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|A "pontoon type" float tube - the best all around float tube for fly fishing|
Float tubes are truly a great invention for anyone who enjoys fishing. Float tubes are lightweight, very affordable and ultra-portable. For an angler on a budget and who needs a "floating platform" for fishing on remote lakes or smaller bodies of water, float tubes make an excellent boat of choice.
That said, float tubes aren't for everyone. As float tubes are frequently bought by anglers - only to be stowed away in an attic somewhere once the limitations of a float tube have been realized - this section of Big Sky Fishing has been added. Hopefully, it will help any person contemplating a purchase of a float tube decide whether they should get one in the first place, and if so, what kind to get and where to get it.
If you already know that you need a float tube, then head on over to Cabela's, which has by far the best selection of float tubes you are likely going to find online or off.
So, is a float tube right for you? The question rages on among anglers. Some say a float tube is useless, praising the virtues of a kickboat or a pontoon boat instead. Yet, more than a few float tube owners have taken quiet satisfaction while out fishing as they watch someone go through the steps of assembling a pontoon boat and the grunts and curses that usually accompany it. So, let's figure out if a float tube is the right fishing boat for you. We'll start by going over the different types of fishing that anglers usually find themselves doing - and then look at whether a float tube is the right boat of choice. And if not, what are good alternatives.
Stop! If you plan on doing the majority of your fishing in a river, no need to read on. A float tube is most definitely NOT for you. Consider a pontoon boat or inflatable kayak or inflatable raft instead.
Float tubes, while they can be used in rivers, are most definitely not the best choice - or even a recommended choice - for river fishing. This is especially so if the river is fast moving, has rapids or has no current at all. Indeed, on fast moving rivers or where there is rapids, a float tube can be downright dangerous - especially if you are wearing waders.
Go! Well, maybe. Float tubes were originally designed for fishing in small ponds and isolated lakes in the backcountry. Ultimately, in the end, float tubes are vessels primarily for lake fishing. The problem is, on large lakes, float tubes are hopelessly outclassed by pontoon boats and inflatable kayaks (which are far easier to paddle around). Additionally, float tubes can once again be dangerous on large lakes in the event of high winds. Float tubes are not designed to "ride the waves" like a pontoon boat or an inflatable kayak is.
In essence, if you plan on fishing smaller lakes or just along the shoreline on larger lakes (so you can get the heck off the lake quickly in the event of fatigue or high winds), then a float tube will work just fine.
Go! This is definitely the best use of a float tube. Float tubes are highly packable, far more than even packable pontoon boats. Of course, because most backcountry waters tend to be very cold, you'll have to drag your waders along too in order to stay warm. This will add significantly to the weight and bulk that you drag into the backcountry.
|An example of a "backpackable" pontoon boat, which is still heavier than a float tube|
So, the big question is - to get a backpackable pontoon boat or a float tube for backcountry uses? I vote for the backpackable pontoon boat due to its increased versatility where cost is not an issue. However, float tubes work equally well in backcountry waters (at least ones that aren't of large size), and at a fraction of the cost of a pontoon boat that is "backpackable."
Well, if you've decided that your fishing style merits a float tube, then your next decision is what kind of float tube to get. This can be answered very simply and very succinctly - get a quality PONTOON style float tube made from Cabela's, Creek Company, Outcast (Creek Company and Outcast float tubes are available at Cabela's) or Orvis.
Why Pontoon Style? Simple, they have far more features and are immeasureably easier to maneuver. The "round style" of pontoon boats are very fatiguing to maneuver as the boat itself creates significant drag in the water. by comparison, a pontoon style of float tube has significantly less drag - making it far easier to maneuver (remember, you kick to move a float tube!).
Two Styles of Float Tubes
|Pontoon Style||Round style|
This is quite simple. Cabela's carries a huge selection of float tubes, from Outcase, Creek Company and their own in-house brand. Orvis also manufacturers a very nice float tube too.