best float tubes for fly fishing

Best Float Tube for Fly Fishing

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Lily fields, drop-offs, reed belts, overhanging branches and bushes make great hunting grounds for trout. However, since these areas are difficult to access, most anglers settle for the areas that are easily reached by casting from the shore. 

I recently picked up a float tube for fly fishing which opened up a number of areas that I couldn’t have accessed before. As float tubes are much smaller than other boats they can easily stash it into a trunk and allow you to catch much more fish! 

The price is another major advantage. They don’t break the bank with a lower price than other watercraft options, look at the prices below: 

Image Product Details  
flyfisherpro-table__imageBest OptionCumberland Float Tube
  • Max Weight 350lbs
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Abrasion-resistant PVC
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flyfisherpro-table__imageOutcast Fishcat 4-LCS
  • Max Weight 250lbs
  • Includes repair kit
  • Stripping apron
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flyfisherpro-table__imageCaddis Premier Plus II
  • Max Weight 325lb
  • Easy To Get Into
  • Extra cargo storage
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best fishing float tube

Best Fishing Float Tube (The Reviews)

Cumberland Float Tube

Classic Accessories Cumberland Inflatable Fishing Float Tube

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The Good

  • Great value for the price range
  • Adjustable backrest
  • Ample storage space
  • Portable design – straps to your back like a backpack
  • Rod holder and drinks holder included

The Bad

  • The upper part is prone to punctures
  • The carrying straps may be a little further apart for small-bodied fishers

The Cumberland float tube stands out from other float tubes for sale produced by Classic Accessories. One float tube review cited that it accommodates professional and casual anglers, which makes the Cumberland float boat even more appealing for this price point. 

The Cumberland float tube provides a mix of practicality, performance and heavy-duty design. Its seat is high and thick, letting you cast the reel afar. The backrest is adjustable and comfortable, but the connection between the tube and the seat is a little fragile, so you want to avoid fine-tuning it too many times. 

This tube has a capacity of 350 pounds in weight, which is an 100-pound improvement from the LCS fly fishing tube we reviewed earlier. The bottom is layered with rugged PVC but not the top to maintain the lightweight, manageable form. However, this feature also makes it prone to punctures to the hull if the angler bumps into gravel or dorsal fins. 

The tube has ample storage and pockets for all your fishing equipment. There are two cargo storage pockets that have an easy to handle double zipper, two-rod holders and two drink holders. The tube also features a backpack design that allows anglers to carry it more conveniently using its adjustable shoulder straps. 

The heavy-duty design is a good indicator of its durable nature. It also features a hydrodynamic design that allows a smooth and quiet movement around the water. Float tube review opinions for the device are overwhelmingly positive with more than 90% of the reviewers giving a 4/5 rating. Most float tube reviews pointed out its lightweight and portable design, ability to manoeuvre the water easily as the common accolades for this float tube. The price is affordable and fair, making floating much more accessible for any angler.

Outcast Fishcat

Outcast Fish Cat 4-LCS Float Tube

The Good

  • Reliable
  • High-quality build
  • Adequate storage
  • Made by a reputable company

The Bad

  • Expensive
  • Does not have rod holders

Outcast is a renowned producer of a vast line of high-quality water sports gear – from large fishing rafts to personal float tubes. That’s why we picked the Outcast Fishcat 4-LCS as the best fishing float tube. It retains the manufacturer’s characteristic firm build and stable platform for casting, with spacious pockets for storage. The maxiumum load capacity is 250 lbs weight.

According to most fishing float tubes reviews, this fly fishing float tube performs exceptionally well. It features a hydrodynamic design that allows users to wade through water with minimal effort and comes with a thick foam seat fitted with an adjustable foam backrest for comfort. 

Users have the option of removing the foam seat for an inflatable seat. I found the foam seat more comfortable than the inflatable seat, especially when sitting for a long time, owing to the higher ride on the water that it provides. 

The pontoons are rugged and puncture-resistant [1] thanks to the renowned air chamber manufacturer, Aire. Aire has a reputation for making high-quality inflatable watercraft. The producer uses vinyl for the AIREcell material and the fabric denier x material, which weighs 500 pvc/30 oz. 

It has spacious cargo storage pockets for all your gear, with centred zippers fitted on top of each pontoon. However, back straps and a seat back mesh pouch are purchased separately as they are not included in the float tube package. The Outcast Fishcat 4-LCS weighs 250 pound, which is pretty light compared to other float tubes.

Caddis Premier Plus II Float Tube

Caddis Premier Plus II Float Tube

The Good

  • Comfortable and practical
  • Sturdy build and durable material
  • Adequate storage
  • Offers great value for money
  • Low price
  • Nylon outer fabric for extra strength

The Bad

  • Setting up the tubes for the first time can be challenging

Unlike your regular float tube, Caddis Float Tube product features a relatively low set up. Its shape resembles that of a Pontoon, which is pivotal in its exceptional performance and stability. This unique contour adds the overall strength of the floating tube. Most fishing float tubes reviews stated that the Caddis float boat offered the best value for their money. 

The foam seat and backrest not only enhance the angler’s comfort when wading through the water but also convenience and practicality. The outer shell of the seat has a nylon fabric that improves strength and the angler’s ability to withstand the continuously flowing water. The shell features a double stitch that ensures it lasts long. The Caddis Premier Plus has a capacity of 250 lbs of weight.

Its storage is pretty impressive, with a lot of space available. There are two spacious storage compartments, auxiliary pockets, and D-rings that make it easy to store and access your fishing gear and equipment. An additional storage pocket is fitted behind the seat, where you can stash some extra waterproof items. 

The Caddis Premier Plus II Float Tube comes equipped with a padded stabiliser bar that enhances safety and supports the working apron. Its removable fly patch helps improve the utility feature of this floating tube.

Teton Inflatable Float Tube

Classic Accessories Teton Inflatable Fishing Float Tube

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The Good

  • Lots of storage space
  • Pretty affordable
  • Fitted with backpack straps, making it easier to carry for long distances

The Bad

  • Heavier anglers may get a little wet
  • The bottom is not reinforced, making it prone to punctures

This budget-friendly float tube makes a great model for anglers who just began fly fishing. It weighs 250 pounds when inflated and only 16 pounds when packed, making it easy to stash into your vehicle. The device features a hull shape that makes it easy to steer and provides a stress-free floating experience. 

This shape also ensures it wades in a straight line. The seat is made of mesh fabric and has an adjustable backrest, which is not padded. You may feel a little lower when sitting on this float tube as you will be submerged from the waist downwards. The capacity on this model is pretty standard, up to the weight of 250 lbs.

The float tube features a clutter-free design that includes three storage areas. Its large pocket is fitted at the back, and the other two storage areas are attached to the armrest. The armrest storage pockets have a lot of mini-pockets to help you organise all the fishing gear conveniently. You can also use the D-rings to attach extra items like a net or stringer. This float tube has backpack straps, allowing you to comfortably carry it to the water.

The fishing rod holder has a horizontal outline and a stripping apron that has an accurate ruler fitted. I found Velcro patches particularly useful as I could easily measure the length of the game.

Bighorn Inflatable Fishing Float Tube

Classic Accessories Bighorn Inflatable Fishing Float Tube

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The Good

  • Many storage compartments and mesh pockets
  • Has a safety flag pocket
  • Comfortable backrest and seat
  • The hydrodynamic design improves stability
  • Generous load capacity

The Bad

  • When the seat gets wet, it becomes very slippery

This fly fishing float tube has a capacity of 300 pounds, making it perfect for heavier anglers. It has a rear storage compartment, which when combined with the exterior mesh storage pocket, provides a lot of space for storing fishing gear, drinks and snacks.

It features a hydrodynamic design that enhances tracking, buoyancy and stability when wading through the water. What’s more, its inflatable seat area and large inflatable backrest offer adequate support if you are staying in the water for several hours. 

It has several D-rings, and you can fit additional D-rings to allow you to attach other gear and creel bags. It has a quick-release stripping apron, orange rear visibility panel and safety flag pocket to keep you safe and visible when fishing. The Bighorn Inflatable is a fantastic mini pontoon boat with generous load capacity, suitable for weight up to 300 lbs.

Why Fishing Float Tubes are Popular

The first apparent reasons include the high cost of hiring or purchasing a boat, the need to acquire a boat license and consistent dependence on slip ramps, to name a few. Another reason that makes float tubes so popular for fishing and water sports is that they are designed for portability and affordability.  It is relatively cheap to purchase a float tube than a boat, and you can easily carry it from your car to the water. 

While even the best float tube will not afford you a dry experience when casting the reel, a few fly fishing disciplines will give you an intense experience just as pike fly fishing [2] from a belly boat. Some anglers say that fly fishing using a float tube heightens their senses. 

The technical progress of these inflatable tubes has also contributed to its growing popularity. Before the introduction of new float tubes, we used round-shaped float tubes without a comfortable seating area that left us hanging in the water. 

In stark contrast, modern models are designed with V-shapes and have floating seats and comfortable backrests that enhance comfort and manoeuvrability above the water for easier casting. Also, the best float tube models incorporate inflatable air cells to improve the safety of the fisher. 

Float tube fishing offers a range of possibilities. First, ideal belly boat fishing spots like plateaus, the open water and harbours become accessible. Secondly, float tubes are not regarded as dangerous by fish, which minimises the chances of spooking fish. So, you are more likely to enjoy a productive fishing session. 

What to look for in a Float Tube?

For years, I was addicted to belly boat fishing. Thanks to float tubes, I barely use my belly boat for fly fishing. When I began my quest for looking for a suitable float tube, only a few manufacturers offered high-quality ones. 

Today, however, many fishing gear producers are venturing into the business, and first-time anglers can get overwhelmed. Here are the main factors I found useful when I was buying my first float tube.

Safety

Some float tubes are rumoured to flip over when the angler leans too much in one direction. The fisher can get trapped and drown if the float tube does not have a quick release for the stripping tray. To avoid this, buy a larger tube; it offers more stability than a small tube. Also, check various float tube reviews to see what previous users have to say. 

You also want to avoid using V-boats, doughnuts and U boats when fishing in large water bodies where the weather changes unexpectedly. Pontoon boats are designed to hold up much better, as they have a small sneaker motor that allows you to row. 

Shape: Round vs Pontoon Float Tubes

The first float tubes for sale had a round shape that resembled an inflatable doughnut. These kinds were difficult to manoeuvre and lacked hydrodynamics. They created significant drag and required the angler to kick them to move. The introduction of pontoon style boats overcame these shortcomings as they were easier to steer and had more useful features. 

Build

Buying a float tube is an expensive venture, so you want to buy a tube that will last long. When looking at the build, inspect the quality of the hull stitching; double stitches are firmer than single stitches. You also need to look at the thickness of the hull fabric used to coat the tube. It should be thick enough to withstand abrasions from thorns, rocks and the ground.  

Stripping Apron

The tube should have a place where you can pile the line when pulling a fish or casting. This is because the coils on the line should remain organised for easy casting or where a fish suddenly takes off, causing the line to tangle. As such, it is essential to look for some stripping apron when buying the tube. 

Pontoon-style float boats have a different design compared to regular float boats. Remember that no matter how good the stripping apron is, you may get in trouble with the coils on the line if you don’t streamline the upper surfaces. 

Weight

Most float tubes are lightweight for easy transportation to get to the water. Larger tubes are easy to pack but are bulky and with more weight to carry if you have to go for a long hike before reaching the river or stream. So it’s best to check the weight of the float tube before buying, and go for the lowest weight option available.

You should also double-check the capacity of your chosen float tube before you purchase. Most tubes can hold up to 250 lbs, although some may hold more (or less).

Adjustable Backrest

The tube should have a well-padded and adjustable backrest to enhance comfort during long fishing days. 

Storage

You want enough space to stash all your fishing gear while you’re on the water, so plenty of pockets is essential. The more pockets and storage compartments, the better. You can get pockets along the side and in the rear area of the float tube on some models. D-rings are also a handy addition to attach and hold your equipment safe during your fishing trip.

Some models have mesh pockets, making it easy to locate your items with a glance, and some float tubes even have a rod holder to keep your rod safe and handy at all times.

Price

You need to go for a float tube that has a price which falls into your budget. There are a range of price options, just don’t go for the cheapest float tube on the market. The price may be low, but it won’t be as durable. Don’t forget to factor buying fins into your budget too.

Wrap Up

I hope you have gained a lot of useful insight into how to search for the best fly fishing float tube and select the right model for your needs. 

Safety comes first, so you want a tube that keeps you safe; the stripping apron comes in handy, but you also want to look at the size of the tube. Taller anglers should choose a large float tube for additional stability. 

A pontoon-style float tube like the Caddis float tube is excellent if you are all about safety and stability. You also want to consider weight especially if you are hiking a long distance. Float tubes are readily available on Amazon and in sports stores.

If you’re looking for other fly fishing watercraft and gear we also recommend you check out fishing kayaks, fish finders for kayaks and pontoon boats.

Outcast Fishcat 4-LCS
Outcast Fish Cat 4 LCS – Olive – Float Tube

References

[1] http://stevedobsonsfishermansblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/float-tube-repair-and-maintenance.html

[2] https://1source.basspro.com/index.php/component/k2/67-fly-fishing/2924-14-quick-tips-for-float-tube-fly-fishing

About The Author

1 thought on “Best Float Tube for Fly Fishing”

  1. To me , you left out the most important facet of the boats: the inflation valves. I just returned a cumberland boat as one of the bladders leaked on its second use. The Classic line of pontoon boats have very good valves and i was disappointed the belly boat did not have the same valves.

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