If you’re looking for a closer encounter with your fish, a float tube might peak your interest!
What are they & how do they work?
Float tubes are a combination of a little rubber boat and a life jacket. You simply sit in the tube and use your legs and feet to maneuver and steer the float. For maximum efficiency and comfort, invest in a good pair of fins and waders. Newer and larger models come with a seat and two arm floats, instead of the traditional tube model, so be sure to do some research before making a purchase.
Float boats can be tricky
Since you are partially submerged in water, appropriate waders and force fins are a must. Force fins allow you to push water using the tip of the fin. Neoprene waders are durable and keep you warm, however, they trap sweat. Breathable waders are lightweight and comfortable in hot temperatures, but water is allowed to breathe through the wader making them less desirable for cooler temps.
Most anglers prefer to use floats in lakes, in cool to warmer water temperatures, and for shorter trips, since leg muscle cramps are not uncommon. Also, floats are not recommended for river fishing due to rapids and strong currents. Punctures will occur if used in white waters and rocky terrain. Finally, since you are doing all the work, it is best to avoid float fishing in wavy or extremely windy conditions.
Casting a fly from a float can be tricky and will definitely take some practice. However, once you have mastered the art, nothing is better than being one with the water and the fish!
Shapes & Sizes
Traditional float tubes come in many different shapes, sizes and colors. A comfortable backrest is a must and most are adjustable and contain padding for extra support. Pontoon floats are a little more expensive than a traditional float however, they offer additional options preferred by some anglers. The seat is higher allowing you for less submersion that in a traditional float. You can also add a small trolling motor to cover more ground. Additional features include various storage options, and extras such as rod holders and cup holders. They weigh around 18 pounds and have a 350 weight capacity.
Newer pontoon type float boats are available allowing you to sit above the water. However, the weight and bulk provide more of a boating experience. They come with a wheel for transport to the lake. However, their 38 pound average weight may not enable some to carry it into the backwoods or on long hikes.
Since the folded tubes are easily portable and packable, many fans like to carry them into more remote fishing spots. Remember, waders are recommended. However they also add more weight to your pack, so be sure to include both when determining the desired pack weight for maximum comfort. Make sure to consider your needs when shopping for a float.
The cost of float tubes range from $80 and higher. Pontoon float tubes typically start at over $150 and above. Additional costs include waders, fins, and additional fishing apparel and gear. Pontoon float boats start at about $450 and up.