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Float Tube Fishing

Float Tube Fishing

Get ‘Tubin & Toonin’ the ultimate float tube fishing guide written by Pat Scouten aka “TubeDude”. Below are excerpts from his incredible book.

Are you considering the acquisition of a float tube or pontoon? Are you bewildered by all of the different models, colors and options? Don’t know where to start with waders, fins, boots, etc? Or, do you already have something that somebody gave you for Christmas, birthday or Fathers’ Day but don’t have the foggiest idea what to do with it? Read on. This book has been written both to assist potential “floatation” fishermen and to suggest new horizons for those who are already addicted. It covers all kinds of fishing from freshwater ponds to open oceans…and many different species from sunfish to salmon. It also addresses the most common questions concerning such basics as transportation, launching, beaching, on-the-water problems, care and maintenance of your system, etc. While tubing and tooning are simple, there are a myriad of questions that seemingly occur only after you have your craft and are trying to get the most bang for the buck…or just trying to survive.

I apologize. While I have accumulated a lot of pictures of tubing and tooning over the years, I did not record many of the trips and landmark adventures that would have made this book much better. And, many of the early pictures I took were of poor quality due to trying to get by on a young man’s limited budget. Thankfully, I graduated to digital photography and have since managed to put together a larger collection of photos to help illustrate the important points. When I first started playing around with inner tube fishing many years ago I had no idea that I would take it so far, or that it would take me so far. Even during the “middle years” of my tubing career I still had not foreseen the direction that this sport was going.

I began writing about tubing in the early 80’s. I already had accumulated almost 3 decades of tubing experience and thought I knew enough to write the “definitive” book. At that time I probably WAS more experienced than almost anyone else in multi-tackle and multi-species angling from a “donut”. But, that was about the time the floatation fishing industry took off and I have been doing my best to keep up since. At the behest of many fishing friends and fellow members of a couple fishing forums I finally decided to take what I have managed to put together and to make it available to others. There is some material that will not require much future revision. Other parts are probably obsolete before these words are first read. Things are changing fast in tubing and tooning.

Of necessity, I am not covering every aspect of tubing in excruciating detail. I include the “need to know” but don’t get bogged down in the “nice for nice” or non-essential. In other words, I might suggest the basics of how to rig sonar or rod racks but I don’t provide detailed schematics and cost analysis figures. Similarly, I sometimes suggest the best tackle and techniques for certain species on certain waters but I avoid providing a comprehensive “how to” for each species or advanced rigging instructions.

There are already a respectable number of articles, books and videos available…online and on book shelves…on different aspects of tubing and tooning. Most of them are specialized…fly fishing for trout or panfish, pond fishing for bass, etc. The aim of this book is to open your mind to the potential for taking your floatation craft to new waters and to fish for new species with different tackle…and during different seasons. It will be obvious that most of my rhetoric is slanted towards tubing and that my remarks on pontoons are seemingly afterthoughts in some chapters. There are good reasons for that. I am first and foremost a tuber. That’s where I started and I still prefer tubes to toons. I have owned and used pontoons and appreciate the differences for some kinds of fishing. But my angling heart is and shall remain most fond of using float tubes for my style of fishing.

Getting Started

Buying a tube or toon is only the beginning. Once you have your new toy aired up and water worthy you’re ready to start the pimpin’ process. This begins with rod racks, tool racks and sonar but can go far beyond that simple stuff. The good news is that once you get started, and get the hang of it, these additions are neither difficult nor expensive. All you need is a source of supply for materials (Home Depot), some creativity, some tools and the ability to work with your hands. Tricking out your craft is easier if it has plenty of D rings. They make it possible to rig quick snap connections for any goodies you want to hang off your craft. Of course you can always rig
more permanent attachments by lashing things down with different kinds of ropes and cords.
If you are pimpin’ a pontoon you can use the frame for making attachments. My earliest float tubes had few D rings, if any at all. D rings that came on the first tubes were often on the inside for hooking the clips on the apron fasteners and not strategically located. I had to tie down anything I wanted to attach to my donut. I went through a lot of nylon rope and plastic clothesline cord in the early stages of experimentation. It took a few years but manufacturers finally got the idea and now add more D rings to today’s tubes and toons. I still use lots of nylon rope but now I also use a lot of stretch cord, quick-snaps and zip ties.
The lack of D rings on my first tubes became a vexing problem when I tried to attach rod holders and other goodies. Most of the tubes and toons available today have plenty of D rings “standard issue”. And, the combination of new materials and greater creativity has allowed me to come up with more efficient designs while reducing unnecessary weight from my overall system. One big leap in modern technology has been 12 volt SLA batteries for sonar. I started out with two heavy 6-volt lantern batteries, rigged in series, and then went to the acid filled 12-volt motorcycle batteries. Smaller, lighter and safer SLA batteries have definitely helped lighten my load. Life is good and getting better. The rest of this chapter will address lots of what I think I have learned over the years in experimenting with tricking out my craft. Hopefully my “downloads” will both help suggest new ideas and provide the info needed to pimp YOUR ride.
CHAPTER 1
CHAPTER 2 – A SERIOUS SYSTEM
CHAPTER 3 – CHOOSING A CRAFT
 
CHAPTER 4 – CARRY-ONS & ACCESSORIES
FISHING EFFICIENCY
TACKLE AND CONTAINERS
BAIT AND BAIT CONTAINERS
LIVE BAIT WELLS
FISH ATTRACTANTS
WIPING RAGS AND/OR SANITARY WIPES
LINES AND LEADERS
EXTRA REELS OR SPOOLS
FLOATANTS AND DRESSINGS
CLIPPERS
SCISSORS
KNIFE & CUTTING BOARD
HOOK REMOVERS/DISGORGERS, PLIERS
LIP GRIPPERS
GAFFS
LANDING NETS
STRINGERS & BASKETS
SUGGESTIONS FOR INSTALLI
NG AND USING A FISH BASKET
FISH BILLY (CLUB)
MEASURING AND WEIGHING EQUIPMENT
MARKER BUOYS
ANCHORS
THERMOMETERS
BINOCULARS
MAP(S), CHARTS, TIDE TABLES
WALKIE TALKIES/RADIOS
GPS SYSTEMS
CELL PHONES
CAMERAS
LOG BOOK
 
COMFORT & SAFETY
PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES
GPS
SUNGLASSES
FIRST AID KIT
SUNSCREEN & LIP PROTECTION
HEAD NETS
INSECT REPELLENT
BITE AND STING MEDICATIONS
LIGHTS
FIRE STARTERS
SIGNALING FOR HELP
”DRY BAG”
WADING STAFF
FOOD AND LIQUID
COOLERS & ICE CHESTS
EXTRA SET OF KEYS FOR VEHICLE
REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
FILE OR HOOK HONE
TOOL KIT
AIR PUMP
PATCH KITS
 
CHAPTER 5 – PIMPING YOUR RIDE
ROD HOLDERS
TOOL RACKS
SONAR & BATTERIES
SHOPPING FOR SONAR
PRICE
POWER
CONE
SIDE SCANNING
DISPLAY
TRANSDUCERS
BATTERIES
SEATS & BACKRESTS
SEAT TOO HARD
SEAT TOO SOFT
SEAT TOO LOW
BACKREST TOO LOW
BACKREST TOO SOFT
BACKREST TOO HARD
OTHER IDEAS AND OPTIONS
APRONS
SUN SHADES
LIGHTS
FOO FOO
 
CHAPTER 6 – PROPULSION
SWIM FINS
OARS & PADDLES
MOTORS
GAS MOTORS
ELECTRIC MOTORS
BATTERIES
FRONT MOUNTING
BALANCE
REGISTRATION
PUSH POLES
 
CHAPTER 7 – DRESS FOR SUCCESS
WADERS – FEATURES & OPTIONS
SHOULDER STRAPS
WAIST BELTS
KNEE PATCHES
GRAVEL GUARDS
POCKETS
ZIPPERS
WADERS – LIGHTWEIGHT/BREATHABLE
WADERS – NEOPRENE
PROTECTIVE FOOTWEAR
SANDALS
“TENNIES” & DECK SHOES
DIVERS’ BOOTIES
WATER SHOES
WADING SHOES
CLOTHING AND LAYERING
HEAD COVERING
GLOVES
RAIN GEAR
VESTS
CHEST PACKS
 
CHAPTER 8 – TRANSPORTATION & STORAGE
HOME TO LAKE…AND BACK.
TRUCKS & PICKUPS
VAN
SUV
STATION WAGON
PASSENGER CAR
TRAILER
CARRIERS & ROOF RACKS
MOTORCYCLE
BICYCLE
VEHICLE TO WATER…AND BACK
BACKPACK
PACK ANIMALS
BOAT
AIR FERRY
WHEELS, CARTS & SLEDS
TOON WHEEL
STROLLER CARTS
PNEUMATI
C TIRE CARTS
GOLF CADDY CARTS
SLEDDING
STORAGE…INDOOR & OUTDOOR
 
CHAPTER 9 – FLOATABLE WATERS
FRESH WATER
SMALL LAKES & PONDS
PACK-IN LAKES
FARM PONDS
OXBOWS & BACKWATERS
QUARRIES & DREDGE HOLES
POWER PLANT OUTFLOWS
COMMUNITY LAKES
URBAN FISHING LAKES
PARK PONDS
GOLF COURSES
RESORT LAKES
BEAVER PONDS
MIDDLE SIZED LAKES
LARGE LAKES
ROCKY POINTS & REEFS
RUBBLE SHORELINES
“RIP-RAP”
FLOODED TREES & BRUSH
“BLOW-DOWNS”
ARTIFICIAL SUNKEN STRUCTURE
PIERS, DOCKS, BRIDGES, ETC
CREEKS
FAST SHALLOW WATER
FALLS AND CHUTES
BRUSHY BLOCKADES
FENCES
REPTILES
CRITTERS…WILD & DOMESTIC
RIVERS
BELOW DAMS
BRACKISH WATER
SALT WATER
OPEN WATER…BEACHES & REEFS
PROTECTED WATER…BA
YS, HARBORS, ESTUARIES
 
CHAPTER 10 – LAUNCHING & BEACHING
CRAFT DESIGN VARIABLES
LAUNCH SITES AND CONDITIONS
LAUNCH RAMPS
OLD ROAD BEDS
SAND
GRAVEL
LARGE ROCKS.
ROCK LEDGES
MUD
GRASS
VEGETATION
WATER VARIABLES
POND
RIVERS
SALT WATER
SEQUENCE…LAUNCHING AND BEACHING
CHECKLISTS
STAGING
INFLATION
ATTACHMENTS, CARRY-ONS & ACCESSORIES
SUITING UP
PRE-LAUNCH
LAUNCHING: “DONUT”
BEACHING – “DONUT”
LAUNCH-OPEN-FRONT TUBE
BEACHING – OPEN FRONT TUBE
LAUNCH – PONTOON
BEACHING – PONTOON
 
CHAPTER 11 – FOUR SEASON FLOATATION
Floatation fishing is subject to the same factors as fishing in general. These include weather patterns, water temperatures, water clarity, pH and oxygen readings, available forage, hours of daylight, etc. The changing seasons influence all of these factors and thus influence fishing. This book is not intended to be a treatise on basic fishing. Nor, will I emphasize one species over another. And, I will not hold forth on subjects that are already covered in great detail in print and online. In this chapter I simply point out how the changing seasons may present unique opportunities for tubers and tooners and how best to take advantage of them while avoiding unnecessary discomfort or potential misfortunes. I have long had the propensity to flop my floatation system in every possible body of water during any and every month of the year. My tubing and tooning during “extreme” conditions has
caused some of my family and friends to question my sanity. “Hardcore” is one of the milder terms they use to describe my aberrations.
My on-the-water research has included breaking my way out through skim ice in December and having to fend off wind-blown ice chunks during February ice-out trips in Utah. I have also tubed Arizona and Mexico during summer months when the air temperatures were well over 100 degrees (F) and the water was not much cooler. In between those two extremes have been thousands of more “normal” excursions. But, when it comes to fishing and fishermen what is the definition of “normal” and is it anywhere close to the definition of normal for non-fishing folks? The four seasons mean something different to different fishermen. Seasonal fluctuations can
vary widely depending on longitude, latitude and altitude. In the temperate climates along southern coastal regions winters are usually as warm as late spring in the northern states. There are actually some species of fish along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico that cannot survive in water temperatures below 55 degrees. In many ponds of the upper Midwest 55-degree water temps would be considered tropical, even during late summer.
Seasonal floatation fishing can vary greatly…from region to region…state-to-state…within each state…and even lake-to-lake or river-to-river. Besides the basics of geography there are also the variables of species, warmer or colder inflows (from springs or power stations), abnormal weather patterns, etc. No matter what your fishing logbook from last year says things can be
different during the same week this year.
FOUR SEASON FLOATATION
COLD WEATHER CONDITIONS
EARLY SPRING TRANSITION
SPRING FLING
LATE SPRING TRANSITION
SUMMERTIME
NIGHT FISHING
SUMMER TROUTIN’
FARM PONDS
AUTUMN
 
CHAPTER 12
TACKLE & TECHNIQUE
 
SUBJECTS:
TACKLE TYPES
FLY FISHING
SPINNING
BAIT CASTING TECHNIQUES
 
CAST & RETRIEVE
TROLLING
BOTTOM BOUNCING
BAIT DRAGGING
VERTICAL JIGGING
DROP SHOTTING
DIPSTICKING
FLIPPING
PITCHING
NIGHT FISHING
 
CHAPTER 13 – SPECIES
FRESHWATER
TROUT (All Species)
SALMON
LARGEMOUTH BASS
SMALLMOUTH BASS
BLUEGILL & SUNFISH
CRAPPIES
PERCH
CATFISH
WHITE BASS
YELLOW BASS
STRIPED BASS
WIPERS
NORTHERN PIKE
MUSKIES
PICKEREL
MISCELLANEOUS
SALT WATER
EAST COAST…MAINE TO FLORIDA
SPECKLED SEA TROUT
DRUMS (RED & BLACK)
FLUKE & FLOUNDER
STRIPED BASS
BLUEFISH
SNOOK
TARPON
GROUPERS
SNAPPERS
JACKS
SHEEPSHEAD
PERMIT
BONEFISH
BARRACUDA
MISCELLANEOUS
GULF COAST (GULF OF MEXICO)
SEA OF CORTEZ (GULF OF CALIFORNIA)
TRIGGERFISH
SEA BASSES
GROUPERS
SIERRA MACKEREL
DORADO
MACHETE
SNAPPERS (PARGO)
ROOSTERFISH
YELLOWTAIL
CORVINA
WHITE SEABASS
HALIBUT
SCORPIONFISH
HOGFISH
SARGO
GRUNTS
NEEDLEFISH
POMPANO
SHARKS & RAYS
PACIFIC COAST
YELLOWTAIL
WHITE SEABASS
CALICO BASS
SAND BASS
BARRACUDA
MACKEREL
BONITO
HALIBUT
SHEEPSHEAD
JACKSMELT
SURF PERCH
PILING PERCH
CROAKERS
CORBINA
OPALEYE
BLUE PERCH (HALFMOON)
CABEZON
SHARKS & RAYS
PACIFIC COAST…NORTHWEST
STRIPED BASS
SALMON
SEA RUN CUTTHROAT
STEELHEAD
HALIBUT
FLOUNDER
ROCKFISH
SURF PERCH
 
CHAPTER 14 – SAFETY, SURVIVAL & COMFORT
TEN COMMANDMENTS OF TUBING & TOONING
PROBLEMS…PREVENTION AND REMEDIES
 
TIPPING OVER
FALLING
LEAKING AIR CHAMBER
LEAKING WADERS
LOST FINS
SEAT PROBLEMS
HOOKS IN YOUR GEAR
MEDICAL PROBLEMS
CURRENTS
INSECT PROBLEMS
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS
MOTORIZED WATERCRAFT
CALLS OF NATURE
CHAPTER 15 – CARE, REPAIR & MODIFICATIONS
A fully tricked out tube or toon costs only a fraction of what you would dump on a boat and motor. But, just because you don’t have to spend a lot of money up front doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t worry about taking proper care of your equipment. With a minimum investment of time and money you can get the maximum service and enjoyment out of your tube or toon, waders, fins, tackle and electronics. Keeping everything clean and well maintained is not just a “pride of ownership” thing. It will help each component to last longer and work better. In short, you get more bang for the buck and greater enjoyment too. No matter how much you spend or how much quality you buy there’s still the potential for damage or malfunctions that require repairs. Nothing lasts forever. Most things develop problems sooner or later regardless of quality or amount of use. The following pages are dedicated to helping tubers and tooners to better understand the potential wear and damage factors, to forestall them if possible and to quickly and efficiently deal with them when they occur. This brief chapter addresses only the basic elements of your floatation system, exclusive of fishing tackle.
COVERS, POCKETS, ZIPPERS & SEAMS
AIR CHAMBERS AND BLADDERS
CARE AND PREVENTION
FINDING LEAKS
REPAIRS
AIR VALVES
D-RINGS & STRAPS
SEATS
APRONS
WADERS
CARE & PREVENTION
FINDING LEAKS
REPAIRS
FINS