We’ve all stumbled upon bodies of water on hikes or drives that we know would produce fish if we could just get out on them. Often, these remote bodies of water are only accessible via non-motorized watercraft. A fishing float tube is perfect options for times like these. Keep one in your car and it’ll get used.
As long as you’re willing to get your legs wet, you can cruise all over a small body of water and land fish all day long.
Best Float Tubes: Quick Picks
The Outcast Fat Cat LCS is the best overall float tube available for anglers. It’s large, durable and has plenty of storage for all of the the fishing equipment you’re using.
The Outcast Fish Cat is comfortable and more than a bare-bones float tube. For less than $200, you’re receiving a great tube.
Best Fishing Float Tubes: Full Reviews
The Outcast Fish Cat Rise is one of the best fishing float tube options for beginners looking for an all-around option. It has two separate air valves that make inflation easy. There are two pockets on the arms that are perfect for storing your fishing gear. Also, the two drink holders and inflatable backrest add to the comfort that this tube provides. Anglers of all skill levels are fans of this tube. Put it on your back for a hike to an alpine lake or drop it in your local pond. The 1-year warranty is going to protect you. Whatever you need from it, it can do. For around $180, you’re getting an extremely high quality tube that’s build to last.
- 600 poly/420 nylon outdoor shell
- Weighs 8 pounds
- Mesh seat
- 250 pound capacity
If you find yourself fishing in your float tube quite a bit throughout the season, you know the importance of durability. The Outcast Fat Cat LCS is created for the diehard anglers. Whether you’re fly fishing or spin fishing, you’ll find that it is great for you. The foam seat and backrest are extremely comfortable and the “u” shape is ideal for kicking. Your float tube fins will power your all over the water. Outcast provides anglers with a 5-year warranty when they purchase the Fat Cat. The large pockets and cup holders allow you to store fishing gear and necessary supplies. For around $500, you’re getting a wonderful float tube that’s well-worth the investment.
- Urethane Bladders hold air and are easy to fix
- Built-in Carry Handle
- 14 pounds
- 250 pound capacity
The Caddis Premier Plus II is a good fly fishing float tube. Fly fishing out of a float tube can be challenging if the seat isn’t comfortable. The seat and backrest are both inflatable and allow you to get the seat to the exact firmness that you would like. Also, Caddis has a stabilizer bar that keeps everything balanced in cast you’re moving or the water is a little choppy. In terms of storage, you’ll find two main pockets for fly boxes, extra reels and any other gear you would need. At $240, you’re getting a great tube that won’t break the budget.
- Cargo storage behind the seat
- Removable fly patches and rod-holder straps
- Boston valves that make inflation and deflation easy
- 250 pound capacity
If storage is something you prioritize, then the Bighorn Inflatable Fishing Float tube is a good choice for you. The storage capacity on this tube is impressive. Read any fishing float tubes reviews and you’ll find that this tops many lists for storage. This float tube is made for people looking for a little more room. The extra large backrest and comfortable seat are going to keep you on the water for hours on hours. The Bighorn float tube is a tried and true tube that anglers of all skill levels love. The numerous “d” rings are great for attaching nets, extra rods and even a stringer. For only $250, you’re getting a phenomenal deal.
- 11 pounds
- Hydrodynamic hull shape
- 1-year warranty
- 300 lb capacity
If you’re an angler who likes to be nimble and be able to carry around your float tube to alpine lakes, then the OSG Summit is perfect for you. With adjustable shoulder straps and a small footprint, it’s a perfect belly boat. The U-boat design is made with urethane bladders and can withstand some bumps and bruises. This boat is coming out in November of 2022 and it’s truly one of the first in its class. The inflatable back rest and mesh seat are comfortable and give you a nice break after a long hike. The 5-year warranty is going to protect and let you fish this hard.
- 7 pounds
- Compression sack/backpack
- Velcro apron
- 250 lb capacity
The Cumberland float tube is another product from Classic Accessories. Anglers who loved the Bighorn version also enjoy the Cumberland model. The claim to fame with the Cumberland model is that the seat is extra high, so you don’t feel as if you’re struggling as the hours get long. The padded seat, two large cargo pockets and two drink holders all add to the experience when fishing with the Cumberland Float tube. When you purchase the tube, you’ll receive a one-year warranty that allows you to fish this hard without worrying about what could go wrong. At around $400, you’re getting a high end float tube ready for your adventures.
- 14 pounds
- Two rod holders
- Large mesh storage on the back
- 300 lb capacity
Fishing Float Tubes 101: What to Look For
When you’re looking to make your purchase of a float tube, one of the main things you should focus on is the durability of it. Odds are, you’re going to be bumping and dragging it along rocks, sticks and dirt. As a result, it’s going to be taking a beating. Also, you may find that you run into a sharp stick or log in the middle of the lake that you didn’t notice before. The last thing you want is to find out the tube has a leak or breaks easily.
Make sure the tube you’re purchasing has a PVC bottom. This PVC is going to protect you in the circumstances you find yourself in that may be a bit rougher than you originally thought. Also, you’ll find that if a company believes in the durability of their product, they’ll attach a warranty to it. A 5-year warranty is a great option! This gives you peace of mind to fish hard. Outcast is one of the few companies that offers this. .
Another thing to consider is the weight of your float tube. If you fish on ponds or lakes that don’t require any travel, then weight may not be that big of a deal for you. However, if you find yourself having to carry your tube a long ways, then you want to make sure your float tube isn’t overly heavy. As long as your tube is somewhere between 7 and 14 pounds, you will easily be able to maneuver it.
Weight can also make a difference when you’re moving around in the water. The heavier it is, the harder it will be to use your flippers and get around in the water.
Weight capacity is another thing to consider. Most float tubes have around 250 to 300 pound capacity. Keep in mind that you have gear to put in the float tube as well. So, if you’re around 220 pounds, then you may want to consider a 300 pound capacity tube. You’ll have your clothes as well as fishing gear to put on, so that will increase your weight that you’re carrying.
Shape is another important aspect of your fishing float tube. Round fishing float tubes are rarely the best option. A “U” shape tube is best. It allows you to be more maneuverable than a normal circle tube. Many companies will advertise that they have a hydrodynamic hull shape. This is a good thing. It allows you to track and steer far better than you would in a normal shaped tube.
Comfort is also a key facet of your float tube setup. The best float tube is one that you can sit in for a five or six hour day on the water. The comfort mainly depends on the seat and the back rest. Some tubes have mesh seats and others have foam or inflatable. Depending on your preference, you’ll find that one type of seat fits you better, but the foam seat and backrests are often very comfortable. They aren’t too rigid and don’t lose any of their support throughout your day on the water like an inflatable seat might.
Finally, you should consider safety. Obviously, you understand the risks you’re taking when fishing on a tube, but a high quality urethane tube with PVC lining is going to keep you afloat. There isn’t much separating you between the water, but something that’s going to stay inflated is your best bet at safety.
Float Tube FAQ
How do you fish in a float tube?
Fishing in a float tube takes some getting used to. Since you’re essentially sitting in the water, you’ll find that your core muscles are more engaged than they normally are when you’re fishing in a float tube. Also, the only way you’re getting around the water is with your feet. As a result, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing flippers (click here for the best deals) to help you cover more water.
From there, you’ll pick the spots you normally would when you’re fishing on the water. Find the structure, drop-offs and any other areas that hold fish and see what you can find. You can fly fish or spin fish out of a float tube depending on what you want to do.
You don’t need a boat launch or anything when fishing on a float tube, so find a place to drop the tube in the water and get in and start fishing. It’s best to stay away from areas with a large amount of wood or other structures that could potentially puncture your tube. Fish these areas from a safe distance, and you’ll be okay.
Landing fish also takes some getting used to when fishing out of a float tube. Since the fish are going to be level with you when you’re landing them, you want to make sure you do a good job scooping them with your net. Some anglers find that the fish jump right into their lap.
Take your time and you’ll be okay. Start by targeting some smaller fish to best learn how to fish out of a float tube and as you begin to feel more comfortable you can target larger fish.
What to wear when float tube fishing?
Depending on when and where you’re fishing your outfit is going to change. A warm summer day on a freshwater lake may require a swimsuit and a fishing shirt along with some flippers. The water will likely feel nice and keep you comfortable all day long.
However, if you’re fishing earlier in the season or on an alpine lake, you’ll find that the water is especially chilly! You want to spend as much time as you can on the water, so many anglers choose to wear waders. You’re sitting up to your waist in water, so you don’t have to worry about your waders getting filled. You can still wear flippers over the neoprene socks on your waders. Wading boots get cumbersome when you’re trying to kick around the water.
If the air temperature is cool, wear whatever you would like on top. In waders, it won’t get wet, so you don’t have to worry about that. Always keep your waders in your car with your float tube.
Are float tubes safe?
Yes, float tubes are safe. Unless you’re fishing a fast moving river or in some large whitecaps, you won’t ever feel unsafe in a float tube. They’re created to be durable and keep anglers safe as they’re on the water. As soon as you become comfortable with the idea of sitting on a float tube, you’ll be more than okay. Most of the accidents are the fault of the user. As long as you’re a little careful, you’ll be fine.
How do You Inflate a Float Tube?
Most anglers bring an electric pump that they plug into the 12v outlet on their vehicle to help pump up their float tube. If you’re hiking in with a deflated float tube, you can use a small air mattress pump (click here to buy one) that can easily store in a small backpack. It takes a bit of time to fill a float tube with a hand pump, but it’s definitely the easiest way if you’re having to hike with yours.
You also can inflate your tube before you head to the water. Use your plug-in pump and pump it up at home and then you can deflate it once you’re done fishing!
Do you need waders for a float tube?
You don’t need waders if you’re fishing warm, freshwater lakes throughout the summer. However, if you choose to fish in more inclement weather or on alpine lakes, you may some protection. Sitting in water throughout the day can be extremely cold, even if it feels comfortable right away. A set of waders is very helpful and adds to the comfort of the entire fishing experience. But be warned, make sure you take a wading belt because if you fall out in your waders you are at risk of drowning unless you can tightly cinch your waist to prevent water getting in.
What is the best float tube?
The Outcast Fat Cat float tube is hard to beat. Anglers of all skill levels have loved this tube for years. It lasts a long time and comes with a 5-year warranty. Combine these with the size, weight and all of the storage options and you have a wonderful float tube.
How do you store float tubes?
The biggest thing to pay attention to when storing your float tube is the environment. You don’t want to store it in an area that sees a large amount of fluctuation when it comes to temperature. A moderate climate is going to be easiest on the material and not cause any of the seams to decay. Keep it in a closet inside your house and it should be okay.
Also, once you finish fishing with your tube, you want to make sure you clean it. A hose down or rinse out in the lake is going to get rid of any dirt or bacteria that could accelerate the decaying process.
Using a float tube gives you access to bodies of water you may not otherwise have been able to fish. They’re an affordable way to get on the water and fish in areas many other anglers don’t. Choose one of the six options above and you’ll be in great shape.