Tube vs. Pontoon

Hello all,

I'm considering purchasing a float tube or pontoon. Can anyone argue for one or the other? I have never used either. I have no boat, and would like to be afforded access to the lakes in the Puget sound area. Can the pontoon floater be used to fish in the river or stream? Or is that too dangerous. Is it easy to use a fly rod from both? Right now I'm considering the fish cat deluxe 9. Any info is much appreciated.


Some random points...

Pontoon boats are heavier then float tubes, so they're more difficult to haul around.

You can float a river in a pontoon boat, I don't know anyone that floats rivers in a float tube, that could be very dangerous.

Float tubes can be cold since your legs are underwater, pontoons keep you high and dry.

Pontoons usually have an anchor system in built into them, makes it easy to hold position in a lake and not get blown around. I suppose you could make one for a tube, but it would likely be more difficult to manipulate it.

If I was just going to fish lakes I would probably get a tube because it's light and easy to hike into lakes off the beaten path.

If you want to fish rivers then get a pontoon boat, you can still fish most lakes and you will be able to fish the rivers around here. Fishing FROM your pontoon boat while in a river can be tricky and sometimes hazardous. Most people find fishy water then pull over to work it. Some slower rivers it's pretty safe to fish from.

That's my .02

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Well, I'd almost say if you want a good all around boat for both, try getting a float n tote (watermaster). Only thing I seriously dislike about them for river use is the fact your feet are in the water. But besides that, would be a very good option. And yes, DO NOT float a river in a floattube. Innertube, yes, floattube, NO. Feet dangling in the water is a bad thing. Especially if you're on a heavily fished river. You'd be surprised what can grab you while legs are dangling during fishing season. Also, other obstructions can grab you as well (or stick a fin on the move).

With anchoring, you need a boat designed for that. There are pontoon boats that safely sit on anchor. But are flatter hulled boats that grab more water (as opposed to full rocker hulls that will rock or tip up on anchor).

But the price of most floattubes, why not buy yourself a floattube (I prefered the U or V boats over the donuts) and a small pontoon/cataraft. Really depends on how you plan to fish with the boat and how often on what you want to buy. I fish from the pontoons like a normal boat. So I have standing platforms and anchor (and safely, even in fast water). I use the boats to the fullest potential, including fishing spots where you're inaccessible to fish the bank with the boat. I hate fishing from the seat (I owned Outcasts years ago, and tried all the boats they had back then). Depends on how much you plan to spend overall. But you can find some good deals on both boats. Getting a two for one. I will say a pontoon is much nicer to fish out of on a lake opposed to a floattube. I used to carry mine, even on longer hikes (but I carry around 70#+ packages all day for a living, so a 45# pontoon is no problem). With the fins, you could troll around the lakes looking for rises or hitting the shorelines. Then use the oars to bite in and dig when you wanted to move to another spot right away (and could drop a full sinker with streamer to troll as you went to next spot).

I do know someone who is selling an old Float n Tote (the original before they became watermaster). Think he only wants $350 for the whole kit and caboodle (maybe less). Can hook you up if you're interested.


Idiot Savant
I have found over the years that a pontoon can be a blessing or a pain in the ass. It's blessing comes from being able to row and cover a lot of water. The pain comes when the wind blows, you're like a cork with a sail. It's almost impossible to stay put.
But in a tube (round) you're deeper in the water and temperature is a bigger factor.
A nice compromise is a "vee boat" like a Fish Cat. Your ass is out of the water but from your knees down is still keeping you steady in the event the wind comes up. Down side is they kick a little slower, but not bad for most cases. See if you can borrow one of each before you spend you bucks...
Lastly, each one has a different load capability. I can carry two rods, coat, lunch, water, bug boxes, and more on my pontoon. The other two are pretty much one rod, snack and water.


Life goes on, enjoy it...

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
Besides the points above, portability is a key factor for me. My pontoon weighs ~50 pounds unloaded. Its 9 foot pontoons are well, nine feet long and when inflated, the craft is over 4 feet wide. Even with the pontoons uninflated, the thing's still a pretty big package. Sure, you can take them apart into small pieces, but that's a complicated process and takes time. Their size and weight make 'toons a good choice when you're driving right up to where you'll be putting in, but pretty impractical if the water's more than a hundred yards away or across some rugged terrain or down a narrow trail.

Float tubes on the other hand weigh about ten pounds and easily deflate and roll up to a package about the size of a small sleeping bag. This makes them ideal for back packing in to remote locations like mountain lakes. The tradeoff between their smaller size and lighter weight and reduced load capacity and lower seating position is one you'll have to make depending on where you like to fish. For me, I use 'em both, and pick which one depending on where I'm going.


New Member
Well I agree with everything that has been said. In my oppinion it really matters where you want to fish. I have both but since I purchased my pontoon boat I rarely use my float tube. The pontoon easily handles the rivers and I don't fish to many lakes were I have to hike into them. You can buy a wheel for a pontoon boat but as fortuna said they do weigh at least 50 pounds and are 4 feet wide. So if you are going to wheel them in some where you need a wide trail. It's like a heavy, unbalanced 4 foot wide wheel barrow. The other factor is cost. You can get a pretty nice float tube chaper than a pontoon boat.
Get both and put more money in your pontoon than the tube. Tubes are so cheap knowadays. You would get more use out of a pontoon IMO, Good luck!

Peter ><>

Mark 12:30-31


Active Member
a pontoon boat has oars. i have had my watermaster schuttled accross a big lake and oared back which was no fun. also the watermaster can fit in a backpack with carry straps which is provided.
I have both, I use the pontoon 99% of the time and use the float tube only when I am fishing someplace I can't haul the pontoon into. Get a wheel for teh pontoon and it makes it more versitile. You will find several every day on Nunnally, the float tube gets used on Alpine Lakes and very little else.
The big plus is what everyone else has said about pontoons, you don't go numb sitting in the water like you do in a tube. That was my big factor for purchasing a toon. I haven't used my tube since.

Richard E

Active Member
Word with what Ibn said, plus . . .

Pontoons, because they have less drag than the float tube, are more susceptible to wind. That can be good if you want to wind mooch (i.e. troll) with a streamer in a lake. The float tube is, surprisingly, a little more controllable.

On the flip side, if the wind gets nasty, you can make better time against/through it with a pontoon than you would with a float tube.

Regarding the Tote N Float (predecessor to the Water Master and Abel Versacraft); had one, sold it, and replaced it with an Outcast PAC800. It's a raft with the bottom but out, so it has blunt ends like a raft. Not nearly as hydrodynamic as a pontoon boat. Plus, an anchor system comes integral in to my pontoon boat frame. For the other Tote N Float type craft, one has to get a custom rowing frame (had a nice one priced out at $175, and that was 7 years ago) made for it.

I would give the nod to the pontoon boat over the Tote N Float type boats, but because it didn't have a frame, the Tote N Float was sure a lot easier to assemble, store, and pack around. It travelled with me a couple of times on plane trips, where I took it as checked baggage.

Like the other guys said here, buy both the float tube and the pontoon boat, and you have the best of all worlds.

By the way, if you plan to use the pontoon boat in rivers, don't scrimp and buy the cheapest one. The more expensive craft are typically much better built and designed, and are tougher. Would be a major bummer to be floating down, say, the Yakima or Skagit, or somewhere where access to civilization/help is limited, and have your pontoon seams pop on you. Think about it; it's only your life, so what's another couple of hundred bucks to get a much better boat?

Listen to me now and believe me later . . .