Can A Fishing Boat Pull A Tube? (We Find Out)

A tube doesn’t have much weight of its own; therefore, it can be pulled by almost any vessel. But when bringing passengers (on the tube) and adding their weight into the equation, it becomes questionable what kind of boat(s) can pull a tube. Furthermore, many people ask whether a fishing boat can pull a tube. Let’s find out!

A 90 HP engine is needed to pull a tube at a minimum. However, the recommended engine size is 115 HP to 150 HP, depending on the tube size and number of passengers. If a fishing boat has an engine powerful enough, then YES, a fishing boat can pull a tube.

Those interested in gaining more relevant information should keep reading this article until the end. It’s all about whether or not a fishing boat can pull a tube. Let’s begin by talking a bit about the types of fishing boats available.

Can A Fishing Boat Pull A Tube? (We Find Out)

Types Of Fishing Boats

In this section, we’re going to look at various fishing vessels and find out which ones can pull a tube.

In general, a fishing vessel can be:

  1. Commercial: Similar to huge ships, meant for commercial purposes.
  2. Artisanal: Owned by individuals for small-scale fishing.
  3. Recreational: Multi-purpose boats, which can be used for fishing and recreational activities.

So Which Boats Are Suitable For Tubing?

  • You cannot pull a tube with a ship (that would be weird). Other smaller commercial fishing boats, such as non-trawling vessels, aren’t fast enough to give a sweet tubing experience. Hence, commercial fishing vessels are totally out of the equation.
  • Artisanal boats are usually engineless, and the operator uses a rod or a paddle to row. However, you can install an engine powerful enough for tubing. But these boats aren’t designed for open water (and meant only for closed water bodies). Hence you can’t possibly pull a tube even if the boat is powerful enough. On the other hand, a 20’ Jon boat can achieve a top speed of 45 mph, but running artisanal boats at such speed can cause misbalance.
  • Recreational boats are meant for open and closed waters and house a powerful engine. Bowriders, deck boats, jet skis, etc., are all recreational and powerful, hence perfect for pulling the tube.
  • The hull type plays a significant role in shaping the wake behind a boat. Fishing boats come in every shape and design of hull so let’s just take a moment to talk about a few of the more common types.
    • V-hull boats are shaped like the name – a ‘V.’ These hulls cut the water as the boat travels and create deep wakes. Best utilized for waterskiing and wakeboarding, only experienced tube riders should ride behind a fast-moving v-hull boat.
    • Flat bottom boats, otherwise known as Jon boats, are similar to v-hull in that their name explains the hull type. With a very flat hull the wake is reduced and is perfect for recreational tube riders.

Tubing Explained

This section deals with the fundamentals of tubing. Every exciting detail you can think of is likely mentioned here, so stay with us for more of what we all want to know: speed!

A boy in a tube being pulled on the water.

Tubing Speed Requirements

Tubing is fun only when pulled at a reasonable speed—neither too fast nor too slow. Generally, tubes are pulled at a speed of 29 mph or slower. Pulling faster than 30 mph can cause misbalance, which in the worst-case scenario can be deadly. So basically, you’ll need a boat lot faster than 30 mph. But why?

A 60 hp engine might be sufficient for a boat alone to sail at 30 mph. But with the added tube weight (including passengers), a more powerful engine is needed. Hence, 115 HP or more is considered ideal.

Think of the tube and tubing passenger as a significant weight. Sure, you have the buoyancy of the tube keeping them afloat, but you still have the force of their weight pushing down on the tube and, thus, the water. Then the water is pushing back with the density pressure of the water. This push and push back causes friction. In the case of the boat trying to pull the tube and rider, it’s called drag.

The engine must be able to overcome the drag caused by pulling the tube behind. And then get enough speed to make it fun. Just remember to keep it slow to keep it safe. 

Things To Consider When Tubing

Tubing brings a lot of important stuff to consider:

  • Tubes are pulled with towing ropes and not any ordinary ropes. These are safer, thanks to their toughness and durability.
  • Tubing speed depends on the number of riders and their gross weight. 
  • Experience in the tubing is also an important thing to consider. If the rider is a newbie/inexperienced or a child, tubing at slow speed is highly recommended.
  • Consistent speed is essential. Moving at a uniform speed makes tubing a lot safer and more fun.
  • Tubing in an “S” shape is fun and safer for the riders. Sharp and fast corners, on the other hand, are too risky and life-threatening. They can act as a whip, sending tubes and riders sailing dangerously fast.
  • Tubes are best pulled away from the banks/shore/deck, etc.
  • Tubes aren’t life preservers, so always remember to wear your life jacket!
Check out this guys set-up for tubing with his family in a Nitro Z18 fishing boat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are jet boats good for tubing?

Jet boats have a considerably powerful engine and are recreational boats. According to all the research above, jet boats are a perfect fit to pull a tube. However, before pulling, you must inspect the engine installed on your boat.

Is 40 HP enough for tubing?

A 40 HP boat can pull small kids or skinny guys at a speed of around 15 mph. If that’s enough for you, there’s no point in holding back. Additionally, newbies or inexperienced riders aren’t safe at higher speeds. It depends on who’s riding, and a 40 HP might be enough for tubing.

Can you pull a tube behind an outboard motor?

There’s no problem in tubing behind an outboard motor. A boat with an outboard motor is generally an all-rounder, and you can use it for tubing and or recreational activities.

Is it safe to pull a tube in saltwater?

There are no such restrictions or safety issues when it comes to tubing in saltwater and or freshwater. You can always pull a tube anywhere (irrespective of the type of water). Just make sure that the water body is large enough for tubing. 

How dangerous can tubing be?

When you’re tubing, you’ll be moving at a speed of around 18 mph or faster. If you fall off, then hitting the water will be similar to hitting the concrete. Hence, it’s highly recommended to at least wear a helmet because you can imagine the result of hitting your bare head with something similar to concrete. 

Now, to be honest, not many people wear a helmet tubing. It’s a smart idea, but in reality, it is by no means standard practice. The best idea to stay safe tubing is to start slow and under control. Never go faster than you can handle. And remember to have three people. The boat driver, a person in the boat who watches the tuber, communicates between the tube and boat driver and the tube person. Never go out with less.

Check out this video to find out how to tow a tub safetly.

The Last Lap Around The Lake

By the end of this article, we’ve learned about suitable boats for tubing. We also learned about various types of fishing vessels and found which ones are perfect to serve the purpose. Recreational boats are meant for fun and enjoying marine trips.

Pulling a tube is also a part of recreational activity. Our job was to provide you with the best possible details, and now it’s your job to act wisely. Good luck and don’t forget your life jacket!


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