One major draw of fishing is that anglers enjoy being at one with nature. You won’t get any closer when you are fishing in a float tube!
You literally become part of the lake (not to mention you will catch more fish).
Today we take a deep dive into the best fishing float tubes on the market, what makes them so great, and even offer suggestions about which will be the best for you.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Table of Contents
- At a Glance Guide to the Best Float Tubes for Fishing (The Quick Answer)
- Why Use a Float Tube for Fishing?
- What to Look for When Buying a Float Tube? (Buying Guide)
- TOP 7 Best Fishing Float Tubes in 2023 Fully Reviewed
- Fishing Float Tube FAQ
- The Best Fishing Float Tubes – Final Thoughts
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At a Glance Guide to the Best Float Tubes for Fishing (The Quick Answer)
Which features do I look for when choosing the best fishing float tubes? Here’s a quick guide to what you must look for if you want to get something decent (more detailed guide below).
- Weight – A good float tube will weigh no more than 15lbs. Aim for between 10 – 15lbs. The lighter, the better.
- Puncture Resistance – Keep a good eye out for denier fabric, abrasion resistance, and puncture proofing.
- Storage – You want at least two storage pockets. Go for zipped pockets, not Velcro. Additional netting is a real bonus.
- Comfort – Adjustable straps are a real luxury feature. The higher the back support, the better. Cushioned backrests are superior to inflatable backrests.
- Inflation, Deflation, and Valves – Look for the words’ Boston valve’… these are the best type.
- Carrying Capability and Buoyancy – 200lbs is the minimum carrying capacity you should look for.
- Shape – The more ‘boat-like’ the back end is, the easier it will be to maneuver.
OK, so with all of the above in mind, I’ve had a good look around what is out there. Based on all these things, here are my suggestions for the best fishing float tubes. All will work, are safe, and offer some really nice features.
|Name||Carrying Capacity||Storage Pockets||Comfort Score||Features||Weight|
|Outcast Fish Cat 4 Float Tube||4/5||2||4/5||5/5||14lbs|
|Togiak Fishing Float Tube||4/5||8||4/5||4/5||15lbs|
|Caddis Sports Pro 3000 Float Tube||4/5||2||3/5||3/5||13lbs|
|White River Lost Lake Float Tube||3/5||5||5/5||3/5||13lbs|
|Caddis Premier Plus II Float Tube||5/5||3||4/5||4/5||14lbs|
|Outcast Fish Cat 5 Max Float Tube||5/5||2||5/5||3/5||15lbs|
|Classic Accessories Teton Float Tube||4/5||3||3||4/5||8.5lbs|
Why Use a Float Tube for Fishing?
There are several reasons why float tubes reign supreme over other forms of fishing.
Well, here’s a detailed list of everything great about float tube fishing:
Float Tube Fishing is Great Exercise!
There is a common misconception that fishing is a ‘lazy’ sport.
Yeah, I dare you to say that after I’ve just paddled 2 miles down the lake.
When you are float tube fishing, you use your feet and ‘flippers’ to get where you are going and position the float tube.
And let me tell you, after about 5 minutes of paddling, your legs will feel it.
Fishing and a decent leg workout?
Sounds ideal to us.
Reach Secret Spots
If you fish in a well-known venue, you’ll undoubtedly already be familiar with the best spots.
What would you say if I told you that you could fish in virgin, untapped areas, even at popular venues?
With a fishing float tube, you can.
Float tubes allow you to reach plenty of spots off-limits to other anglers. While they are stuck bankside, having their fishing day dictated by the terrain around and behind, you can be exploring overhangs, fish-holding features, and ‘hidden’ spots that nobody else knows about.
You Can Actively Find the Fish
We’ve all had those days where the lake seems deserted.
If the fish aren’t coming to you, you will have to go to the fish.
With a fishing float tube, you can.
And there’s more…
Not only can you go to wherever the fish are feeding, but with a little bit of clever technology, you can get a good idea of exactly where they are. It is definitely possible to fit a fish finder to a fishing float tube, making you the apex predator on the water.
Peace and Quiet
Have you ever visited a well-known lake and felt like you were standing shoulder to shoulder with your fellow angler?
Let me tell you…
I’ve had guys casting over my line at popular hotspots.
Catch a fish? You’re more likely to catch a beating…
The good news is that with a float tube, you rarely, if ever, face situations where overcrowding is a problem. You can get away from the crowd and fish in relative solitude, even at ‘busy’ locations.
Deeper Water Fishing
Even the best casters in the world are ultimately limited by range.
If the fish are down at 20 feet and you can only cast to a point in the lake that is 15 feet deep, you are out of luck.
The good news is that float tubes for fishing allow you to position yourself right over the best holes and deeper areas in the swim.
Let’s face it, part of the joy of fishing is experiencing the freedom of the great outdoors.
A ‘commercial’ venue, with set pegs for fishing?
Fishing float tubes offer the ultimate in angling freedom. You become one with the current, drifting along with the gentle rocking of the water.
Trust me, it’s heaven.
You Go Where the Food is
Do you know what determines where the bulk of the food the fish eat is located?
If you are part of the current, you’ll be taken, automatically, to where the fish are actively feeding. And there is no better way to do this than in a float tube!
What to Look for When Buying a Float Tube? (Buying Guide)
You’ve no doubt had a search and seen a detailed list of fishing float tubes.
I’ll be honest.
They do look kind of similar.
However, as my ex-wife proved, there’s more than just good looks. You need to focus on features.
Here’s a detailed guide to what you must look for if you want to get something decent.
Before you even set that float tube down on the water, you must get it there first.
And believe me…
If you’ve spent half a day hauling your tube down to the bank, the last thing you will want to do is paddle.
Be sure to keep a good eye on the weight offered by prospective float tubes.
Feeling a bit flat when fishing?
If you spring a leak out on the water, you’ll definitely feel deflated. (and it will be the end of your day).
When choosing a float tube for fishing, choose one with thick fabric. Some premium models offer dual walls.
Even with a compact float tube, you’ll have more than enough to carry down to the water’s edge.
You’ll want to avoid taking too much extra.
Pick a good float tube for fishing; it will not be a problem.
The decent ones come with plenty of storage. Look for nets, side pockets, and even carry straps to make the logistics that much easier.
In an ideal world, you will want to be sat in that float tube all day.
Heaven, am I right?
However, bad backs, sore butts, and everything in between does not make for a pleasant fishing day.
There are a few features that you want to keep an eye on. Good spinal support is a must. The armrests on the float tube must be substantial enough to avoid shoulder pain, and you want plenty of room to move around too.
Inflation, Deflation, and Valves
You’ll have two options when you head down to the water. You can carry your tube inflated or inflate it when you get there. Whichever way you choose, you won’t want to waste valuable fishing time inflating your tube.
Likewise, when the day is over, if you want to deflate the tube, you won’t want to be stood on the bank waiting while it goes dark.
Two words, my friends…
How good the valves are will control how rapidly you can inflate and deflate your fishing tube.
And there’s something else to consider.
One key area of failure in cheap float tubes is the valves. Be sure to look for float tubes with a ‘belt and braces’ system, normally a plug and a ‘screw’ type of valve.
Avoid any that look similar to the cheap kind you get on ‘novelty’ inflatables…
Carrying Capability and Buoyancy
When float tube fishing, once you set off, generally, you are out for the day.
This means that you will need to take everything with you onboard.
When I look for good carrying capability, I’m not just talking about the number of pockets and storage room. I’m looking for a float tube that won’t sink under the weight of all my gear.
You’ll find that most float tubes come with a weight rating, give this special attention.
Bob, you said that looks don’t matter, right?
Yeah, kind of.
The shape is important when choosing the right float tube. Many of the good ones will have a little hydrodynamic bow. This reduces the drag as you navigate the water, making paddling a little easier.
Budget models will be fairly round, whereas the best fishing float tubes will tend to be a little point towards the back end.
TOP 7 Best Fishing Float Tubes in 2023 Fully Reviewed
Orvis Outcast Fish Cat 4 Float Tube
I’ve not saved the best until last.
Simply put, this float tube is awesome and very similar to the one I use.
There are plenty of quality features, and it ticks almost every box mentioned in my buying guide above.
With this float tube, you get a huge carrying capacity (250lbs) but avoid the penalty of heavy transport weight (it weighs just 14lbs). This is achieved through a fine yet very strong vinyl abrasion-resistant fabric.
And get this.
There is plenty of storage. More than enough to cover you for a day’s fishing (and there is even room for a few beers).
The backrest is fully adjustable and should provide excellent support, offering you complete fishing comfort.
As a final ‘cherry’ on the cake, it features dual Boston valves, a breeze to inflate and deflate without fear of leaks.
- Amazing quality.
- Packed with ideal features.
- Easy to maneuver.
- Good storage.
- The only downside is that it doesn’t come with a ruler or attached mesh ‘table’, but that’s an easy fix.
This might just be it if you are looking for the best all-round fishing tube. It does everything well, offering durability and plenty of storage, and it looks pretty nice. It is relatively cheap compared to ‘budget’ fishing float tubes.
Togiak Inflatable Fishing Float Tube
Regarding budget, here’s another float tube worth a watch.
I’d consider this a great ‘value’ option.
As with premium models, you get excellent durability and plenty of storage, and it also looks pretty comfy.
In fact, it offers more storage than some expensive float tubes.
I like the included mesh ruler, which also gives you a flat surface to work on when you are tackling up.
Shape-wise, I’m going to have to be honest.
I love the back, but I’m unsure about the front. The twin booms are rounded instead of pointed. This could cause drag in the water and might create a few tracking issues on windy days.
But all that said…
Aside from this minor flaw, it is substantial and lightweight (12lbs), making it ideal for a travel floating tube.
- Great value.
- Rugged construction.
- Huge storage capacity.
- Nice high seating, creating plenty of arm room.
- Not so sure about the shape.
- Aligning the inner tube can take a little time.
If you are looking for a mid-range floating tube for fishing, this is as good as it gets. There’s plenty to love and relatively few downsides. It’s comfy, stable, and pretty lightweight.
Caddis Sports Pro 3000 Float Tube
If you are new to float tube fishing, let me educate you.
Caddis produce quite the range of products in this niche, and as a result, they know what they are doing.
This one sits firmly in the mid-range bracket of good float tubes for fishing. You can consider it a good allrounder with very few downsides.
Would I buy it?
Yeah, I think I would, probably.
The dual-stitched, ripstop fabric offers amazing durability and will keep puncture-free. It also includes high-quality Boston valves, so there are no leaks there.
The standout feature for me is the storage. You get two substantial zip pockets, and there is ample room behind the seat to store bigger things.
Look, I want to be honest in my reviews, so here’s what I didn’t like.
I can’t stand inflatable backrests. When they get warm in the sun, they go a bit soft, and you’ll have to inflate the tube within an inch of its life to get the required rigidity. This isn’t the end of the world, and being fair, they are pretty comfortable.
It is one more area to worry about when ensuring correct inflation.
Provided you can overlook this, this would be a great tube. The flip side to inflatable seats is they cut down on weight.
- Super durable fabric.
- Loads of storage.
- Relatively lightweight (13lbs).
- Inflatable seat (yuck).
- The included fly patch… Its meant to be a bonus feature, but there is no way I’m sticking hooks into a float tube
As a leading float tube fishing brand Caddis ticks most of the boxes. This would be a great place to start if you want to delve into float tubing and fishing. For occasional users, the price point makes it pretty ideal, with a nice blend of features without breaking the bank.
White River Fly Shop Lost Lake Float Tube
If you like the idea of double seams, then get this.
How about triple seams?
White River Fly Shop is famed for offering a happy blend of quality and value, and this float tube is no exception.
Aside from being pretty cheap, it also has one of the highest storage capacities in my list of fishing float tubes. With four sturdy YKK zipped pockets, you’ll be a self-contained fishing machine. Weighing in at 11.5lbs, it is also easy to transport.
Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of the shape.
This float tube could be described as “U” shaped.
For slow-moving still waters, it would be great. Anything large, with a strong current, I’d look at something else. I prefer a pointed bow for better tracking, but this is down to personal preference.
Focusing on the good, this is one of the comfiest float tubes out there. The back is inflatable but is backed up by an adjustable strap system offering adjustability and less reliance on getting it ‘pumped up’ to the max.
At 225lbs, it also offers a great carrying capacity.
- Good looking camo finish.
- Strong zips with plenty of storage.
- Amazingly comfy.
- The shape makes it more hydrodynamic, and it would be perfect.
If you fish small, relatively calm venues, this is an ideal float tube. You’ll be comfy and can fit everything you need for a day’s fishing. The shape shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Just be aware that the more premium models will be easier to steer and paddle to your chosen spot.
Caddis Premier Plus II Float Tube
If you are looking for the best float tube for fly fishing, you will need one thing above all else.
Casting a fly rod requires decent arm clearance, so you’ll want to sit higher up on the water.
This float tube will enable you to do exactly that. The inflatable seat raises you a little higher in the water and keeps your casting arm free of the tube.
As with my other suggestion by Caddis, you’ll get plenty of storage and high-quality valves, making inflation and deflation easy.
The stripping apron at the front is also really useful when fly fishing. It forms an ideal place to store than line as you pull in your catch, without the potential for snags.
The yellow color won’t be for everyone, but my friends who’ve used this don’t seem to suffer degradation in catch rate, so it’s all good.
- Great shape makes for effortless tracking.
- Higher than average seating position.
- Huge storage capacity.
- Amazing load-carrying capability (325lbs).
- Bright yellow might not be the color for you.
- The dreaded fly patch is a good idea and a bad idea at the same time.
Fly fishermen will love this float tube. It’s pretty much purpose-built for them. One other angler will really benefit from this tube. If you are ‘big and tall,’ then the increased carrying capability means you don’t have to compromise on gear to avoid overloading it.
Outcast Fish Cat 5 Max Float Tube
Look, I get it.
You are looking for a fishing float tube that is rock solid and a little larger.
Here it is.
The Fish Cat 5 is purpose-built for the larger angler. With a carrying capability of 300lbs, it will accommodate even the biggest fisherman. Carrying capacity aside, it is also 20% larger in dimensions.
Granted, this comes at the cost of transport weight, but it’s a trade-off, and I think it is worth it.
I love the foam backrest and seat. They offer comfort and stability, which you will need if you are a bigger person.
Again, this float tube features dual Boston-style valves and is constructed from a heavy denier fabric, meaning you don’t need to worry about punctures. I really liked how fast this thing inflates. It’ll go from empty to full in about a minute!
- Huge carrying capacity.
- Quick inflation.
- Comfortable and sturdy seat.
- Slightly heavier to carry (14lbs).
- I’m not a fan of the orange pockets.
For bigger framed anglers, you don’t want to swamp the tube. Instead of cutting down on gear, go up in size. This float tube is ideal for heavier anglers. With its increased footprint, it is the roomiest on my list!
Classic Accessories Teton Fishing Float Tube
Looking for the best budget fishing float tube?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
Is it as good as the others on my list?
To be honest, probably not. However, it is a worthy contender when discussing bang for your buck.
You’ll find basic features aplenty. It is durable, has good storage, can carry 250lbs, and is pretty comfortable sitting in.
Coincidentally, it also happens to be the lightest on my list.
Look, you get what you pay for.
The backrest isn’t adjustable and is very much one size fits all. While described as ‘hydrodynamic’, the shape isn’t quite as ‘sculpted’ as I would like.
Would I choose this as the first float tube for fishing? Maybe I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it or wanted a spare for a buddy.
Would it be my ‘forever’ tube?
However, don’t let the negatives put you off entirely. It will serve a purpose and allow you to find an affordable and workable way to get into float tube fishing on a budget.
- Great value.
- Strong puncture-proof fabric.
- Ample storage.
- Carrying handles for easy transport.
- Great carrying capability.
- Very lightweight.
- The shape is a little ‘meh’.
- The backrest isn’t adjustable.
I’ve spent more on bait and flies for a single session than this tube would cost. I’d consider this the best purchase if you want to try float tubing without investing too heavily. It will do the job well without breaking the bank. Budget anglers need to look no further.
Fishing Float Tube FAQ
Float tubing isn’t new, but anglers seem a little slow on the uptake. Often it’s because of uncertainty. Here are the most commonly asked questions with detailed answers about fishing float tubes.
How do you fish in a float tube?
Now, I could go into detail writing a guide… But the best way to learn things is visually.
Here is a neat little video showing you what it is all about. It will take you less than ten minutes and you’ll be good to go.
How do you inflate a fishing float tube?
Generally, there are three ways to inflate a fishing float tube. In order of convenience, you can use:
- An electric pump.
- A foot or hand-driven pump.
- Inflate the tube manually by blowing into it.
Electric pumps are great but can also be bulky, and you’ll need a power source. The easiest and most practical way when fishing is to take a hand or foot pump. You can connect this pump to the inlet valve before inflating. What you lose in time, you’ll save in weight and flexibility.
Here’s a quick video on how to do it (provided by Caddis, whose tubes you can see above):
Are fishing float tubes safe?
Float tubes are safe, provided you follow a few basic rules. Good quality tubes are actually very hard to puncture and don’t tend to fail rapidly, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to get to shore. Look for dual bladders for ultimate confidence.
Here are some safety tips for float tube fishing:
- Familiarize yourself in shallow water with how to maneuver and manipulate the tube.
- Never float tube fish in areas where the water’s current or depth will exceed your ability.
- Avoid using a damaged or leaking float tube.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- Be careful using sharp objects like fishing scissors and fishing knives around your tube.
- Wear a life vest always.
- Keep a fully charged phone in a waterproof bag.
- If possible, fish with a buddy.
- Dress warmly. Even on hot days, the water can be very cold.
Are float tubes heavy?
Float tubes are not inherently heavy. Unladen, they will weigh somewhere in the region of 5 – 10lbs. This is around the average weight of a fishing bag. With gear, you should expect your float tube to weigh around 15- 20lbs. Try and keep it light for an optimized fishing experience.
My general rule is the lighter, the better. All of the float tubes on the above list are in the optimal range.
Do I need to wear waders in a float tube?
It is a good idea to wear fishing waders in a float tube. Your legs and feet will be in the water, and even mild temperatures can let the cold seep in. By keeping your legs insulated and dry, you’ll be able to enjoy a full day of fishing without feeling cold.
If you want to know what to wear underneath waders, I’ve got a great guide right here.
How do you steer a float tube?
A float tube is steered by paddling with your feet. Many float tubes will come with flippers included. You actually face backward to the direction you are traveling.
Once you reach the area where you intend to fish, you can stop paddling and allow the tube to ‘drift’ in a given direction with only minor corrections required.
What’s the difference between a float tube and a belly boat?
In general, float tubes and belly boats look very similar. But there are distinct differences.
Here’s a quick list of the main ways that they vary:
- Belly boats are rowed with oars, and float tubes are maneuvered with your feet.
- Belly boats are bigger than float tubes.
- Belly boats are supported by frames, float tubes are a monocoque structure, and their external body is the frame.
- Float tubes for fishing are much lighter than belly boats, making them more portable.
- Belly boats will often feature a rigid shelf in front of the seat.
- Belly boats are shaped slightly differently than float tubes. Often they are made of two pontoons instead of a single ‘U’ shaped bladder.
- Float tubes are normally manually ‘foot driven’. Belly boats allow for a lightweight motor to be attached.
How do you store float tubes?
No, I’m being serious. A rupture or weakness bursting at the wrong moment could spell trouble. The best way to store a float tube is partially deflated, dried, and at ambient temperature.
Extremes of hot or cold can cause degradation of the rubber. Likewise, by fully deflating your float tube you may find that over the winter creases become cracks. If you simply haven’t got the space, this video will show you how to roll and pack your float tube.
The Best Fishing Float Tubes – Final Thoughts
There are a few simple things I look for when choosing what I consider to be the best float tube for fishing.
Comfort, capacity, and cargo.
If those three general boxes are ticked, I’m good to go. Extras are nice, but you can get out on the water for not much at all. My above list of the best fishing float tubes proves it.
Which is your favorite, and have you tried any of them? Why not let me know your thoughts in the comments below?