- Why use an inflatable boat?
- Some disadvantages
- Buying guide for the best inflatable fishing raft
- Best Inflatable Raft for Fishing – Top 5 Angler Picks!
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final words
While fishing by the banks is fun enough, you will have better access to more fishes if you’re going to sail through the waters. The best inflatable raft for fishing will let you choose the best spot in the lake, river, bay, or ocean to get the best catch. If you don’t have the money for a full-fledged boat, an inflatable type will be a good start. To help you find the best option, I’ve reviewed here five of the best inflatable dinghies together with my personal buying guide.
|FISHING RAFT||BRAND||EXPERT RATING||BRAND|
|Saturn SD330 |
Inflatable Dinghy Raft
|BRIS BSA380 |
Inflatable Fish Hunter
|Newport Vessels Dana |
|Inflatable Sport Boats Killer |
Whale Inflatable Dinghy
|ALEKO Inflatable |
Why use an inflatable boat?
Inflatable boats have been around for so long. You can easily spot a dinghy or two on a nearby port. Most locals in coastal towns use this as a mode of transportation to the neighboring because it’s faster than land travel.
Inflatable rafts are also a big thing among anglers because they can easily hop into it and go for a fishing cruise. If you’re wondering if inflatable rafts are right for you, the following perks will help you decide:
✔️Inflatables are cheaper
One of the biggest benefits of using inflatable rafts for fishing is its low cost. Actual fishing boats will cost around $18,000 to $45,000, depending on the size and features. Most anglers and hobbyists don’t want to shed such a fortune. Still, it doesn’t mean you won’t get to fish in the middle of the waters. Inflatable rafts make an excellent alternative for most fishing trips.
✔️It’s easier to storage
Rigid hull rafts are a pain to store because you have to purchase a separate trailer to transport it. Aside from the extra expense, you also need to free an ample space in your garage to house the boat. But with an inflatable raft, you can deflate the hull and fold some of the components. You can tuck it in one corner of your house or garage without worrying about space.
✔️You’re not always required to get a license
As long as your inflatable raft won’t go faster than 10 knots, you won’t be required to get a license. This is added convenience, especially if you’re just fishing for fun. Nevertheless, you must check with your local transportation office for specific requirements before you sail away.
✔️You can take it anywhere
Another benefit of using an inflatable fishing raft is you can take it anywhere. Small rafts can be placed inside the trunk of your car, while larger ones can be tied at the roof. It’s light and very easy to transport. Some models can even fit inside a storage bag. With this, you can bring your dinghy on your fishing trips anywhere.
While inflatable fishing rafts are convenient, affordable, and easy to use, it also comes with some downsides.
The first downside is that it takes time to get used to it. If you’re used to fishing on actual vessels, you’ll need to reassess your balance on inflatables. Rafts can topple if you don’t balance the weight load as well as your movements.
Aside from that, most inflatable rafts have minimal room, so it’s not the boat for big fishes. Just imagine catching a swordfish only for it to puncture the hull of your inflatable boat. But if you’re on the river, lake, or shallow waters, it wouldn’t be a problem.
You also have to bring a puncture kit just in case something happened, and your inflatable sustains holes. Anyway, your boat will not sink right away due to a single hole. Most inflatable dinghies nowadays have compartmentalized air containers, so if one gets punctured, all the air won’t escape.
One of the biggest things you should watch out when using an inflatable boat is your hook. Every sharp thing is the enemy of your boat, so make sure that you’ve practiced casting before getting in an inflatable.
Buying guide for the best inflatable fishing raft
The following are some of the considerations when looking for the best inflatable raft for fishing:
The hull refers to the watertight portion of a vessel that dictates its buoyancy and ability to cut through the water. The following are the most common hull types found on inflatable rafts and dinghies:
- Flat hull
A flat hull doesn’t have a keel or a V-shaped blade beneath that allows the boat to cut faster through the water. Flat hulls are commonly found on budget inflatables. Take note that a flat hull can be difficult to maneuver and can’t reach high speeds. Nevertheless, flat hulls are good options for recreational fishing trips on lakes and rivers. It’ also useful on the sea if you’re not going too far from the shore.
- V hull
On the other hand, there’s the V hull. This has a keel made of either CSM (chlorosulfonated polyethylene) or PVC (polymerizing vinyl chloride). A V hull can make use of a high-pressure floor or a hardwood slat type. This hull type is easier to maneuver and more stable than flat hulls. It’s a tad more expensive than flat hulls, but it’s still a popular choice among anglers.
- Deep V hull
Lastly, there are deep V hulls. This type is found mostly on RIBs or Rigid Inflatable Boats. This is the most expensive type, but it’s a workhorse in terms of control, speed, stability, and durability. RIBs are often used by the military for search and rescue. But if you have the money to splurge, you can get one of these bad boys.
Once you’ve decided on the hull type, you now have to choose the material. Most inflatable rafts are made of either two materials: PVC and Hypalon.
PVC is cheaper than Hypalon, but it offers decent waterproofing and performance on the water. It’s also lightweight, easy to carry around, and available in varying colors. And if your PVC inflatable boat sustained holes, it’s easier to repair because you can seal it through heat or special glue.
However, the biggest downside to this material is it’s susceptibility to scratches. Its color also washes out over time due to UV exposure.
On the other hand, Hypalon is made of synthetic rubber with a special coating. It’s more resistant to abrasions and punctures as compared to PVC. Hypalon doesn’t wash out its color due to UV rays, and it can withstand wear and tear. When Hypalon inflatable boats sustain holes, you simply patch it even if it’s still inflated.
The only downside to Hypalon is its higher price.
Are you going to solo fishing trips? Or do you have somebody else in tow? You should always consider the load capacity of the boat you’re going to buy. Remember that load capacity isn’t just about the weight of the people hopping into it. You must factor in the weight of your tackle and other equipment.
The only catch with load capacity is that the higher the limit is, the heavier the inflatable gets. Also, it gets pricier when the boat has a higher weight limit.
In general, an inflatable raft or dinghy with around 1,600 pounds of maximum capacity is more than enough for 4 to 5 people with equipment.
Lastly, you must check the floor type of the inflatable boat. The floor type will affect the stability of the boat as well as your ability to stand on it while fishing. The following are the most common type and its features:
- Air floor
Most budget-friendly inflatables nowadays have an air floor. Basically, the floor of the boat is inflated using high pressure. This flooring makes the boat lightweight, but it’s prone to punctures if you’re not careful. This floor type is best for calmer waters.
- Hard floors
Hard floors are usually made of wood or aluminum sheets that reinforce the surface of the boat. It’s easier to stand on this floor type since it also resists punctures. Inflatable boats with hard floors can deal with rough waters since its hull shape can cut through the water efficiently.
- Roll up floor
On the other hand, roll up floors are similar to hard floors, except that it uses wood or aluminum slats instead. It’s often used on boats with a flat hull since everything can be deflated and folded. Boats with this type of floor are cheaper and portable.
- Self-bailing floor
Lastly, self-bailing floors are designed to drain the water that may splash into the boat’s surface. Most inflatables are non-bailing, but you can find ones with pre-designed holes where the water can exit the boat. Such a feature is useful for white-water rafting and if you’re fishing on rough waters.
Best Inflatable Raft for Fishing – Top 5 Angler Picks!
OUR #1 CHOICE
OUR TOP PICK: Saturn SD330 Inflatable Dinghy Raft
Product Name: Saturn SD330 Inflatable Dinghy Raft
Product Description: If you’re looking for the best inflatable raft for fishing with excellent speed and stability, you won’t go wrong with the Saturn SD330. It’s made with a deep and inflatable V-keel that increases your maneuverability in the water. The hull is also equipped with a rub strake protector to resist scratches in case you’re docking on the shore. This 11-feet boat is made of Korean PVC fabric that’s way durable than most 1000-denier boats in the market. It can resist tears and tension better. There’s also a plywood transom mount where you can install an outboard motor. Moreover, this inflatable dinghy can take up to 15 HP of short shaft motor. It can also sit 4 people comfortably, and you’ll get a free second bench if you order the boat online.
Offer price: $$$
Value for Money
This boat also sports a drop-stitch air deck floor that can take up to 9 psi of air pressure for the best rigidity. Even though the Saturn SD330 has an air floor, you can stand on it firmly as if you’re on a plywood floor. That’s added convenience to the fact that you can deflate and roll this boat for storage.
Aside from that, this boat has durable flat air valves that use a pushpin design. There’s also a spare rope on the package where you can tie your anchor. To complete the ensemble, this dinghy has two aluminum oars attached to the side.
High-pressure air floor
Can take up to 15 HP of trolling motor
High weight capacity
The boat accessories for the boat can make use of improvement
BRIS BSA380 Inflatable Fish Hunter
Another inflatable fishing boat that we swear by is the BRIS BSA380. This is made of 1,100-denier PVC with a thickness of 0.9 mm. It’s paired with polyester support to resist tension, punctures, and scratches. Meanwhile, the lower tubes have a 1.8 mm of protection, so your raft will not puncture when you encounter sharp rocks.
All the seams of this boat are heat welded to ensure that there would be no leaks. You can fish with peace of mind using this inflatable dinghy, whether you’re on saltwater or freshwater.
Moreover, this has a sectional aluminum floor that prevents corrosion and punctures. This is more stable for standing up when casting your line. It also has a deep V keel with a rub strake protector so you can plane with ease.
Overall, this three-chamber boat is 12.5 feet long and can carry up to 1,675 of the total load. That’s equivalent to 6 people or 4 to 5 passengers with tackle gear.
The best part here is that this boat can take up to 25 HP of trolling motor. That’s way faster than Saturn but in a light construction of just 150 pounds.
Aside from the boat, the package includes aluminum floor, oars, seat, repair kit, carry bag, foot pump, and rope. It’s a complete set for every angler.
Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Dinghy
For those looking for a small raft, the 8.5-feet long Newport Vessels Dana is a great choice. It’s made of three-layered 1,100-denier, UV-coated PVC that’s 0.9 mm thick. All the seams are overlapped and heat welded to guarantee performance on all water surfaces.
Moreover, this sports an air keel for easy planing. It also has a marine plywood transom mount as well as wood floor panels. This inflatable boat is very sturdy, even if you have to stand up to retrieve your catch.
Aside from that, this boat can carry up to 1,067 lbs. or about three people. It has an 18-inch tube that stabilizes the boat as well as a V-shaped keel that lets you navigate even on rough conditions. Aside from that, this premium fishing boat uses a durable inflation valve that prevents air leaks.
This can take a decent 10 HP trolling motor to achieve a speed of about 17 knots, depending on the water conditions.
If you’re traveling for fishing trips, the Newport Vessel Dana is a good option. Once deflated, it can fit on a 3.5 x 2.5 ft. bag, which you can stash at the backseat of your car.
Aside from that boat, you’ll also get two oars, seat, foot pump, carry bag, and wood floor. All of these components are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 2-year manufacturer warranty.
Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale Inflatable Dinghy
Another inflatable fishing boat that you can consider is the Inflatable Sports Boat Killer Whale. This unit is 10.8-feet long, with a load capacity of up to 1,268 pounds or up to five persons.
The Killer Whale is made of heat-welded, 1,100-denier PVC material that can resist stains, UV rays, and oil. This material also boasts an excellent level of puncture and scratch resistance. And since the material is all white, this will protect the boat from UV damage.
The Killer Whale also boasts 3 air chambers with an additional inflatable keel. Its 18-inch tube offers excellent stabilization even on rough conditions. With its size, this boat can take up to 15 HP on your trolling motor.
Aside from that, this boat has an easy-slide, 24 mm aluminum floor. The seats are also made of aluminum to prevent corrosion and breakage. Everything in this boat can be assembled in less than 10 minutes so you can start sailing and fishing right away.
This is a USCG-approved vessel, complete with a Certification of Origin for easy boat registration. When deflated, this boat can fit inside a carry bag that only weighs 80 pounds.
Moreover, the package includes the boat, seats, bag, seat cushion, oars, foot pump, and repair patches. If you want a smaller version of the Killer Whale, you can try the Shark, Manta Ray, White Marlin, or Dolphin.
ALEKO Inflatable Dinghy Boat
If you’re on a budget and looking for a smaller fishing boat, I recommend the ALEKO Inflatable Dinghy. This one is 8.4-feet long and can fit two persons comfortably together with their tackle.
This is made of anti-corrosive 0.9 mm PVC material with a reinforced polyester layer. It can hold up to 770 pounds, which is more than enough for solo or duo fishing on calm waters. This has a slat floor that boosts the stability of the vessel. You can stand up on this boat with less risk of toppling.
Aside from that, this boat can accommodate a maximum of 75 pounds for the outboard motor. Once inflated, the boat will weigh 109 pounds without the motor yet.
This comes in black color with oars, seats, grab lines, PVC rubber hull, and three air chambers. Remember, though, that this doesn’t have any rod holders, but you can attach some on the aluminum seats.
Although this is smaller than other inflatable boats I’ve reviewed here, ALEKO can still perform well for sports fishing and recreational angling. It also works well as a tender boat for bigger vessels.
My only gripe is that there’s no glue included in the repair kit, but it’s just a small issue I can live with since this boat is cheaper.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will I topple when casting a line on an inflatable boat?
A: It’s all about the technique. I’ve seen a fair number of amateur anglers splashing into the water from their inflatable boats because of poor line casting. Remember that you’re throwing the line and not your body. By concentrating the force on your hands and into the line, you can maintain your balance on the boat.
Q: Is it safe to fish on the ocean using an inflatable boat?
A: Yes, inflatable boats are safe to use on the ocean, as long as you heed gale or tide warnings. Although inflatable, these boats use two large tubes and keel to keep you afloat. It’s widely used for search and rescue missions on ocean settings, so it’s guaranteed safe.
Q: Do I need to secure a license to operate an inflatable dinghy?
A: Most states don’t require a license if you’re just using an inflatable dinghy. Nevertheless, if your dinghy has a speed that’s more than 10 nautical miles per hour (knots), you’ll have to get a license. It’s best to inquire in your local coast guard office.
Q: Can an inflatable raft sink?
A: Yes, just like any vessel, inflatable rafts can sink if the air tubes got punctured. In most cases, inflatable rafts are difficult to sink because it contains air. However, there’s a possibility of toppling if the passengers and load aren’t well-balanced or if the weight load goes beyond the capacity of the boat.
Q: How many people can ride an inflatable raft?
A: It depends on the individual weight rating of each inflatable vessel. It could be between 2 to 6, depending on the size of the vessel. You should check it before letting passengers into your inflatable to prevent accidents.
The best inflatable raft for fishing will let you go on fishing trips without spending a fortune. It’s lighter, portable, and cheaper than actual boats. If you want to take your angling away from the shore, inflatable rafts are an excellent choice.