Whether you’re on a weekend excursion with friends or family, one of the most enjoyable outings is getting in a bit of fishing. If you’re on a river, lake, or ocean, you are likely to need a boat. However, not everyone has a fishing boat readily available. Both freshwater and ocean fishermen find inflatable fishing boats an attractive alternative to traditional fishing boats. Inflatable fishing boats are portable and versatile, and they require little in the way of storage space. In most cases, inflatable fishing boats are significantly less expensive than traditional watercraft in terms of not only the purchase price but also insurance, licensing, transportation, storage, and maintenance.
Are inflatable boats good for fishing?
Inflatable boats are quieter than traditional boats; meaning you’ll have an advantage by being able to move around the water without disrupting the fish. Inflatable boats are great for fishing and offer many benefits, depending on your preferences as a fisherman.
Are inflatable fishing boats built to last?
The lifespan of an inflatable fishing boat is dependent on the materials used in the construction of the craft, exposure to the elements, and how the inflatable is stored. A high-quality inflatable, utilizing CSM and neoprene could last for 15 years or more with proper care and storage. Inflatable fishing boats built with PVC that are used in hot and humid climates can deteriorate beyond repair in as little as three to five years.
What is the top speed of an inflatable fishing boat?
The speed of an inflatable fishing boat depends on the design of the inflatable and the size of the outboard motor used to propel the craft. A soft-bottom or RU-style inflatable, because it cannot plane, can only navigate at a top speed of less than five miles per hour. A six-passenger RIB with a deep V-hull can achieve speeds of 70 knots or up to 80 miles an hour, depending on weight and size.
And, if fishing isn’t your main recreational activity or you don’t have space or resources required to store or transport a traditional fishing boat, an inflatable boat is an ideal solution. An inflatable fishing boat will carry all your fishing gear as well as additional fellow anglers.
If you’re interested in a safe, portable fishing boat that’s easy to transport, read on to learn more about inflatable fishing boats. Inflatables are constructed with multiple tubes filled with air. If one tube is damaged and springs a leak, the air in the remaining tubes will keep the inflatable afloat. For their size, inflatables are the safest of all watercraft. Check out our top 5 inflatable fishing boats.
Buying guide for the best inflatable fishing boats:
1. Inflatable fishing boats – Safety
The first question the majority of inflatable boat buyers ask is, “ Are inflatable fishing boats safe and reliable?” The answer is a resounding yes. You may wonder if an inflatable fishing boat could suffer a puncture on a rock or other sharp item, but fear not: utilizing oversized inflatable tubes, inflatable fishing boats are exceptionally buoyant and difficult to capsize because of their low center of gravity.
Inflatable fishing boats combine rugged durability, cutting-edge design, and progressive technical features. They are every bit as safe, and in many situations, even more, seaworthy than traditional fishing boats. Where a hard-sided canoe or rowboat may tip over when one tries to re-board from the water, a swimmer can climb aboard an inflatable fishing boat with ease.
2. Inflatable fishing boats – Materials
Inflatable fishing boats are made from one or more of the following materials: PVC, polyurethane, and neoprene combined with a rubber called chlorosulfonated polyethylene, or CSM. The two most common materials are CSM and neoprene. CSM is especially strong. On its own, CSM is not able to hold air, but when combined with neoprene, it is airtight.
DuPont marketed CSM under the brand name Hypalon until they discontinued their rubber in 2010. However, throughout the boat trade, the neoprene/CSM combo is still often referred to as Hypalon. While each synthetic material has distinct advantages, there are also disadvantages to consider. Selecting the wrong material can make the difference between a fine day of fishing enjoyment or one fraught with problems.
CSM pros and cons:
- CSM stands up well to scrapes and scratches should the boat scrape against hard surfaces. It’s not as resistant to damage as polyurethane, but it is more robust than PVC.
- Offering excellent UV tolerance, CSM does not harden, crack from sun exposure, or deteriorate over time like PVC. However, the color in the coating is not sun-proof and will fade with prolonged sun exposure.
- Impervious to oil or fuel spills, CSM is not damaged by exposure to most chemicals, but because the material is porous, it does get dirty fast. On a happy note, CSM is stain-proof and cleans up nicely.
- CSM is easy to repair.
- CSM is the most robust and durable boat coating, but it is also the most expensive.
Neoprene pros and cons:
- Neoprene exhibits excellent chemical stability, maintaining outstanding physical toughness and flexibility in all types of weather. Neoprene does not downgrade due to the effects of ozone, sun, or temperature.
- Demonstrating outstanding resistance to tears and damage caused by flexing or twisting, neoprene fabric is the primary material used in the manufacture of wetsuits — hence the nickname “scuba knit.”
- Some people, allergic to thiourea residues left from production, experience contact dermatitis when handling neoprene.
RIB inflatable boats offer high speed coupled with stellar handling. However, an increase in power often creates false confidence that may lead to boating accidents. Looking for the Boat Fenders? Check out our Buyer’s Guide on Best Boat Fenders to know more.
Types of Inflatable fishing boats:
There are two basic types of inflatable fishing boats: soft inflatable and hard-sided inflatable.
1. Soft inflatable fishing boats
Soft inflatable fishing boats are soft-sided without a solid floor. These are a breeze to store and transport: RU fishing boats (also known as roll-up inflatable boats) inflate and launch quickly. These boats are like dinghies in that you do not have to remove the floor for storage. Often utilized as tenders to a larger vessel, the RU boat design uses wooden slats encased in fabric. It isn’t necessary to remove the wood slats for storage.
Fitted with a transom, an RU inflatable fishing boat can support a small outboard motor. An RU is perfect for exploring a meandering river or small lake, but because these boats do not plane, they do not provide the speed or power required for rough water, thereby limiting their use beyond flat-water travel or in-harbor forays.
2. Hard-sided inflatable fishing boats
Hard-sided styles and designs used for fishing include inflatable tenders, dinghies, pontoon boats, rafts, and kayaks. Sports boats, also known as SBs, are inflatables designed with a removable rigid floor fabricated from aluminum, composite plastic, or wood. Stringers running fore and aft keep the craft in alignment utilizing stringers for stiffening. When an SB inflates, the stretched fabric bottom assumes a shallow V-configuration, allowing the SB to move faster and navigate in tighter areas than its RU counterpart.
High-pressure (HP) boats are similar to SBs, but they exchange a wood or plastic floor for an inflatable high-pressure floor. Also known as an air-flow, inflatable boats with a high-pressure floor combine performance and portability in an inflatable fishing boat that is lightweight, compact, and highly maneuverable. With a small outboard motor, this type of boat planes at an acceptable speed. And when you’re ready to head on down the highway, the inflatable high-pressure floor deflates and rolls up securely for storage and transport inside the HP.
For the ultimate in performance and strength, rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) feature a moderate or deep reinforced deep-V hull. These boats smoothly handle rough water and rough treatment, such as the abrasion and weight of diving gear and tanks, poles, and picnic baskets. Topside inflatable tubes make RIB boats especially buoyant and stable. However, they lack the portability of other configurations, and you can’t stash your fishing boat in your vehicle trunk or backseat.
Using state-of-the-art design, engineering, and technology, RIB inflatables with aluminum deep-V hulls are widely used in the commercial fishing trade, and they are the preferred vessel for humanitarian relief, search and rescue, and military and law enforcement applications.
Factors to consider before choosing Inflatable fishing boats:
1. How fast do you want to go?
Whether you want to take a leisurely float on a lazy river or race against the tide in the open ocean, there is a size, speed capability, and price range of inflatable fishing boat to fit every need and pocketbook.
2. Do you want an inflatable fishing boat that can plane?
If you want speed and performance, an inflatable fishing boat that can plane is a must, especially if you desire to waltz over the water at more than five miles an hour. If you want your boat to plane, a semi-rigid or rigid boat floor is essential. An inflatable fishing boat’s floor construction is the primary factor affecting ease of assembly and storage, and the rigid design is needed for optimum performance.
For fishermen seeking speed and a sleek design, an inflatable fishing boat with a rigid deep-V high-performance hull crafted from aluminum, plastic, or fiberglass is an excellent choice. However, keep in mind that an RIB must be trailered or stored off-season on davit mounts.
3. How often will you use your inflatable fishing boat?
How much money you choose to invest and the type of boat that fits your needs more than likely depends on how much time you plan to spend using your inflatable. You may want a lightweight, single-person raft you can stash in your backpack to explore a hidden alpine lake you discover while hiking. Or, you may want a boat on which you can spend all your leisure time with a line in rough waves, saltwater fishing for lingcod.
4. How will you transport your inflatable boat?
If you are going to transport your boat in the back of your pickup or trailer it to the launch location, look for an inflatable fishing boat that can withstand scratches, scrapes, bangs, and bumps. Models with a reinforced rock guard around the hull provide increased durability.
5 Best Inflatable Fishing Boats
Intex SeaHawk 3 Inflatable Boat
It’s the little brother to the Seahawk 4. The same elements that make the bigger model reliable stand for this dinghy. Seahawk 3 provides excellent relaxation, double rowing, and serves well as a small inflatable fishing boat. The craft can fit 3 adults and a combined weight of 790 lbs.
The included pump works great with the Boston valves. That way, you can quickly pump up or deflate the boat in just a few minutes. There are four rotational oarlocks and two fishing rod holders when you want to reach that perfect fishing spot.
Newport Vessels Dinghy Boat
The Newport Dinghy Boat is made out of high-quality materials to ensure exceptional durability. Looking for a dinghy to ferry you from ship to shore, one that can be either towed or easily stored? Consider this one. The boat is rated by US Coastguard standards, and is made out of 3x layers .9mm/1100 UV Coated PVC. This structure is held together with an advance German-engineered adhesive for extra longevity. All this speaks to how well the boat performs in rough water conditions.
The floors are fitted with durable marine wood. It also features aluminum framing that provides extra support. This dinghy is used for recreational purposes like tendering to and fro yachts at anchor. This zodiac boat type can fit an engine of 10hp and can reach speeds of 20 mph.
Classic Accessories Inflatable Pontoon Boat
This inflatable pontoon boat is the perfect fit for fishermen looking for fishing dinghy that can carry 400lbs worth of gear. It’s easy to assemble and transport, and is very customizable. The boat has over 20 compartments for storage and two nifty insulated drink holders. As far as inflatable pontoon boats go, this one is robust and won’t break the bank. It’s made out of an abrasion PVC bottom and sturdy nylon tops so it can withstand punctures from fishing hooks and sharp equipment.
Intex Excursion 5 Inflatable Boat
There is no other boat like Excursion 5 when it comes to providing a do-everything leisure craft on a budget. The Excursion 5 is a spacious inflatable boat that has an attachment for a small motor, like a Minn Kota.
You can enjoy a day out on the lake with your friends without worrying about capacity issues. This inflatable dinghy boat can accommodate up to 5 people on-board. Moreover, it is made of sturdy vinyl. The vinyl can withstand sharp objects and other potentially deflating points of hindrance found by the shore during launch and landing.
What’s more, is that the boat is easy to inflate and deflate due to the use of the Boston valve. Moreover, the pipes are located on two main hull chambers. There are 3 air chambers and one auxiliary chamber for the perfect displacement of water.
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is another incredibly comfortable inflatable boat that will definitely leave you highly impressed. What’s more, is that this keel is built from high-quality materials to ensure long-lasting durability. Moreover, the kayak features adjustable inflatable seats with a backrest for extra comfort. The color of the boat allows fellow boaters to see you correctly in the distance if you found yourself in an emergency.
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Inflatable fishing boats – Prices
When considering inflatable fishing boats, you will find a broad spectrum of prices based on the quality of workmanship, materials, size, weight, and style.
- Inexpensive: You can find a low-cost inflatable fishing boat that seats one person for around $75. Most fishing boats in this range are lower in quality but can be expected to last a year or two. Many manufacturer’s offer up to a three-year protection plan for an additional fee of around $5.
- Mid-range: A two-to- four-person inflatable sports tender with an aluminum frame, marine wood flooring, aluminum bench seat, and accessories costs around $1,200.
- Expensive: Commercial-sized inflatable fishing crafts designed for extreme recreational fishing adventures can cost more than $35,000 without the motor.
- Inflatable fishing boats, manufactured from CSM and neoprene, are stronger and more durable than those made from polypropylene.
- If you plan to pair your inflatable with an outboard motor, be sure to select a boat with a transom strong enough to support the weight of the motor.
- Make sure your onboard gear includes a fast-loading self bailer, paddles, rod holders, a repair kit, and exterior lifelines. Inflatable fishing boats perform well in all types of weather conditions.
We hope you enjoyed this article featuring the best inflatable boats for fishing. Make sure the inflatable fishing boat you’re planning to buy fits in your budget. Also, check if the inflatable boat comes with a warranty and make sure you also compare the warranties different companies offer. Some companies or websites offer full warranties, while others are limited. Moreover, we hope that you’d find an inflatable boat that perfectly suits your needs.
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