Fishing With Inflatable Boats
Fishing with inflatable boats is one of the most rewarding and fun pastimes one could choose. Before considering what kind of inflatable boat you want to use, you should consider what kind of fishing you want to do. There are several kinds of fishing and each requires different kinds of fishing craft to be used:
Salt Water Fishing
This generally implies using a large inflatable sportboat (an inflatable boat with a transom and 2 inflatable pontoons extending behind it) where a large motor is used
Generally, that means using a 12 to 15 foot inflatable boat with a 15 to 40 hp outboard engine. The size of motor that you use depends primarily on how many people will be fishing. While a 12 foot inflatable boat can easily float 4 or 5 people, it is really only capable of holding 2 fisherman and gear - without interfering with other fishermen in the boat. A 12 foot boat can usually take up to a 30 hp engine. A 14 or 15 foot boat can hold 3 to 4 fishermen and up to a 40 hp engine.
Please note, the more weight you put in an inflatable boat, the more horse power you need to propel it. When going offshore you will often pass through inlets which have strong tides and currents. You should consider this when choosing the horse power engine you need – i.e. an inflatable with a 25 hp engine and 3 fishermen will go slower when it is fight and 8 to 10 knot current against it.
It also should be noted that inflatable sportboats generally take a far shallower draft than rigid fiberglass boats and this means that they can be used in shallower water than fiberglass hull boats or even rigid hull inflatable boats.
Inland Sea or Bay Fishing
Again, because there are generally significant distances to go to get to prime fishing spots, an inflatable sportboat is generally preferred over other kinds of inflatable boats. The comments made in the paragraph above regarding weight and horse power apply here, although you could consider somewhat smaller sportboarts (i.e. 10 or 11 feet long)
In other words, you should choose your inflatable boat according to how many fishermen and how much horse power you want and need. Again, tide and currents may be a factor where you are boating and you should consider this in choosing what size inflatable boat and what horse power engine to use.
Salt Water Flats
Here, the inflatable boat you use it depends on how far you wish to travel from the point of put-in to the point of fishing. If you are going relatively short distances, you do not need a large inflatable sportboat with a large engine. This can make many things far easier. You do not need as big a boat, you do not need as big an engine and you will not use as much gas.
In some cases, you can row or paddle a few hundred feet offshore and eliminate the need for a motor altogether. This also may be a legal requirement in some areas (i.e. in some parts of the Everglades, you cannot used an outboard engine). This means you can consider a number of different inflatable types:
- Inflatable Sportboats - Use these where you need to go a relatively long distance or where you wish to get their FAST. Again, the comment made earlier regarding inflatable sportboats apply. Choose your boat and motor according to the number of people who are fishing and how fast and how far you wish to go.
- Inflatable Pontoon Fishing Boats – This type of boat is generally far lighter, takes smaller engines and is specifically rigged to go fishing. They are very stable, relatively light and capable of being used in shallow waters where many fish love to congregate.. However, most pontoon boats are made with a tubular frame system. This takes a very long time to assemble. Unless they use a “folding frame system”, which is far eaiser to take apart and put together, you must expect 45 minute or more assembly time. Also, most pontoon boats come with very little equipment whereas some come fully rigged ready to fish.
- Motormount Dinghies or Rafts – This kind of craft are very simple and inexpensive to use. They are also very suitable for a number of fishing conditions. One word of warning: they may not offer a boat specifically rigged for fishing and this may mean that you may have to make a number of rigging changes to get the boat so you can fish it the way you want.
- Kayaks – Kayak fishing has become increasingly popular around the country because fishermen love the “close to the water” feeling and the ability to get into the “skinny waters” where a lot of fish hide. It should again be noted that while almost any inflatable kayak can be fished, most are not pre-rigged for fishing.
Some kayaks, however, offer swivel seats, motor mounts for gas or electric engines, fishing rods, etc. Also note, some inflatable kayaks allow you to sit up much higher where your field of vision is greater and where it is easier to cast your rod.
Fresh Water Fishing
On a large or small lake
most of the comments made above apply here - you need to choose your craft according to how many people will fish and whether you wish to have a motor and, if so, how fast you wish to go.
On a pond or strip pit
In these conditions, because of limited access and because of motor restrictions, you are pretty much restricted to a pontoon fishing boat, a motormount boat or an inflatable kayak. Please check the regulations in place on any body of water you are considering…you may find your choice inflatable is limited.
On a river
1) Except in the case of really large rivers, you are generally restricted to large pontoon fishing boats (12 foot and longer), motormount boats, white water or float rafts & inflatable kayaks. Again, deciding which is right for you will be determined by exactly what kind of river you want to go down, whether it has white water or not, how many people you want to go with you.