And it makes sense.
A float tube is a lot cheaper than purchasing a boat, it brings you closer to nature and allows you to fish with a stealthier approach.
Plus most float tubes are made with fly fishers in mind, which makes for great tackle storage, casting ease and just all-around good fun on the water.
While a new or even used boat will set you back thousands, a float tube costs around $100.
There are plenty of bargain belly boats on the market as well, including the White River Fly Shop Lost Lake float tube, which is available for around $50-75.
For first-time float tubers, I recommend an open-front beginner model like the White River float boat. They’re cheap, pretty simple to figure out and get out on the water, and you can always add more bells and whistles down the road.
Float tubes are able to float because of the U- or O-shaped PVC bladders located on the interior of the boat. The main bladder has to be blown up by hand or with a pump or compressor, which can be done from home, at the gas station or at the water’s edge.
Most float tubes provide plenty of storage area in each arm. They also have a removable wool patch attached to the arm via Velcro, which is handy for changing flies frequently. Many tubes come with rod holders, which also can be purchased separately and added on later.
When picking up a float tube, make sure the boat has a high-visibility safety panel that will alert boaters of your presence on the water. And always wear a PFD. To keep you safe while belly boating, it’s also a good idea to carry a marine radio, gps, waders, boots, fins and a patch hit.
On the water
Once your float tube is pumped up and ready to go, throw on your waders, boots and boot fins and you’re ready to tube.
The easiest way to launch with a float tube is from a dock or boat ramp, although lakeside launches aren’t difficult if you’re launching on relatively flat ground.
Set the tube about knee-deep in the water, backing your way into the lake or pond. Once you’re submerged at around waist level, hop in the float tube, buckle in and you’ll be on your way. The boot fins work somewhat opposite of typical diving fins, so it will take a few minutes to get the kicking method down – most of your power actually comes from lifting your foot rather than kicking in a downward motion.
Fishing from a tube
From here, many anglers like to drop a beadhead nymph or streamer and troll as they kick their way to their favorite fishing spot. If you’re lucky, you’ll hook up with a trout, bass or crappie on your way to the secret fishing hole. I like to sort flies and get any last minute preparations squared away before I land in the strike zone, that way I’m ready to cast and won’t spook any fish when I get there.
When you get near the spot, slow your kicking speed and leave yourself ample room to begin casting about the perimeter rather than dropping a fly right on top of a fish. Creep along slowly at first, using long overhead casts, but try your best to make a delicate presentation.
Casting from a float tube isn’t much different than fly fishing in waist-high water. Overhand or sidearm casts seem to work best. Just remember to keep your rodtip high in order to keep the line off the water on your backcast. It’s also a good idea to get a few practice casts in before you touch down at your favorite fishing spot. Once you get the hang of it, fishing from a float tube is a blast. Not only is belly boating a workout, but it puts you in the water, lets you feel the currents and water temperatures, and keeps you eye level with the fish. Catch a healthy sized trout or bass in a float tube is unlike any other type of fishing, especially when the fish jumps and is literally eye-to-eye with you in the boat.