How to choose a float tube?

They look more like inflatable leisure seats than boats and yet they are not gadgets but real float tube fishing seats, most of them very well equipped. Choosing the right one is not always easy. So we propose to guide you by asking you the right questions.

A float tube, for what?

Fishing, when you don't have a boat, is sometimes less pleasant, but all is not lost because even with a small budget you can afford a float tube and enjoy the joys of fishing far from the shore.

It offers the opportunity to catch fish that would not be so easily accessible. And if you like peace and quiet, you'll get it when you go away in this small boat alone! The float tube is suitable for lure or fly fishing and allows you to approach fish such as pike, carp, black bass, catfish.

This floating seat requires you to move forward in the water while being partially submerged, even if some high seats allow you to be drier. This sporty fishing accessory works with your own muscle power.

The different types of float tubes

It is an economical and inflatable boat generally V-shaped for the most common, consisting of floats and an independent seat in foam or inflatable.

There are different models:

  • bladder float tubes (air chamber)
  • high pressure float tubes
  • the platforms

The bladder float tube

Among the first prices, you will find V or U shaped float tubes made of one or two float tube bladders. The V shape is more hydrodynamic. More rarely, there are H or W shapes.

Composed of one or more separate air chambers, they are safe and strong, while being light and easy to handle. These are air chambers covered with a coated, waterproof fabric cover, polyester or PVC. This is generally the most suitable for beginners and the most affordable.

Fishing from float tube

Fishing from float tube

The bladder float tube

Among the first prices, you will find V or U shaped float tubes made of one or two float tube bladders. The V shape is more hydrodynamic. More rarely, there are H or W shapes.

Composed of one or more separate air chambers, they are safe and strong, while being light and easy to handle. These are air chambers covered with a coated, waterproof fabric cover, polyester or PVC. This is generally the most suitable for beginners and the most affordable.

The high pressure float tube

On these models, there is no air chamber, the ultra solid canvas is directly inflated. The advantage is that it is puncture-proof or almost. These models are the middle range of float tubes and can support an optional electric motor. They are generally a little heavier, more expensive and more bulky. The best high pressure float tubes will also be the most expensive.

The flatbed float tube

Finally, the float tube platforms, sometimes also called pontoons or Flat Form, which look more like a board, flat on the top. Their main interest is to be able to stand up, thanks to a rigid floor. More stable, bigger and heavier, they generally support a higher load and have more options.

The particularity of drop stitch

This is the same technology used for inflatable paddle boards. This technique of weaving polyester threads offers more shape possibilities, preventing it from looking like a big balloon and these float tubes look more like a flat U shape on top. The advantage is that it has more usable surface area and is stable enough for stand-up fishing for those who dare to do so, but remains inflatable in less than a minute.

The pontoon float tube model is designed like a mini catamaran on an aluminum structure, it remains light, practical and comfortable.

Which float tube for the sea

It can sometimes be used at sea, without going too far from the coast, but it is basically designed for freshwater fishing. The main difficulty is to navigate, which requires moving with oars or a motor and is a bit far from the goal of fishing. The float tube remains a practical and economical solution for fishing far from the shore, whether in freshwater or in the sea. However, it is better to check that it is suitable before buying it. The regulations in force are also different from one region to another.

 

Advantages and disadvantages

All inflatable float tubes have the advantage of being able to be deflated and stored without taking up too much space out of season. However, some are larger or heavier, which makes them stronger and more difficult to maneuver.

 

Advantages and disadvantages of float tubes

Good points

  • less cumbersome
  • less expensive
  • less wind resistance
  • easy to transport and pack (out of the water)
  • easy to launch

Limits

  • limited speed and range
  • speed less adapted for trolling
  • limited maneuvers in case of waves (no oars, no motor)
  • not suitable for rough water
  • low seat height, lack of visibility (important for casting)
  • limited storage space

 

Advantages and disadvantages platforms

Good points

  • better wind resistance
  • greater speed and autonomy
  • allows trolling (adapted to electric motors and batteries)
  • more solid for river fishing
  • higher seat, better visibility (for casting)
  • better storage capacity for accessories
  • possible options: support bar
  • better flotation even in shallow water

 

Limits

  • larger, heavier, therefore more difficult to store and transport
  • more expensive
  • more difficult to control or propel with fins alone

 

The opinion of our fishing expert

"Take into consideration your real needs and fishing habits. Find out what you need to know. Check reviews or ask for advice by phone if you buy online. Discussing with an advisor often allows you to avoid making mistakes and not being tempted by a boat that is over-equipped or poorly adapted to your needs. By listening to you, he or she will identify the model best suited to your fishing style. You can upgrade your equipment as you progress. Storage and ease of transport will also play a major role in your choice.

Are you hesitating? Opt for a pack like the pike'n bass lunker float tube.

Criteria to take into account for your float tube

Of course, the choice of your float tube depends above all on your budget but also on the use you will make of it: the fishing place, the frequency of use and your weight must be taken into account.

Here are the main criteria you should have in mind when making your choice.

Lightness and maneuverability

The lighter and more maneuverable your float tube is, the more it will help you with transportation and storage. If you live in an apartment, far from the water, you'll probably prefer a small footprint system that can be easily deflated and transported by car. If you have the space, the platform model will be more suitable for your practice.

The basic models with tubes are generally lighter, less than 8 kg, the high pressure models about 15 kg, while the platforms can reach 25 kg.

In all cases they are equipped with handles or straps for easy transport. All of them can be deflated and folded in the trunk after use.

The larger models can withstand worse conditions, especially in windy conditions.

The budget

This is the first criterion for many of us and it will be the main obstacle, but even among the float tubes with tubes, there are disparities in price and some very equipped models are quite expensive.

But it is necessary to relativize because compared to a boat, it remains not very expensive and allows to fish differently than from the shore. Without engine, for the most part, it consumes nothing, neither electricity nor batteries, but you can add this option if necessary.

Good to know

There are 4 price ranges

For the fishing float tube, the entry level price is between 100 and 300€ if you are looking for a cheap float tube. The seven bass float tube is one of them.

The middle range goes from 300 to 500€. The pike'n bass model and the hart float tube, for example

For the most equipped models, count between 600 and 800€, as for the float tube sparrow

Beyond 1000€, you have really high end equipment like the flatform seven bass.

The maximum weight of the user

You will not make the same choice according to your morphology. It is necessary to take it into account because the first prices support 140 kg maximum and this weight includes all the embarked material that you will carry in addition to your own weight.

If you weigh more than 80 kg, you will opt for a high-pressure float tube, more resistant and more comfortable in terms of space.

More expensive models with different technology can support more weight between 150 and 250 kg and up to 300 kg for the most advanced models.

The material and the solidity

The thicker your float tube is, the more resistant it will be. Even if you don't use it at sea, a scratch or a puncture is possible by friction. Look at the type of PVC used in its manufacture. The average density of a PVC float tube is 600D to 900D, the highest being considered tearproof, more resistant to punctures. We talk about 1100D for some more expensive models, with drop stitch technology.

Comfort

You will spend many hours on it, so it might as well be comfortable. The propulsion is done with the help of your fins. You need to be able to turn around and position yourself easily. That's why the width of the seat is important. The more comfortable the seat is, the more hours you will be able to spend in it without fatigue. The padding of the seat counts a lot. The diameter of the floats also counts. The higher you are positioned, the better your visibility will be.

Options and equipment

Pay attention to the reclining backrest or not, or even the possibility of fishing standing up on the more expensive models. These options, which seem superfluous today, will become important as you practice. They are conditions that will allow you to better track the fish.

The equipment and accessories are not always included. Among them, we distinguish the float tubes with oars. Remember to check before buying, if they have: 

  • straps or handles for carrying
  • storage pockets
  • rings
  • storage area
  • landing mat, graduated or not
  • pump or inflator
  • repair kit
  • bakkan
  • transport bag
  • oars
  • fins
  • paddle
  • rod holder

 

A mid-range model is sometimes more interesting. Choose a float tube pack with the most important options for you. Because an evolutionary model on which there is already a support on which you will be able to adapt a motor or an echo sounder will be more economic in the end.

 

In case of repair

The float tube with several bladders or independent inflation zones is safer in case of a puncture and has better buoyancy. Inner tubes are inexpensive if you need to replace them. But beware of over-inflation, which weakens the floats.  You should also avoid handling the float tube while still inflated out of the water, on the ground. To be prepared for any eventuality, think of equipping yourself with a repair kit, if it is not provided.

 

In case of a leak, simply use PVC glue and patches like for an inner tube. To find the location of the leak, either immerse the float tube in water or wash it with soapy water, in both cases the presence of bubbles indicates the location of the hole.

 

Thoroughly clean and dry the area once identified before applying the glue to both the surface and the patch, then apply the patch and make it adhere well. Allow 12 hours to dry with the pads inflated, before reusing. If necessary, re-test for leaks before putting the float tube back in the water.

Our selection

Ideal for beginners

Amtrac Fishing Sentinel 120 float tube

  • Dimensions 130 x 100 cm
  • Weight 6 kg
  • Maximum load 120 kg
  • V shape
  • Two independent air chambers easily accessible by zipper
  • 600D PVC canvas
  • Transport straps
  • Handle for launching
  • Storage bag
  • 2 side zippered storage bags
  • Rod and net attachment straps
  • D-rings for various accessories
  • Possibility of a rod holder
  • Comfortable seat with high seat height
  • Graduated landing mat included
  • Spare bladders
  • Delivered with inflator, transport bag and repair kit

The Amtrac float tube is also available in a 140 kg max version

Amtrac fishing sentinel Float tube

Extremely light

Seven Bass Heko 130 float tube

  • Dimensions 133 x 133 cm
  • Weight 4.5 kg
  • Maximum load 136 kg
  • Inflatable seat and back for more comfort
  • Adjustable backrest straps for reclining
  • 2 independent air chambers (+2) with safety valves
  • 600D fabric, almost tear-proof
  • Large zippered pockets on each side + storage space behind the seat
  • Attachment rings
  • Graduated landing mat.

Seven bass float tube

 

A complete package for float tube fishing!

Seven Bass NRV Float Tube Pack

  • A real pack ready to use.
  • Dimensions 138 x 112 cm
  • Weight 6.3 kg
  • Maximum load 115 kg
  • Backrest tilt by adjustable straps
  • 2 independent air chambers
  • 900D and 420D PVC canvas
  • Large zipped pockets and storage rings
  • Graduated landing mat.
  • Additional storage space behind the seat for waterproof bag
  • Includes: Float tube NRV Camo, Pump, Carry bag, Fins

 

Seven bass NRV Float tube



Excellent value for money

Float Tube Amtrac Fishing Ghost 140 - Abyss camo

  • Dimensions 135 x 105 cm
  • Weight 8 kg
  • Maximum load 140 kg
  • Zipped side bags + cup holder
  • Side D-rings
  • Graduated landing mat
  • Foam seat adaptable to all morphologies
  • Large storage capacity
  • PVC inner tube + 600D heavy duty fabric
  • spare bladders
  • inflator
  • transport bag
  • repair kit

Safe and strong

Jmc Sparrow Expedition Olive Float Tube

  • Size 180 x 110 cm
  • Weight 12.5 kg
  • Maximum load 200 kg
  • Heat-sealed PVC fabric
  • Optimal glide
  • Drifts under the floats
  • Semi rigid inflatable floor
  • Float tube with aluminum oars
  • Standard engine support
  • Large rear pocket + two large pockets all removable
  • Removable shoulder straps
  • Tubeless float tube pump
  • Repair kit



JMC Sparrow Float tube

 

The most XXL

Float tube Seven Bass Flatform XL Evo

  • Dimensions XXL 245 x 170 cm
  • Weight 21 kg
  • Maximum load 300kg
  • Dropstitch
  • 3 high pressure valves
  • Polyester 1100 D
  • Hyper stable
  • For ultra demanding fisherman

 

Seven bass flatform XL Float tube

 To learn more about the float tube, read our article.

Conclusion

So, which float tube to choose? It's all about budget, usage, storage space and transportation. Make sure you look at all the options. If you have any doubts, ask an experienced consultant for advice on the best float tube for your practice and your budget. The more you consider the different criteria, the easier it will be to make the right decision. 

All float tubes have their own specificities and advantages that make one a better choice for a certain type of fishing and angler. The simple and light models will be more suitable for beginners while the pontoons are more suitable for experienced fishermen. Most likely, you will start with one model, then move on to a more advanced model once you gain experience. You may even own several, so you can adapt to different fishing areas and situations.

Photo credit Sakura, Wikipedia

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