Why I Still Prefer My Float Tube
Lots of women ask me why I still use a float tube when there are so many other more sophisticated personal water craft on the market now. Although I’ve tried the u-shaped, v-shaped, and pontoon designs, for the still waters where I fish, I keep going back to the basic tube. As I’ve done so, I’ve constantly tried to analyze why. Here are some of the reasons.
The original attraction of the u-boat design was that a flyfisher could just back up and sit down instead of having to try to step in and out of a tube with fins on. But, actually, it’s not that big a deal to get in and out of a float tube. You just put it on over your head. Sure, it’s going to be wet when you get out of the water, but I don’t think that’s reason enough to avoid using it.
What’s more important than the in and out, however, is the way one device or another performs for the flyfisher. It’s probably a strictly personal reaction, but I believe I get a better, more powerful kick in the float tube than in any other design. Being fairly short, I find I sit back too far and too deep in most of the seats on the u-boats and too high off the water in the seats on the pontoon boats. As a result, I can only kick from the knee down rather than from the hip down, as I can in my float tube.
Kicking from the hip in my float tube, I have the strength and power of my full leg extension when I want it or need it and can achieve much more "push" in the water than when kicking only from the knee. In my tube, I have both options, but in the larger units, I’m restricted to just a knee kick.
Generally, I also find the larger water craft more work to propel. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a 200lb (or even a 150lb) guy, but I seem to have to work a lot harder when I’m trolling in something other than my float tube.
And maybe it’s just psychological, but I also like the security of having the tube completely surround me. I realize that, because of their width, the u-boats and pontoons are probably even more stable in the wind than a tube, but I just feel safer in a tube when the gusts come up. That width is probably also a plus for someone who is heavier or taller than I am and who may feel they need more room than the "donut hole" in a tube provides. But that’s not an issue for me.
The fact that I’m surrounded by the tube also enables me to lean on the front while I’m patiently waiting for a fish to find my chironomid, or while I’m trolling. I don’t find that as easy to do in a u-boat.
Since I often take my clients tubing on lakes that require some hiking to get to, ease of transport is also of concern to me. A float tube is much more manageable for most women to pack in, as opposed to the larger craft. And, when hiking, people who are short often find that the tips of an inflated u-boat or the pontoons are nearly touching the ground or dragging in the brush along the trail as they hike. That’s not a problem with a tube.
Because they’re smaller and lighter, tubes even fit into a backpack if that makes transport easier. Now that most manufacturers make urethane bladders for the float tubes, as well as for the fancier models, the weight of the float tube has been greatly reduced. This, too, makes transporting the tubes extremely easy. When we go fly-in float tubing, it’s a piece of cake to deflate the tubes and then re-inflate them on site with only a foot pump. And deflated, lots more float tubes will fit in a small plane than any of the larger options.
When all is said and done, one’s choice of water craft is a very personal decision. Even though some of my friends acknowledge the advantages of float tubing, they have yet to give up their canoes. Lake fishing with a fly is most enjoyable when done from a water craft that’s right for you, and for me, that’s a float tube.