Welcome Beginners

Part Eight

Through The Eyes of a Beginner

By Don McPherson

Tube It?

Have you ever watched someone fishing out of a float tube and wonder what it's like to fish from one of them? Well this week we're gonna talk a little bit about these belly boats.

Now I have not used a float tube a lot, but just enough to have learned some of their benefits and some precautions you should take when using them. I do own a float tube and it is very useful for fishing lakes and some slow moving streams.

One of the first times I used a float tube was with my dad. I had heard that a small unknown reservoir in our area was home to some nice rainbows. So I called my dad and told him to bring his float tube with him the next time they came to visit. I borrowed a float tube from a co-worker and off we went.

I had used a float tube a couple times before and figured I knew enough to get my dad started. When we got to the reservoir the wind was blowing just a little and it had rained earlier in the day. As we got ready, we watched excitedly as trout were rising all over the pond.

I got my waders and fins on and started to help my dad get set up. He had the type of fins that have shoelaces on them so I cinched them down for him, so they wouldn't fall off. I was using the fins that you slip into from the back and they have a single strap that goes around your heel to hold them in place.

If you've ever used a float tube, you know that getting into one can be quiet a challenge. Since your fins have made your feet about 5 times their normal length, stepping into a float tube is like trying to put your foot through your pants with your shoes on. You end up dancing around trying not to fall on you rear. I told dad that the easiest way to get into the tube was to leave it on the ground and then step through the hole. Even this method can test your balance, but dad got in with no problem.

Once you get the float tube around your waist, the next challenge is figuring out how to walk to the water while holding the tube up and carrying your fly rod. One thing you'll soon discover is that it's very hard to walk with flippers on. In fact if you're not careful, you could easily end up on your face! When walking with fins on you have to step high and make sure you lift the front of the fins off the ground. If you try to walk into the water normally, you may very well end up face down in the water. I feel the easiest way to enter the water is backwards.

Mike Croft Cartoon

I got dad holding the tube and his rod, and I helped him walk down to the water. We found a place that looked like it would allow us to easily enter the water. I told dad to walk backwards into the water until the water was past his knees and then sit down in the tube. He took a couple of steps backwards and splash!

He had slipped in the mud and fell face forward into the mud and water! Now I know you're not supposed to laugh when things like this happen, but I couldn't help myself! After some expletives were shouted, dad collected and cleaned himself and got into the water.

Once you're in the water and seated in the float tube all you have to do is kick your feet and you can maneuver pretty easily. Now that dad was floating, I launched and started kicking out into the reservoir. I kept an eye on dad and gave him a few tips every once in a while. After a few minutes it was obvious that dad had this float tubing thing beat. I finned over to the other side of the reservoir and started casting to rising fish.

Remember that the wind is blowing a little. This means you need to kick a little to hold your position. As I looked back towards dad, I saw that he had drifted pretty close to the shore. I headed over to help him. When I got to dad I told him he needed to kick a little to move to away from the shore. He said he tried kicking and when he did he just went in circles. I watched him a little and sure enough he just went in circles.

As I moved around to the other side of his tube I found one of his fins floating in the water! No wonder he was spinning in circles.

We went to shore and put the fin on and launched again. Since the fish were mostly raising on the opposite side of the reservoir, I told dad we should head over there. We started kicking that way, but Dad was still having problems keeping up. I went back to him, grabbed his tube and started pulling him with me. Not knowing I was pulling him dad said, "You know, I think I'm getting the hang of this, I'm moving right along."

Well to say the least, he didn't think it was funny when I told him I was pulling him.

When we got to the other side, the weather started getting bad and we headed back to the truck. Now we didn't catch any fish on this trip but we learned some valuable lessons about float tubing.

First we learned you have to be careful when getting into the tube. I now use a U-shaped boat and this makes getting in and out of the tube a lot easier. Another thing is you are very vulnerable while getting in and out of the water. I think that the fins you chose are probably as important as the tube you use. Your fins should fit snuggly, they should be easy to get on and they should stay on.

There are many different shapes of fins, several which allow you to move easier through the water. You have to have a good set of fins to really move and maneuver in the water. Make sure your tube has the right amount of air in it, and no leaks. Not only will you move easier, it is unsafe to be on the water with an improperly inflated tube.

Float tubes are a great way to get around on you favorite lake. They are much cheaper than a boat and they are easy to take with you. You can pack your tube with you to your favorite mountain lake or use it to explore places you've never seen on larger lakes.

However you chose to use you tube, make sure you keep safety first. Like any type of water activity, if the weather gets bad, get out of the water! [Publishers note: check your local regulations, some states make wearing a personal safety device (life jacket) mandatory. Even if not required it's a really good idea!]

I do use my tube now and again. It allows me to get to spots I normally couldn't from the bank. And I like the solitude of tubing out into the middle of a lake, away from the crowded banks. I hope you have a chance to try a float tube. Ask a friend to borrow theirs, a float tube could be another tool in your bag of tricks.

Until next time, tight lines!
~ Don McPherson

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Previous Beginners Journal

Return to the Beginners Journal
Part 1 Reflection | Part 2 Sorting the Equipment
Part 3 The New Fly Rod | Part 4 A Little Respect
Part 5 Snapping 'em off! | Part 6 Get a Few Lessons!
Part 7 Stuff | Part 8 Tube It?
Part 9 Take a Little Time

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