April 8, 2016

Best Float Tubes Review

Best Float Tubes Review

How can a float tube help you catch big bass?

Float tubes (see below for a description) CAN help you to catch big bass in 3 ways:Best Float Tubes Review

  • Stealth: The low profile of the tube and tuber (you!), combined with the quiet nature of tubing (no hard surfaces to bang against) allow you to get closer to your target bass.
  • Cost: Though float tube prices can range from under $100 to nearly $1,000 (yikes!), they are still a lot less than most boats. And you can get a quality tube for between $150 to $250.
  • Portability: Float tubes are light, and can easily be packed in a duffle bag or backpack. My U-Tube had D-rings I could hook straps to and carry easily on my back!

So I thought I’d share with you me Best Float Tubes Review.

How does a float tube work?

A float tube has one or more inflatable chambers, or bladders. These are covered in nylon or some other material to create a protective covering. Attached to the bladders is a seat. You sit on the seat with your feet hanging down into the water. You propel yourself backwards by pumping your feet, which have swim fins, or flippers, attached to them.

What if the tube springs a leak?

With today’s materials, it is rare that a tube chamber will fail due to a manufacturing defect. But of course it is entirely possible to puncture the tube. Of course you ARE using sharp fish hooks, but the protective covering should help to keep that from happening. Still, leaks can happen.

round float tubeIf it’s a slow leak, simply head to shore and, if you have materials to attempt a repair, search for the leak and try to stop it. I have even had a leak so slow I would fish for a couple of hours, then move toward shore, blow up the tube, and get back out.

If the tube leak is severe, try to get out of the water before the tube gets too low. If you cannot, most tubes have more than one bladder, or have some type of floatation piece as the seat or other parts of the tube. Use those to support you as you continue to swim to shore. Then you can decide to either try to repair the leak then, or take it home for closer inspection. Often you can purchase replacement tubes if the leak is unfixable.

If the water you’re on is large or rough or both, it makes sense to wear a PFD: aka, personal floatation device, life vest, or life preserver.

Is float tubing safe?

Long story short, yes. In normal conditions, there is very little risk of flipping your tube. But as you will know if you read my previous post on float tubes, “How To Catch Big Bass WITHOUT A Boat,” pontoon craft like mine do have a slightly higher risk of capsizing — the higher you are out of the water, the greater the risk. That said, I’ve only done that once, in very rough water, and because I quickly shifted my weight to catch my rod before it sunk! Here are a couple safety tips:

  • Don’t go float tubing alone.

I confess, I break this rule all the time! Still, it’s certainly safer with other people, even strangers, out on the water with you.

  • Avoid float tubing in rough weather.Rough waves

The wind and waves greatly contributed to my capsize experience. My Hobie Float Cat is generally very stable in all conditions, and a with a float tube you have an even lower center of gravity, but if you are worried or can’t swim well, avoid the rough weather tubing.

  • Wear bright colored clothing.

Think hunter orange. Make it easy to spot you if you are in the water.

  • Wear a life jacket (PFD – Personal Floatation Device).Inflatable PFD

If you’ve even fallen into the water with AND without a PFD, you’ll understand why WEARING a PFD gives you a tremendous advantage if you should fall into the drink.

There are Coast Guard approved inflatable vests which are comfortable to wear and don’t restrict your movements. Just be certain to check that the tank remains viable.

  • Don’t go too far from shore.

Stay close to dry land. That way, if the worst happens, you won’t have too far to go before you’re safe and sound.

  • Avoid strong currents.

OK, current can be very seductive. After all, thanks to the current, you can simply sit back, let the force be with you, and fish from your tube without expending any energy. So what’s the price? Going back!Current in water

I fished a river where my buddy and I had caught a lot of smallmouth bass with topwater lures. I drifted with the current and cast away. But when I tried to get back to my car, well, it was the struggle of my fishing life!

I rested my flippers on the front of the Hobie chassis, and used my oars, pulling as hard as I could. I barely seemed to move! I couldn’t get out, the shore was blocked with thick brush and brambles. So I struggled on. I pulled and pulled, and slowly made my way back to where I had put in. When I finally reached the little cove where I had put in, the current and wind were so strong, I barely made it in pulling on my oars and kicking with my flippers just as hard as I could. What a relief!

Moral: If there IS a current, start by going AGAINST the current, so you can drift back home!

Especially when starting out, be sure and follow these safety rules. As you become more comfortable and confident with your tubing, you’ll know when to push the limits. But remember, it’s better NOT to fish today if your safety is at risk!

What makes a good float tube?

Essentially, a great float tube meets these requirements:

  • It will support your weight, and the weight of your gear.
  • It has storage area for gear, food, and water.
  • It is easy to propel through the water.
  • It is simple to enter and exit.

5 Recommended Float Tubes

1. Caddis Sports Nevada Float Tube Caddis FT

Type: U-Tube
Weight capacity: 225 lbs.
Dimensions: 46 x 42 x 20 inches
Weight: Less than 10 lbs.
Covering: Heavy duty ripstop nylon, double-stitched on critical seams
D-Rings: Multiple attached to cover
Equipment pockets: 2 good sized
Apron: Nylon coated mesh with printed ruler to measure fish
Rod holder: Front
Entry: Remove stabilizer bar, sit, reattach bar
Safety: Fluorescent safety accents
Transport: Carry handle
List Price: $119.99 Buy for $73.99
Recommendation: 7 out of 10 Excellent entry tube!

This is the modern, updated version of the very first float tube I ever bought, way back when in the late 1990s. And I paid a LOT more for that tube!

It has a U-Tube bladder, making it easy to enter and exit by removing the stabilizer. You can then pull the U-Tube around you, sit down, replace the stabilizer, and go fishing! The back rest is an extra bladder, so if there’s a leak in the main chamber, you can still float to safety. The cover is sturdy and tough, I never had any issues with it. After years of heavy use, the bladder developed a very slow leak. I continued using the tube for years without even attempting to repair it. Rather than buy a replacement bladder, I bought a new float tube.

If you’re buying your first float tube, meet the weight requirements, and don’t want to spend a lot of money, this is an excellent first choice!

2 Togiac Pontoon Float Tube togiak pontoon ft

Type: V-Tube / Pontoon
Weight capacity: 300 lbs.
Dimensions: Not listed
Weight: 12-1/2 lbs.
Covering: Heavy duty ripstop nylon, double-stitched on critical seams
Seat: Comfortable high back stadium seat with adjustable backrest
D-Rings & Lash Tabs: Multiple attached to cover
Equipment pockets:roomy armrests with additional real, gear & small mesh pockets.
Apron: Nylon coated mesh with printed ruler to measure fish
Rod holder: Front
Entry: Remove stabilizer bar, sit, reattach bar
Safety: Hydrodynamic Hull offers excellent stability & tracking; 2 bladders; safety flag pocket
List Price: $199.99 Buy for $137.57
Recommendation: 8 out of 10 Excellent float tube!

My second float tube was similar to this model, though the seat and storage pockets were not as excellent, and I paid $350 for that tube! Attach pack straps to the D-Rings and wear the tube loaded with gear to your favorite tubing spot.

Very stable, maneuverable, and easy to use. Floats higher than the U-Tube above, and is easier to move through the water.

Shipped in the 48 contiguous states only; at this writing only 10 left in stock, but says “more on the way.” If you can score one of these pontoon float tubes, you will be very happy!

Caddis Sports Premier Plus Float Tube Caddis Sports Premier Plus FT

Type: V-Tube / Pontoon
Weight capacity: 325 lbs.
Dimensions: 23 x 24 x11 inches
Weight: Less than lbs.
Covering: Heavy duty ripstop nylon on top; heavy duty tarpaulin bottom & front ends; all critical seams double stitched
D-Rings & Lash Tabs: Multiple attached to cover
Equipment pockets: 2 large main equipment & w auxiliary pockets
Apron: Nylon coated mesh with printed ruler to measure fish
Rod holder: Front
Entry: Remove stabilizer bar, sit, reattach bar
Safety: Two bladders; 4 inch foam seat & 2 inch foam backrest; fluorescent safety accents behind seat, bright yellow color
List Price: $199.99 Buy for $171.37
Recommendation: 9 out of 10 It’s PREMIER for a reason!

If I buy another float tube (and I just might!), THIS is the one I’d get. For just a few dollars more than the first 2 options, this tube is more durable, more comfortable, and more fun!

It has a greater weight capacity (325 lbs.) for us “big BassHoles”! It will keep you higher up out of the water, and will skim across the top of the water.

Everything about this tube makes it “Premier,” just as the name says!

4 Caddis Sports Navigator II Float Tube <img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-522″ src=”http://catch-big-bass.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Caddis-Sports-Navigator-II-Float-Tube-300×259.jpg” alt=”Caddis Sports Navigator II Float Tube” width=”300″ height=”259″ srcset=”http://catch-big-bass.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Caddis-Sports-Navigator-II-Float-Tube-300×259.jpg 300w, http://catch-big-bass.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Caddis-Sports-Navigator-II-Float-Tube-768×662.jpg 768w, http://catch-big-bass viagra telefonisch bestellen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Caddis-Sports-Navigator-II-Float-Tube-1024×883.jpg 1024w, http://catch-big-bass.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Caddis-Sports-Navigator-II-Float-Tube-660×569.jpg 660w, https://mlmxdzgbpyld.i.optimole.com/miY_B74-pB5mu23s/w:auto/h:auto/q:auto/http://catch-big-bass.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Caddis-Sports-Navigator-II-Float-Tube.jpg 1253w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” />

Type: Pontoon
Weight capacity: 325 lbs.
Dimensions: 57 x 45 x 27 inches
Weight: 15 lbs.
Covering: Heavy-duty ripstop-nylon, double-stitched on critical seams
D-Rings : Multiple attached to cover
Equipment pockets: roomy armrests
Apron: Nylon coated mesh with printed ruler to measure fish
Rod holder: 2 on side
Entry: Remove stabilizer bar, sit, reattach bar
Safety: Multiple bladders
Transport: Carry handle
List Price: $189.99 Buy for $153.21
Recommendation: 8.5 out of 10 Excellent float tube!

Hmmmm, here’s another contender for my “next” float tube. I have never seen this particular design before, but I do like it! Without the “V” as those above, this should maneuver perfectly! The floatation support is “oversized” (compare dimensions with the above) and offers amazing stability and comfort.

The description promises:

“With the Navigator II you sit high and ride smooth: You are in command.”

And I believe it! A great alternative to the Caddis Sports Premier.

Caddis Sports High Sierra II Fishing Float Tube Caddis Sports High Sierra II FT

Type: Round Tube
Weight capacity: Not listed
Dimensions: 43 x 17 x 43 inches
Weight: 6 lbs.
Covering: Heavy duty ripstop nylon
D-Rings & Lash Tabs: 4 holding apron
Equipment pockets: 2 roomy armrests
Apron: Nylon coated mesh
Rod holder: Front
Entry: Step in
Safety: Two bladders
Transport: Carry over arm
List Price: $109.00 Buy for $92.98
Recommendation: 4 out of 10 The original float tube!

This is very similar to the original “belly boats.”

For the price, I can’t really recommend this float tube. For just a few dollars more, you can upgrade to the Caddis Sports Nevada V-Tube. That would be a much better value.

But I thought I owed it to the sport to show where float tubes started out. And should you get a chance to pick up one of these cheap, it will certainly get you started fishing. But getting in and out of the tube will not be easy!

Recommendation: My top choice is #3, the Caddis Sports Premier Float Tube. It’s a great looking, very tough, excellent option!


Here are few items you may want to purchase along with your float tube:

Thruster Float Tube Fins 

You need fins to propel your float tube.Thruster Float Tube Fins

  • Fit both boot or stocking foot waders (I use stocking foot waders with flats boots, so I can walk on the shore without risking damage to my waders)
  • The blade is vented to add “turbo thrust” to every kick
  • One click heel straps (easy to put on and take off)

List price: $54.99 Buy for $42.27


Redington Crosswater WaderIt’s great to have waders.

  • 100% Polyester, 3-layer waterproof/breathable DWR coated fabric
  • Opposing buckles for easy conversion to waist high
  • Integrated gravel-guards with hook
  • Flip-out pocket with YKK zipper
  • Belt loops & wading belt

List Price: $89.60 – $109.95, depending on size

Waders will keep you dry and warm. I recommend breathable waders so you don’t get damp from perspiration. If you fish in cold water with breathable waders, you will want to wear fleece or something warm underneath. You can choose either boot foot or stocking foot (I use stocking foot and put a boot over them.

You can buy waders that are more expensive, or less expensive, depending on your budget and if you prefer to not choose the comfort of breathable fabric.

Hodgman Neoprene Wade Shoe

Hodgman Neoprene Wade ShoeWade shoes are great if you get the stocking foot waders.

  • 3.5mm neoprene upper
  • Cuff adjustment upper heel
  • Durable YKK zipper
  • Rubber outsole and toe

List Price: $39.99 – $61.33 depending on details

These types of shoes (there are many other choices, click here) protect your waders if you have the stocking foot type. Plus, if it’s REALLY warm, you can wear the shoes without waders.


Float Tube Hand Pump 

Float Tube Hand PumpA hand pump will vastly improve the ease of inflating your float tube!

  • Pumps air on both up and down strokes
  • Sturdy plastic, will not corrode
  • Hose and three sizes of connection nozzles to fit all float tubes
  • Easily inflate or deflate with push-in hose-to-pump connection

List price: $32.99 Buy for $22.21

When I was a magic clown, I blew up balloons for balloon animals by mouth. Then I got a pump. What a fantastic invention! The same was true with my float tube. Once I bought the pump, I took it with me everywhere. And, as a bonus, it was terrific for quickly inflating air mattresses!

Start tubing!

It does cost a few bucks to get started with float tubing, but everything you buy will last you for years, maybe decades, so it’s best to invest a bit more at the outset, rather than spending money on something then having to spend more when you want something a bit better.

But of course if you are on a tight budget, go ahead and select the lower priced items so you CAN float tube fish. It’s a lot of fun!

And be sure and let me know what you got, what you caught, and what you thought.

Tight lines!

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

Catch-Big-Bass http://catch-big-bass.com/ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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The Smiling BassHole

I'm a BassHole!Kickin' Bass and lettin' them go.

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

    • Thanks, David!

      A float tube is a ton o’ fun! I hope your friends enjoy the information. Have them contact me if they have any questions. I’ve been floating for 3 decades!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Hi Roger,
    Reading your post has answered the question, “must we all have a boat before we go fishing?” I love your post. Not just that you proved anyone could fish without a boat, you also showed why the tube is a better alternative.
    Besides the risks, which you clearly stated, it is an affordable way of enjoying an afternoon fishing for big basses and the like.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks, Nnanna!

      There are certainly benefits of using a float tube. And being affordable is the one that clinches it for me.

      That said, I would LOVE to own a boat! Don’t really need a huge one, as I like fishing fresh water, but a boat really increases your range. Plus with a boat you can locate those bass. If you want to hear my thoughts about a boat, here’s a post I wrote earlier:

      How To Fish For Bass From A Boat

      Either way, it’s fun to catch big bass!

      Tight lines,

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • It’s a really nice review Roger. All the specification is very helpful to understand the advantage and disadvantage of every float tube. This float tube can be of use for more than fishing, you can also use it for times you are in a survival situation. Like me personally, because I’m from the Philippines and my country always has floods, so this float tube can save some lives also. Thanks a lot, Roger

    • Eric,

      Thanks for the comment!

      I never even thought of people using float tubes during flooding! You taught ME something!

      But it’s much more pleasurable to use them for fun! I hope you can do more of the latter than the former.

      Stay safe!

      Tight lines,

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Hi Roger,

    I’ve never heard of float tubes until today. Thanks for teaching me something new! The last time I went fishing was more than 10 years ago. I remember fishing the very traditional way. I stood on the river bank with a rod and a bucket of worms and attached a worm to the hook each time I wanted to catch a fish. Lol!

    How deep in the waters can you go when wearing a float tube? Do you catch other types of fish besides the big bass with it?

    • Yvonne,

      Thanks for the comment and questions!

      Bank fishing can also be very productive! Especially if you can locate where the fish are holding, and place your bait in the right spot!

      Float tubes make it easier to reach the fish. In a river, of course, you do have to contend with the current. After all, you don’t want to go too fast! It is possible to use an anchor, but of course that depends on HOW strong the current is.

      Float tubes can be used for pretty much any type of fishing. I’ve fished for trout, bluegill, crappie, and those bass. I’ve even caught trout and crappie when I was fishing for bass! As well as yellow perch.

      There’s no limit to how deep you can go in a float tube, since you are always floating on the top of the water. But generally you are looking for water that’s not that deep. Still, you can pass over the really deep parts to get to where you’re going.

      Sounds like it’s time for you to go back fishing, Yvonne! And you could use some of your catch in your delicious recipes!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole


  • Hi there roger ! A job well done once again ! Its always a pleasure to come back to your website and learn such a great deal of stuff ! I love the idea of the float tube and it seems like so much fun !

    Thank you for letting us all know about it !

    • Paulo,

      What a great gift! If you need any more information to make a choice of which one is best for your uncle, let me know and I’ll do what I can to help!

      Tight lines,

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Great Review Roger.

    I’m personally not the biggest fisherman but I have a lot of friends that will love this post that I will share with them. I know one of my friends have been looking into buying a float tube recently and he will find this very helpful.

    Thanks a lot Roger, every time I read your articles I just want to go straight out fishing 🙂


    • Thanks, Marcus!

      Inspiring folks to want to go fishing is always a delight! And if your friends should have any questions about float tubes or fishing, I’d be happy to attempt to answer them!

      Tight lines,

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • You page is so informative and so helpful! I’ve been looking for a good gift for my brother who is really into fishing, To be honest I don’t really know much about it. But I know he really wants a boat but they’re so expensive we can’t afford one (and I probably wouldn’t buy him one either haha) and this is such a great alternative, I really think he will love it. Thank you so much. Do you know about good equipment when it comes to the fishing part of it as well as I’m sure this will serve as good gift ideas for a long time.

    • Jessica,

      A float tube would be an awesome gift! I’ll also be writing about pontoon float craft, like this: click here for pontoon float craft. So if you want to spend a few more bucks, you can get something like this, which is a bit more “boaty” than just a float tube. And this one can have an electric trolling motor attached!

      As for other fishing equipment, there are many suggestions on my posts, but assuming your brother already has a rod and reel, and further assuming he will be fishing for bass, my number one recommendation would be a lure called the Strike King Red Eye Shad. This is an awesome lure, and comes in various colors. My favorite color is pictured in my review: click here to read my review.

      And if you have any follow up questions about possible gift ideas, be sure and let me know and I’ll suggest more items!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Wow – my son would love one of these! Unfortunately we live on an island and the coastal waters are rather treacherous. Think he will have to stick to a friend’s boat. Where woudl you recommend going on holiday to try one of these? Thanks.

    • Thanks, Sarah!

      Yes, safety first! No float tubing in treacherous waters!

      Great places to float tube are ponds, small lakes, impoundments, etc. If you go on holiday to someplace with lots of tubing opportunities, they may actually provide tubes for rentals. I used to travel to my brother’s on my vacations, and there were some great float tube spots near his house, so I would haul my tube with me!

      Meanwhile, do have your son stick to the boat!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Ok so I was reading this post at the edge of my seat! lol
    I am not one to go float tubing because we don’t have peaceful fishing zones here. But if I were to relocate, I know I have all the info I need right here. Thanks

    • Inger,

      Well, if you DO decide to go float tubing, I’m sure you’ll have the BEST LOOKING wading boots, waders, and flippers!

      Glad you were on the edge of your seat! And I hope you get to go fishing and catch a big one in the near future.

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Hi, Roger! Thank you for another great article! I was using inflatable boats for years and recognize multiple benefits of them you are listing. The main advantage of it is that you can bring it with you in your backpack to places you can come to with your car.
    Of course, all safety measures you are mentioning are the must. I’ve happened to be reckless a couple of times and know how important to have a life jacket and keep all belongings together.
    I’ve never encounter tubes before but they’re looking like even an advanced version of inflatables. I’m definitely going to get one for this summer- the Navigator II looks pretty good.
    Thank you again- keep supplying us with great info! Kirill.

    • Thanks, Kirill!

      I started with an inflatable boat myself — it was, at that time, cheaper than a float tube!

      I hauled it up to a mountain lake in a suitcase I could carry with a shoulder strap. I caught a little bass, and when trying to get him off the hook, he fell into my boat and drove the hook into my finger. My attempts to get him back into the lake while extracting the hook led to me falling right into the lake! So, I’ve had a few reckless moments myself!

      If you do get the Navigator II, please come back and share your observations and opinions on that float tube!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • HMMM…. I am totally digging this!!! Thinking this would be a great way to spend a hot day in the summer: floating around keeping cool while catching fish. Multitasking at its best! I’ve fished in streams in my bathing suit, with my daughter when she was a kid, so I could float downstream once in awhile, then run back up and do it again . Kept her entertained a bit while while us grownups fished. But I am seriously liking this tube idea!!!! WAY COOL!

    • Thanks, Donna!

      Float tubes ARE a lot of fun. And practical. Not that expensive for all the use you get out of them. Plus there are restricted waters where ONLY float tubes (or similar craft, like canoes and kayaks) are allowed. Sometimes you can have a trolling motor, but no gasoline engines. To keep it peaceful!

      Plus you can get up closer to the fish, and they aren’t likely to hear you or be scared (you are so low to the water).

      In a river they can be used, you just have to beware of fast current. I learned that the hard way!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

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