Getting out on the water dramatically increases the places you can fish, but canoes and kayaks aren't cheap. In many circumstances, fishing float tubes offer a low-cost alternative, giving terrific stability in a compact form that's easy to transport and store. Fishing float tubes vary in their size, ride height, capacity, and other features, so considering your options is the best way to find the right tube for your needs. We've put together a concise guide to help you find the perfect tube. Our top pick, the Cumberland Float Tube, comes from one of the industry's most trusted brands and offers you a reliable fishing platform at a remarkably affordable price. Considerations when choosing fishing float tubes The top features you'll want to consider are overall size, material thickness, weight capacity, and what, for want of a better term, we'll call "ride height." Size It can be difficult to tell from a picture what the actual size of a fishing float tube is when fully inflated. Size has a big impact on your comfort, so check the dimensions carefully before you buy. Mark it out on the floor with string or tape to get a clearer idea. Weight capacity and ride height Weight capacity can be anywhere from 225 to 350 pounds. If you're larger, the float tube might support you, but it will tend to wrap around you in the water. That brings us to ride height. When these craft first appeared, they had a tendency to sag, and you'd typically sit partly in the water. Anglers usually wore high waders so as not to get a soaking. Modern designs are stiffer, and the seats are higher — you can still get wet. Some anglers accept this possibility, but if you prefer to stay as dry as possible, it's a good idea to check owner feedback. Skin thickness We'd like to be able to advise you about skin thickness and durability. Unfortunately few manufacturers provide that information, making it hard to know what you're getting until it's in your hands. However, it's safe to assume the majority are tough enough — though again, you might want to check what owners say to see if there are frequent problems with a particular model. Other features Comfort Comfort is important if you intend to spend several hours on the water. Cheaper seats are usually foam covered, but inflatable ones provide more give. Adjustability is another factor. Storage You'll want plenty of storage — which is usually in the arms and sometimes in the backrest (or behind the seat). Many also include holders for your favorite beverage. Accessories All manner of accessories are available for some models: multiple rod holders (also called rod roosts), floating trays, anchors, and storage bags are popular choices. You might also want to consider a repair kit. Because you sit low, fishing float tubes can be difficult for other boaters to see. A flag is recommended, and some tubes have a built-in holder to accommodate them. Flags may also be required for fishing competitions. Although specific pumps are available with some, they are invariably extra. If you already have a pump you'll need to check valve type. Fortunately alternatives are only a few bucks. Price The cheapest fishing float tubes start at around $70. Even at the upper end, most of these crafts are only $250, making them way more affordable than a fishing kayak. There are a few specialist models designed for bass anglers known as flatforms, but they cost $900-plus. FAQ Q. Can I use a fishing float for all kinds of fishing? A. Although some models are designed to cope with rough conditions, they're at their best on a calm lake. You definitely shouldn't try taking one to sea. The fishing style is up to you — floats provide a comfortable, balanced platform for fly, bait, or lure fishing. Q. Are float tubes safe? A. Yes. They are very stable, and there's little danger on calm waters. However, though punctures are rare, they remain a possibility. As with any watercraft you should always wear a personal flotation device (PFD). Those designed for kayaking are good, giving you the freedom and mobility you need. Fishing float tubes we recommend Best of the best: Classic Accessories' Cumberland Fishing Float Tube Our take: Nimble, feature-packed model for the angling enthusiast. What we like: Abrasion-resistant PVC skin for durability. High, adjustable seat keeps you drier. Plenty of storage (plus cup holders). Class-leading 350-pound weight capacity. Carry as a backpack when deflated. What we dislike: Very little. Occasional valve faults. No bag. Best bang for your buck: Classic Accessories' Teton Float Tube Our take: Cheap but fully functional model for anglers who don't take to the water often. What we like: Basic but surprisingly comfortable. Easy to steer. Good storage and a flag holder. Handles make for easy transportation when inflated. Weighs under 10 pounds. Great value. What we dislike: A little small for some. Lacks rigidity, so you sit partly in the water. Choice 3: Outcast's Fishcat 4-LCS Our take: Sturdy, hIgh quality platform from one of the market leaders. What we like: Rated among the best by numerous independent testers. Excellent stability. Puncture-resistant skin. Two air chambers for added safety. Comfortable foam seat. Good storage. Five-year warranty. What we dislike: Lacks features considering the cost. No rod holders or storage bag. Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds. BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. 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