I was talking with a few of my outdoor-enthusiast friends last week and the topic of float tube fishing came up. One of the guys at the table hadn’t heard of it and wanted to know more. Based on our conversation, I thought I’d compile a few of the things I told him into this short guide on “what is float tube fishing”.

Float tube fishing involves floating in a small inflatable watercraft whilst fishing called a float tube. Float tubes are small, portable, lightweight, and are also known as kick boats or belly boats. It’s like sitting in a floating arm chair, with your feet in the water.

Float tube fishing allows eager fishermen and anglers to get into secluded spots on the water to get into better areas, to then catch more fish – away from the crowds!

Aside from this approach to fishing being one of the most cost-effective options, it is also one of the more enjoyable outdoor pursuits I regularly take part in. I love it.

If you’re interested in it, then instead of splurging on a small boat or canoe for your next fishing trip, a float tube might be something worth considering.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about what float tube fishing is and how you can do it, too.

What does a float tube look like?

Here are some photos of what floating tube fishing looks like.

What Is Float Tube Fishing

This is what a float tube looks like when fishing. Image copyright: https://commons.wikimedia.org

Float tube fishing overview

  • Sitting in a float tube on water
  • Usually lakes/calm bodies of water
  • Feet are in water, used to paddle
  • Fisher/angler wears life jacket and swimming fins

Float tube fishing involves sitting in a c-shaped flotation device and using your feet to paddle while fishing in a body of water. The float tube fisher will usually be wearing a life jacket and some fins for swimming on their feet to help propel their tube faster along the water.

The act of float tube fishing is most commonly done in lakes and other calm bodies of water where the fishers can float by on a flat surface.

The float tube almost takes the shape of a small arm chair, with a designated seating area and a supportive back wrapping around the sides.

While it takes the shape of an arm chair, the fisher’s feet are dangling down into the water, which is what they use to move around. They will also cast their fishing line down below their feet and reel their catches in to the float tube with them.

Advantages of float tube fishing

  • Can get into tough spots
  • Cost-effective

One of the advantages of float tube fishing is that you are able to get into the tough spots of the water that the other fishers cannot reach. In your float tube, you will be able to go out towards the middle of the lake and drift off as far as you would like to.

Similar to a small boat, canoe, or kayak, you will be floating on the surface of the water, which is virtually as close as you can get to the fish that you are trying to catch.

The only difference between a float tube and those alternatives I just referenced is that float tube fishing is much more cost-effective than buying expensive kayaks or a small fishing boat.

Instead of splurging hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on an expensive canoe, you can opt for the simple float tube instead.

The equipment that you need for this activity is very minimal, and none of it will make too much of a dent in your wallet, especially if you are able to find the right deal.

In the next section, we will be going over what exactly is needed for float tube fishing when it comes to essential equipment.

What do you need for float tube fishing?

Whenever you are planning to go float tube fishing, there is certain equipment that you must bring along for a successful trip.

You will find in the lists below some requirements, which include the necessary items for float tube fishing, and an optional list with some additional items that you might choose to bring with you.

Requirements list: 

  • Life jacket/personal flotation device
  • Float tube
  • Waders
  • Fins
  • Basic fishing equipment (line, pole, bait, etc.)
  • Personal items (water bottle, sunscreen, first aid kit, etc.)

First and foremost, you will need to bring some kind of life jacket or personal flotation device with you on the water. When it comes to fishing or any kind of outdoor sport, safety always comes first.

Additionally, it is also required by law that you come equipped with anything that you might need as far as safety.

Whether you choose to have it strapped onto your chest or to the side of you, the personal floatation device must always be present in the watercraft with you during this activity.

You will also, obviously, need your float tube in order to go float tube fishing. These can be found at almost any outdoor supplies store or online for relatively cheap.

Aside from your life jacket and float tube, you will need waders, which will keep you dry and feeling nice and warm when you are out on the water. You will be protected with these if the cold water splashes you or you happen to fall in briefly.

The fins are helpful when you are trying to move the boat around. Even if you are a very strong swimmer, you will still need these to help you along the way for an easier ride.

The basic fishing equipment that you will need can really be anything that you would use on a regular fishing trip.

Even though the float tube is smaller than what you are probably used to for a fishing trip, there is no need to go out and purchase smaller gear that you feel would fit better for this type of outing.

Of course, if you do not already have fishing equipment, you will need to purchase some before you are able to go float tube fishing.

Lastly, you will need some personal items that you would bring on any outdoor trip. These essentials include water bottles sunscreen, a first aid kit, and more.

Optional list:

  • Rod holders
  • Backup waders
  • Backup fins
  • Wader pants and boots
  • Wool socks
  • Puncture kit for tube

Now that I’ve covered the absolute essentials, there are a few more items that you can choose to bring along with you in order to make the trip comfortable and a little more safe.

For your fishing rods, you can use a rod holder to keep them in place while you are paddling or just enjoying the water.

Just in case something was to happen to your waders or fins, it is a good idea to have a backup pair of each one so you can change if ever needed.

The wader pants and boots are optional as well. This type of equipment would be ideal if you are planning to wade in the water at all during your trip. If you plan to stay on your float tube, however, just the waders and fins will do.

The wool socks will be helpful to keep your feet extra warm during your adventure, especially if you are going out onto the water during the colder months.

A puncture kit for the tube will come in handy in case of any accidents with your float tube, because if your tube pops, you won’t really be able to call it float tube fishing. You can see which inflatable repair kit I recommend.

This is just a sample list of optional items that you can bring.

There are so many more pieces of equipment and gear that you might think to bring on your own trip such as camera mounts or a fish finder.

As long as you have the basic essentials with you, there is no limit to what else you can bring on your float tube fishing trip.

Related questions

Here are some other things my friend asked when I explained to him what float tube fishing was.

How much does it cost to get everything I will need for a float tube fishing trip?

Although there is a decently-long list of essential items that are needed for float tube fishing as mentioned earlier, you can actually purchase everything that you need for around $200. This equipment can also be found grouped together in sets for a deal even lower than that price. Any additional gear will also incur an additional cost.

What is the best float tube to buy?

With so many great float tubes available for purchase on the market, it can get overwhelming to make the final decision of which one you are going to use on your own trip. Some of the best tubes for this purpose include the Bighorn Inflatable Fishing Float Tube, Fish Cat 4- LCS Float Tube, and the Caddis Sports Navigator II Float Tube.

Can I take my children float tube fishing with me?

When it comes to float tube fishing, everyone can participate, including children. All you will need to do is find a smaller float tube that is closest to their size and equip them with the proper gear before going out onto the water!

The last word…

In conclusion, float tube fishing is a fun and inexpensive activity that anyone can participate in. Contrary to more traditional, and costly, ways of getting closer to the water, you can get everything you will need for float tube fishing at a very low price.

With the proper safety equipment and a good, durable float tube, you will be on your way to catching lots of fish in no time!