable floor, motormount, inflatable seats, oars, foot pump and a repair kit.

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.
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Features and Specifications

1200lb maximum capacity; 11’ long
38mm Polykrylar (K80 PVC) construction; high frequency welded
4 inflation chambers
3hp engine capacity or 74lb thrust electric motor

Price/Value

The SE9 is an affordable package that includes several features suited to the angler. It’s a good value inflatable dinghy for general use.

Verdict

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.
Pros

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

Cons

Moulded oar locks can break and aren’t easy to repair

7. Intex Mariner 3

7. Intex Mariner 3
The Mariner 3 is a professional grade inflatable by Intex, and is constructed to handle the rigours of long days on the water. It’s suited to three people capacity.

Durable Construction

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.
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Features and Specifications

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

Price/Value

For the quality of construction this boat is fantastic value, being one of the least expensive crafts on this list.

Verdict

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.
Pros

Durable, multi-layer construction

Rotational oar locks

Professional series watercraft

Rigid floor

Cons

Smaller than other inflatables – suited to three people

8. Killer Whale 10.8’

8. Killer Whale 10.8’
The Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale is a well-designed, robust inflatable boat – capable of handling motors up to 15hp and putting up with the rigours of the outdoors. This boat is just as capable as a tender dinghy as it is making fishing forays in calmer waters.

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.
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Features and Specifications

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
Reinforced transom

Price/Value

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.

Verdict

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.
Pros

Can be fitted with motor

Aluminium floor for stability and rigidity

3 year warranty

Cons

Not a lot of room for multiple people fishing

Limited storage space

9. BRIS 14.1’

9. BRIS 14.1’
This is a mix of boat and kayak, being narrower and longer than a standard inflatable while retaining many of the standard design features.

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.
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Features and Specifications

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

Price/Value

It is a moderately expensive inflatable. It’s a handy mix of boat and kayak.

Verdict

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.
Pros

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

Cons

Reduced weight capacity compared to conventional inflatables

More impacted by wind than conventional kayaks

10. BRIS 10.8’

10. BRIS 10.8’
The BRIS 10.8’ Inflatable is a higher end inflatable designed for use with motors up to 15hp. Solid construction make this a very useable fishing inflatable.

Rigid Comfort

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.
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Features and Specifications

Maximum capacity 1213lb; 10’8” long
1100 denier 0.9mm PVC tube and floor fabric
Aluminium floor
Marine plywood transom
Maximum 15hp motor
Built in oar locks
Includes seats, oars, foot pump, carry bag and repair kit

Price/Value

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.

Verdict

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.
Pros

Rigid and strong construction

Integral oar locks are well designed

Suitable for up to 15hp motor

Cons

Floor can be tricky to assemble (but very strong)

Criteria for Evaluation

Capacity

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.

Construction

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.

Included Components

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.

FAQs

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.