Do you own the right float tube fins for fishing?
Catching a prize fish is the preferred way to end a day of fishing. As anglers, we often use a float tube to snag a photo-worthy catch some distance from shore.
Fins are worn on the feet to help propel a float tube, and our choice of fins determines how easily we get around.
The difference between an enjoyable and a tiring float-tube fishing experience is the choice of fins — our guide will help you make the selection right plus provide our a few of our top picks.
Anyone who has tried to paddle a float tube without the use of fins will tell you that it’s pretty much a waste of time and effort, and using the wrong kinds of fins is almost as bad as using no fins at all.
Belly Boat Fishing Still Water or Moving Water?
One factor that affects our choice of fins is whether we fish in drifting water or still water. Float tube fishing in a river requires fins that help us stay in place in spite of water currents.
In a river, fins should have backward propulsion and maximum water resistance. These types of fins are awkward when used in calm waters because they force you to fish in an awkward position.
Fishing in still water requires fins with forward propulsion and minimal drag.
What Makes a Good Pair of Fishing Fins?
For starters, they should be easy to wear. Slip-on fins are simply pulled on so that the foot fits snugly into the fin’s pocket. Step-in fins are by far the easiest fins to wear. However, because water gets between the sole of the foot and a step-in fin, more energy and effort is needed to paddle with the step-in fin variety. Good fishing fins should be well secured to stay on the feet avoiding loss and quality fins will largely be secured with adjustable strapping and locking buckles.
Fishing fins should allow the wearer to move with the least amount of effort, so the ideal fin should be designed to have minimal drag. A fin blade that curves upwards or has vents allows water to flow through it, creating more thrust and reducing drag.
Fins should also provide maximum propulsion with each leg movement. Long fins have a large surface that displaces a large amount of water to create thrust that pushes the tube forward but may not be suited to shallower water.
Wide fishing fins also provide powerful thrust but are less streamlined than their longer, narrower counterparts. They force the wearer to use extra effort when paddling.
The degree of stiffness of a fin also determines its thrust. The stiffer the fin, the more powerful its propulsion but the greater its drag. This means the wearer expends more energy paddling with stiff fins compared to flexible ones.
Fins should be adequately narrow so that they don’t interfere with each other as you paddle to your angling or water fowling spot. It takes enough effort to propel a belly boat without the inconvenience of fins that are too wide.
Float Tube Fin Types
- Paddle-Pusher Fins — These are lateral, hinged fins that are secured at the ankle and onto the heel of a wading boot. This style is designed to move your belly boat forward by using a walking motion. Paddles attach to boots or shoes with fins to the side via heavy straps that aid in steering the float tube forward — not the most popular of selections and hard to find.
- High-Thrust Fins — These are wider at the toe to provide powerful thrust and are shorter in length to allow maneuverability out of water. Though they are somewhat flexible to minimize drag and are vented at the fin blade to provide a turbo boost of thrust with every kick. They are made for boot or stocking foot waders with an adjustable click strap that fits behind the heel.
- Frog Foot Fins — This type of fin, originally popular in the 1980’s were reasonably proportioned for the wearer’s comfort and were fairly light and strong but ultimately did not come in sizes large enough to allow comfortable tubing while wearing cold weather layers and waders. This style is still popular as a propulsion fin for underwater hunters, military and rescue divers…not so much anglers.
- Force Fins — This fin type is lighter and flexible. Their light weight makes them comfortable to wear and allows them to float should they come loose. Their flexibility allows for reduced drag, making it easy to move through water. Unlike frog-foot fins, the blades of force fins curve upwards. As a result they have less water resistance (both drag and thrust) than frog-foot fins. The fin’s up-curve focuses flowing water, effectively increasing thrust and are easier to walk in.
- Hinged Fins were designed to overcome drag while providing maximum propulsion power. Most types of hinged fins are made for forward propulsion. They open as the leg moves backwards to propel the tube forward. They then fold backwards as the leg moves forward to streamline and minimize drag, allowing you to move forward easily. This style fin, while one of costlier patented designs, also makes putting fins on from the shoreline, effortless. The hinged design requires a learning curve to gain maximum benefit.
For belly boat fishing, the best float tube fins should be light enough to be comfortable. They should also be light enough to float and allow for easy retrieval in case it comes loose. Those, however, who prefer fins that fit over wading boots should expect the fins to be on the heavier side.
The market is full of styles from well known sports and outdoor equipment manufacturers, so whether your focus is comfort, performance or affordability, there’s a pair of float tube fins will work for you.
Two points to take away from this guide are:
- Stiff fins will make for stiff paddling but will provide more propulsion for moving around — they may be a little more work and may be a cause for some foot and ankle fatigue depending on your movements.
- Flexible float tube fins generally bend as you draw your foot back for your paddle stroke and will stiffen out when you push forward making paddling efficient with less fatigue and less propulsion.
With either choice, you will want a pair that snugly clips over your wading boots or stocking feet — if you lose a fin while fishing, you also loose your propulsion back to shore.
Our Picks for Best Float Tube Fins
The float tube fins we like have a proven track record of success with customers and are made and supported by trusted manufacturers in the sports and outdoor equipment industry. These are in no particular order.