Float tube fishing has come a long way. It’s still relatively young and a smaller sub-niche in sportfishing, as kayak fishing is much larger. However, float tube fishing is gaining in popularity and has found its’ place with fly fishermen, ‘bassers’, harbor anglers, and in many waters across North America, Europe, and Asia.
Many anglers have had had a positive impact on the sport, both with helping it grow and creating innovate float tubes and accessories. However, just a handful stand out from the rest. Here’s our list of the anglers that have had the biggest impact on float tube fishing.
Many consider Pat to be the ‘father of float tube fishing’, as he’s been tubing for over 50 years and has been writing about float tube fishing for over 30 years. He wrote the ultimate guide on float tube fishing ‘Tubin & Toonin’ and has created many other resources. You can feel his passion for float fishing in his writing, storytelling, and willingness to help other tubers as they get started. Based out of Utah, he’s still active on the fishing forum BigFishTackle.com and is highly regarded by all those that know him.
Dave could also be considered a founding father of float tube fishing as well. He traces his roots back to the Madison River in Montana and has been creating float craft for fly fishermen for over 30 years. He’s credited for inventing the ‘tear-drop’ design you see in many tubes today (Fish Cat 4, ODC 420, etc.) and created the original design for the ‘Outcast Fat Cat’. In the early days of float tube fishing, round (donut) shaped tubes were most prevalent, but also more dangerous for anglers if they were to capsize. His designs and creativity have driven much of the innovation you see in float tube fishing today. He’s also credited with creating the hybrid pontoon float tube design (Outlaw Escape), which have grown in popularity. He continues to create and sell float tubes, pontoons, and paddle boards.
Jeff can be credited with connecting the float tube fishing community online. He’s done much to grow the sport since founding the Float Tube Fishing Forum, the largest forum dedicated to float angling. In fact, he states growing the sport as his mission. For over a decade he’s arranged local tournaments, toy drives, and has created a great community for new and veteran float anglers alike. Southern California fosters an active group of harbor tubers and Jeff is a big part of that community’s growth. He’s a teacher for his day job and a skilled custom rod builder on the side as well. He dedicates much of his free time to growing the community and the sport. It’s not hard to tell he’s beloved and respected by the community. You won’t find a nicer guy.
Ron hails from Idaho and you can view his exciting YouTube videos of catching huge sturgeon from a pontoon. He’s created many helpful videos for tooners’ and founded the growing Facebook group ‘Inflatable Pontoon and Float Tube Fishing’. His passion for the outdoors ventures beyond just float tube fishing as he’s an accomplished hunter and skilled outdoorsman.
Wade Van Pelt
If you search for ‘fish finder mounts’ on YouTube, you’ll likely find one of Wade’s videos. There aren’t many float fishing accessories, as many manufacturers ignore such a small niche, but Wade has long been creating amazing fish finder mounting solutions for float tubes. His customers love what he does and he’s made life much easier for many float anglers. Wade’s a good ole’ Canadian boy that has some fantastic footage of fishing the north-country. He’s a skilled manufacturer, respected innovator, and entrepreneur. You can check out his site at fishfindermounts.com.
Mark A. Toliver
Mark is the founder of the Belly Boat Bassers group, which is the largest Facebook community dedicated to float tube fishing. Mark has helped unite the many float bass enthusiasts in California and has expanded that reach to all around the world. He’s become a leader in the space and has the loyalty and respect of his fellow bassers. He’s done much to grow the sport and foster on active and engaged community. Mark’s a ‘Mans man’ and the kinda guy you’d like to have a beer with.
Jeff Carmichael – ‘Fly Fishing With Jeff’
If you’re a fly fisherman looking for float tube content, then Jeff is your guy. An avid outdoorsman out of Indiana, he records his adventures and has put out many useful videos on YouTube for fly anglers. He’s also created many resources on his blog at flyfishingwithjeff.com. Jeff is credited for growing the sport in the fly fishing space, as fly fishing is a unique craft and industry in itself.
As you can see, all of these fishermen have left their mark, and continue to leave their mark on float tube fishing. There are many amazing float anglers out there that we may have left out and we do apologize for that. Float tube fishing is an immersive way to experience sportfishing and escape the crowds. And thanks to these men, we hope it can be experienced and enjoyed by many new anglers for years to come.