Float Tubing in an Easy Chair
Whereas a drift boat helps you in fast-moving water, float tubing is primarily for lakes and slow-moving currents. Personal watercraft such as a float tube or kick boat offer access to limited areas, freedom from the confines and restrictions of a boat, versatility, comfort, and plain old fun. If you use swim fins to propel your float tube, your hands will be free for fishing. You don't have to worry about anchoring your boat, clanking oars, noisy feet in the bottom of the boat, or even wind. You can steal your 8-foot rod into tight places preferred by trout.
There are three basic techniques: (1) dry fly stalk—locate rising fish, hold a position, and cast to the rings; (2) half-asleep trollpaddle around with the line trailing behind; (3) prospecting—maneuver to likely looking holding water and blind-cast with floating or subsurface patterns. These methods will often reward you with a bend in the rod and a fish on the line.
But in case you're striking out, don't fall asleep in your floating easy chair. Here's a tip: hungry fish respond aggressively to flies or streamers moving through the water at a constant speed, and trolling in a float tube mimics this action better than conventional hand-stripping of the line. So after casting, let your fly sink to the depth you feel the fish are feeding, then use your fins to turn the tube in a circular motion to most naturally mimic a smoothly moving insect or terrestrial. Turn no more than 180 degrees, then reel in the slack as you turn 180 degrees back. Repeat.
Got a Bamboo Rod?
Question: I am new to fishing with a bamboo fly rod. Can you provide information on the care and upkeep of a bamboo rod?
Answer: The following are a few points regarding the care and use of a split-bamboo rod reproduced from the 1927 catalog of the Shakespeare Rod Co. It is still valid advice.
Jointing a rod. Join the tip to the middle joint, putting tile butt on last in order to avoid undue strain on the delicate tip. Never lubricate the joints with anything other than dry soap or parafine wax. Be sure that the guides are in line and that the reel Is fastened securely on the reel scat underneath the rod. Reeve the line through the guides and pull enough line through the top so that you can work without unnecessary strain on the rod.
Taking down the rod. Grasp the rod sections firmly in both hands, holding the butt away from you and the tip underneath the arm. Pull apart, separating first the butt from the middle joint and then the middle joint from the tip, just the reverse of the order In which the rod was set up. If the rod joints stick tightly, try this method: In a slightly stooping position, hold the rod or rod sections underneath the knees. Press the knees apart against the hands as they grasp the rod. This pressure will be all that Is required. Do not pull with the hands; let the knees do all the work. This method will disjoint many an otherwise balky rod and will eliminate all hazard of sudden jerking and breaking. Never twist a rod either in putting it together or in taking it down, and keep all pressure off the guides. If the rod sections “gum” as they sometimes will under strenuous use and resist all efforts to disjoint them, drop a little kerosene around the rim of the ferrules, and let stand a day or two. Two days at the most should loosen the tightest joint.
To straighten bent sections. Lay the bent section on a board and drive in two nails near each end. Next, bend the rod section a little more than straight and secure the position with a third nail. A week or so of this treatment will take the set out enough so that you can finish the correction by hanging it up with a weight attached to the bottom.
Putting the rod up for the winter. A fine split-bamboo rod should be stored in a moderately cool place, since heat causes shrinkage and loosens the mountings. Hang your rod, all assembled, by the tip to a hook or a brad in the wall. The suspended weight will straighten any tendency to set that may have developed from a season's fishing. It is a good Idea, too, to lubricate the ferrules with vaseline before hanging the rod up for the winter.
If you will follow these few simple directions in the care of your rod, it should give you many years of satisfactory service. One does not willingly part with a rod that has grown to be a friend, and like a true friend and fishing pal, a fine split-bamboo rod will repay good treatment with Interest.
Be ready—it's at the point where the fly begins to move upward toward the surface that many strikes occur. Inexperienced anglers may be too quick to get their fly out of the water in preparation for a recast. I've seen raging smallmouth bass shoot up from the murky depths to attack a Woolly Bugger just as it broke water. Why bass or other fish often wait until the last minute to strike is anyone's guess. So don't hurry the last few inches below the surface. This technique works best for deeper water.
Another float tubing technique is skirting the shoreline. Some salmon and trout, leery of becoming bird fodder, hide in the reeds that border lakes. Insects also prefer the reeds. If the fish are not taking flies off the surface, try presenting wet flies (nymphs, streamers, emergers) that dart in and out of the vegetation.
Slowly troll within a foot or two of the reeds, allowing for the ins and outs of the vegetation. You'll have to keep your fly as close to the plants as possible because spooky fish won't risk exposing themselves too far out. To do this, mend your line close to the shoreline because the tendency is for the fly to move away from the bank rather than toward it. Watch the line and continually keep the fly as tight as possible to the bank, reeds, weeds, rocks, or structures as you troll the shoreline. Snags will occur, but be patient.
Open-ended float tubes are like fishing from a floating lounge chair. They have many advantages: ease of entry, removal of any obstruction across your legs, and no longer being hung in a harness. The U-Boat weighs just over 5 pounds so it's light and easy to pack into a lake, inflated or deflated. The air-valve system uses standard inflation equipment, foot pumps, or high-volume pumps, comes with a patch kit and an unconditional guarantee. Other features include mesh stripping apron/taps measure, removable foam fly patches to dry flies, two side pockets and one top pocket for gear, and accessory straps on side pockets. An adjustable tension strap allows anglers to fit the U-Boat to their size and weight, free pack straps, rod holder, and second rod holding straps, carry handle, and D-rings to hang gear.
Some models have triple-stitched seams so the materials will not pull apart. On other models, the tube material actually expands if it is accidentally punctured, giving you as many as three hours to return to shore. Back storage pockets often include a secondary floatation device.
Other models have the following features:
Removable insulated drink holder (can be changed with fly patch)
Large side pockets
Huge dry storage wraps around back of tube
Extra-long Velcro holders so your rods or guns don't fall out
Back rest designed for maximum comfort and secondary flotation
Padded seat built wider for better leg support, wader protection, and maximum comfort
Removable fly patch (can be exchanged for drink holder)
Carry handles and D-rings located around the unit for your accessories
One recommended model for taller people is the Kodiak Model #1000 & 1001, which boast a mesh bib. Optional back pack straps and reed skirt for an abrasion-resistant cover turns the camouflaged tube into a duck- and/or bird-watching blind and may be purchased for these models.