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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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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