The first time I ever saw an inflatable pontoon boat was about two years ago, and this was after I had bought my full-sized pontoon boat. It was with a buddy of mine, who had invited me on a fishing trip and he owned a Colorado XT just like the one you see in the photo at the top of this page.
Needless to say, as soon as I was in the seat, I was absolutely hooked, and said to myself, I have to get one of these… and now I do!
My research into inflatable pontoon boats began as soon as I returned home from the fishing trip and started to look around to see what I could find in my local stores. There was a limited selection locally, so I ended up buying a Colorado XTS on Amazon.
During my store research I spoke to “experts” who showed me a few of the most popular models and the features that were on each. There were some with frames and some without frames. Frankly the type with a frame was more appealing to me at the time because I wanted a model that had a platform that I could stand up on to fish.
As you know though, I opted for the Colorado XTS in the end, purely due to how well it is reviewed online, and the great reputation it has. It pays to read online reviews and I am so glad that I did before I purchased my own.
If I can give you some advice though if you are a first-time buyer of an inflatable pontoon boat, it would be to consider some very important factors before you buy. You can see those factors listed below.
1. Will You Be Fishing on Lakes or Rivers?
One of the most important factors to consider is to consider where you will be doing most of your fishing and by that I mean, will you be fishing mostly on rivers or lakes?
If you plan on fishing mostly on rivers your inflatable pontoon boat will have to be very sturdy. This is because you are bound to encounter some form of rapids and rocks, or logs that you will have to traverse around.
The more sturdy and durable your boat the better it will stand up to this type of use. The trade-off here is that your pontoon boat will weigh more and won’t be as easy to transport.
If on the other hand you do most of your fishing on small lakes, then you could (and I don’t recommend it) scrimp a little and get a lighter pontoon boat.
The trade-off here is obvious as well as it probably will not last as long as a sturdier model because you do tend to encounter rocky shorelines on lakes too.
2. Does it Come with a Warranty?
Something else to consider is what type of warranty it comes with. Is there a money-back guarantee? Does it have a trial period in which you can use to try it out and see whether it’s right for you?
A quality Manufacturer will offer these things, especially if you buy from a physical store rather than online. Money back guarantees and trial periods tell you that the manufacturer has confidence in their products. It is rare to find this level of service though, so you might have to skip this part, and instead see if you can take a test drive in another person’s boat before you make your final purchase decision.
3. Do You Mind Getting Wet?
Another consideration is whether or not you have to get wet when using your inflatable fishing boat. Do you have to sit in it with your feet or legs in the water?
This might be OK on a nice sunny summer day, but it will greatly reduce the time you spend on the water in the spring or fall when the water temperature is much colder.
Being completely out of the water is much more desirable to me as well as having a platform to stand up on and stretch can help to reduce fatigue in your legs. It’s great for casting too which is a massive consideration for getting the best from your day’s fishing.
4. Do You Want a Personal Pontoon or Bigger?
There are personal pontoon boats with just the singular seat, but also 2-man, 3-man, and 4-man models available, all of which will increase in price the larger you go.
For me, I love having a one-person inflatable, and save taking my buddies with me on my large pontoon boat. But, if you want company whilst fishing then consider also looking at the models that come with more than one seat.
5. What Accessories Will Your Boat Come With?
When you buy your inflatable pontoon boat, you are probably going to be hit with a whole load of options. For example, if you buy from the Sea Eagle website, you can opt for different variations which come with different options. For example, will you opt to have:
- Storage options
- Trolling motor
- Fishing rod holders
- Carry bag or hand operated trailer
- Swivel seat
- Repair kit
- Casting bar
- Foot pump
The options can be endless in truth, so take your time to visualize how you are going to be using your boat.
If you do decide to take the cheaper option and specification, then just like normal sized pontoon boats, there’s no limit to how you can customize or modify yours.
For example, here are some great accessories you can buy for inflatable pontoons which will give you some inspiration. There are also awesome tutorials and videos online where other boat owners have modified theirs to suit how they want to use it.
Let’s get into some of those accessories in a little bit more depth:
6. You Will Need an Anchor
You will need a lightweight and portable inflatable pontoon anchor system. If you don’t have one, you won’t be able to secure yourself in position once you have found that ideal fishing spot.
The best anchor systems for small inflatable fishing boats are called mushroom anchors. So-called because they look like, well… a mushroom. Clever huh?
But it’s the mushroom shaped design that let them secure into mud, sand, and silt.
If you don’t yet have one, you will need one. I’ve put together a guide to the best anchors for an inflatable pontoon. Go check that out, they don’t cost too much.
7. They Don’t Always Come with a Trolling Motor
I assume you are going to be fishing from your new inflatable. If you are, then a trolling motor is a must-have accessory. It will let you cruise into the best fishing spots without having to use your oars. Plus, the action of a trolling motor will also encourage fish to come near you, as it can closely mimic live bait in the water. Silly fish!
When you buy your new boat, it might come with a trolling motor and mount already as part of the package, but most don’t. However, there will be room enough to mount and install one on board.
I use a Minn Kota Endura 30 on my Colorado. Click here to read everything you need to know about this product, and why it’s the perfect fit for a boat like this.
8. And Don’t Pay Over the Odds for More Motor Than You Need
I’ve just recommended the Minn Kota Endura 30. It’s has just the right amount of thrust and power for an inflatable pontoon. You won’t need anything more than that, so don’t get swayed by more expensive trolling motors, or think you will need something that’s more powerful. It’s simply not the case.
Trolling motors of this size have a maximum speed of 5 miles per hour. Something larger or with more thrust isn’t going to get you anywhere faster, and could be too big for your boat. Stick to my recommendation and read this to find out why.
9. Keeping Your Speed Down Will Prolong Battery Life
Once you have your motor on board, it might be tempting to max the speed out – even if it is just 5 miles per hour – but don’t do that. The faster you go, and the longer you maintain that speed for, then the more your motor’s battery will drain. You don’t want to run out of battery power a few miles from home.
As a rough guide, here’s how much battery life you will get, depending on the type of speeds that you stick to:
- Running continuously at the highest speed of 5 miles per hour: 2 hours
- Running continuously at 4 mph: 4 hours
- Running continuously at 3 mph: 8 hours
- Running continuously at 2 mph: 12 hours
- Running continuously at 1 mph: 16 hours
Conserve battery power, and you won’t need to re-charge that battery all weekend, and spend more time fishing and relaxing than worrying whether you’re going to get back to your car.
10. Be Prepared for Tears and Rips
Ultimately you’re sat on an inflatable product. Anything that has air blown into it, and has heavy weights then sat on it, and is moving around on a water surface, is going to be prone to damage. Inflatable pontoon boats are no different.
During the course of a fishing season, there’s every chance that your PVC and vinyl pontoon bladders are going to develop tears, rips, and damage. You also have the scenario whereby air will naturally leak out anyway.
The type of things to look out for are rocks, tree branches, and other debris underneath the waterline that can puncture your pontoon. You might even be careless enough to stab the vinyl with your fishing knife.
Don’t be put off though, as whilst you’re probably thinking “I don’t want to sink”, it’s highly unlikely that you will, as you will notice a deflation before you get to that point.
It’s at this point that you will be eternally grateful that you bought an inflatable pontoon repair kit. Click that link to find out how this cheap little accessory has saved my bacon whilst on the water, more times than I can care to remember.
11. And Don’t Forget to Carry a Hand Pump
Once you fixed the bladder, you’re going to need to pump more air in to get the pontoons re-inflated. It’s easy enough to do, and just requires having a small hand pump with you that you can deploy at a second’s notice.
Seriously, it’s just the same type of pump that you would use to inflate a basketball. But some are better than others. You can see the one that I use on my recommended accessories page. It fits neatly underneath your seat, only to be used as and when you need it. And you will at some point!
12. You Can Add Your Own Modifications
Another great thing about inflatable pontoon boats is that you can add your own mods and customization to them. You would be amazed at what some other boat owners have done to theirs. It means that no one personal pontoon is ever truly the same. Click here to see some really creative modifications other owners have done themselves.
You can add your own foot pedestals, raised chair, swivel seat, fishing rod holders, rear storage, flat standing deck, foot controls, and so much more. It’s limitless really.
13. You Should Always Store Them Properly
If you want to keep your boat in good condition and free from damage, then it’s essential that you clean it down after use and then store it properly. The biggest point I need to raise here, is that if you are storing yours away for longer periods of time when not in use, then rinse it down, dry it, deflate it, and get it covered up – preferably indoors.
This will protect it from tearing, mildew, and other damage. To find out the best way you can store yours, click here for some tried and tested ideas.
14. They Can’t Be Used on Open Sea Water
Please tell me you already knew this? Don’t be surprised at the amount of rookies who think it’s a good idea to launch their inflatable out on the open ocean or sea. I don’t really need to say much more here, but if you do want to read some safety tips and need some reminders of what not to do, then read this guide.
15. You Will Need to Decide How You Will Get to the Water
Buying an inflatable pontoon boat is going to be one of the best decisions you ever make. But what happens when you get it home? That’s right, you then need to figure out how you are going to get it to and from the water.
You have a number of options here.
- Keep it inflated and use a small trailer
- Take it in a carry bag and inflate it once you get to the water
- Inflate it at your car and use a specialist dolly or cart
My preferred method is to keep it packed down in my truck, I then get to the car park, unpack it, inflate in minutes, then use a small hand-pulled cart to get to and from the river. It’s easy, simple, quick, and keeps my Colorado in great condition. Read my transportation and trailer tips to find out what else you might need to buy.
16. Don’t Get Ripped Off!
You can buy inflatable pontoon boats relatively cheaply, with some of the lower spec models coming in for less than $300 (the Classic Accessories Roanake being such an example). The best prices tend to be found on websites such as Amazon. In fact, I have put together a guide which tells you where to find inflatable pontoons boats for sale.
Now unfortunately the bricks and mortar retailers, especially the independents, tend to place a high mark up on personal pontoons. That’s understandable, after all, they need to make money and have higher overheads than online stores. But that shouldn’t be your concern, you need to get the best price.
If you can, go into a physical store, check out the boats that you are thinking about buying and then go online to find the best price. It could save you hundreds of dollars so it pays to shop around.
17. Read Online Reviews Before You Buy
My last buyer’s tip is to do your own due diligence and read up as much as you can online before you decide to buy your chosen inflatable fishing pontoon. Look at reviews on Amazon, read forums, and if possible talk to other owners of the particular inflatable pontoon you might be considering buying. Here are my own inflatable pontoon reviews that you might want to take a look at.
This is probably the most important tip of all, as feedback from genuine fishermen (and women) who actually use the boat will be far more real than anything you read on a manufacturer’s website, or even what a store assistant will tell you.
Finally, owning an inflatable pontoon boat does require maintenance. It will also arrive flat-packed, and you will need to assemble it from scratch. Just bear that in mind, as really, they aren’t toys, but are for serious fisherman and explorers who like to adventure. If that sounds like you, then jump aboard and invest in yours today! I don’t believe that you will ever regret it!