Saturday, July 28, 2012

My First Float Tube Voyage

I have been wanting a kayak for quite a while.  I had a tandem kayak before my kids were born.  It was great to have but the main problem was storage.  The kayak was kept outside and exposed to the elements. When my wife became pregnant I sold the kayak to get funds to buy a nice camcorder.  I have wanted a boat since.   Often times I scoured craigslist for used kayak deals and even inquired often with in my fly fishing club.   There was never a deal that matched my budget or the kind of kayak I was looking for.  A friend was selling a pontoon style float tube.  I was interested but when researching reviews of the rig I found info on regular belly boat style float tubes.  I also stumbled upon the float tube fishing forum.  I was amazed at how tricked out a float tube could get.  These guys also use the tubes in almost any situation.  I checked out Sierra Trading post and found a deal where I could get a U-style Caddis float tube and fins for under $100.  I had a Caddis traditional round style tube maybe 15yrs ago.  I never used it that often because I didn't have many friends to fish with.  Luckily that is not an issue now days and yesterday I broke the tube out for her maiden voyage.
Some friends and I hit Jordan Lake. I was a little hesitant at first. The forecast called for 100 degree weather. I was worried about cooking myself with the 80degree water wearing my waders and a PFD. I probably could have wet waded by I was sketchy about this lakes water quality. We all headed out and I remembered quickly one quirky thing about float tubes and using fins. Which way do you pedal your feet? There is a definite trick to it and finding the right rhythm and technique takes time. I found if I back pedaled I moved quickly but it was tiring. If I forward kicked it was less tiring but I barely moved at all. I found through out the day I did a combo of both. I have to say once I got into a groove I really enjoyed the float tube a lot. It's not fast but the advantage is maneuverability. The water actually felt cool around my waders and it was interesting to feel the temperature changes. We headed into a creek that entered the lake and the water temp had to have dropped 10degrees.
We tried this area for awhile. I could see bubbles rising from either turtles or carp. The water was too dingy to really see. The situation made me really wish I had a fish finder. It would have been nice to know what structure and contours were underneath. The fishing wasn't very good but honestly I was having fun just getting used to how the tube handled. If you just sat and enjoyed the view it was very relaxing.  I often times just bobbed with the current and watched ospreys and turkey vultures fly around.
I can see that I might use this for just messing around and taking pictures. After a couple hours my ankles were getting pretty worked from paddling.   My buddy was able to give me a tow back with his rig.
I'm really looking forward to using this boat more. I've been researching fish finders and I've found one that interests me quite a bit. Mainly because of its cost and functionality.
This is called the Humminbird Smartcast. You attach the receiver to a fishing pole and you can literally cast the transducer out. Then reel it in and get a over view of what the bottom is like. It reads temperature, bottom features and fish. I thought it would be cool to put it on a spinning rod and just let it drag behind the tube. I could also cast it out in various places to see if they are worth fishing. I think it would be a fun toy if nothing else. If someone has tried this please comment on it.


  1. Hey Kevin, welcome to the float tube club! I started out with a Caddis U-tube and I had a ball. A few years ago I switched to a TU Tioga that sits a little higher off the water. I've only used it once and the jury is still out. Luckily, I still have 2 Caddis tubes.

    I used a Bottom Line Fishing Buddy. I bought it from Cabelas I believe. I also bought a tube holster for the unit to attach to the tube. I'v hear a lot of good and bad about them, but they're worth checking out and the price wasn't bad. Have fun and let me know if you have any questions.

  2. Hey Howard, I'm really happy with my purchase. The guys on the float tube forum are all about the fishin buddies. They are telling me the smartcast things are junk. I might go with the 110. That is the bottom of the line model. I guess the only difference between the 110 and 120 is the 120 can do a directional side view. I looked at fish cats and I didn't really see a big difference between those and the caddis Nevada I have. We'll see. They have more bells and whistles but the overall tube construction seems the same. They might have a higher quality bladder.

  3. Glad you have transportation in the drink again! I first used one in their infancy in the early 70's as a high school kid invited to fish the R&R Ranch on Silver Creek. My x-country assitant coach and math teacher was of the Purdy family, and a friend. An inner tube with a canvas saddle back then. Even my crude flies back then took the unsophisticated rainbows of the time. Never used one since but before an injury in Alaska I intended to try to arrow a moose from one. It would have worked I'm sure.


  4. Hey guys, you can easily attach pretty much any fish finder to your float tube with the fish finder mounts from I bought one of their mounts for my Humminbird 170 and when my buddy saw it, he got one, and bought an Lowrance Elite 4x. In my opinion and experience, by far the best solution available today. Here's a review I found on it: