Questions regarding float tubes...


Sculpin are gross.
Just recieved my 1st float tube, the huge bighorn XL pumpkin colored titanic... I realy was suprised to see how large it is, but it does have a 350lb capacity so I guess it would have to be large. At any rate I was wondering if there are any regulations regarding float tubes such as if you are required to wear a pfd? I dont own one, and I am a strong swimmer and dont plan on using the tube anywhere that I could not easily swim out of, so if I dont need one I dont really feel like buying/wearing one. Also is it legal to bring a beer or two with you on the tube? I hear a rumor that it is not legal to have any booze on boats anymore, is that only on motorized boats or is it just a rumor? And lastly if anyone has any generic advice about float tubing, fishing from a tube or good places to wet my fins around tacoma, I would be truely grateful!

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
I had a Bighorn and you're right - they're the Barcalounger of float tubes. Weight capacity is rated at half the weight actually required to submerge a tube, so even it you weighed 360 pounds, you're in no additional jeopardy of sinking.

Regulations about when to wear PFDs are a confusing and contradictory subject. I think in general that regulations tend to view float tubes as more of a recreational floating device, like an air mattress, than as a boat. In practice I've never heard of someone being ticketed for not wearing one in a tube while I have heard of citations for not wearing one while in a pontoon.

Most float tubes have a smaller secondary badder used as a back rest that's also intended to function as a safety floatation device. The chance of rupturing both the main and the secondary bladders seem pretty small. I heard once about a guy over in one of the desert lakes who accidentally hooked his tube with a fly and caused a catastrophic puncture that sent him into the water in a hurry. The back rest kept him above water until another nearby tuber was able to kick over and tow him to shore.

Not sure about a rules about not bringing beer or alcohol while fishing from a tube. If there is a rule against it, I'd guess that an awful lot of guys break it.



Fly Line Junky
Hey Djustham,

I have the same is big but worth it! Mine has a "recommendation" tag that you should wear a pfd, but it is not illegal not to wear one. As for the beers, drink all you want........your not operating a motorized vehicle. Just don't get so hammered that when you get in your car, you're screwed!!! That did happen to a friend of mine. As far as a place in Tacoma don't know but an excellent place to find one is on

Have fun and enjoy the tube.....:)
Bring The Beers!!! Leave The Life Vest At Home!!!

The Offical Rule Is That Unless You Strap Your 50hp Merc To The Back Of Your Barcalounger, You Dont Need A Pfd. Only If You Are Sitting With Your Knees Out Of The Water AND ARE POWERED, You Are Required To Have One On Board. The Only Time You Are Required To Wear A Pfd Is Under The Age Of 12. And That Is Only When The Craft Is Under Way.

For The Beers, I Have Never Been Approached By The Authorities While I Was Drinking In My Tube. They Would Probebly Frown On It, But They Might Let You Off. My Buddy Has A Cooler On The Back Of His 'toon That We Pack With Ice And A Sixer Of Henery's. If The Fishing Is Slow, We Troll Up And Down The Swimming Area (if There Is One Where We Are) Drinking A Cold One And Spotting The Hotties.

For A Spot To Wet Your Fins....try Lake Wilderness Out In Covington, Or Make A Day Trip And Venture Out Further To Deep Lake Or One Of The Other Lakes Out By Enumscratch. Lots Of Nice Parks But I Never Did Too Well When I Lived Up There.

Tight Lines,
pick up a 20 dollar (or less) PFD at walmart or target and hook it onto the tube somewhere. almost everyone who drowns, except swimmers, did not have a PFD. I used to be a lifeguard (long ago) so I don't have much fear of whater either, but you can find yourself weighed down, injured, or otherwise not 100% when you need to swim out of a situation. It's worth the cash. Mine stays strapped to the tube and in the pontoon its hanging on the seat.
I have a couple of tubes I use for hiking into places. I really have never considered a life jacket, but I have used beer. If you are drinking beer it is a good idea to stay close to shore anyways. There will be a definate need to get to shore quickly. It can be painfull if you are in the middle of the lake after three beers or so and can't get to shore.


Active Member
As suggested, pack a PFD with you. I have a super fat cat and I throw the PFD in the back open space behind the seat. The foam pads on the fat cat would keep me afloat long enough to put on the PFD.

The last page of the regs talks about when a life jacket is "required" and "recommended". Float tubes are pretty clearly in the recommended category. It probably is a smart idea to have one but, myself, I guess I'm not too smart since I don't wear one when I'm tubing.

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