Fishing from inflatable kayaks is very much a thing, just as it is for inflatable boats and hard shell kayaks. But to the average newcomer, there are questions and concerns that stick out. Fortunately, these same areas are met in inflatable kayak material design and specializations to fishing models.
1. Won’t I Puncture the Plastic Material?
This question comes up for paddling whitewater rapids as well. And in both cases, you are not likely to puncture your inflatable kayak’s material, due to its makeup and surprising thickness. But it is still a possibility, so don’t go about testing the thickness to the plastic material by deliberately or carelessly hooking yourself out on the water. Because you can’t change the fact that you are relying on all of that air to stay trapped inside for you to stay afloat. Consider the quality of your inflatable kayak and its material, but also your own actions while fishing.
2. Is There Enough Space in the Inflatable Kayak?
This depends on you and your inflatable kayak. If you have enough space for just paddling, then it just takes considering where some additional fishing materials (rod, tackle box, bait, etc.) may be placed. But then there is the added spacing complication of tandem paddling and fishing with another person. And don’t forget to think about where you will put any fish that are keepers. So the answer may be that you need a bigger inflatable kayak, one specialized for fishing, or that you need to leave some nonfishing essentials back. Regardless, you can have adequate spacing to fish with the right inflatable kayak and setup.
3. How Am I Supposed to Hold My Fishing Rod and Paddle?
As your feet just sit there with nothing to do, your arms are left with the task of both paddling and fishing. And there may be moments when you need to simultaneously paddle and at least hold on to your fishing rod. You can rely on quickly altering back and forth between both hands on the paddle and the fishing pole, but it’s not the most efficient method. Just think of the risk of losing that dream fish on the line. Otherwise, solutions may come with DIY alterations to your inflatable kayak, actual specialized inflatable fishing kayaks, and changes to your paddling strokes.
4. Won’t I Drift Very Easily?
The lightweight nature to an inflatable kayak and how it sits on the water does make it more vulnerable to drifting. So, yes, you could drift easily, but you could also stay very still in your inflatable kayak while fishing. Wave and wind strength are obvious indicators of whether or not you will drift. Some others include where you are positioned on the body of water, whether you have an anchor line and weight, and how you position your inflatable kayak relating to drift direction. So there are ways to mitigate the impact of drift in your inflatable kayak, so you can focus more on the fishing.
Tips for Fishing with a General Inflatable Kayak
- If worried about sharp fish fins and teeth, set a towel of some sorts down for placing caught fish to unhook.
- Hook in and possibly tape over hooks on your fishing rod when not in use.
- Keep all sharp fishing gear (hooks and lures, knife, etc.) accounted for and packed away when not in use.
- Keep fishing gear to a minimum, both being stored out of your way and in your reach.
- For keeping fish, attach a stringer to the back of your inflatable kayak instead of using a bucket inside.
- If tandem paddling and fishing, try to cast and reel in opposite directions, always mindful of the other person.
Rod and Paddle
- Create DIY rod holder(s) to place rod while paddling or dealing with a caught fish.
- With fish on and rod in one hand, try one arm paddling with the other if you only need a handful of strokes.
- With no rod holders or one arm paddling capabilities, try holding and squeezing your fishing rod between your knees to paddle with both hands.
- To help keep the inflatable kayak where you want it, use natural anchors, like positioning in wind blocked bay, on edge of lily pads or weeds, next to log, etc.
- Create a DIY anchor line setup on a side of your inflatable kayak, with just the right weight anchor attached, resembling an inflatable fishing kayak setup.
- If drifting is inevitable, set yourself up to drift slower by positioning the inflatable kayak sideways into drift direction for better resistance.
Specializations for Inflatable Fishing Kayaks
Looking at inflatable kayaks designed for fishing, you will notice recurring aspects to them compared to your average inflatable kayak. Several of these go along with the areas of concern (punctures, space, rod and paddle, drift) that were addressed above.
Inflatable kayaks already have thick, durable plastic material. Yet, inflatable fishing kayaks are suited with thicker and more layers of plastic materials, designed to be even more durable. This is because of the addition of several sharp components to fishing in an inflatable kayak: fish fins and teeth, lures and hooks, and other fishing gear. Any extra resulting weight to an inflatable fishing kayak will be worth it when an occasional poke doesn’t turn into a full puncture.
Rod and Paddle Holders
Finally, you can quit trying to juggle your fishing rod and paddle. Many inflatable fishing kayaks come with multiple rod holders in different locations of the watercraft, as well as a paddle holder per paddler. The paddle holder is typically located on one of the sides of the inflatable kayak where the paddle rests or clips in. The rod holders can vary in look and design. Some are just holes in the front or rear skirt, while others are more specialized and can be used to reel from. Either way, you’ll have more free hands.
Front and Rear Storage
An inflatable kayak not designed for fishing may lack spacing in general for storage in their front and rear. Inflatable fishing kayaks, on the other hand, have more open spacing in these areas, but that’s not all. Most fishing models have some sort of coverage or security for one or both ends. Some have a plastic material, or skirt, that covers and helps secure belongings, while others have a bungee-like lacing. The reasoning for all of this extra spacing and secure storage is for any fishing gear, like a tackle box, that people are more likely to bring with them.
Drifting is less of a concern when just paddling in an inflatable kayak because you are already moving. For the more stagnant fishing, having an anchor line can be a great advantage to minimize drift. Not all inflatable fishing kayaks come equipped for use of an anchor line, but those that do, use the D-rings on the side of the watercraft. These D-rings are well and evenly spaced, so that a line and anchor can be attached and positioned in an efficient place. Not just any place is going to work with an inflatable kayak. The placement should be one that doesn’t throw off your inflatable kayak’s stability or maneuverability.
Removable Rear Fin
As you know, inflatable kayaks are prone to wind and wave influence and drift. A rear fin helps them move more effectively, tracking better on the water. Some inflatable kayaks have rear fins, but not like you will see with inflatable fishing kayaks. Fishing versions of removable rear fins are typically larger. This helps paddlers get to and stay in the specific fishing spots that they are intending towards. And the removable aspect to these fins, allows fishermen and women adjust to their body of water. For example, a rear fin could hold you back from shallow or weedy waters.
- D-Rings (attachments for fish stringer, anchor line, fishing gear, etc.).
- Foot Rest or Brace (different supporting position – makes a difference after a while on the water).
- Trolling Motor Mount (when you don’t want to paddle or the water and wind is too rough for just paddling).