A common question I get asked is whether or not you can pull an inner tube behind a pontoon boat?
Yes, you can, but there are some things you will need to carefully consider.
What it boils down to is a number of factors:
- The horsepower of your pontoon boat
- How much weight is in the boat already?
- How many passengers are on-board?
- How big is the boat?
- How much the person in the inner tube weighs?
- And whether you want a really good tube ride!
In simple terms, you can pull a tube behind any boat as long as it has enough power to pull you along and at a safe speed.
When you apply that to the majority of pontoon boats, many of them don’t have massive horsepower, and if tubing, chances are there are going to be other people in the boat, weighing it down, and slowing it up.
When you then put that all together, and you might not get the type of results you are looking for.
For example, I’ve known people who had a 45-horsepower pontoon that struggled to pull an inner tube behind when the whole family was on deck watching. Once it was just the tuber and the driver, it worked out ok. It wasn’t fast but worked… just about.
Handy Hint: Be aware though, you are required by law to have a safety watcher when pulling an inner tube behind a pontoon boat – read more about the law later down the page though.
Generally speaking, a lot of the time it will be down to testing out what’s working.
How Much Horsepower Will You Need to Pull a Tube Behind a Pontoon?
Previously I’ve blogged about water skiing behind pontoons, and a lot of the logic is exactly the same, with one key difference really; inflatable tubing takes less power and speed. But you still might struggle with a low horsepower pontoon motor.
Most pontoon boats are not ideal for tubing if you want a thrill ride. If your boat has a top speed of 20 miles per hour, then, yes, you will be able to pull the inner tube. But will it be a white knuckle fun ride at that speed? Certainly not if you ask me, but then I like roller coasters!
But for the majority of people, pontoon tubing can be really enjoyable once you hits speeds of around 16mph. Admittedly it can be a bit more difficult to get the speed experience just right in a pontoon boat, but once you get there it’s great fun all the way… and for kids and teenagers especially.
As a general rule of thumb though, the more horsepower and speed you have, the better results you are going to get when pulling an inner tube. Here are some typical horsepower levels with my own views on each one.
- Most modern pontoon boat motors that are 60hp or larger should have ample enough power to pull people behind a 22-foot pontoon on an inner tube at a basic level.
- When you scale up to a 90hp pontoon boat, things are going to be much better from a performance and fun perspective when inflatable tubing behind.
- And then, the larger motors at 115hp; you should be able to get 5 people on the boat deck and still be able to pull the inner tube behind at very acceptable speeds.
Sounds Fun – Here’s What it Looks Like
Check out this video from YouTube of some great tubing action from behind a pontoon boat.
In the video above, it’s an 8ft boat with a 1973 Johnson 115hp motor.
Buy as Much Horsepower As You Can Afford
If tubing is important to you, then try to buy a pontoon which as much horsepower in the engine as you can. Not only will the engine last longer, but it won’t have to work as hard when loaded down with everything you are going to want to take on your day out.
If you are going to be towable tubing all day and for prolonged periods of time, then it will probably pay to also unload as much as you can from the pontoon and reduce the number of passengers you are taking out with you.
But let’s be brutally honest.
Inflatable tubing is much more fun if you are being pulled by a wake boarding boat, due to the wake that it will produce.
But, for some fun on the water with your family, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t pull an inner tube behind your pontoon and have great fun whilst you are doing it.
What About the Law Regards Pontoon Boat Tubing?
My last piece of advice would be with regards to rules and regulations around inflatables and tubing with pontoon boats. It’s not illegal, and you won’t be breaking the law by doing it. But there will be laws you need to stick to.
These can differ from state to state, so make sure that you adhere to the law in the area you are in when doing so, as it might be different to another state.
If you are unsure about how pontoon boat regulations differ around the United States, then please read this guide which give details on every state around the country.
Earlier on the page I mentioned how having a pontoon boat with just the driver and tuber will achieve the best results.
Whist this is true, you could be breaking the law.
In most states you are required by law to have someone watching the tube rider, and I’ve witnessed wardens and sheriffs pull over pontooners when this clearly hasn’t been the case.
One example that sticks in my mind was when a couple I know took my wife and I out on their pontoon boat. After a couple of hours, they dropped my wife and I off at a bar at the waterside, then the lady got into an inner tube, and her husband started pulling her around the lake as fast as he could.
About 20 minutes later I saw them coming back into dock on a rope, all courtesy of the local sheriff. They were fined for not have a safety observer.
So please, be careful and stick to the rules and local regulations and always know how much your pontoon boat weighs, and what it can handle.
What Tubes Are Best for Pontoons?
I’ve put together lot of information about the best inflatable tubes. You might be interested in the following guidance: