Fishing From a Float Tube: The Definitive Guide

John Malcolm
John MalcolmPublished: August 16, 2023
Fishing From a Float Tube: The Definitive Guide

Ever thought about fishing from a float tube? It's one of the most enjoyable and thrilling fishing experiences out there. Not only is it great fun, but you can also access parts of the water that would otherwise be difficult or dangerous to reach!

However, even if you've never fished from a float tube, it's not as complicated or intimidating as you might think. Here's our guide to everything you need to know about fishing from a float tube, including what equipment you'll need and some helpful tips on how to get the most out of your experience.

The best parts about fishing from a float tube.

If you've never fished from a float tube, you're missing out. However, we're sure you don't know what you don't know. It probably never crossed your mind. We have a few reasons why you should give float tube fishing a shot.

Unmatched mobility.

Float Tubes Can Get Into Hard to Reach Areas on a Lake

One of the best things about fishing from a float tube is its unparalleled mobility. We can easily navigate shallow water, tight spots, and areas with dense vegetation where traditional boats would struggle. The ability to move freely and quietly in the water gives us an edge when sneaking up on fish.

However, if you want to reach the places the pontoon and bass boats go, you can also throw a trolling motor on the back of your float tube and take it up a notch.

Low cost.

Float tubes are also much more affordable than traditional boats. You don't need to invest in an expensive engine, fuel, or maintenance costs associated with larger vessels. All you need is a float tube and some fishing gear, and you're ready to hit the water.

Get close to the action.

Being in a float tube puts us right in the heart of the action. We're closer to the water's surface, heightening our senses and making fishing more thrilling. We can see the fish nibble at our bait, feel the gentle sway of the water, and hear the soft lapping of waves against our tube. It's an experience in itself. If you like fishing, you'll love fishing from a tube.

Easy to transport and store.

Float tubes are lightweight and compact, making them easy to transport and store. We don't need a trailer or ample storage space for our float tube. We just deflate it, pack it in our car's trunk, and inflate it when we reach our fishing spot. Boat ramps aren't required, either.

Cost-effective fishing option.

Compared to bass boats and kayaks, float tubes are a more cost-effective option. They offer an affordable way for us to enjoy our favorite pastimes. Plus, their maintenance costs are minimal. We save money on fuel, docking fees, and expensive repairs. Sure, we've had punctures in our floating tubes before, but patching those is fairly simple.

Fitness and relaxation combined.

Fishing from a float tube isn't just about catching fish—it's also a great way to stay fit and relaxed. The paddling provides an excellent cardiovascular workout, while the serene environment helps to reduce stress and boost mental wellness. As we mentioned, it takes fishing to the next level in so many ways.

When you should not fish in a tube.

Of course, we love float tube fishing, but sometimes boat fishing is a better option.

Rough waters.

Fishing from a float tube in rough waters is not advisable, at least from our experience. Float tubes are designed for calm, still waters. They can easily capsize in choppy conditions. We prioritize safety first, and fishing in such conditions can put us at risk. A good rule of thumb is if a john boat can't handle the water, neither can fishing float tubes.

Cold weather.

Float tubes expose us to the elements more than a traditional boat. Some anglers don't mind the cold and dress appropriately, but you'll still get frigid. This exposure can lead to hypothermia in cold weather if we're not appropriately dressed. In the colder months, we tend to take our fishing from shore or a boat.

High-traffic areas.

High-traffic water bodies with speed boats and jet skis are unsuitable for float tube fishing. The wakes created by these vessels can destabilize your fishing float tube or belly boat. Plus, we're lower in the water and less visible, increasing the risk of collisions.

If mobility is an issue.

Fishing from a float tube requires a fair amount of physical exertion. Unless you have an onboard motor, you will be smoked after a day on the water. You need to paddle with your feet to move around and maintain balance. A float tube might not be the best option if mobility is an issue.

Long days.

Plan on being on the water for long hours? We'd recommend a boat with seating and storage. Float tubes are designed to be lightweight, meaning they don't have room for much gear or amenities. Fishing from a float tube all day can take its toll on our bodies physically and mentally.

Recommended fishing gear for tube fishing.

Whether you're fly fishing and catching trout or dropping lures in the weed beds for bass, float tube fishing requires the right gear. Below are a few of our must-have items for successful float tube fishing trips. 

  • Fishing float tube. There are tons of fishing float tubes and belly boats on the market, which we'll cover shortly. However, having a quality float tube is essential for a good day on the water.
  • Life jacket. Safety first! Never forget to bring your life jacket when fishing from a float tube. Ensure it fits appropriately and is in good condition before heading out on the water.
  • Fishing rods, lures, and bait. We won't get into specifics; you know what you want to catch, but make sure you bring the right gear.
  • Chest pack or fishing vest. A chest pack or fishing vest is a must for float tube fishing. It keeps your hands free and makes it easy to access lures and baits without reaching into a tackle box.
  • Wading boots. A good pair of wading boots is essential when wading in shoals and shallow waters. We recommend neoprene or leather material with built-in studs for traction.
  • Fins. If you're planning on going into deep water, you'll want some fins to strap on your feet. Fins help you to move faster and more quietly in the water.
  • Dry bag. We always recommend bringing a waterproof dry bag to keep our phones and wallets safe. We don't want to ruin a fantastic day because our valuables got wet.

This list is a good start for float tubing, but you should adjust your gear according to your fishing conditions. For example, if you're fishing in the colder months, you'll want to add more layers of clothing. We like to toss hand-warming pouches into our waders; you'll be amazed at how well they keep your feet warm.

Top 5 tubes and belly boats for fishing.

As we mentioned, hundreds of fishing float tubes are on the market. Most float tubes will do just fine, but we wanted to dig in and find some of the best and highest-quality tubes. Here are our top 5 float tubes and belly boats for fishing.

Goplus Inflatable Float Tube.

Goplus Inflatable Float Tube

This float tube is an excellent introduction to belly boat fishing. For around $150, it offers many premium features like pouches to hold your fishing gear (sorry, no fishing rod holder), making it an exceptional value. It's known for its buoyancy and waterproof material, which ensures a smooth and dry fishing experience.

Outcast Sport Gear Prowler.

Outcast Sport Gear Prowler

This kick boat is a heavyweight champion in float tubes, weighing in at 21 lbs. Its weight provides added stability in the water, making it a reliable choice for anglers of all levels. It's also equipped with plenty of storage pockets and rod holders, so you can easily bring your tackle box and other gear.

Cumberland Float Tube by Classic Accessories.

Cumberland Float Tube by Classic Accessories

The Cumberland Float Tube is considered the best overall due to its value. It's widely recommended for fly and remote fishing, indicating its versatility and adaptability to various fishing environments. It's a bit pricey, but it can accommodate all of your fly-fishing gear.

Caddis Premier Plus II Float Tube.

Caddis Premier Plus II Float Tube

This is easily one of the best float tubes of 2023. The Caddis Premier Plus II stands out among the rest of the pack. It's loaded with features, and the reviews are excellent. It's slightly pricier than others, but this model should be on your list if you're serious about float tube fishing.

Outcast Fish Cat Scout IGS Blue Floating Boat.

Outcast Fish Cat Scout IGS Blue Floating Boat

This floating boat by Outcast is praised for its reliability. It can be easily transported, making it a good option for exploring different fishing spots. It's on the more expensive side coming in at over $800, but we like its sleek design; it has an adjustable seat for comfort.

The best lakes and bodies of water for float tube fishing.

You've got the gear and the tube ready to hit the lake. But where do you go? Fortunately, whether you're seeking striped bass in the marshes or fly fishing, float tubers go out on almost every type of lake, river, and stream. We've put together a list of some of our favorite places to drop in with our fishing float tube.

  • Aurora Reservoir, Colorado: This reservoir is known for its clear, pure waters and is perfect for float tube fishing due to its electric motor-only rule. It's home to some good-sized trout.
  • Shasta Lake, Northern California: Despite being a larger water body that can get rough, it offers productive fishing. You can expect to find bass, trout, and catfish here.
  • Lake Comanche, Northern California: Another large lake suitable for float tube fishing when the waters are calm. It's populated with largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and catfish.
  • Trinity Lake, Northern California: Trinity Lake is known for its smallmouth and largemouth bass, kokanee salmon, and brown trout. Its vastness can make for a great float tube fishing experience.
  • Clear Lake, Northern California: Famous for its bass fishing, Clear Lake is also home to catfish and crappie. Its size and diversity make it a popular spot for float tube anglers.
  • Green River, Utah: Known for its night fishing, the Green River is home to giant brown trout. Its calm waters make it suitable for float tube fishing.
  • Lost Lake, Oregon: Pack your fly rods for this lake. Lost Lake is a favorite among float tube fishermen, especially those who love to fish for trout.
  • High Mountain Lakes, Idaho: These lakes offer excellent fishing out of float tubes for cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout.
  • White River, Arkansas: Renowned for its trout fishing, the White River offers excellent opportunities for float tube fishing due to its calm and clear waters.

Do you have a place that you love float tubing in? Share your favorite spot in the comments! We'd love to hear about the sites you've found.

Tips for making the most of fishing from a float tube.

This wouldn't be much of a definitive guide if we didn't give you our expert tips for making the most of your float tube fishing experience.

  • Pack light but bring plenty of food and water. Keep it simple if you don't want to be overloaded with gear. But ensure you have enough energy drinks and snacks to last a long day on the lake. We typically bring a floating cooler to keep with us.
  • Wear layers. Even if it's hot outside, bring a few layers of clothing to adjust for the air and water temperatures. We also recommend wearing polarized sunglasses; they help you see better through the reflection on the lake's surface.
  • Read the waters. Before dropping in, take some time to analyze the area you're fishing for structure, depth, and current. Unless you want to drift with the wind, you'll need a general plan of where you want to fish.
  • Be mindful of the weather. Float tube fishing can be dangerous with strong winds and choppy waters. Watch out for storms and always be prepared for an emergency by keeping a whistle in your pocket if you need help. We've drifted across a lake before and had to call someone to give us a ride back to our truck.
  • Have the right gear. Ensure your equipment works correctly and you have the right lures for your target fish. Whether tuning up your fly rod or checking your bait caster, don't skimp on the gear - it can mean the difference between a successful day and a frustrating one.

These tips allow you to take your float tube out for an adventure. Float tube fishing is an excellent way to get out and enjoy nature while catching some fish at the same time.

FAQs for fishing from a float tube.

Whether you're just getting into float tube fishing or a seasoned expert, you might have some questions. So we've compiled a comprehensive list of questions and answers to help you.

How much does it cost to start float tube fishing?

It's relatively affordable to get started with float tube fishing. A good, serviceable tube can be bought for around $200, while higher-end models may cost under $500.

Is it safe to fish from a float tube?

Yes, fishing from a float tube is safe if you follow safety guidelines. Always wear a life jacket, watch weather conditions, monitor other boats, and stay within your swimming ability.

Can I use live bait while float tube fishing?

Absolutely. You can bring a floating bait bucket with you for live bait. This makes it easy to keep your bait fresh and accessible during your fishing trip.

Can I use a fish finder with a float tube?

Yes, you can. A small portable fish finder can be a great tool to explore beneath the surface and locate fish while on your float tube. It's not necessary, but definitely nice to have.

What is the best method for float tube fishing?

The best methods vary depending on the species you're targeting and the body of water you're in. Fly fishing is a popular choice for many float tube anglers. However, we've found that you can get into the hard-to-reach reed beds for bass with your bait caster.

H3: Is a float tube suitable for any type of fishing?

Float tubes offer new opportunities for anglers and are adaptable to various types of fishing, including fly fishing, bass fishing, and more. We're big on bass fishing, so that's what we recommend.

What should I consider when choosing a float tube?

When choosing a float tube, consider its durability, comfort, storage capacity, and maneuverability. The perfect float tube will depend on your personal needs and the type of fishing you plan to do. We typically prioritize durability and comfort as they are two of the most important factors.

Catch more fish while float tubing.

In conclusion, float tube fishing offers a unique and rewarding experience that every angler should explore. You're well-equipped to embark on your adventure with the ideal gear, including top-rated float tubes and access to some of the best fishing spots.

We know you're excited to land fish in the tube, so ensure you're prepared with the right lures and bait. Let us know what works for you in the comments below.

John Malcolm

John Malcolm

Expert Angler

John is a highly skilled angler with over two decades of experience and a passion that has led him to participate in numerous tournaments, including reeling in a remarkable 9lb bass on Lake Okeechobee. His dedication to fishing and willingness to share his expertise make him a respected ambassador for the angling community, inspiring others to appreciate the sport.

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