All about carp fishing boats

aerial photo of carp boats Let’s get some things straight from the off: you do not need a boat to fish French public waters. There are plenty of rivers, canals and lakes that can be fished effectively by casting from the bank. On top of that, some venues do not allow boats at all. In summary: you can fish in France for years and never bother with using a boat.
Having said that, there are venues where having a boat is a must simply because the only way to get to a swim is by boating, sometimes a long distance. Other than transportation, boats can be useful for finding fish and features on the bottom using echosounders, placing your rigs when fishing beyond casting range and landing fish when fishing at range or in snaggy waters. In carp fishing inflatable boats reign supreme simply because of convenience: unlike their rigid counterparts they can be packed to reasonably small size and transported by a single person or in a car’s boot. For this very reason the rest of this post will focus on inflatables.

What boat?

If you decide to buy a boat, the first question that you need to answer is what am I going to use it for?. If you want to use it for placing rigs, a smaller inflatable model (say 1.80m) will be perfectly fine. For transportation of your kit over some distance, you need to look at boats of 2.4-2.7m in length. If you want to take a passenger or a dog, I would suggest larger model or an extra “tender” boat for transporting the kit. Personally, I would not go beyond 2.7m simply because of the weight. Bigger boats get very heavy very quickly and a solo angler may struggle with getting them in and out of the car, not to mention getting them in and out of the water.
Once you decide on the size of the boat, the next question is what floor should you go for. Inflatable fishing boats usually come with 3 different floor types: slats, aluminum, or an airdeck.
Slats are the simplest, no frills option and while offering basic support, are not the best if you want to operate the boat while standing up due to their limited support and lack of rigidity. Slat based deck is usually the cheapest and often the default option for many boats.
Inflatable airdecks offer fairly rigid support, are relatively light and pack down very well when deflated. The only downside of the airdeck is the fact that it needs to be inflated which will add to your workload. You also need to be mindful of potential for punctures, although the materials used for airdecks are pretty bombproof.
Finally there are aluminium decks which are very sturdy, but unfortunately they are the most expensive, bulky and the heaviest option of them all.

What outboard?

Boats come with oars as standard and they may be perfectly sufficient if want to use your boat predominantly for baiting at short distances. For any range work you will quickly appreciate the benefits of an outboard. Vast majority of anglers use electric outboards, some popular makes include Minn Kota, Hasswing, Bison etc. Recently tackle companies also jumped on this bandwagon: Nash and Fox in the UK both offer electric outboards.
If you decide that you need an electric outboard, the next question is how powerful should it be? Most outboards are rated in pounds (lbs) of thrust, and 55lbs is sufficient to propel 2.7m long inflatable at reasonable speed. If you have a bigger boat or are towing a tender you may consider a more powerful motor (60-65lbs).
While it is possible to buy a more powerful outboard, you will pay the price in terms of power consumption, weight and often odd voltage. Vast majority of outboards require 12V of power, the more powerful models may need 24V which makes your power supply not only heavier but also more complicated.
While deciding on the power rating of your outboard, bear in mind that in order to move twice as fast over the water, you need 8 times more power. For this reason, spending money on a massively powerful electric outboard may give you very little in terms of speed benefits.
Outboards, be it electric or petrol, usually come in two variants of shaft length: short and long. The length of the shaft may impact your ability to turn the tiler (outboard’s steering handle) to left or right as the prop may be too shallow in relationship with the boats bottom. This may be relatively unimportant in case of electric motors as you can always run them in reverse, small petrol outboards however do not have reverse gear and in case you want to reverse your boat you need to turn the motor 180 degrees. If the shaft of the outboard is too short, the prop of your engine will hit the bottom of your boat, potentially causing serious grief. For this very reason chose wisely and always check that your prop is below the bottom line of your boat.
The fundamental drawback of electric outboards is somewhat limited range. A boat with a 1HP Hasswing outboard will cover about 10km on a 100Ah lithium battery at full speed. At less than full throttle, the range can be extended massively but it can be still a limiting factor on some of the venues, which is where petrol outboards come in handy.
Petrol outboards are more powerful than their electric counterparts but come with their own set of problems. They are much heavier than electric motors and can be banned on some venues. Also bear in mind that boat equipped with a petrol outboard with more than 6HP will require licensing/permits in France which is why majority of anglers avoid bigger motors. Also if you decide to go for a petrol outboard, make sure that its power rating does not exceed the power limits of your inflatable.


While useful in its own right, boats can be a gamechanger when equipped with an echosounder. It is only fair to say that most of the echosounders these days are of very good quality and as long as you buy a known brand (Hummingbird, Lowrance, Garmin etc.) you will be happy. Having said that, there are a couple of features that may make your life easier, and it’s worthwhile to think about them when choosing your device.
Echosounder is not worth much without a transducer: a piece of kit that actually sends and receives ultrasound waves allowing the sounder to build a picture of the bottom. Transducers can be attached to your electric outboard, mounted to the transom of the boat or to a dedicated pole. It is often the case that transducer will determine capability of your echosounder so make sure you get one with your kit that offers you capabilities that you require. Also be mindful that some transducers are intended to be mounded in the bottom of the boat (through hull transducers) which makes them obviously unsuitable for use with inflatables.
Echosounders often come with a built in GPS which gives you the ability to create waypoints and navigate to them, a feature that is extremely useful when placing rigs in the hours of darkness. GPS equipped echosounder will often record depth and GPS coordinates allowing for creation of your own bathymetric maps.
Another useful feature on some of the more advanced models is the sides can (or side view). This feature allows you to scan the bottom not only underneath your boat, but also a fair distance to both sides. This not only gives a much better picture of the bottom but also allows for spotting carp fair distance away from your boat.
As wonderful as they are, echosounders may sometimes be susceptible to electromagnetic interference from your motor: you may see “snow” or other “artifacts” on the screen of your echosounder when using your electric outboard. The solution to this problem is iron core: a piece of iron wrapped around your transducer cable close to the echosounder. You can buy iron cores in all the usual places (amazon, ebay), they are quite cheap and can be a solution to an otherwise annoying problem.

Other equipment

There are a couple of items that you may find useful and are definitely worth having as accessories for your boat.
First of all, you will need some batteries if you use electric outboard. On the cheaper end of the spectrum, you could use lead acid leisure batteries: those are unfortunately heavy and discharging them frequently below 50% of their rated capacity will significantly shorten their lifespan (which is not that great on a good day: 200-400 charge cycles if you stick to max discharge of 50% rated capacity). The other, much lighter option are Lithium based batteries (LifePO). Those can easily tolerate deep discharge, can be charged with higher current shortening the charging time and their lifespan is much higher than that of lead acid batteries (usually 1000+ cycles). On top of that, lithium batteries often offer extra features like bluetooth connectivity and a phone app that will allow you to monitor state of charge, discharge current etc. Lithium batteries will require specialised charger and are understandably more expensive than their lead acid counterparts.
Since inflating the boat using a foot pump is a royal pain in the backside, it is well worthwhile to invest in an electric air pump. Some models come with built in rechargeable batteries which makes them very convenient to use.
Other useful equipment includes puncture repair kit, tarp to cover the boat and luggage in case of rain, straps or bungees to secure your belongings, boat trolley, sufficiently long towline and a mud weight that can be useful for "parking" your boat away from the bank.