02-10-2006 01:10 AM
Up the Creek: Float Tubes for Fishermen
For the fisherman who is unfamiliar with them, float tubes are basically very fancy tire tubes with a seat and a load of storage pockets. You sit down in the seat and maneuver around by kicking your feet with special fins. Your body is normally halfway submerged in the water, but that will depend on what style of float tube you purchase. Here in Canada where I do my fly fishing the water can be down right chilly, so neoprene chest waders are a good idea. Since you are partially submerged in the water and you sit quite low as a result, fly casting can be extremely tricky at times, especially for beginners as it is all to easy even for an experienced caster to have the line slap the water behind you during the back cast, and end up shooting out in front you in a massive tangle. The traditional style and the pontoon style are the two most common types of float tubes, of which, neither style of tube is recommended for moving water. They come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, materials, and storage capacities for all your gear needs. All you need to do is decide what best suits your needs.
Float tubes are extremely portable, and when not inflated they need very little space and will fit in the trunk of a car with ease. A tube can be inflated when you have reached your favorite lake by using a double action hand pump or a small 12 volt cigarette lighter style electric compressor. As they are fairly light in weight they can also be packed in for longer distances, which is good for hiking into the more secluded high mountain lakes.
Traditional float tube - Generally round or tear dropped shape, with either a middle or front opening, with this style you sit low into the water with the air chambers surrounding you. The air bladder can be made of rubber or a special plastic, and if you plan on doing a lot of hike in trips the plastic bladder is about half the weight of the rubber bladder. The one drawback with a traditional style float tube is the round shape of the tube, as this provides a lot of water resistance and can be very slow to maneuver, and on a bigger lake this can make for a long tiring day.
Pontoon float tube – This type has two air chambers or pontoons that sit on the water one on either side of the angler. The advantage of this style is that they are much easier to move while in the water as the pontoons offer much less drag and resistance. The angler also sits up higher in this style of float tube, keeping the angler warmer in cold water and making casting easier. Another advantage is a higher gear carrying capacity than a traditional float tube, all these features make pontoon type float tubes generally more expensive than traditional float tubes and they are usually heavier, which makes them a poor choice to pack in.
Which float tube is right for you will depend on the features you want, and how much you are willing to spend. Since pontoon style float tubes are more maneuverable and will keep you warmer, the average angler will likely be more satisfied with this type of float tube over time.
Andy Klynstra is the webmaster for Oil-Net.Com.
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