How To Fish Stillwaters

February 9th, 2004

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher

Float Tube Magic

By Patricia C. Pothier


For the part of your body that will be immersed in water, chest waders that come up to arm pits are essential. At the beginning or end of the season and in winter, neoprene waters ($85 - 200) with thermal long johns under them will keep you quite comfortable. In mid-summer you might want to change to light weight denier nylon waders ($45-60) or Seal-Dry rubber waders ($40-50). What you wear under these lighter weight waders depends a great deal on the temperature of the water and on your own internal tolerance for cold. In summer, some folks wear shorts under their waders while others keep their thermals on all season.

If you use stocking foot waders you will also need some type of covering for your wader feet to protect from chafing the wader with the swim fin and for walking on the shore when you enter and leave the water. The simplest and probably least expensive wader foot covering is a pair of heavy wool socks large enough to fit over the wader foot. There are also various sizes and styles of neoprene booties ($20-50) which are more expensive and durable, but must be slim enough to fit into the size and shape of the fins. Some people also wear foot boot waders ($150-200) for float tubing which given an even more solid footing, particularly on that rare occasion when you might find it necessary to walk back to your car after being blown across the lake. However, the heavier boot foot waders require more effort in using the fins for propulsion thus are more tiring. Again, these shoes must accommodate the essential fins.

Jackets, Shirts, Hats

It is very important for your comfort and safety to carefully consider what you will wear for a day on the lake in your tube. Since the lake water is usually colder than the outside air and you will be sitting directly in this water for long periods of time, you need to wear warmth in layers. On rare hot sunny days, you might consider just a long sleeve cotton shirt, but even then you should carry a rain jacket and/or other protection from a sudden change in the weather. It is best to start with too many layers than too few. A water proof rain jacket ($30-200) which can do double duty as a wind break can be easily available to you in the back pocket that makes up park of your tube's backrest. This jacket should have a hood and be long enough to cover the top of your waders without interfering with the line that you strip onto the apron of your tube. Sweaters and jackets for warmth are worn under the waders, but the weather proof jacket is worn as an outer layer allowing the water to shed off you rather than into the top of your waders. Aside from the clothing that protects your upper body, you need to have some type of head covering for protection from heat, cold, wind and errant fly hooks.

Screen and Glasses

Sunscreen is a must at all times to protect your face or any other exposed skin surface from harmful cancer causing rays. Sunglasses are needed for similar reasons. First, they protect your eyes from harmful sun rays and from your hooked fly that might come sailing back at you with a sudden gust of wind. Second, polarized sunglasses assist you in seeing aquatic activity such as nymphs swimming in sub-surface water and fish movement. To make sure your glasses don't somehow end up at the bottom of the lake, do consider a tether strap that attaches to each ear piece and hangs down the back below your hat.


Gloves can be useful in protecting your hands from the sun or cold. For those with sun sensitive skin, a light weight cotton glove with the fingers cut out will protect the back of your hands. For cold weather fishing there are both wool ($12-15) and neoprene gloves ($17-20) with just the thumb and forefinger cut out to facilitate tying on flies.

For Men Only

Spending several hours in a tube, floating in the middle of a lake can be a problem for men who have reduced bladder capacity, particularly from the normal enlargement of the prostate which often comes with aging. The necessity of returning frequently to shore to relieve themselves is not only and bother and tiring, but can interfere with production periods of fishing. In additions, there may be some people who have medical conditions that are not enhanced by the suggested limitation of fluids before tubing. One simple solution to this problem is for the man to wear and external catheter which is attached to a long rubber tube which drains urine to a holding bag. The bag is strapped to the outside of the leg just below the knee. This apparatus is worn under clothes and waders and can be put in place prior to leaving for a float tube trip. This equipment is readily available at medical supply houses and the cost is minimal for the comfort that this system provides. (My husband, Bill, says, "Try it you might like it." He does.) ~ PCP

Continued next time.

Credits: Excerpt from Float Tube Magic By Patricia C. Potheir, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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