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Many fishermen appreciate the simple beauty of a fishing float tube but these boats aren’t for everyone, especially in a fast-paced society that values instant gratification.

Don’t attempt to fish from a float tube unless you value relaxation in combination with rarely-fished waters where exploration and adventure await.

Where Will You Be Fishing?

Fishing float tubes are best used in calm water with little to no current. These boats are often superior for fishing hard-to-reach waters or those inaccessible to motorized boats.

A fishing float tube may be right for you if you’re fishing in…

Lakes and Ponds

Small lakes, ponds, and protected inlets of larger lakes are ideal for float tubes.

Large lakes are far from ideal. The waves, the wake from powerboats, and the windy conditions of many larger lakes make float tube use downright dangerous.

If you fish a larger lake in a tube stay close to the shoreline for safety. You can get off the lake faster if dangers arise and you’ll be out of the way of boat traffic.

If you’re going out on a larger lake, inflatable kayaks, hardshell kayaks, canoes, and pontoon boats are much safer fishing boats for paddlers.

Rivers and Streams

I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. Reports of people drowning in the Mississippi River were commonplace. Currents and whirlpools in larger rivers are extremely dangerous. Other rivers have rapids, strainers, waterfalls, and dams to contend with. Fishing float tubes should never be used on larger rivers.

It is possible to use fishing float tubes on lazy rivers and streams. Plan your put-in and take-out spots ahead of time. You aren’t likely to be able to paddle back upstream to your put-in. Way too exhausting!

Inflatable kayaks, hardshell kayaks, canoes, and pontoon boats are much safer paddling options for fishermen on rivers though I’m always apprehensive about paddling in the open channels of any major waterway. I don’t recommend it.

Fly fisherman on a fishing float tube with his catch, large trout fish (Brook Trout hybrid with Lake Trout, called Splake)

Remote Backwaters

Fishing float tubes are perfect for exploratory fishing in remote backwaters that can’t be reached by most boats. These lightweight boats come with or can be outfitted with backpack straps for comfortably packing your tube to the put-in.

Alternatively, you could pack in a small pontoon boat or inflatable kayak if additional weight isn’t a bother. If your budget only allows for the purchase of one boat, a kayak or pontoon will often provide greater versatility.

Boat Expense

Are you on a budget? Maybe you don’t want to be out the purchase expense and maintenance of a “real boat” but want a high-quality durable boat?

Fishing float tubes are about the least expensive route for getting on the water. The required and desired float tube accessories aren’t that expensive either.

Want boat options? Maybe you have a bass boat, kayak, canoe, or other? Looking for another fun boat? Fishing float tubes are worth the look!

Storage Space

Do you lack storage space for a boat? Whether you live in a studio apartment or your garage is full of stuff. Float tubes just like inflatable kayaks take up very little space. Just deflate, fold and slip it under your bed or in a closet.


Fishing float tubes are extremely fun and inexpensive boats best used on calm water close to your put-in and fishing spot. They aren’t good for covering many locations in a day. A hardshell or inflatable fishing kayak would be better for greater coverage.

After you buy a fishing float tube or if you want more information, be sure to check out our float tube fishing tips as well as the safety guide. Oh! And don’t forget to look over all those float tube accessories you’ll dream of bringing along.

Where to Purchase a Fishing Float Tube

The following online outfitters have the greatest selection, prices, and reputation for selling quality boats:

Fly fisherman in a fishing float tube on a remote lake in the mountains on a Fall day. Graphic says... Fishing Float Tube. Is This Boat Right For You?
Steve Hood

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