A Float Tube is also referred to as a ‘kick-boat’ or ‘belly-boat’. An essentially lightweight fishing boat designed originally like a raft, float tubes of today are more dynamic and user-friendly for inflating and using in any small water body. The earliest float tubes were round in shape like doughnuts with a seat in the hole that allowed anglers to seat themselves waist down in water and catch the best fish. Modern float tubes have U-shaped or V-shaped pontoons with seats raised above the water level so only the legs of the anglers are below water level. Customized float tubes with reserve air compartments and storage space for electronic fish finders, lights and rod holders.
Float tubes in various designs have been around for many years but it has been only in the recent past that design changes and variety have been added considering that angling and fishing are fast becoming much liked leisure sport activities. Although the element of discomfort prevented many from using float tubes because of being practically partially submerged in water for many hours, float tubes afforded the boat-less class of fishermen and novice anglers to indulge in their pastime without worrying about running up huge expenditure. Besides these, float tubes allowed anglers to reach places and spots that regular fishing boats cannot, allowing greater reach and ability for wider water coverage.
The market for float tubes and pontoons has expanded vastly with factors like better water-worthiness, maneuverability, design, storage space and customization with sailing boats etc. For anglers who are budget conscious and require more of a ‘floating platform’ on smaller lakes, ponds and rivers, float tubes work very well because they are affordable, lightweight and ultra-portable.
However, these factors alone do not help and very often, most anglers use a float tube for a few times and when the limitations become obvious, relegate it to a garage or storeroom. Determining whether to buy a float tube and what kind depends on a few checklist points which are worth checking out.
The foremost question that every angler should ask before deciding if a float tube is the right accessory for fishing trips is, “Where will I be fishing?” The answer to this pretty much sets the trend for what will follow.
- A float tube is the ideal choice for fishing in isolated or small lakes and ponds where wind conditions are not such that they play a part in maneuverability. Where waves are likely, float tubes do not serve the purpose. On larger lakes, inflatable rafts are better choices.
- Remote water fishing areas are ideal locations for float tubes because they are highly packable. However most backwater areas are cold waters hence the need to stay warm arises; dragging waders along to keep warm can be cumbersome sometimes and add to an angler’s backpack weight.
- Large rivers and float tubes do not go well especially if the river is in full flow and currents exist. An inflatable kayak or raft or a pontoon boat will serve best.