(Click on any of these pictures to see more)
There's a lot of different Float Tubes on the market
What should you get???
A few years ago, it was not too difficult choosing a float tube. All you had to do was get a tire inner-tube that held air. But times have changed! The popularity of Float Tubes has brought new designs and lots of accessories: Round Tubes - U-Boats - Pontoon Tubes - Motorized Tubes - Fins - Rod Holders - Fish Finders - Live-Fish Wells - Cup Holders - even Down Riggers. So, which one should you get and what accessories do you need?
Round Tubes are the most popular and you'll see a lot of these on your favorite lake. As far as a stable water-craft they are hard to beat, but for someone who is disabled, they are NOT the ticket. The reason is that to enter the Tube, you have to climb in the hole - then put your fins on. I don't know about you - but I'm not that flexible (I don't know if I ever was). Exiting the Tube has the same problems. So, let's keep looking...
U-Boats and Pontoon Boats share the same great feature - they are easy to get in and out of. All you have to do is "sit down" - slip your fins on - and you're fishing! They cost a little more, but well worth the extra money.
As far as cost - the U-Boats are less expensive than the Pontoon Tubes. You'll find that U-Boats range from $100-$500. Local Sporting Goods stores usually carry a very limited line of Float Tubes. So, I advise shopping around. The Internet is a good place to start. In fact, if you click on Float Tubes, you'll find a several sources that have agreed to offer discounts to members of HFTA.
The Tube that I use is a CADDIS Navigator II. Even though it has pontoons, it is still considered a U-Boat. The reason I like this model is because it sits high on the water, the separate pontoon bladders keep the drag on the water to a minimum (this means I can skoot across the water pretty quick), and it was reasonably priced. You can see a picture of it in the banner, at the top of this page.
Pontoon Tubes are fantastic! The only problem is the cost. These are the high-end, deluxe Float Tubes. If you can afford them - go for it! If you want to strengthen the lower back and legs - make sure that you get a "kick tube" and not one that has to be rowed. But if you're like me... a nice U-Boat will do just fine!
Fins are a problem! Many Float Tubes come with a set of Fins. The only problem is that, for a disabled person, they are hard to put on. Choosing your fins will depend on whether you use booted or non-booted waders. Also, make sure you get floating fins, in case one slips off.
If you have an old trolling motor sitting in the garage, you can get a "Float Power" Tube from Cabela's On-line. This is a small tube that hooks-up to our Float Tube. A battery and motor slip in and off you go! These are good for lakes with lot's of water to cover, but don't forget to do your share of kicking, because that's where the therapeutic benefit is.
You're going to need a pair of Chest Waders to keep you dry. These are fairly easy to shop for - if you fish in cold water... get a pair of 3mm or 5mm Neoprene Waders. If not, a pair of vinyl Waders should work just fine. If you get Non-Booted (Stocking-Foot) Waders, make sure that you have shoes or boots that will fit your Fins.
Finally, the Accessories... These are the Toys! All of them are great! But you don't need them to go fishing. They just make life easier! And if you decide not to get them now... there is always your birthday and Christmas!!!!
Let me know if your disability precludes you from using a standard Float Tube, because a gentleman, who is a mechanical engineer has offered to help design Special Application Float Tubes.
We'll figure-out a way to get you fishing!
Copyright, 2001 - Brent Gagermeier