You are here because you are interested in finding out more about an inflatable fishing kayak. You can also call them air kayaks or blow-up kayaks. Notably, they are pretty ideal for navigating the waters and come in handy for anglers and adventurers alike.
But before you put your hard-earned money on air kayaks, you need proper education. Firstly, fishing kayaks come in both solid and inflatable types. The inflatable models are more popular because they are easier to store and transport. However, they also have a variety of other merits and demerits.
Like every other product on the market today, inflatable kayaks come in various types, sizes, and quality. And you will find an incredible range of kayaks at under $500. So, buying a kayak can often be a difficult task. We outline the differences between the inflatables and solid kayaks in this article. We will also look into their advantages and disadvantages, as well as their suitability for use.
But before that!
What Is an Inflatable Fishing Kayak?
Generally, kayaks are slim paddle boats often navigated with double-bladed paddles. And as for inflatable kayaks, they are more portable options that you can inflate for use and deflate for transportation or storage.
An inflatable kayak could often fall under lake paddling, expedition, or recreational models. However, the inclusion of extra fishing rigs or accessories always makes them more fishing-friendly.
Inflatable kayaks have three air compartments or chambers, including two side chambers and a floor chamber. But since many manufacturers are deviating from the traditional design to more modern designs, you could find some variations. Interestingly, you can use a foot pump, an electric pump, or a hand pump to inflate an air kayak.
You will also find it exciting that you do not have to be a pro to use the inflatables. You can use the right one irrespective of your kayaking experience. Besides, you will find an ideal type for any kayaking activity.
Types of Inflatable Kayaks
One of the things you are going to look for in a fishing kayak is stability. However, stability varies with the type of vessel you opt to choose. The following are some of the most popular types of kayaking boats;
The first one on our list is a self-bailing kayak. Just as the name implies, a self-bailing vessel does not hold water. Self-bailing kayaks come in handy for anglers who like to explore rapid waters.
While fishing often happens in calm waters, the chances are that you will have to maneuver whitewater from time to time. Water splashes around in such scenarios, and you will most often end up with a kayak filled with water. These models come with a unique drainage mechanism to prevent water buildup. It features eyelets or holes that let out water from the vessel.
But despite the drainage advantage that these options come with, they also have demerits. For example, you will undoubtedly get wet throughout your fishing trips. These kayaking boats lack fins and are less versatile on flat calm water, like models with fins.
These are arguably the most traditional forms of kayaks. As the paddler sits in a cockpit-like section, and the kayak wraps around you. The design means that your entire body is far from water. Hence, you will find them more viable for cold water trips.
They allow you to achieve a more comfortable sitting position, making it possible to make strong strokes more efficiently. Most of them come with skirts that you can conveniently wear and use to close the cockpit once you sit in the cockpit. The skirt material reliably helps to keep water splashes away from your body and cockpit. It is less likely to get wet with this type of tool unless you flip over your vessel. If you understand kayaking, you will agree that the chances of flipping a kayak are nearly zero.
c. Sit-On or Sit-On-Top
Sit-On kayaks or SOTs are relatively new entrants in the kayaking industry. However, they continue to gain popularity. Unlike their Sit-in counterparts, these vessels do not have an inside that you can inhibit. The only openings are storage hatches in which you can use to keep fishing accessories.
The design allows you to rig your foot-wells, seat back, and any other structures on the deck. It is nearly impossible to stay wet while on a sit-on-top kayak. With every wave, splash, or riffle, the paddle becomes wetter. Thus, you will find them incredibly ideal for warm weather.
Again, since sit-on kinds do not have cockpits, you can quickly disengage from the vessel for a quick swim. Undoubtedly, this is a fantastic way to cool your body when kayaking in hot or warm weather. You can also get back on the deck from the water. You cannot do this when using sit-in models.
They tend to sip in water. However, this is something you can easily prevent by using scupper plugs on the self-bailing drain holes.
But whether you choose a sit-in or a sit-on model for fishing applications, you will still find fishing enjoyable. Both are pretty safe and stable. You may only need to consider the size and design of whichever choice you choose. However, whether to go with a sit-on or sit-in model, find out the weather and type of water you want to explore.
d. Canoe Style Kayaks
Generally, these types of kayaks are similar to sit-in types. They have shaped liked boats, and the paddler sits in the boat just like you would do in a sit-in kayak. Unlike the sit-in models with cockpits and skirt-like materials to cover the rim around the cockpit, canoe-style models do not have these. Instead, the whole top is open.
Such a vast space gives you the freedom for comfortable seating. Also, the relatively high walls prevent you from getting too wet. You will also like that open kayaks provide you with more space to paddle your kayak, which means you can move faster.
Potentially, you have a more extensive area for carrying luggage and other fishing accessories. They are perfectly versatile and ideal for both warm and cold weather fishing.
e. Open Style Kayaks
Finally, we have the open-style kayak. It is a hybrid of a canoe-style kayak and a sit-on kayak. While it also features an open body like the canoe style, it comes with much lower walls.
Please do not confuse them with sit-on models. While sit-on models have nearly no walls, open-style models have short walls. You will find riders sitting higher on open-style models than on sit-on models.
The open style guarantees easy entry and exit. It also provides you with an open feeling that you will like if you intend to enjoy warm and relaxed fishing trips. Interestingly, the short walls can reliably keep mild splashes and still keep you comparatively dry.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
Like we already mentioned, these inflatables come with merits and demerits in comparison to their shell counterparts. Let us take a brief look at some of their advantages!
Advantages of Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
Compact Easy to Store
Unlike shell water vessels which will probably require a trailer or a roof rack to transport, these models are unbeatably compact when deflated. In a deflated state, the pack tiny and will fit in your backpack or suitcase.
Again, you do not need an entire garage or backyard to store an air kayak. Conveniently deflate your kayak and store it in a room within your home. You can also fit it in a storage bag for extra protection. Of course, the storage bag may also come in handy during transportation, mainly if you opted for a model with handles or straps.
Most kayakers often lack all the space to store large outdoor equipment such as boats and tents. So, compactness and ease of storage are sometimes reasons to choose inflatable kayaks over non-inflatable options.
Lightweight, Compact, and Easy to Transport
Notably, nearly all inflatable kayaking vessels will fit in an ordinary backpack. That implies that they are pretty compact when not blown up. They are compact and much easier to carry along. Even without a definite fishing plan, you can carry your kayak to a foreign country if you want to.
Together with its lightweight nature, transporting inflatables is easy. Softshell models weigh between 8 pounds to 40 pounds. You will find these varieties pretty convenient to carry as you would carry any other fishing or outdoor gear. Hardshell and tandem models weigh up to 100 pounds.
Ideally, an inflatable kayak is a piece of outdoor equipment you would carry, even on a plane. You can also tuck blow-up into your vehicle’s trunk or carry them up a mountain trail. You wouldn’t dare do that with an ordinary boat. The most you would need to transport your fishing kayak is a simple locomotive. Undoubtedly, owning an air kayak gives you more convenience and flexibility.
Unlike what most people may think, you cannot question the stability of inflatable kayaks. Some paddles even insinuate that they are more stable than their rigid shell counterparts. Notably, the larger the surface area, the greater the stability. Blow-up kayaking vessels feature wider and flatter bases as compared to their hardshell counterparts.
Since they have pockets of air all around their bodies, inflatables are more buoyant than hard-shelled models. Such a feature also adds to their stability and overall performance.
Again, most non-inflatable water vessels have the traditional v-shaped hulls. The V-shape bottom tends to cut too deep into the water, raising its center of gravity. On the other hand, an inflatable model’s flat base enables it to sit comfortably on water.
You can use an inflatable kayak in any water. Use the on rivers, seas, oceans, or any water mass that they can float on. You will find them ideal for both flat water and rapid waters. While they remain impressively lightweight even upon being inflated, you will find them stable on the water.
That does not imply that you cannot tip over while on a kayak. You have no doubt seen a kayaker tip over in a river; people do. Even though this is never a common occurrence, tipping over is a concern on ALL kayaks, inflatable or non-inflatable. So, tipping over is something you need to watch out for, particularly or turbulent waters. And it would be best if you had a perfect way of dealing with such an occurrence.
Most beginners compare blow-up vessels to any other delicate fabric. You would think that a little brush over an object will rupture the whole thing. While that seems pretty normal due to the fabric’s flexibility, inflatable fishing reels are very durable.
For a fact, inflated kayaks feature a steady and reliable construction that can withstand the beating of the outdoor environment. Just like high-end whitewater rafts, inflatable fishing kayaks are solid and durable.
The fact that you store them indoors also protects them against the harsh outdoor elements. You keep them indoors away from sunshine, rain, dust, and debris. And in case of a rupture, the repair process is pretty straightforward.
Cost-Efficient for Beginners
If you are a newbie into kayaking or kayak fishing and looking for a more affordable way to announce your entry, an inflatable fishing kayak covers your back. They are relatively cheaper than non-inflatable models. Thus, you will not have to abandon a piece of expensive equipment should you fail to like the activity. However, this does not mean that all inflatable kayaks are very cheap. You will find hind-end options that are costlier than your average rigid kayak.
Disadvantages of an Inflatable Fishing Kayak
Of course, air kayaks also come with a few demerits that you should know of. They include;
- Speed- Inflatable kayaks do not have v-shaped edges. The lack of streamlined bodies means that they cut through the water with some difficulty, affecting their speed.
- Width- These models are comparatively wider than rigid options. If you are fishing in narrow waters, it will be nearly impossible to squeeze them through the ridges.
Yes, we come to the end of this article. We strongly believe that you found it helpful, and you now have the information you needed about fishing kayaks. The information is suitable for your general knowledge. It will also be helpful when you finally decide to shop for an inflatable fishing kayak. Indeed, owning one is an incredible way of saying goodbye to costs and headaches associated with boats.
Inflatable fishing kayaks are durable, versatile, and compact vessels ideal for kayak fishing. Any enthusiastic angler would die to have one. They feature conveniently extensivee designs that give you sufficient stability when casting. Of course, that is a necessity in kayak fishing.
Your choice will not be about transportation mechanisms or storage. But you may need to pay attention to the vessel’s size and level of compactness. Finally, consider the advantages and disadvantages outlined to understand what inflatables offer.
Anthony has been an angler for the past 15 years. His experience makes him an invaluable asset to FISHING GEN and writes on fishing expeditions as well as fishing gear.