Float tube rules

I just started fly fishing this year. Some friends of mine hooked me up with all of the appropriate gear to go lake fishing with a float tube except for a PFD. I don't have one, and was wondering if anyone knew the legality of not wearing one while in a float tube. I will probably go get one soon enough, but not before I go fishing on Sunday.


Have fun be Safe

as long as you are over the age of 18 i think you are all right.
iv never seen any one use one, iv never used one and iv been around a lot of game warrdens. they never said a thing.
i think its just up to u and how safe u feel



...and I stared at this post for a long time. No legal advice from me, get an attorney's opinion on the legality of your proposed course of action.

In today's litigious society I worry for your friends on whether or not a skillfull attorney could find cause to sue them on behalf of your estate, god forbid something should happen to you. Return your friends' favor and get a PFD *before* you take out the float tube. :TSKTSK :TSKTSK


I don't know about float tubes but I and another guy got sited a couple years ago for not having one in our float boats. I have an orvis vest that is one of those inflatables but it is not coast guard approved. I don't know if this had any thing to do with it but we had trolling moters on our boats. I have not been asked for since but I always keep one on the back deck now any way, and I fell safer anyway.



Have fun be Safe

i know for a fact that u have to have pfd on a motorized boat

but on a raft i dont know im sure u do not. you will have to check. and watch your self on that lawyer thing they will try anything just to make a buck

the world we live in what a shame.


ps what fish would u compare to a lawyer???

give answer on your reply lol...

mr trout

Trevor Hutton
I have no idea on the legal issues of it but I will tell you this. If you can spend the money, get a sospenders rip cord inflatable. You put them on and if you need it, you pull the cord and a co2 cartride fills the thing up. you can re use them, but need a rearming package. They are usually from 45-65 bucks, so they are spendy, but worth it. here is why:
1)life jackets are huge- hard to wear inside a vest, inconvenient outside.
2)there is a shoulder model and a waistbelt model, these offer safety and comfortability.
3)Coast Guard approved
4)Face it- its is always safer to have one just in case, ya know? (plus you can't get a ticket if some legal type wants to give you one, just flash your concealed PFD and he will most likely be on his way) :WINK

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I might be old---but I'm good.

Yeah,I agree with him. Earily this year there was a write-up about someone getting a ticket from a game warden in Eastern Washington that was fishing in a float tube. So I went out and bought one from Walmart. Cheep 19.95 with tacks. It is a Stearns and it is not bulky. I wear it under my vest when I'm in my pontoon boat.

Good thoughts, thanks again. I'm very confident in my ability to swim, i'm not so confident in my ability to wet exit from waders while holding my breath. I am leaning towards buying a "sportsman's vest" that I have seen. It is basically a fly-fishing vest (which I also don't own) with a floatation belt built in to the lower half of the vest. While I agree that wearing a PFD is a good idea in just about any situation, I am not a big fan of legislation requiring me to do it. I checked the RCW and it says that PFDs have to be "available" for each person on a boat under 12 feet in length. I don't remember what it said regarding motors, they may or may not disqualify this rule. Lawyers; I imagine there is a species for every type of meal to scavenge. I can't imagine a situation where I personally would sue someone for my own ineptness, but I imagine there would be a lawyer out there to do it should the opportunity arise.


You need to know something about lawyers - THEY DON'T SUE YOU, the party they represent (you know, the person or persons who called him or her up and said I want to sue so-and-so) brings the lawsuit.

Lawyers are not the problem, PEOPLE ARE! Once a lawyer is hired, he MUST do his best to prevail at suit. Should the court be convinced, otherwise, he/she faces disiplinary action from the court (and possible disbarment). Lawyers are seldom needed when we all do the right thing.

With all this talk of pfd's and floatubes, I just had to chime in...

Keep in mind that although a pfd would be a good idea (leagality issues aside), for safety the biggest threat may not be drowning, but rather hypothermia. A pfd may keep you above water, but..I'd hate to be floating in cold water nevetheless.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to sway anyone away from the idea of a pfd or inflatable 'reserve' system. In fact, being a sailboat person, I use them on the Sound etc.

However, I can give you a personal account of what happens when most floatubes spring a leak. Happened to me on Lenice (I was right in the middle). What happend as the bladder slowly got softer and softer? I kicked to shore. Took about 10 minutes (in that infamous wind) and I didn't feel in danger. Most of these floatubes are very low pressure/high volume devices. Seldom would you sink faster than the time it would take to get to shore IF you are within your limits. I personally won't floatube on lakes bigger than say Lenice or Dry Falls. In real large water a boat would be more desirable and then a pfd would be advised. Even the guys with pontoon boats could carry them on the gear deck (I've seen many do it to).

BTW - there wasn't a lawyer waiting on the shore of Lenice that time ready to hand me court papers;-)

Be safe, tight loops!
Here's the applicable sections of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and Washington Administrative Code (WAC.)

(23) "Vessel" includes every description of watercraft on the water, other than a seaplane, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. However, it does not include inner tubes, air mattresses, sailboards, and small rafts or flotation devices or toys customarily used by swimmers.

(1) No person may operate or permit the operation of a vessel on the waters of the state without a personal flotation device on board for each person on the vessel. Each personal flotation device shall be in serviceable condition, of an appropriate size, and readily accessible.

No person shall operate or permit the operation of a vessel on the waters of the state unless the vessel has on board United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices as follows:
(1) Vessels less than sixteen feet (4.9 meters) in length, and canoes and kayaks of any length, must have one Type I, II, or III PFD of the proper size for each person on board.
(2) Vessels sixteen feet (4.9 meters) or more in length, except a canoe or kayak, must have one Type I, II, or III wearable PFD of the proper size for each person on board and, in addition, one Type IV throwable PFD.
(3) Alternate PFD requirement. A United States Coast Guard approved Type V PFD may be carried in lieu of any required PFD under this section if it is approved for the activity in which the vessel is engaged in and used in compliance with requirements on the approval label.
(4) Stowage and condition. All personal flotation devices required by this section shall be readily accessible to all persons on board and be in good and serviceable condition. All devices shall be approved by the United States Coast Guard and marked in compliance with Coast Guard standards.
(5) Exemptions. Racing shells, rowing sculls and racing kayaks are exempt from the requirements of this section provided they are manually propelled, recognized by a national or international racing association and designed solely for competitive racing.



Add up the cost of going fishing these days,rod and reel, spare spools,fly lines,tube or pontoon boat, waders,fleece, gortex raingear,polaroids,hats,etc,etc,etc and a person can quickly invest $1000-$2000 or more. Throw all of this gear in the back of a 4wd pickup or an SUV and add another $30,000-$50,000 and head for the water. With that backdrop, try telling yourself that $100 for a top quality PFD is too spendy. Let's face it, the cost of a PFD is just mouse nuts compared to the rest of the necessary gear that you need to get on the water and may be the only thing between you and a nice funeral someday. Be safe so that those who love you won't have to be sorry. Ive
Good thoughts, again. I actually went to Walmart and found a Stearns combination PFD/fishing vest for $15 on clearance. That solved two equipment problems at once and makes me feel a little better in the process. I agree that hypothermia is probably the main issue in lakes, ice cubes float after all. But in my case my inexperience could lead me to fill my waders by doing something dumb that someone with a little experience would know to avoid (leaning over too far or something equally silly).

I agree about the lawyer issue on the whole. They have a set of rules designed to protect the customer, and in the end our legal system in general. It is up to us to properly use this resource. I'd like to draw attention to the man who is suing fast food restaurants for their food's high fat content and his ensuing high cholesterol and heart problems. Is this responsible use of a legal system? I would hope that it goes before a jury of reasonable people and they laugh him out of court.

Thanks again for all the replies.

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
On wader safety:

I was required to attend a water safety seminar years ago at the UW and it was a life altering experience. It was about 1978. The instructor walked into the pool room wearing a full set of clothes and heavy rubber boot foot chest waters (not neoprene), and without calling the class to order or further ado, just jumped into the pool. That got the assembled body's attention! We all lined the pool's edge and the instructor started his presentation. He calmly floated there and introduced himself. He noted that it was common knowledge that waders will fill with water and drag you to your death. But really they're almost neutrally buoyant. They're only heavy when you try to lift the water they contain above the surface like climbing back
over the side of a boat or up a steep bank. But if the boat's gone down or it's going to be awhile until it circles back, leave them on because they'll help you float and preserve your body heat. Then he showed us the next step. He brought his legs up in front of him and splashed some air into them with a cupped hand. He explained that then bending your legs at the knees will help trap this air in the waders. Then he zipped up the jacket he was wearing up to his neck and splashed some air into the jacket. Then he was floating high and comfortable.

I've had a couple opportunities to use this knowledge over the years, when we're watching the boat float away and arguing about who was supposed to have tied it up. I just jumped in without hesitation and
grabbed it.