My wife surprised me when she bought our Sea Eagle FoldCat Portable Inflatable Pontoon Boat.
I guess she got tired of hearing me say “we could fish this better if we had a boat”.
That’s right. She did all the research and bought it to surprise me while I was away on a fishing trip.
Most of the places we need a boat to fish are at small mountain lakes where motorized boats are not allowed.
It would be nice to have a boat and motor to fish some of the larger reservoirs, but we’ve never been able to convince ourselves to spend thousands of dollars on boat, motor, trailer, insurance and registration, when we can rent a small boat and motor for $75 a day.
We considered canoes, kayaks, rafts and one-person pontoons as options for accessing the small lakes. For us, canoes are too unstable, rafts were hard to transport and kayaks and the small personal pontoons are either too expensive for us to justify buying two of them or they were poorly constructed. And since the personal pontoons sit so low in the water, we would have to wear waders in cold weather, they don’t qualify as a boat.
After using the boat for over a year now, a portable and inflatable pontoon was the perfect choice. And it is really portable. When deflated, it fits easily in the back of our truck or in our small SUV, but it will also fit into the trunk of small compact cars.
Sea Eagle Inflatable Pontoon Boat Benefits
- Tough 1,000 denier material
- Lightweight & portable
- Assembles in 5-10 minutes
- Two swivel seats – 650 lbs capacity
- Sits high and stable in the water; very little rocking
- Full floor safety net
- Easy to maneuver in low winds without motor
- Don’t need a trailer or storage space
- No registration in most states if no motor
- Option to power with small gas (3 hp) or electric trolling motors
- Optional casting bar
- Optional canopy
The Sea Eagle pontoon boat is 12 foot 4 inches long and holds 2 people and gear up to 650 pounds. That means two 300 pound guys plus 50 lbs of gear or two average sized people will have at least 200 pounds to spare. The 16 inch diameter pontoons float the boat high in the water, but because the catamaran style twin pontoons are separated by about 4½ feet (outside measure), the pontoon boat is more stable than V-hull and flat bottom boats I have used in the past.
The boat folds down to 56″ x 21″ x 10″. It is simple to fold, but doesn’t have to be folded perfectly, because the carrying case straps around the boat instead of having to slide the folded boat into the carrying case.
The boat has five aluminum cross supports that span the width of the boat (4’6″) that support the seats and provides places to step. There is also a fabric floor that prevents gear from falling into the water, but the floor is not designed to hold a persons weight. The fabric is strong enough to hold our 16 pound anchor when it slips off the cross support. With all of our gear and weight in the boat, it draws only about four inches of water.
Tough 1,000 Denier Material – One of the main concerns we had about the pontoon boat before seeing it was about the toughness of the pontoon material. After seeing and feeling the 1,000 denier material, any fears we had were put to rest. This is a serious pontoon boat, not a cheap float tube toy. I will never deliberately hit the pontoon with a claw hammer like I saw in a video, but I am not afraid of bumping into a few tree stumps.
Compact – I measured our boat as it is sits folded in the garage. It is 59 inches long, 23 inches wide and 10 inches high, slightly larger than the advertised 56″ x 21″ x 10″, but we didn’t spend any effort last time we folded it trying to make it as small as possible. It would probably still squeeze into the advertised space.
Lightweight & Portable – Doesn’t need a Boat Ramp – The two of us can easily carry the pontoon with all our fishing gear, cooler and anchor in one trip from the truck to the water.
Most of the time, we assembled and inflated the boat next to the water, so I could launch and recover the boat by myself if necessary by dragging the fully inflated boat to and from the water. The boat can be carried to water in areas that don’t have boat launching facilities or even to areas that are not next to a road. At 116.5 pounds, the empty boat is easily carried by two people, with less than 60 pounds per person. With the boat folded, I could probably carry it by myself for 50 yards or so if I had too, but in a wheelbarrow or with a dolly (hand trucks), it would be easy to transport the boat to the water.
Sea Eagle makes an “EZ cart“, which is basically a set of wheels to roll the fully inflated pontoon boat to the water.
We usually carry the boat a short distance to the water after it is fully loaded with all our gear. With fishing gear, anchor and cooler, the weight climbs to about 80 pounds per person. The boat has carrying handles, so is carried very much like pushing a wheel barrow, except the handles are about three feet apart.
Actual Weight of Sea Eagle 375fc Foldcat Inflatable Pontoon Boat:
- The pontoons, cross-slats and floor weigh 75 lbs
- 2 seat bases – 10 lbs
- 2 seats (one with 7 inch extension) – 23 lbs
- 4 stiffener bars (under bars) and 2 oars – 14 lbs
- oar locks and rod holders – 4.5 lbs
- Total weight of pontoon boat – 116.5 lbs
- With our fishing gear, anchor and cooler – total weight – 160 lbs
Assembles in 5-10 minutes – After using the boat a few times, we are able to completely assemble it in about 10 minutes. In our next post about assembling the FoldCat, we will have an assembly demonstration video in real-time to show you how easy and fast it is to get the boat in the water.
Two Swivel Seats – 650 lbs capacity – We like fishing together in the same boat. One seat is fitted with a seven inch extension, which helps with visibility and also helps keep out of each others’ way when casting. Both seats swivel a full 360°.
The Standard 375fc FoldCat Package Includes:
- Twin Pontoon Hull, aluminum cross slats and fabric floor
- 4 stiffener bars (under bars)
- 2 swivel seats with quick release seat mounts
- One 7 inch seat pedestal
- Oarlocks and Oars
- Foot pump
- Carry bag
- Repair kit
Other Options Available for the Sea Eagle Pontoon Boat:
- Casting bar – to lean against and hold while standing – We didn’t get the casting bar, but I can see where it would be useful, especially when fishing with a fly rod.
- Sun/Rain Canopy
- Motor mounts for up to 3 hp gas motor or electric trolling motor
- Electric trolling motor and battery box
- Larger size 440fc FoldCat – 14′ 3″ long and 5′ 11″ wide holds 4 people or 950 lbs
To Motor or Not to Motor
The pontoon boat can handle up to a 3hp gas engine (example), but we mainly use the boat on small lakes and ponds where motors are prohibited and such noise would be an ass-whooping offense. But a small electric motor, like the recommended Minn Kota Endura 30 can supposedly push the boat very well.
If we get a trolling motor, our state requires us to register the boat, which includes an annual fee and we must provide proof of insurance, so we have to decide if the ease of motoring with the trolling motor is worth the extra cost and the bureaucratic hassle.
While floating the Green River (Utah) in a guide’s boat several weeks ago, I was thinking about how easily the pontoon boat would handle the low summer time flow of the Green River without any trouble. There were a few places that I would simply portage the boat through or around the rapids.
Get a Workout – Row and Troll at the Same Time
Rowing the boat can be a serious workout or it can be a leisurely row. It is surprising easy to maneuver and to move about when the winds are calm. One morning about sunrise, I saw a guy in the exact same boat on a small lake. He looked to be rowing as hard as he could row. I stopped to watch because I thought he might be in trouble, but he apparently was rowing purely for a workout. Wow. I was surprised someone would get up that early and take a very long drive just for a workout. Then I saw his fishing rod and realized he was trolling.
The FoldCat Has Exceeded Our Expectations
With the FoldCat, we have access to isolated fishing spots that we used to fish only from shore and we can also use it to fish the fingers of the larger reservoirs as well. It’s much easier to reach the structures and deeper water that hold fish that used to be just out of casting range. We can avoid fishing through shallow areas and weeds from the shore and spend less time cleaning weeds off our gear.
Are there any negatives?
Sure there are, but none that make us regret our decision to buy the FoldCat.
- The 12 foot 4 inch pontoon does not have as much room as a traditional 14-16 foot john boat, so you must carefully plan which gear your bring and where you stow it.
- The same twin pontoon catamaran design that makes the boat very stable and to sit high in the water allows the wind to push it. This is not a big issue on small bodies of water, but could be on a large reservoir if you don’t have a motor. On windy days on big water, we stick to protected fingers or anchor next to shore and let the wind push us away from shore to fish. Our favorite times to fish are early morning or late evening when the wind is usually calm anyway.
In a future post, we will show you how easy it is to assemble. We even rigged up an attachment to hold a portable fish finder.
- Q: Are you thinking about getting an inflatable pontoon boat like the FoldCat or do you already have one?
- Q: Where do you use your FoldCat?
Please feel free to share those hero shots with big fish with us in the comments below.