BOTE Zepplin Aero 12'6" Kayak
This inflatable kayak can open the door to exciting fishing opportunities.
By Alex Suescun

Wading is an effective way to stealthily stalk fish in the shallows, but it limits your range and often your access to better, less pressured fishing spots. If a boat doesn’t fit your budget, a kayak is an excellent option. Storage and portability, however, can be major headaches—that is, unless you choose an inflatable like BOTE’s Zeppelin Aero 12’ 6”, which I’ve had the chance to test thoroughly in my Florida homewaters and a series of Bahamian flats.

This kayak is lightweight and has comfortable bow, stern and side handles, so it’s easy to carry to and from the water. It can be set up as a single or tandem craft for greater versatility and will support a load of 600 pounds. Dropt-stitch PVC construction makes it durable, quite puncture proof and, as I can personally attest, sufficiently rugged to withstand encounters with oysters and coral or rocky bottoms, aided by a plastic keel guard in the front, which also helps break the water for improved tracking.

The 3-chamber design includes 9-inch-wide side chambers and a removable floor—with textured BVA-foam deck pad—that also inflates, offering superb flotation and stability, plus enough rigidity for even a 220-pound angler like myself to stand when conditions allow. Two small side fins and a detachable, 6-inch center fin enhance stability and tracking. And there’s no need to worry if a wave comes over the side. The self-draining cockpit gets rid of water before much accumulates.

The Zeppelin comes with a hand pump that inflates the kayak in 10 to 15 minutes, a pair of Aero Rac receivers to mount an optional cooler rack, a dual-blade, 5-piece fiberglass paddle, a patch kit, and one Aero paddle seat that comfortably keeps the paddler in a raised, sitting position, affording more leg room and better visibility. There’s a mesh pocket on the backrest where I keep a fly box and extra leaders handy, plus multiple tie-down points and adjustable bungees to secure a small cooler and a gear bag or pack. Hook-and-loop straps to port and starboard hold two paddles or, in my case, one and a push pole/stake-out pin. In mid deck, BOTE also placed its innovative Magnepod, a magnetic base that keeps the brand’s drinkware in place, even in a chop.

Deflated, the Zeppelin packs easily in the trunk of a car, and most airlines allow it as checked baggage. That’s how I got to use the kayak for bonefishing in the Bahamas.  $1,099


Length: 12’6”

Beam: 38”

Freeboard: 9”

Net Weight: 41 lb. (deflated kayak only)

Full Weight: 79 lb. (incl. seat, paddle, pump and travel bag)

Weight Capacity: 600 lb.

Alex Suescun

Alex grew up chasing bonefish, redfish, snook, tarpon, permit and other saltwater species in South Florida’s fabled waters and then broadened his pursuit of gamefish to the Caribbean, and Central and South America. His career in sportfishing began in 1991 as Assistant Editor of Saltwater Fly Fishing magazine, working with the likes of Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallot, Stu Apte, Chico Fernandez, Nick Curcione and Ed Jaworowski. He later hosted and produced his own TV fishing show, Tarpon Bay Tales, for 11 seasons. And after an 8-year stint as Executive Editor of Salt Water Sportsman, Alex joined the team at Fly Fishing International.