Kayaks can often make great fishing platforms, they get you out on the water, away fr shore, without needing to spend thousands on a fishing boat. Even if you don’t want to save money, there are times when a kayak is the largest vessel that you can realistically bring out on your body of water of choice.
Inflatable kayaks have blown up in popularity over the last several years, due to their convenience, design, and portability. But many interested anglers wonder Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe for Fishing? You’ve got hooks galore, knives, and various other sharp pointy tools to deal with on an inflatable craft. Is that a good idea?
Let’s take a closer look at fishing in an inflatable kayak.
Inflatable vs. Rigid Kayaks
When you think of the word “kayak,” you probably get a certain image in your head. Most people will think of a bright red, rigid-hulled, sit-in kayak. If you’re thinking of a fishing kayak, you may think of a sit-on-top or stand up fishing kayak designed with additional space for your fishing rods and catches.
What most people won’t picture when they think of a fishing kayak is an inflatable fishing kayak, and that’s a shame because inflatable kayaks have a few key advantages over their rigid counterparts.
The main reason why most people pick an inflatable kayak over a rigid kayak, be it for fishing or anything else, is because they’re typically easier to transport. An inflatable kayak will break down into a much more easily transported package when compared to a typical rigid kayak. No need for a kayak trailer or roof rack. No one likes lifting their kayak up and off the roof rack.
Even better, many inflatable kayaks come with a storage bag that will make transportation easier for you. Some of these are in the shape of duffel bags, while others are designed like backpacks, with a pair of straps that will easily fit over your arms, allowing you to carry your kayak on your back.
However, ease of transportation isn’t the only reason why you might consider using an inflatable kayak. This very compactness means that inflatable kayaks are a lot easier to store when compared to rigid ones.
If you live in a smaller dwelling like an apartment, you may simply not have enough space to store a full-sized rigid kayak.
Of course, inflatable kayaks do have a few downsides when compared to rigid models, otherwise, everyone would be using them and the rigid kayak would be a thing of the past. Inflatable kayaks tend to be a little less stable than rigid ones, they’re slightly less durable, they track differently than a rigid body kayak, and they don’t quite look as cool.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common concerns about fishing from an inflatable kayak and see if they hold any water (pun intended).
Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe for Fishing?
Yes, inflatable kayaks are safe for fishing, and many manufacturers make inflatable kayaks with angling features in mind. Rod holders, extra bait storage, etc. are included on many inflatable kayaks.
But obviously you need to worry about a few issues that aren’t present in rigid-body kayaks.
Some of the main issues people have when it comes to fishing with inflatable kayaks include their lowered durability compared to rigid kayaks, the amount of storage room they have onboard, and how much they’ll drift while fishing.
Also, anglers question whether any inflatable kayaks are specialized enough for more advanced fishers.
Can I Puncture My Kayak While Fishing?
One of the main concerns that anglers have about fishing with an inflatable kayak is their perceived lack of durability compared to rigid ones.
Punctures from the Environment
What anglers need to understand is that “inflatable” doesn’t necessarily mean “easily punctured and sunk.” For example, special forces troops often use Zodiac inflatable boats, and their job is a bit more rigorous than fishing on your local lake.
This is because most inflatable kayaks are made of rugged, multi-layered PVC (AKA vinyl). This material is far more durable than most people give it credit for, especially when it’s layered on in thick pieces. These kayaks are typically designed to deal with underwater rocks, so few things you encounter while fishing should give them any trouble.
Most anglers are worried that they’ll end up puncturing their kayak with their fishing hook, and that’s a valid concern, but it would take a determined fisher with a lot of strength to accomplish that realistically. As long as you’re not repeatedly poking your hooks into your inflatable kayak, you shouldn’t have much trouble.
Of course, everyone has a bit of bad luck from time to time, and you don’t want to spring a leak while you’re out away from shore. But if that happens, you just need to keep your kayak patch kit on hand, and patch the kayak as quickly as possible. You can make it look pretty when you get back to shore.
And as always, you should have your pfd at the ready when out on the water. See our article on best kayak pfd for women for ideas.
Finally, biting fish have nowhere near enough jaw strength to get through the PVC underside of most inflatable fishing kayaks, so they shouldn’t even be a concern of yours when going out on the water.
Inflatable Kayak Storage Space
Since inflatable kayaks tend to be smaller than rigid kayaks for greater portability, many anglers are also concerned that there won’t be enough space for all of their fishing gear inside of an inflatable model.
This is a reasonable concern since tackle boxes tend to be a little bulkier than the amount of storage space you’ll find on many inflatable kayaks, especially the most portable ones.
To make up for this weakness, you can invest in a larger inflatable kayak that will sacrifice some of its prized portability in exchange for additional storage room.
Many kayaks like the Coleman Colorado shown above have dealt with this by having built-in storage space designed for fishing.
You can also improve the amount of storage space available on a smaller kayak by attaching bungee cords that will allow you to fasten gear to the topside. If you use this storage strategy, make sure that you don’t overload any side of your kayak, as this may cause you to unexpectedly capsize while fishing.
Drifting While Fishing in an Inflatable Kayak
A more reasonable concern about fishing while using an inflatable kayak is that you can expect your vessel to drift a lot more than a rigid kayak would. This concern is valid because the lighter weight of an inflatable kayak makes it easier for the wind and water currents to push it around while you fish.
This is an issue because anglers on kayaks typically aren’t able to manipulate the oars while they fish, as they’ll be occupied with the rod or a fresh catch. This means that your kayak will gradually drift away from the prime fishing area, and it may even reach the shallows or impact some inconvenient rocks.
You have a few solutions at your disposal to prevent your kayak’s drifting while you fish, and the most effective one is to invest in an inflatable fishing kayak anchor.
Most inflatable kayaks are equipped with a mesh anchor that you can place some rocks in, ensuring that you don’t have to carry a heavy anchor around with you when you’re on your way to and from the lake. See our article on types of anchors for more ideas.
Other solutions include using specialized kayaks with rudders or skegs that will reduce the influence of currents on your vessel. Some specialized fishing kayaks may even allow you to use flippers to maintain your position with your legs while you fish using your arms.
Rod Holders and Specialized Fishing Gear in Inflatable Kayaks
Finally, many kayak anglers are also skeptical about inflatable kayaks’ suitability when fitting specialized fishing equipment. Most fishing kayaks are rigid-hulled, meaning that you can expect them to come with things like rod holders and mounting points for more specialized gear like kayak fish finders.
Since inflatable kayaks tend to be a little more general-purpose, anglers wonder whether or not they’ll be able to use all of the equipment that they normally could on another kind of kayak. The good news is that many manufacturers are building rod mounts and other angling features into their inflatable kayaks.
You’ll have to invest in a specialized inflatable fishing kayak, which can often be a little more expensive than more versatile inflatable kayaks. But the same is true of rigid body kayaks as well.
Another way to avoid this problem is with a little bit of DIY work and elbow grease. As long as you’re willing to put a bit of work into your inflatable kayak, you can make rod holders out of bungee cords and you can fashion makeshift fish finder holders out of your material of choice.
How to Patch a Punctured Inflatable Kayak
Here are the steps involved in patching an inflatable kayak that’s been punctured:
- Inflate the kayak so that retains its typical shape when inflated. Cap the inflation valve.
- Take your kayak out on the water and sink it so that you can find the holes where the air is leaking out underwater.
- Mark the areas where you found the leaks and take the kayak out of the water.
- Find a source of durable PVC. Raincoats, air mattresses, or dedicated patching kits will have them.
- Cut your PVC down to size for each of your leaks. Round patches are less likely to peel off because they don’t have corners.
- Use sandpaper to roughen the areas around the air leaks.
- Apply PVC cement to the roughened area and press the patch against it.
- Clamp it down and let it dry.
- Repeat for each air leak.
Most anglers wonder whether an inflatable kayak will be durable enough to handle the rigors of fishing, and as long as you aren’t going on any whitewater rapids, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Their concerns become a little more valid when discussing things like storage space and optimization for fishing gear, though these problems can be rectified by getting your hands on an inflatable kayak designed for fishing.
Finally, drifting is another major issue that you may face while fishing in an inflatable kayak, but if you have a suitable anchor system or at least a skeg, you shouldn’t have too much trouble dealing with the currents.
We hope that this guide has provided you with all of the relevant info about using an inflatable kayak for fishing.