Gone are the days when you had to fork out wads of cash for a half-decent drift boat. Also gone are the days when you had to have a garage or carport to store said half-decent drift boat. Now, thanks to the miracle of inflatable fishing crafts, you can get into the boat game for relatively cheap and then, after your trip, deflate it and easily store it away. We rounded up four top-rated models and listed them from entry-level to heavy-duty.
The Sea Eagle PF7K PackFish, a budget boat that’s easy to pack and carry. Amazon
The Sea Eagle PF7K PackFish is an affordable, great way to break into the inflatable-boat world. The 7-foot-long, one-man boat weighs a mere 22 pounds and deflates to fit into a backpack, so it’s super portable. Plus, it has a load capacity of 300 pounds, so it should accommodate most anglers. What really distinguishes the PF7K from regular inflatable rafts is the casting seat; two rod holders; two gear pouches; and four tracking strips, for extra stability.
The Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon, a river-ready pontoon with a high casting seat. Amazon
The river-ready Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon is a fairly modest step up from the Sea Eagle PF7K PackFish, in price and quality. For one, it’s two 9-foot-long pontoons and sturdy steel tube frame will seat you high above the water—much better for spotting and casting to fish—and it’s rated for class 1 rapids, so it can handle some current. It also includes a wire motor mount, if you don’t want to paddle from honey hole to honey hole.
The Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker STS10, an affordable two-seater that’s perfect for lake fishing. Amazon
Fishing solo is fine every now and then, but, more often than not, you’ll want to hit the water with a buddy or significant other. Enter the Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker STS10, a reasonably priced boat that, unlike the two prior entries on this list, can accommodate two passengers, or 1200 pounds. It’s not whitewater rated, so you’ll need to stick to pounding lake banks with streamers or poppers—not that that’s a bad thing.
The Outcast OSG Striker Raft, an inflatable boat study enough for big Western streams. Amazon
The two-seater Outcast OSG Striker Raft is a real-deal trout boat, capable of handling Class 3 rapids—and thus Western rivers. It weighs 102 pounds inflated, so you’ll need two people to load it, but it’s small enough, in most cases, to fit in a pickup bed, negating the need for a trailer—a huge perk. The OSG costs a fair bit less than other similar, inflatable fly-fishing boats on the market, so it has that going for it, too.