Best Fishing Float Tubes

Updated November 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
12 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for shopping guide for best fishing float tubes

Whether you’re a hardcore fisherman or a beginner, you can enjoy using a fishing float tube, especially if you like fishing in calm waters. Fishing float tubes are a contemporary way to navigate lakes, streams, and ponds while capturing your best catch. These tubes are lighter and more portable than other fishing craft, especially boats.

With a fishing float tube, you can move along at your own pace. You can fish and enjoy the natural scenery around you without the hassle of un-trailering a boat at the fishing landing and everything that entails.

You’ll find numerous styles and varieties of fishing float tubes on the market today. Which one is right for you? That depends on several factors, including the type of fishing you do and where you do it. We created this shopping guide to help you find the perfect fishing float tube for you. Read on for our tips and product suggestions.

Fishing can be split into two main categories: recreational fishing and commercial fishing. Commercial fishermen depend on fish for their livelihoods. More than 200 million people in the world fit into the category of fishing for survival and for money.

Type of fishing

Fishing in a lake with little to no current is the ideal environment for a fishing float tube. Because of its lightness and reduced size, mobilizing through calm waters is the easiest way to operate a fishing float tube. The tube allows you to access hidden fishing areas that would be inaccessible to larger fishing boats — even canoes and kayaks.

You can use a fishing float tube for pond fishing, stream fishing, or essentially anywhere the water is shallow enough for you to stand up and still reach bottom. When water is shallow, you are in control of yourself and the fishing float tube. When water becomes deeper and rifled with current, however, you are at the mercy of the water.

River fishing isn’t recommended when using a fishing float tube because of the deep water and intense current. It can be extremely dangerous, especially if there are hidden wingdams and rapids you don’t know about. It’s best to use a more sturdy and durable craft in difficult waters. A lightweight fishing float tube is made for calm and comfortable fishing.

For your safety
Try your fishing float tube out in a pool first. It’s helpful if you can get used to how your weight is distributed and how to navigate the float before you’re actually fishing on the water.
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Features

Pockets

If you’ve ever known a fisherman, you know about the vast collection of lures, line, and gear that is essential for every fishing trip. Fishermen need numerous pockets to store all of the paraphernalia they need to catch that big one.

Be aware of what items you will need to store in your fishing float tube, so you can select one that has enough space. Usually there are two side pockets located on the armrests. These pockets are used mostly for items that must be in reach. The pockets are also an acceptable size for a small cooler.

Each fishing float tube is slightly different in terms of pocket location, but they all have a similar amount of space. Some have a storage area located behind the backrest of the fishing float tube. Others have small pockets lining the sides.

Portability and adjustability

A primary reason for purchasing a fishing float tube is its ease of transport. Most fishing tubes, when deflated, can be carried in a duffle bag or have straps already installed for carrying. When the tube is inflated, the fisherman can choose how full to fill it, and it will still fit in most vehicles.

A few fishing float tubes also allow you to adjust the backrest. You can move it forward or backward, depending on fishing style and comfort. The seat itself may be able to move as well, allowing for different heights of people and depths of water.

Shape and weight

Most fishing float tubes come in a narrow or wider “U” shape. It’s designed for comfort, similar to a pool floatation device. The bottom floats, or arms of the U, also act as armrests for the fisherman. The shape is ergonomic for sitting and floating in the water.

Without any gear added, fishing float tubes weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. This is a lightweight version of a raft or dinghy. It’s easily carried backpack-style, both inflated and deflated.

Fishing float tube prices

Considering how much a large fishing boat can cost, fishing float tubes are much more affordable. Tubes made of less-durable materials and with fewer amenities run in the $70 to $100 range. Middle-of-the-road tubes that have a higher weight capacity and more features cost between $100 and $150. High-end fishing float tubes feature increased durability, more storage space, and adjustability. These run between $150 and $250.

Tips

  • Purchase a brightly colored float tube, or attach a bright flag to your tube. If you’re fishing in the early morning or at dusk, it may be difficult for other boaters to see you. With bright colors, you will be safer and easier to spot.

  • Most of the fishing float tubes have rod holders built in. Use one of the rod holders for your fishing pole and one for a bright flag.

  • Consider wearing water-resistant clothing, such as a wetsuit or waders. You want to avoid clothing made of cotton and other materials that will absorb water.

  • Wear a high-SPF sunscreen. The sun reflects off of the water, and you receive more UV rays because of your close proximity to the surface of the water. Essentially, the water acts as a mirror, reflecting the sun’s rays back into your face.
Have you ever noticed that some fish, particularly large-mouth bass, have a thin line running down their bodies? This is called a lateral line, which is like a radar the fish uses to navigate dark and cloudy water.

FAQ

Q. What is the difference between using a kayak and using fishing float tube?

A. When using a fishing float tube, you will be partially immersed in water. When using a kayak, you will be sitting with your legs stretched out, but you will be floating completely on top of the water. A kayak also limits your ability to move your weight and cast for fish. A fishing float tube allows for a wider range of movement.

Q. Can I use a fishing float tube in any body of water?

A You can use a fishing float tube in any calm body of water. If there is a current or deep water, it can be dangerous. Fishermen can be swept up in the current and lose control of their tubes. Fishing float tubes work best on calm lakes, ponds, and streams. Rivers are not safe territory for these kinds of floats.

Q. Do fishing float tubes have weight limits?

A. Yes. Weight capacity is usually related to the quality of the material the tube is made of. Generally speaking, one person should be able to use the tube and carry about 20 pounds of supplies. There are a few fishing float tubes on the market that can hold more than 300 pounds.

Q. How do I propel myself?

A. Technically, you don’t have to propel yourself. Part of the purpose of the fishing float tube is do just that: fish and float. You can let yourself be carried by the breeze, or you can kick your legs to move about. If you wish to move faster, bring a lightweight paddle with you.

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