How To Fish Stillwaters

March 8th, 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
Float Tube Fly Fishing Strategies, Part 2

By Patricia C. Pothier

Rigging Your Line

First, mount the reel securely on the butt of your rod and run your fly line from the reel through the guides, leaving about three feet beyond the rod tip to work with. Measure off 9-10 feet of leader material from its spool and attach this leader to the no-knot eyelet with a clinch knot or loop to loop with a line ending in a loop. If you are not using a loop knot or no-knot eyelet, the leader is attached to the fly line with a nail knot. Tie your searching fly to the end of the straight leader with a clinch knot, a simple loop knot or turle knot. The loop or turle knot allows the fly to move more naturally at the end of the leader. It has been observed that if a small fly is tied to a large leader with the usually recommended clinch knot, the fly is canted and does not float freely. Finally, attach the fly to the keeper at your rod base and take up any slack in the line and leaders with the reel. Now you are ready to get into your tube and begin your fishing expedition.

If you need to change lines when you are in your tube, you can quickly and easily do this by: removing the fly, reeling in the line, removing the reel or spool and replacing it with a reel or spool of the desired type line. After securely fastening the reel or spool, dip your rod and reel into the water butt end down to thread your line through the guides. By using this method you avoid the chance of breaking your rod and it is easier on your body. Since reels are made to get wet, it will not harm the reel to submerge it for this procedure.

Getting Into The Tube

Tubing is essentially a safe form of recreation, however, getting in and out of the tube can be problematic because it is possible to fall over with the tube on top of you. Although everyone tries to avoid this, most tubers have had this experience at least once. For your safety, only launch when other people are around.

You have some choices to make on the best way for you to enter your tube. It may take some trial and error before you decide what is best for you. If you have a U-shaped tube, you can place it in the water and simply back into it. For a closed round tube you can either pull it over your head or step into it. With the motor assisted tube, it is necessary to step in because with the two tubes, battery and motor it can't be lifted over your head. For those with limited mobility, the rod butt or folding staff can be very helpful for getting in and out of the tube and a small folding chair at the shoreline may also facilitate the process.

Foot Entry Method

    1. If possible choose a spot along the shore that is free of impediments or sticky mud.

    2. Place assembled rod next to where you are sitting with the butt end next to you. Be careful where the tip end is resting because it is relatively fragile and easily broken.

    3. Place fins on other side of where you are sitting.

    4. Place tube in front of you.

    5. With your feet just in the water, pull on your fins and secure the tethers.

    6. Stand up in shallow water, just to the side of the tube. Secure your balance as necessary with the rod butt or staff and step one foot at a time, toe angled down, into the tube.

    7. Secure the seat safety strap and stripping apron by their respective straps.

    8. Lay the rod across the tube, secure with velcro strap and with both hands lift the tube by the straps on either side to around your knees.

    9. Slowly turn so that you are facing the shore and with small steps slowly walk backwards into the water, making sure there are no impediments in your way. Or you can turn sideways and side step toward the water.

    10. When the water reaches your knees, sit down on the seat and you will be floating.

    Over The Head Entry Method

    Follow the same steps as above except instead of stepping into the tube, lift it over your head, then bring it down over your head, shoulders and waist. Again, fasten the safety belt and stripping apron and carefully back into the water.

    Moving The Tube

    Since a great deal of float tube fly casting is done while moving in reverse, you need to start kicking backward one foot at a time once you are floating. Point the fin straight down and then bring it straight up in front of you. This motion will give you the propulsion from your fins. Through varying the speed of your kick, you can chance the pace at which you choose to fish. And, when you want to turn to the right or left, use the fins as rudders to make this change.

    Getting Out Of The Tube

    After you have fished as long as you want or if the weather turns inclement, it is time to head for shore. For safety, remember when venturing out that you always need to leave energy for your return. At the first sign of increase velocity or the approach of stormy clouds, you need to calculate where you are and how long it will take you to paddle to safety. Since distances on the lake can be deceiving, you can help your calculation by remembering how long it took you to get to your location. It is tempting, particularly if fish are still feeding, to stay out just a little longer. Resist the temptation in favor of being on shore during a lightning storm or very strong wind.

    As you approach shore, once again watch out for rocks, logs or sticky mud areas. Reel in your line, place the rod across your tube, secure with velcro straps and paddle backward into the shallows. When you can stand up, undo the stripping apron and the safety strap and walk backwards out of the water. At this point you can step out of your tube raising your heel first to facilitate egress or your can simply lift the tube up over your head. You are safely back to dry land.

    For those using a power assisted tube, you may want to remove the fins before getting to shore since the tube cannot be lifted out of the water with the battery in it. In this case, once you are in shallow water, reach down to undo the fin tether, pull off your fins and throw them up on shore out of your way before stepping out of your tube. ~ 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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