Inflatable Fishing Boats What You Should Know:

Inflatable Fishing Boats What You Should Know:

Inflatable fishing boats what you should know. Even from the word ”INFLATABLE” (which means capable of being filled and made larger with air or gas), We could also begin to paint a mental picture of what such fishing boat should actually look like and entail.

Having said that, an inflatable boat is a lightweight boat constructed with its sides and bow made of flexible tubes containing pressurized gas or air.

Some Other Details:

For smaller boats, the floor and hull are often flexible. While for boats longer than 3 meters (9.8 ft), the floor typically consists of three to five rigid plywood or aluminum sheets. These are fixed between the tubes, but not joined rigidly together. Sometimes the transom is rigid, which provides a location and structure for mounting an outboard motor.

Some inflatable boats can be disassembled and packed into a small bag so that they can be easily stored and transported. The boat, when inflated, is kept rigid cross-ways by a foldable removable thwart. This feature makes these boats suitable for liferafts for larger boats or aircraft, and for travel or recreational purposes.

Contemporary inflatable boats are manufactured using supported fabric. They are made of rubberized synthetic fabrics, PVC and polyurethane, providing light-weight and airtight sponsons. Based on fabric choice, the fabric panels are assembled using either hot or cold manufacturing processes.

Different styles of one-way valves are used to add or remove air, and some brands include inter-communicating valves that reduce the effect of a puncture.

Different Styles:

Inflatable boats with transoms have an inflatable keel that creates a slight V-bottom along the line of the hull to improve the hull’s seakeeping and directional stability. These vessels are very light, so if powered with an engine, it is best to put weight in the bow area to keep the bow from rising while the boat is getting up on to plane.

People increasingly use inflatables for personal recreational use on lakes, rivers, and oceans—and for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Users can deflate, fold, and store fabric bottom inflatable boats in compact bags, making them ideal for limited storage and quick, easy access.

Sail rigs are available for inflatable dinghies, kayaks, and catamarans. In keeping with the portability of the inflatable hull, sail attachments fold or disassemble to fit in a compact bundle. Leeboards on the sides perform the same function as a centerboard, so users can tack these boats into the wind.

Rigid Inflatable Boat:

The modern rigid inflatable boat (RIB) is a development of the inflatable boat, which has a rigid floor and solid hull. The external shape of the hull lets it cut through waves more easily giving a more comfortable ride when traveling fast in rough conditions. The structure of the hull is capable of supporting a more powerful transom mounted outboard engine or even an inboard engine.

Safety Measures
Regardless of how experienced you’re, it’s important to have the correct safety kit on board should a freak accident happen out of the blue. Besides, safety on the water is the most important part of boating. That said, the following are some major safety equipment/devices.

1) Marine VHF:

Communication is key to safety at sea. Even if all is well and you don’t need to transmit a distress call, a VHF radio can help you communicate with other craft around you and allow you to agree on a clear course on the water with other boat users. If you’re unsure which trajectory another craft is taking, your VHF radio may provide a means for clearing up confusion and avoiding a collision.

Furthermore, in the heat of an emergency, even the most well-drilled VHF radio operator may forget their lines. Make sure you have some clear written reminders of the emergency procedure to hand or within eyeshot of your radio. You can make these yourself by simply typing out clear instructions and having them laminated to make them waterproof.  Or you can purchase them from good marine equipment retailers.

2) Lights:

You’d never go out in your car at night without switching your lights on so you certainly wouldn’t do it on your boat! If you’re out in your boat at night you’ll need to have floodlights to see where you’re going. But you’ll also need navigation lights which indicate your port and starboard sides. It is also advisable to have a powerful searchlight aboard.

In the unfortunate circumstance that someone should fall overboard at night, the sea and the night sky will simply be black on black. The fixed lights on your boat will help in providing illumination however, it’s helpful to have a maneuverable light.  So you can sweep across the water without having to change the direction of the boat too much.

I like the Brinkman FBA handheld spotlight it has 1100 lumens and has 1,000,00 candlepower it is sure bright. It will last about 20 minutes on the hi setting, the only downfall I see is it weighs about 6 pounds.
Just as with many electronics onboard, a strong battery is required. Also, make sure that the batteries on your boat are well charged. Meanwhile, if you also have a safe place to keep them, also keep a spare bulb or two onboard should you need to replace one mid-outing.

3) Life Jackets:

Throw lines And Buoyancy Aids: Lifejackets are the single most important safety device to have on board. You may think that you’re a strong swimmer but you never know how long you’ll be in the water. Remember if you are swimming you may need your arms to signal for help.

Throw lines and buoyancy aids are also worthwhile keeping on board to aid in getting people back on board who’ve fallen overboard. The importance of a life jacket is reinforced further by the scenario whereby the person overboard is unconscious. So they might not be able to keep themselves afloat.

Inflatable Life Jackets:

Inflatable life jackets are designed to float people head up. This is so that if a person is unconscious in the water, they will be face up and able to breathe. Foam lifejackets do not offer this feature.

Life jackets come in three main varieties, high-density foam, manual inflatable, and automatic inflatable. With the high speeds and potential danger involved when on a RIB, high-density foam or automatic lifejackets are recommended. This means that in the event of an unconscious person overboard the life jacket inflates for them and keeps their head above water.

It’s recommended by Crewsaver that if you do choose to wear an automatically inflatable life jacket that you purchase one with a “hammer hydrostatic” firing mechanism. This type of life jacket inflates according to water pressure and will therefore only go off if fully submerged.

Other firing mechanisms work simply by water dissolving a small pill which triggers the inflation. In this instance, there is a risk that a large wave over the boat may set off the life jacket unnecessarily.

More specifically, many life jackets will include a whistle or a light for attracting attention. But if yours does not, these can be purchased and easily added to your lifejacket. Another easy addition is a reflective tape which will allow you to be seen more easily at night.

4) Flares:

Flares can prevent an accident from becoming a disaster and help save your life.  Most flares tend to be of a rocket, smoke or handheld variety and serve as an excellent way of attracting attention in the event of an emergency. You can purchase flare packs which normally include at least two of each type of flare.

Most of these packs will also include a storage method which will help keep the flares dry. This is imperative to their effectiveness. In the case of the rocket variety, make sure you familiarise yourself with the way they work and adhere to any safety advice given on the pack or flare itself.

This is important not only for your own safety but also to make sure that the flare is deployed in a timely manner and is as visible as possible to a passerby. In continuation, if you get into trouble during the day and wish to be seen from the air.

There are luminous dye markers which you can deploy when floating in the water. The dye lasts for over an hour and marks your position by changing the color of the water. It comes in sachets for easy deployment and can be seen by aircraft as far as 10km away.

5) Compass:

On any boat, navigation is important. Many RIBs and other craft are fitted with high tech electrical methods of navigation such as GPS. But what if these fail? What if you found yourself without electrics or in a dense fog unable to see the digital displays? In this instance, traditional equipment won’t let you down. An analog compass can help you find your way back. It’s small, simple and lightweight and could prevent you from getting stranded at sea.
Meanwhile, also bear in mind that your compass works using magnets. Although unlikely, try to keep your compass away from any strong magnetic sources as this may adjust the reading.

P.S – In the same vein, other safety measures such as kill cords, prop guards, extra fuel tanks and sea assistance services are also important to consider. These items could prevent a small problem from escalating into something large and could also save lives in some cases.

Soft Inflatable Boat:

A soft inflatable boat (SIB) lacks the solid hull of a RIB and often has a removable slatted floor. So the boat can be deflated and transported in a car or other vehicle. Such boats have a low draft and are useful for traveling across shallow water and beaching in places without landing facilities.

Some SIBs have a rigid transom that can support an outboard engine. Inflatable boats with transoms have an inflatable keel that creates a slight V-bottom along the line of the hull to improve the hull’s seakeeping and directional stability. These vessels are very light, so if powered with an engine, it is best to put weight in the bow. This is to help keep the bow from rising while the boat is getting up to plane.

Soft inflatable boats are available with several floor choices:

1)Roll up slat floor.
2)Hard floor made of fiberglass, aluminum or wood panels.
Ribbed air floor (on inflatable rafts).
High-pressure air floor.

Safety Measures:

1) Ensure to carry a small anchor with some chain and enough light rope to easily hold the bottom in the areas you fish. Furthermore, if your engine breaks down you must be able to stop the SIB drifting, and paddles/oars don’t count as auxiliary propulsion unless you’re in a very lucky position.

2) Always use your lifejacket and a kill switch.

3) Also make sure to carry flares, VHF and PLB (or at least some of the aforementioned equipment). Knowing full well that you’re small and won’t be spotted easily on a big grey sea, carrying flares could be of limited value compared to a PLB. The same are very difficult to dispose of, and aren’t practical for other outdoor activities like shore fishing or hiking.


Owning An Inflatable Boat:

For some anglers, having an inflatable boat to their names has really been great fun. Yeah, there are those who have truly had a blast and owning the boat has been a lot of fun.
Furthermore, the underlying information outlines some advantages and disadvantages of buying an inflatable boat for fishing.

1) You could do a ton more fishing.
2) You could spend a lot of quality time with family and friends.
3) Your sense of adventure in life could be heightened as it helps you find and explore new lakes with ease.
4) Fishing and boating with the same could help you relax.
5) It also affords you the opportunity to develop a new hobby other than your regular JOB.
6) Sailing with the same helps you interact with nature and also reflect on its beauty.

1) It increases your expenditure profile as you always look forward to purchasing new gear for the boat.
2) Its numerous captivating features could probably make you spend more time than you should fishing.
3) Lifting the boat/battery could sometimes strain the back.

A Quick Comparison Between RIB And SIB:

The rigid inflatable boat (RIB) is an incredibly popular choice of a powerboat. This is due to its versatility, speed and ability to cope with challenging conditions. Howbeit, many people incorrectly refer to all inflatable boats as RIBs. Because not knowing that some of these RIBs are in fact soft inflatable boats (SIBs). In simple terms, it means they do not have a hard hull; (And that’s the reason it is easy to deflate and store). It also tends to be far more affordable than RIBs.

Going forward, when it comes to purchasing an inflatable boat. Remember it is important that you choose the right design of hull to suit your needs.

Having said that, the hard hull of a RIB makes it safe at high speed and far more stable in choppy conditions. However, the complex design of the hull also makes RIBs far more expensive than SIBs. The weight of the hull means that they can be very heavy to launch and bring ashore. RIBs are considered to be far more comfortable as they often have secure seating and storage space.

Some RIBs have long and narrow, deep V-shaped hulls designed for very high performance. Others have wider hulls with a shallower V-shape at the bow, flattening out at the stern. This will help to provide a more comfortable ride.

In addition, most recreational RIBs are not built to the very high specifications of the RNLI rescue boats. But nonetheless, they all follow similar basic principles:

Basic Principles:

1) The hulls are usually constructed out of glass reinforced plastic (GRP), although other materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber are sometimes used.

2) The inflatable tubes are made from either Hypalon or PVC, Hypalon being the most expensive material but easier to repair.
Although most RIBs follow these basic principles, there are a large variety of hull shapes and engine sizes available across a very wide price range.

On the other hand, the soft hull of a SIB means that it is very lightweight and easy to transport. But it is also a lot more prone to flipping at higher speed. They also sit far lower in the water which can make for a wetter ride. One main benefit of buying a SIB over a RIB is that its soft hull is suitable for beaching.

Which makes it ideal for those looking to go beach-hopping in the summer and do some shallow-water fishing. It also makes SIBs ideal to be used as tenders to reach other vessels in a harbor. A lot of anglers who think about a SIB also struggle with the size and which engine type to choose.

Size makes a Difference:

Too big and then you will lose the portability that is so important. Whilst going too small rapidly becomes limiting or dangerous when your out fishing. For single-handed fishing, you wouldn’t want to drop below 2.8m or go much above 3.4m.

A bigger SIB will generally have larger tubes and will probably be drier, but the weight starts to increase quickly. Then getting it in and out of a car or truck will become trickier. For two anglers then 3.4m upwards is probably a better choice. This is provided that you can handle the heavier outboard that will likely be needed.

A modern 4-stroke engine weighs a ton relative to its older 2-stroke ancestors. This is why you wouldn’t want to go above a 6hp for single-handed use. Even an 8hp engine can weigh 40kg and I don’t think you would fancy carrying that any distance. Especially over some slippy or sandy ground. A small 2.3hp outboard is easy to manage and will cope fine in sheltered water – but it will be slow.

Many people keep their SIBs on a trailer. But to some individuals, this means losing ”the pack up and go aspect”.  this is one of the most attractive aspects of SIB. Meanwhile, once you get to this sort of set up you’re comparing against RIBs and other hard boats. Then the choices will get a bit harder.

Some Important Facts To Consider In Trying To Purchase An Inflatable Fishing Boat

1) Boat Type:

Just as it is with hard-shell boats, inflatable boats come in different shapes and sizes. But if you’re going to use it mainly for fishing. Then you can choose from larger rafts that can carry the most people.

Canoe-types, which are great for 1-2 people with some gear for extended fishing trips.

Compact and lightweight kayaks.

Catarafts or inflatable pontoons for maximum buoyancy.

Or dinghy-style inflatables for carrying the heaviest loads and motors.

2) Material Construction:

Inflatable boats are generally made out of either PVC-coated fabric or Hypalon. As we all know, PVC is an affordable type of strong plastic that is used for a wide variety of boating equipment. PVC inflatable boats offer just the right amount of durability for occasional use.
Hypalon, on the other hand, is heavier and more robust. It is used to improve the performance and strength of inflatable boats, so they can withstand difficult weather conditions, heavier loads, and even remain inflated and docked for a long time. But as expected, Hypalon is harder to transport (due to its weight) and costs more than PVC inflatable boats.

3) The frequency of Use:

As a basic rule of thumb for any type of functional gear, you’ll want to invest in good quality fishing inflatables if you’re going to be using them regularly. This becomes more crucial if you normally go on weekend fishing trips with the family, as you’ll obviously need a more rugged and durable boat. Cheaper boats will do fine if you’re only going fishing occasionally but remember, you get what you pay for.

4) Decking Features:

Most inflatable boats feature high-pressure tubes or air chambers that give the floor structure and ample rigidity. This makes the deck floor feel squishy and comfortable on the knees, similar to inflatable playgrounds, and the ride gentler as the boat will simply bounce and absorb the motion of the waves.

The bottom of the floors is strategically designed or made of a strong fabric to keep the boat from being easily punctured or scraped from underneath. Other inflatable boats have decks made of solid aluminum planks that are locked into place to create a sturdier and more rigid flooring. While it makes the boat safer and the bottom stronger, the ride can be a bit bumpier compared to boats with inflatable flooring.

P.S – Many inflatable boats, particularly rafts, already have locked oars (or paddles) included in the package. Other features include fishing rod holders, coolers, cup holders, waterproof bags, inflatable seats, docking and gear straps, and many others that make it ideal for recreational use. Simply list down your essentials beforehand to make it easier to verify if a particular model suits your needs.


For some individuals, buying an inflatable fishing boat was really the first introduction to boating. Even so, an inflatable boat grants easy access to a whole lot of lakes that bigger boats would not be well suited for. In fact, many of the small lakes don’t have a boat launch. So getting the bigger boat in water wouldn’t be a pretty good option.

One upside to buying an inflatable boat as your first boating experience is that you will learn if you enjoy fishing and boating. Meanwhile, if you find out you don’t like it, the initial investment isn’t that much and you could actually sell the boat to recoup some of the cost.

On the flip side, you may even be like some folk who enjoy boating and fishing a lot. Before you know it, you’re already out there buying more (even bigger boats). Yeah really, it could actually become such an expensive hobby.

In Conclusion:

However, once you’ve done your research and decided on a RIB or a SIB, your search can really begin. That said, search online to see what is available on the market, and consider visiting some specific online forums, as this is a great way to get advice from people with boating experience and may help you to get any questions answered.

It is also worthwhile visiting boat shows in order to speak to a number of experts and see a wide range of different vessels. It is also a great opportunity for you to talk to people from training schools. They can give their advice for getting the best training to ensure you are safe and confident on the water

Dean Jensen

I started fly fishing in 1972 and I have learned quite a bit about this wonderful sport called fly fishing and I want to share some of the things that I have learned.

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