Sea Eagle 285 Frameless Pontoon Boat Review

Pontoon Boat Overview

This is the Sea Eagle 285, a frameless pontoon boat that is made with one purpose in mind, fishing. The U-frame design of the 285 provides you with the maximum amount of fishing with the least amount of hull weight. It comes with plenty of features to ensure that you’re on top of your fishing game. It has everything a fisherman would need, rod holders, 360 oar locks, swivel seat, hardwood floor, plenty of storage space and a motor mount. The boat itself is very portable, when packed into its carrying bag it doesn’t take more space than a larger backpack, which makes for easy storage.

See Best Price Blue

The Sea Eagle 285 can be used in two different ways, you can either row it with the included oars or you can go all in and run it fully rigged. When it’s fully rigged you’ll have a wooden floorboard that provides a stable and ample area for standing and casting. The swivel seat can turn 360 degrees in each direction and will give you a perfect view of your surroundings. When the floorboard, swivel seat, motor mount and trolling motor are installed, it will weigh around 59 pounds. If you were to choose the oars only, the total weight will drop to about 42 pounds.

This is what you would call ultra-portable, thanks to the frameless design the boat packs into a small carry bag, which makes transportation from your car to the shore easy and quick. The total set up time for the 285 is about 5 minutes, depending on your experience level. Set up time includes inflating it and installing all the accessories, like the floor board, seat, motor mount and rod holders. When packed down it will store nicely in the trunk of your car or underneath the bed.

The hull is made from 1,000 denier woven based cloth, this gives it a tremendous amount of strength and the PVC coating creates a durable, waterproof and air-tight seal.

The 285 is equipped with universal Scotty mounts, meaning you can customize your boat as you wish. Choose from a wide set of accessories like rod holders, sounder mounts, anchor locks, running lights, bait boards or even cup holders.

This is a great inflatable pontoon boat for lakes, rivers, bay areas and small creeks, almost any area with calm water will do just fine. The large air chambers allows the boat to support a lot of weight, yet it drags as little as 4 inches of water, meaning you’ll be “gliding” on top of the water instead of  in it. This allows for fishing in shallow areas where heavier boats would never dare to go.

Features

  • U-frame design lets you use the boat it’s full potential while still being lightweight
  • Durable and strong 1,000 denier hull to prevent any punctures from happening
  • Raised 1000D fabric floor, allowing for a faster more Responsive boat
  • Can either be used with only oars or fully equiped with swivel seats and motors

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 107 inches (9 ft) in length, 48 inches (4 ft) in width
  • Weight: 32 pounds (only hull)
  • Carrying Capacity: 450 pounds
  • Material: 1000 Denier 36 mil

Our Review

See Best Price Blue

We were psyched when we got to test the Sea Eagle 285, we had heard lots of great things about it and wanted to test it for ourselves. Turns out it lives up to all expectations, we dare to say that it goes beyond your expectations even.

No pressure gauge, but that’s no problem with the included foot pump

A common problem with inflatable boats is over inflating them, this usually results in a broken bladder. This happens mostly due to inexperience but also because it can be hard to tell what PSI the bladder is at with no pressure gauge. The 285 doesn’t come with a pressure gauge, but that’s not a bad thing in this case. The included foot pump is just too weak to over inflate it, meaning you can pump all the air you want into it and without running the risk of exploding it.

Large air chambers let you fish in shallow areas but makes for poor tracking

As you already know, the large air chambers allows this boat to glide on top of the water surface, it’s good in the sense that you can enter shallow areas without scraping against the bottom. But like always, if there’s an advantage there’s a drawback. In this case the large air chambers makes for really poor tracking and steering, you’re literally controlling an inflated U letter so to speak. We were unfortunate when we tested the 285, we had plenty of wind and struggled to keep going in a straight line. We do not recommend fishing in areas where there’s a lot of wind, you will be spending more time trying to control the boat instead of fishing. If you do not have any other options, please go yourself an anchor so you don’t drift away.

Rod holders could be position further forward

Another minor pet peeve we have is the position of the rod holders. We just don’t see why they place them behind the seat just by the trolling motor. It get’s annoying having to spin 180 degrees whenever you want to get a hold of your rod. This can be easily fixed by gluing on additional rod holders in the front.

Really compact and light weight, if you only use the hull and oars

We love how compact the hull gets when deflated and packed into its bag, it’s really not much bigger than a hiking backpack. But that’s just the hull, if you plan on going fully rigged, keep in mind that you will need space for the swivel seat and its mount, the floorboard, the motor mount and the trolling motor. It quickly adds up and suddenly it’s not “ultra-portable” anymore, it will still fit in the trunk of your car but don’t expect to carry all the gear to shore in one go.

The floorboard is stable and lets you stand up and fish

The hard floor is a nice addition to this boat, it’s not very often you can actually stand and fish from an inflatable, but with 285 you can. Both me and my wife had no problems standing up, throwing or reeling in fish. The standing platform was wide enough for both us and it felt very stable at all times.

Suitable for fishing in a wide variety of areas, as long as the water is calm

While it’s possible to take the 285 to a wide variety of waters, like lakes, ponds, rivers and bay areas, it will not do very well in anything that’s not considered to be calm waters. It will handle rivers, but only class 1 rivers, anything with whitewater is not suitable for this pontoon. If you plan to fish in salt water areas, remember to get yourself a trolling motor that’s made for salt water, as fresh water ones are not made to withstand corrosion. While you’re at it, make sure to clean the hull thoroughly if you’ve been in salt water areas.

Has plenty of space for gear

Gear storage is another plus, the boat can carry up to 450 pounds and that’s a lot for a one person boat. Say the average person is 200 pounds, that leaves you with 250 pounds to store whatever you want. We could bring a cooler box, battery and plenty of fishing gear with us without feeling cramped. You can buy additional accessories from Sea Eagle to hold your bait, cameras and anchors if needed, so running out of space is not very likely unless you’re really heavy on gear.

Pros

  • Can hold plenty of weight, lots of space for gear
  • Easy and quick to set up, doesn’t take more than 5 minutes
  • Hard floor allows for stand up fishing

Cons

  • Rod holders are at an awkward position
  • Poor tracking, hard to control in very windy conditions

Conclusion

The 285 frameless pontoon boat from Sea Eagle is great if you want something that can get you around on large areas with calm water. While it’s possible to fish in calmer rivers, the 285 will perform the best in conditions where there’s no wind and no waves. We like the fact that you can choose to either use it as a basic rowing boat or all in and rig it with swivel seats, motors and plenty of other fun stuff. The floorboard is a really nice addition which allows to stand up and fish but also carry additional heavier gear.

If you’re looking to get something for the local lake that’s easy to set up and store, you cannot go wrong with 285.

See Best Price Blue