When you think of a fishing kayak, you don’t think inflatable. But one manufacturer has designed an inflatable kayak specifically for fishing.
Aqua Bound Ambassador Ken Whiting examines Sea Eagle’s 385 FastTrack Angler inflatable fishing kayak to see how it performs for both paddling and fishing.
Take a look at Ken’s review in this video:
Sea Eagle is no stranger to inflatable kayaks. They’ve been making them since the 1960s. They offer inflatables designed for flatwater, rivers, whitewater, oceans, camping and now, fishing.
385 FastTrack Angler Features
Their FastTrack series includes the 385fta, the Angler. What makes their Angler model perfect for kayak fishing are several features not found on other inflatables:
- It was designed with the input of kayak anglers and what they wanted from an inflatable model.
- Nearly indestructible 1000 Denier hull material, with 2000 Denier reinforcements in key sections. It’s 29% thicker than their non-angler 385 inflatables.
- Removable non-slip drop-stitch floor.
- Built-in rod, tool hook and lure holders.
- Drop-stitch bow keel and a removable fin for great tracking through the water.
- 4 carry handles and 16 D-rings to secure gear.
At 12-ft 6-inches long and 36 inches wide, the 385fta is similar in length and width to hardshell fishing kayaks. But this model weighs just 44 pounds—much less than a rigid kayak. That can be a huge advantage in portability for many anglers.
The base model (2023 MSRP $1,199 USD) includes a fully-padded comfortable seat that puts you 3-4 inches above the kayak’s floor. Or you can upgrade to the Swivel Seat model that sits you a bit higher and gives you 360 degrees of swivel while you fish (an additional $200 USD).
Sea Eagle also offers a tandem option and a couple of motorized options, suitable for both salt and freshwater.
Portability is the main benefit of an inflatable kayak, whether for fishing or recreational paddling. It’s smaller to store (you can stow it in your vehicle’s trunk or in a closet of your home) and transport (no need for a roof rack or trailer). And it’s much lighter to lift and carry than hardshell models of the same size.
As Ken notes, it is substantial to move around, even when in its pack with the shoulder straps. But it’s much lighter and smaller than 50-110-pound rigid fishing kayaks.
How the 385 FastTrack Angler Performs
As someone who has paddled a huge array of kayaks, Ken knows what he likes in a boat’s performance.
He gives the 385fta high marks for comfort, saying “In 5-6 hours of fishing I never got uncomfortable.” The only disadvantage he noticed was the lack of foot braces. You would notice that lack if you were to paddle long distances in this kayak.
Upgrading to the swivel seat gives you a couple of additional rod holders in the seat’s frame. If most of your time in this kayak is spent fishing, the higher seat is a big advantage. If you plan to do a lot of recreational paddling, the lower seat is better for that.
What about stability? “A key characteristic for a fishing kayak is stability,” says Ken. “If you’re worried about tipping while you’re fishing, catching or landing a fish, that’s a real problem.”
Ken found this kayak to be very stable. “It would be pretty darn hard to flip this thing.” He did notice that while standing to fish his feet needed to be closer together than on a rigid kayak because of the size of the inflated side tubes.
“Yes, you can fish while standing in this kayak,” says Ken, “but you can’t get the ultra-wide stance that you can in some hardshell kayaks that make it feel more stable.”
As far as performance on the water, Ken notes that the combination of the stern fin and the inflatable bow keel included with the 385fta allows this kayak to track far better than an inflatable kayak without it. While it’s designed for stability or speed, those features do a lot to improve performance.
“The question of value really comes down to you,” Ken says. “Is having a portable fishing kayak worth $1,200 dollars to you?” If it is, you won’t find a cheaper one.
“The best testimonial I can give for it is that when I was fishing today, I forgot I was in an inflatable kayak.”
(Photos courtesy of Ken Whiting and Go Paddle.)
Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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