Last Updated on March 6, 2023 by Hassan Abbas
When looking for a kayak for fishing, you might have noticed those inflatable kayaks for sale. Unlike hard-shell kayaks, people still have doubts about inflatable kayaks. There are still a couple of warranted concerns over their safety and performance. What do you sacrifice for the portability of an inflatable kayak? What benefits do you gain? Are they ideal for fishing? Here’s a quick analysis of the pros, cons, and safety of inflatable fishing kayaks!
Kayaks and fishing: a match made in heaven!
Let’s consider the positives and negatives of choosing an inflatable kayak.
Table of Contents
Pros of Inflatable Kayaks
Perhaps, one of the biggest advantages of using an inflatable kayak is its portability. It’s much easier to bring an inflatable kayak to places than dragging a hard-shell kayak. You also won’t need a roof rack when you take your kayak on vacation. Inflatable kayaks have a one-up on compact storage and transportation that hard shells just can’t beat.
Weight versus Capacity
Inflatable kayaks are, in general, lighter than hard-shell kayaks. Even though they are lighter, inflatable kayaks have a higher weight capacity when compared to hard-shell kayaks. This additional weight capacity means you’ll be able to bring on heavier fishing gear while also having a lighter kayak!
Inflatable kayaks have wider bases than hard-shell kayaks, making them surprisingly harder to tip over. This base is great for beginners who struggle to balance on a kayak. Even if you capsize your inflatable kayak, the air inside it makes it stay afloat. Some inflatable kayaks also have self-bailing systems, which will help you drain any water that might get in. If you want to exert less effort balancing so that you can relax and fish, inflatable kayaks are good for you.
Inflatable kayaks are generally cheaper than hard-shell kayaks due to the materials used for construction. If you’re looking to get into the hobby and want a budget kayak, inflatable kayaks are a great place to start. You also don’t need a kayak rack to transport it, so it’s an affordable way to get into kayak fishing!
If you’re using a hard-shell kayak, rocks protruding or hidden beneath the water can be horrible when you ram against them. Since inflatable kayaks are softer and filled with air, they are designed to bounce off rocks and hard surfaces. This extra safety makes it friendlier for beginners to use. If you’re getting a kayak solely for fishing and less for mastering paddling, having that safety bounce will help a lot.
While comfort is still a personal preference, the rigid seat of a hard-shell kayak can cause back pain, especially when you are seated for long periods. The flexible seat of an inflatable kayak provides better back support. If you plan on fishing for a long time or have recurring back problems, you might want to opt for inflatable kayaks.
Cons of Inflatable Kayaks
While inflatable kayaks do bounce off rocks, that doesn’t make them less susceptible to punctures. If you’re using an inflatable kayak, it might be wise to bring a patch kit. It might come in handy for those rare occasions. If you plan on fishing in calm waters, this is even less of a concern, but it’s still there.
Inflatable kayaks take time to inflate and deflate. You also need to make sure you have the correct air pressure in your kayak. An inflatable kayak that’s too soft will sink easily, so that’s something you need to consider when trying the type out. You’ll also need to bring either a manual pump or an electric pump on your trip.
The lightweight and size of the inflatable kayak can be as much a problem as it is a boon. It’s harder to control compared to hard-shell kayaks. It’s also easier for inflatable kayaks to get tossed by the water and wind. If you’re looking for speed and maneuverability, hard-shell kayaks are better. For fishing, though, maneuverability might be less of a problem, but you need to remember that it’s easier for waves and wind to move your kayak.
While inflatable kayaks have a higher weight capacity, they generally have less storage space than hard-shell kayaks. If you have many items to store when you are out on the water for kayak fishing, you’ll be getting more out of a hard-shell kayak compared to an inflatable one.
Inflatable fishing kayaks have their positives and negatives, but in no way are they inferior to hard-shell kayaks. If you are looking for a good kayak, you might want to consider getting an inflatable one. If you want a more beginner-friendly, portable kayak, it might even be the better one for you!
To answer the big question: Are inflatable fishing kayaks safe? — Yes, it is!
Inflatable kayaks are very durable and made of materials built to withstand damage. Punctures are rare with inflatable kayaks. Inflatable kayaks are constructed with PVC and Hypalon, materials designed for durability and longevity. Some newer ones are made of Nitrylon, which is even more puncture-resistant and abrasion-resistant than PVC and works better in cold weather, at the cost of a heavier weight.
Even if you get a puncture somehow, the inflatable kayak will deflate slowly, giving you enough time to patch up the hole. Good inflatable kayaks also have multiple air chambers. Most of the kayak will remain inflated due to the separate chambers. These make sure that the kayak stays afloat even with a puncture.
With the increased stability and buoyancy of the inflatable kayak, you get an extremely safe boat for casual use. Some inflatable kayaks are designed for white waters. Since you’re fishing, though, you don’t even have to think about that! You’ll probably be fishing in lakes near you where the waters are calmer, so the durability of inflatable kayaks shouldn’t be any problem to you at all. So, the next time you’re looking for a good kayak for a fishing trip nearby, consider the trusty inflatable kayak. It’s much safer than you think!