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Can You Fish from an Inflatable Kayak?
Urban angler? Apartment dweller? Small car driver? There are a number of reasons why you might be interested in whether or not inflatable kayaks can be used for fishing. Many kayakers are finding the versatility, portability, and durability of inflatables are perfect for getting into the kayak game. So, can you fish from an inflatable kayak? Well, yes. From many of them you can.
There are a few things to consider as you launch into fishing from a kayak, but for the most part, today’s good quality inflatables can stand up to the demands of fishing - and might even offer some benefits. (Just don’t try it with a single layer vinyl; make sure it is up to the demands.)
Inflatables often fall into five categories: recreational, lake & flat water, fishing, whitewater, and expedition level. Except for the cheapest recreational kayaks, any of these could be sturdy enough for fishing.
Why fish from an inflatable kayak?
When you think about inflatable kayaks and fishing, the first concern that likely comes to mind is whether or not your inflatable will pop / leak if you catch it with a fish hook or knife. And while there is always some concern about deflating at inopportune times, an inflatable kayak today is usually quite durable. They are made to withstand bumps, scraps, and snags. Most are made from highly durable PVS, polyester, and coated plastic. They may even have additional protection on the bottom for dropped equipment from above or rough scrapping from underneath. While you wouldn’t want to deliberately snag it or hack at it, the hardiness of an inflatable kayak can stand up to the usual rigors of fishing.
Another important factor for kayak fishing is whether a ‘yak is stable. Inflatable kayaks are actually quite stable and good for casting and retrieving. Just like their hardshell counterparts, choose a flat-bottom option for greater stability. In fact, it can actually be easier to paddle a lighter-weight inflatable with a flat bottom than a hard-shell one. So you can get stability AND less paddle exhaustion. Similar to iSUPs (inflatable stand-up paddle boards), many inflatable kayaks are also rigid enough to provide a stable platform for standing.
Kayaks that you inflate are also quite safe. They are lightweight enough to be paddled by kids and beginners. They often have wider sides that help to prevent capsizing (and help with stability). Of course, users play a role in safety as well. It is still important that you wear a PFD, avoid obstacles and undue trauma to your vessel, and particularly take care with sharp objections like hooks and knives.
It can happen to any kayak (hardshell or inflatable): an unseen rock, a hard jar, a collision. Any number of eventualities can leave you with damage. While you might envision yourself slowly (or rapidly) sinking to the bottom in an inflatable, that isn’t likely. Most inflatable kayaks have multiple chambers so that you can still stay afloat even if one is compromised. Also, many repair jobs can be done by yourself without needing a lot of time, talent, or resources.
Hopefully, we’ve allayed any major concerns about fishing from an inflatable kayak. But did you know that there are also benefits of inflatable kayak fishing?
Advantages of fishing from an inflatable kayak
- Easy to transport and store: one huge benefit of inflatable kayaks is that they are able to be folded up and stored. They are also more lightweight than their hard-sided cousins.
- Easy to maneuver: Inflatable kayaks tend to be on the shorter side which lends themselves well to tighter maneuvers which can be particularly helpful while fishing. The lighter weight also makes them easier to manipulate.
- High load capacity: Perhaps surprisingly, inflatable kayaks can have a higher load capacity (amount of weight they are able to carry) than their traditional counterparts. This makes them perfect for carrying the gear needed for a day of angling.
- Comfortable: Inflatable kayaks are quite comfortable and some anglers actually prefer them to hardshell kayaks.
- The Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC IN13 Inflatable Kayak has the added advantage of a pedal drive, so kayak anglers can be hands-free.
Disadvantage of fishing from an inflatable kayak
- Not easily customizable: One of the biggest drawbacks of fishing with an inflatable is that they are much harder to customize. You can’t drill into the hull to mount equipment or attach items. However, if you pick the right yak from the start this might not be much of a problem as specific fishing inflatables are made with items you need built in.
- Extra maintenance before storing: While the storing footprint of an inflatable is a huge win, it does take a bit of extra time. Because you can’t just roll up the kayak and stuff it in a bag, you will need to make sure to allow it to dry completely before storing. So, if you do deflate and bag it at the site, you will have to drag it back out at home to give it time to dry. It is also important to take a bit of extra care that the deflated and folded kayak isn’t rubbing or caught on something in storage. You don’t want to get to your launch site to inflate and discover carelessness in storage has led to a hole.
- Difficult in windy or extreme conditions: Because they are lightweight, inflatable kayaks are quickly impacted by current and wind. They can become hard to control if you are in open water and the wind picks up. This can make fishing particularly difficult.
Inflatable technology has come a long way. Enjoy the fishing options and benefits that can come from owning an inflatable kayak. Happy fishing!
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