Some shops offer a package deal on both the float tube, fins, and inner tube if not included with the float tube. A complete outfit is often your best deal. Although you can use chest waders, stocking foot waders are the ticket for float tubing. Neoprene waders are ideal unless you fish in warm water or don’t get told easily.
The price of one of the better float tubes, a set of fins and a pair of neoprene waders is still less than half what a small boat would cost, without considering a motor and gas tank, the trailer, oars, life jackets, licensing and maintenance items like mixing the gas and oil, tune-ups, greasing the trailer bearings and repairing flat tires.
One of the biggest advantages of float tubing is portability. A deflated float tube takes up very little room and even when fully inflated, a float tube is indeed small when compared to a boat. A compact portable air compressor that plugs into the dashboard cigarette lighter lets the angler inflate the tube at the lake, so the float tube can be transported deflated,
Float tubes offer a high degree of accessibility, too. A float tuber only needs a few square feet of open area at the water’s edge to launch. A float fisherman isn’t restricted to boat launches. The small fishy-looking brushy lakes that lack boat launches, the quiet structure-riddled coves of large lakes, and pastoral farm ponds are all but a few fin strokes away.
There are countless fishing spots all across the country where fish never see a fly because neither wading nor boating fishermen can get to them — but a float tuber can.
USING YOUR FLOAT TUBE
Getting in and out of your float tube might seem tricky the first time, but soon becomes as automatic as jointing up a fly rod. For the first launch, pick an area with firm footing that gradually slopes down into the like. Set your tube with the seat unbuckled at / the water’s edge, facing shore-
The standard tube is sufficient to support up to 350 pounds. The larger model is designed for bigger persons or for the fisherman who wants more storage compartments or more floatation for fishing large impoundments. The main drawback to the ultra light tube and to many of the inexpensive float tubes is that they lack the safety margin of secondary air chamber, the backrest.
There is a high degree of competition between float tube manufacturers, resulting in quality products that are competitively priced. There is a direct corollary between money spent and quality received. One of the areas to inspect is the caliber of workmanship in the stitching of the seams. The less-expensive models are often not sewn well, have only single stitched seams, and have cheap zippers. If you’re uncertain about a specific model of float tube or if you’re wondering whether you want to try float tubing at all, one option is to investigate a rental tube. Many shops will apply the rental fee towards purchase of a float tube.
Some float tubes come with the inner tube included and some do not, requiring the customer to buy a tube at a tire shop. Another factor affecting the final price is whether the backrest/secondary air chamber includes a tube. Again, some do and some don’t. The only accessory gear absolutely necessary for float tubing is either a pair of foot paddles or swim fins. Foot paddles power the tuber in a forward direction, which is fine for casting to rising fish or working a small patch of cover. They are easier to walk in than swim fins.
But swim fins are much more efficient for moving through the water because fins power the tuber on both the forward and backward strokes, not just the forward stroke of the foot paddles. Swim fins are more difficult to walk in but are better for working a wet fly, for trolling while moving from one spot to another, and for applying reverse power for setting the hook. And with fins, once the angler is in position, by just turning the tuber can cast to rising fish or work a popper through the lily pads.
In this article you will find an emphasis on learning, on enjoyment and on preserving trout through catch and release fishing. Although each is an integral part of the experience of float tube fly fishing, the emphasis on respect for, and preservation of, trout and their environment is a critical concern. You might ask why this is true. The answer lies in the fact that there are now many more people fishing than ever before and that environmental degradation threatens the waters in which fish thrive. So, each fly fisher must be personally responsible to assure the future of excellent fly fishing for him or herself and for future generations.
First, your responsibility to the trout begins with respect for the life of the fish. This basically means what you do after you catch a fish. Do you kill it or do you handle the fish very carefully and release it back to the water to live another day. This is a decision that you must make based on certain external factors: the limit provided by regulations, your need for food or desire to eat trout and whether the fish you catch are wild trout or if they have been raised in a hatchery. Many lakes are stocked with drab colored weak fighting hatchery raised trout. Wild trout, on the other hand, have always had to depend on themselves for survival. They are usually of brighter colors and have more native energy when hooked. Because of pollution, water diversion and increased fish pressure – some of these wild trout are threatened with extinction. As a result, there are often protected by no-kill or minimal limits. Since wild trout are more exciting to catch than hatchery fish, it is to the fisherman’s advantage to release them to grow bigger and reproduce. So, if you choose to release the fish you catch, particularly wild trout, this action will help to assure an ample supply of fish for future generations of fly fishers and that these fish will be there for you to catch next season. Chapter 4 tells more about trout characteristics and how to identify the wild ones.
Fly fishers also need to take responsibility for the environment that supports a fishing lake. Take care not to litter the shoreline and pick up after more careless persons. Take special care to dispose of monofilament line so that it does not kill animal life that might become entangled in it. Also watch where you pack your vehicle and where you walk along the shore line so as not to disturb fragile banks and plant growth. Secondly, consider associating yourself with one of the organizations that are dedicated to conservation of the fishing environment. One such organization is Henry’s Lake Foundation which has played a major role in restoring the excellence of this major trout lake in Idaho. Other conservation organizations are listed on page 43.
Hopefully this introduction has peeked your interest in the joyful and satisfying sport of float tube fly fishing and helped you gain an appreciation of its origins and development from primitive beginnings to todays state of the art equipment. You know now that there are various systems of Stillwater fly fishing and why this book focuses on fishing with sinking lines. Finally, you are encouraged to take individual responsibility in assuring an abundant fishing future.
Float tubes have come a long way since the garage genesis belly boat make from a patched inner tube draped with a homemade canvas seat. Today’s Cadillac flat tubes are more trustworthy and more effective fishing craft. Modern float tubes incorporate a truck tire tube covered with tough non-rotting nylon with comfortable seats, backrests, pockets, and carrying systems. When coupled with stocking-foot waders and efficient fins, float tubing is not only easy, but a great way to catch more fish. Float tubes offer fishermen a more intimate fishing experience because angler is suspended in the water. Supported by what guide Ted Calvert calls a floating easy chair. The immediacy to both the water and fish is particularly captivating, especially when fighting a hooked fish. Floating at water level brings the fighting closer to the angler and any leverage advantage is reduced because the fisherman is floating too. The size and power of the fish is, in effect, magnified.
One of these float tubes will greatly expand your fishing horizons. Not only are farm ponds and high mountain lakes prime for floating, but backwater arms of reservoirs (often a choice feeding area for fish) and selected quiet streams as well. Since new streams aren’t being created it makes sense to be more creative in using other available waters, and a float tube is a great way to do it.
Quietly finning along will get you closer to more still-water fish and more bigger ones, too, because you are a silent stalker. There are no built-in noisemakers in a float tube – no resonating aluminum hull, no clanking of metal or rubbing of wood. Because you’re in a silent water craft, gliding along with a minimum of effort, you will also be delighted to observe undisturbed water-loving birds and animals.