Ready, Set, Inflate – Sea Eagle SE285FPB Pro


Inflatable boats offer a stable. lightweight and compact fishing platform. SCOTT THOMAS tests the Sea Eagle SE285fpb Pro – a frameless pontoon style inflatable.

Specialist inflatable fishing boats are something you don’t see every day. However, they do serve a purpose and fill a void that both kayaks and conventional boats can’t.

The Sea Eagle SE285fpb Pro is a purpose built fishing inflatable from the US. The full range of Sea Eagle Boats includes everything from this small “tender” style of boat, to kayaks and pontoon boats. In the US, fishos mostly use these boats for inland freshwater fishing on faster flowing trout streams and small lakes for bass and American “panfish”.

I can really see the value in an inflatable after living in an apartment close to a major city. Packed in the bag, the Sea Eagle fits inside a large cupboard. With this style of boat, there’s really no excuse for not getting on the water. Likewise, the compact size of the Sea Eagle means it can easily be carried in the boot of your car. No roof racks or big V8 trucks required.

While it’s relatively compact, this boat isn’t designed for carrying into remote waterways. It’s still a car only option and far too large and bulky for strapping to your back.

While some people are nervous about puncturing inflatables while fishing, I was very confident of its strength. Fish spines, hooks, etc, are fine. Maybe it’s not a good idea to play with sharp knives onboard, but then again, your fingers and toes are probably in more danger if you do that!

Once inflated near the car, it’s very easy to carry the Sea Eagle to the water, much easier than a heavy kayak, which sometimes require two people. Setting it up takes less than 10 minutes.

On the water
I fish regularly from a kayak and although my own is extremely stable, I’m too uncoordinated to comfortably fish standing. It’s a different story with the Sea Eagle. I was pleasantly surprised with  its stability. I was easily able to stand and fish without fear of capsizing. That’s the advantage of having an inflatable with air filled pontoons. The boat comes fitted with a hard plastic floor, which can be taken out when deflating the craft. This provided a sturdy platform to stand, although became slightly slippery once wet.

Another great feature is the full swivelling seat – the same type of seat found in most estuary boats. It’s really comfy and a nice addition for such a small craft. The seat slides off for storage.

There are two options for getting around – rowing or electric motor. Unfortunately my 30lb Minn Kota was out of action and I didn’t get a chance to trial it with the Sea Eagle. There’s a removable motor bracket  on the bow and it can be operated from the swivelling seat. In my opinion, although I never used the electric option, this would be a great way to fish for finicky freshwater fish like bass and trout. With the craft being so lightweight, any small electric would easily push the Sea Eagle along at an adequate pace.

The alternative to the electric is a set of oars, which are included in the package. This took some practice. I’m not a skilled rower and went around in circles at first. But that was my fault. The Sea Eagle, once I started rowing properly, actually moved along quite quickly. The only real problem I had then was dealing with wind. Being such a light craft, it was affected by windage. My lack of rowing skills made it difficult to position and fish.

The package comes with the oars, a storage bag, an onboard bag for tackle and two rod holders and four carry handles.

For a person looking to move from shore based fishing into a small one-person boat, the Sea Eagle is certainly an option worth exploring. Ideally suited to freshwater and calm water, in my view the Sea Eagle is too small to venture out on larger waterways.

All up, the easy storage/transport benefits of the Sea Eagle means this is a viable option to a kayak or canoe. RRP is $1300, which seems reasonable.

For a chance to win a Sea Eagle SE285fpb Pro, see the ad on page 40. For more info on the Sea Eagle or to find your nearest stockist visit:  

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