Boat Review: Innova Kayak Halibut | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
A man carrying an inflatable kayak over his shoulder. Photo by: Roberto Westbrook

Inflatable kayaks are blowing up on the kayak fishing scene as more anglers realize they can transport, store and use these boats almost anywhere. To meet the need, designers are developing stiffer and more seaworthy inflatable boats with smart fishing features.

Innova Kayak boats have taken paddlers on long-distance tours into unknown waters that would be impossible to reach with a traditional craft. The company is famous for building lightweight inflatables that are tough enough to take ridiculous abuse and small enough to pack into an overhead luggage compartment on commercial airlines. Innova boats have travelled the world and returned unscathed.

One reason these kayaks are so versatile is the mixture of synthetic and natural rubber that Innova uses in the construction. The material is pliable and light but still tough. I love that it’s also recyclable and biodegradable.

Last year, Innova took their 20-years of experience and designed a new fishing kayak. The results are, well, innova-tive.

The 12-foot-long Halibut packs into a 26-gallon drybag backpack with padded shoulder straps. The bag has a full front zipper that makes it easy to unpack and pack. There’s even enough room in the bag to fit a four-piece paddle and inflatable PFD.

I was surprised at how quickly and easily the boat is to inflate through a valve in each tube that forms collar and one in the floor. I usually sweat and curse while pumping up inflatables, but Innova’s foot pump made efficient work of the job. I stomped the pump until it wouldn’t force any more air into the boat— it took only about 10 minutes.

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The Halibut is designed for fishing. Wooden thwarts in the bow and stern and a wooden base for the raised seat act as mounting points and probably keep the boat stiffer. To further improve performance, the Halibut has two planks that serve as a floor. I was able to stand in the Halibut without much of a wobble. The boat even comes with a Cannon adjustable rod holder that can be mounted in pre-drilled holes in the bow or stern thwarts. To further accommodate anglers, the boat also ships with with a metal bracket that can be used to install a fishfinder transducer. Stainless steel D-rings in the bow, stern and midship are perfect for rigging an anchor trolley. 

The inflatable seat is comfy, with four additional rod holders sewn into the seat back. I did end up modifying the seat with a bungee to keep it from folding forward each time I stood up to cast. My YakAttack BlackPak fit perfectly in the stern and I had plenty of legroom in for a dance party in the open cockpit. 

On the water, the Halibut paddled well enough. The low-profile XX-inch tubes duck the wind as much as you could expect and the bow and stern rocker curves up for better handling in moderate seas or crashing down Class II rapids. Tracking is a bit of an issue with the soft keel. Adding the skeg didn’t seem to noticeably change straight-line paddling. I’d play around a bit with a longer one to see. Once the boat gets going, tracking improves and it still spins on a dime to turn into a tight fishing hole.

The best thing about Innova’s Halibut is its waistline. For a 12-foot boat with 38-inch beam, the Halibut weighs in at just 44 pounds with 441 pounds of carrying capacity. It was super easy for me to throw the Halibut over one shoulder, grab my rod, tackle box and paddle with the other hand and scurry down a trail to the fishing spot.

I like that Innova stayed true to its lightweight materials and design to build an inflatable kayak capable of heavy-duty fishing. Anglers looking to travel to distant fishing destinations or pack in gear to unreachable honey holes will have a capable boat when they arrive.

LENGTH: 12'4"

WIDTH: 38"

WEIGHT: 44lbs


PRICE: $1,499


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