I’ve been kayak fishing for over 16 years and have been SUP fishing for only about a year. The Stand Up Paddleboard world is pretty new to me, especially for fishing so I jumped at the chance to spend some time reviewing an inflatable SUP, the Heron 11.0 from NRS.
Unlike standard SUPs, the inflatable ones make it fairly easy to pack in a compact car, get to your spot, inflate, and go fish. No carts, no dragging, and packs small enough to check as airplane luggage. The Heron hits all of those criteria. Here is a bit more about it:
About the NRS Heron
With twin 7″ diameter side chambers and a spacious rectangular deck, the NRS Heron Inflatable SUP Board gives you the room to land hard-fighting fish and the carrying capacity for your tackle, tools and cooler.
- The dual side chambers act like outriggers creating an extremely stable platform for fishing.
- Inflates to 20 psi (1.379 bar) for super rigid performance and folds compactly for easy storage and transport.
- With heavy-duty PVC drop-stitch construction and double sidewalls for increased durability, NRS SUPs can handle the abrasion and abuse of a fisherman’s lifestyle.
- Removable, interchangeable, nylon-reinforced plastic fins let you customize your setup and absorb impacts without breaking.
- Rigged and ready out of the box, bungee cord is attached to four D-rings on the nose and through four daisy chains on the tail.
- Additional daisy-chain rigging easily secures your cooler or tackle bag or milk crate behind you.
- Features two additional D-rings for attaching a leash and tie-downs as well as three Scotty accessory mounts.
- Three sturdy handles, one in the center of the deck for hauling solo, and one on both the nose and tail for carrying with a buddy or to aid in a swim.
- Top-quality Leafield D7 inflation/deflation valve for unsurpassed reliability.
- Pressure relief valve prevents accidental over-inflation.
- Includes a high-pressure pump with pressure gauge, one Touring fin, one Grass fin, carry bag and repair kit.
The Good: NRS Heron SUP
At 39 inches wide the Heron is pretty darn stable. The water feels different from on top of an inflatable SUP so take it easy when you decide to stand until you figure out the primary and secondary stability points. A good rule of thumb I always try to go by is to find a good seam wall to put your feet in about shoulder-width apart. As light as the Heron is (30 pounds total) it can get out from underneath you with a fast movement to one side or the other.
The NRS Heron is fast. It weighs next to nothing and glides with ease. I used the grass fin as I was testing it in the late summer in a small river. The responsiveness was really great as I could change directions or rotate on a spot with relative ease. The SUP had very little drag in the water even with 200 pounds of weight on top of it.
Speaking of weighing next to nothing, I was able to take the inflated Heron, paddle, fishing pole, a box of tackle, and my lifejacket in one single trip to the water. It’s perfect for throw and go style fishing in creeks, rivers, or small ponds.
The rigidity of the deck really surprised me. At not quite 20 psi, the inflatable board felt more like a traditional paddleboard. I was ready for deck flex but never had to deal with it.
One of the biggest concerns I’ve always had with inflatables is overinflation and then popping a seam or bladder. The NRS Heron Inflatable SUP comes with a pressure relief valve that at 20 psi it lets out air so the danger of burst is greatly reduced.
Points of Improvement
The Heron comes with three preformed blocks that can accept Scotty mount bases, two in the rear on one in the front. I was able to mount one rod holder, a Stealth QR2 that has a Scotty base, but I feel like a next-gen improvement would be to do away with the Scotty base ports and make flush mount tracks available instead. 90% of my gear mounts on a track so having the ability to switch from my rotomolded kayak to the inflatable SUP would save me a ton of money and be less intrusive to bare feet.
I’d love to see a backpack harness attachment sold as an accessory. If I were hiking quite a while down a path or beach, I don’t want to lug the pump and bags along with me from the car. Having a couple of straps that attach to the D rings or daisy chain would allow you to wear the board, and walk to the put in with ease.
If I were traveling a lot more to fish in remote destinations or just needed something for a quick grab and go trip, the NRS Heron Inflatable SUP would be at the top of my list. It’s airplane ready, RV ready, compact car ready and all you really need to do is inflate it and just add water.