A fly fishing boat opens up access to water that cannot be accessed from the bank giving you better chances of success. Our guide explains the different types of fly fishing boats.

Fly Fishing Boats

As was true in buying a rod and reel, before looking at fly fishing boats you need to decide what type of water you will be fishing.

But, as we continue our study of fly fishing basics, why would you want to buy a fly fishing boat in the first place?

• Not all trout are accessible from the bank and you can cover more water in a boat than by wading.

• It is also sometimes hard to wade to some fishing spots.

• There are also those times when there is heavy fishing pressure from other bank fishermen, and a boat will allow you to float right past them.

• Last but not least, it is enjoyable to be out on the water.

Lets take a look at some of the options available for fly fishing boats.

Float Tubes

Also known as a kick-boat or a belly boat these fly fishing boats are kind of a cross between a lazy-boy recliner, and an inner tube. The float tube is a C-shaped tube with a form of seat that supports you as you float in the water. Your legs will be submerged in the water, and many models come with fins for your feet to propel and navigate the craft.

Advantages of Float Tubes

• First of all they are very affordable. Some are half the price of a pontoon boat.

• They are also very portable. They can be carried into the backcountry or other remote waters.

• They are best suited for small lakes and ponds.

Disadvantages of Float Tubes

• They are dangerous if used on rivers, and on large lakes they can be a problem when the winds come up. Kicking against the wind is no fun.

• Since you will be sitting in the water it could be a little cool after a while.

• Keep in mind that you will need to bring extra gear (waders and fins) if hiking into the backcountry.

• They are more susceptible to puncture, so always wear a life jacket. To learn more about float tubes click here.

• And last but not least…I always have so much fun getting in the darn things!

Read Our Float Tube Guide

Have the fly you need, every time!

Our curated fly boxes offer a variety of fly patterns perfectly organized by type(wet, dry, nymph) and size to help you match the most common hatches. Our Essential Fly Boxes come in Caddisfly, Mayfly, and Stonefly configurations and are preloaded into a 2-sided, waterproof fly box. Personalization options let you impress your fishing buddies on the river.

Fly Fishing Boats for Rivers

If you are going to be fly fishing on rivers frequently the following boats are good options.

Fly Fishing Pontoon Boats

Pontoon boats are also very portable. Most are easy to transport in a pickup or trunk of a car. Because they are easy to maneuver they work well on lakes or rivers.

They are more durable than a float tube and you sit up out of the water. This makes them better suited for river conditions.


Fly fishing pontoon boats will take longer to set up than a float tube and are more expensive. However, they have become very popular in the last twenty years and you may be able to find a good used one for sale.

Fly Fishing Pontoon Guide

Inflatable Fly Fishing Boats

I will include several different boats in this class. These boats come in many different sizes and shapes. They come in everything from small inflatable kayaks to large whitewater rafts.

Inflatable kayaks are good for floating rivers if you may encounter white water. Inflatable rafts come in many sizes and they are able to carry more people and gear.

Inflatable Boat Guide

Fly Fishing Drift Boats

Drift boats are truly the classic fly fishing boat, designed for the larger rivers of the Northwest. They have ample room, making them easy to stand and cast from. They are also easy to maneuver.


They can be very expensive, they require a trailer and as a general rule require a boat ramp of some kind.

Drift Boat Guide

Safety First: Always Wear a Life Jacket

Life jacket, or PFD, whatever you call it, wear it!

May I say again, WEAR A LIFE JACKET!
I am a good swimmer but I am not sure of my ability when I have waders on, or how far I could swim in 60-degree water.