Warmwater Tips

Farm ponds, float tubes & tubes & fly rods

(Part 2 of 3)

By Dennis Galyardt


Although I do not want to compare the attributes of float tubes and pontoons in this article I feel it is only fair to give some guide line comparisons. Pontoon boats cost a lot more than float tubes. Float tubes are smaller and easier to transport or carry. Pontoons are faster in the water since they slide over it rather than plowing through it. When fishing from the pontoon craft the angler sits higher has a better view and perhaps a better casting advantage. While in a float tube the fisher is seated half under water, pontooners have only their legs below the knees in the water. In very weedy waters the tuber must push through and sometimes become entangled in the vegetation, the angler in a pontoon skims over the weeds. In windy situation float tubes ride low and are not blown around as much as the higher pontoon boat. Finally pontoon craft is adaptable for move waters whereas the float tube is b suited for still waters. If that does not help I'm not surprised. I hope it didn't make things worse for you. I think that I would begin with a float tube for most warmer fly fishing situations.

If I were going to buy a new float I would probably spend my money a U shaped tube, for easy entry. It aid have a high backrest (inflatable), several pockets, "quick release" seat and D rings for attaching conveniences.

Many people wonder about the safety of this laid-back style of angling. I stopped worrying about this after Ipurposely tried to tip my tube over while sitting in it. I couldn't. The fisher's body makes the center of gravity low and this restricts any tipping motion. Most tube coverings are constructed of tough nylon with double stitching. The best tubes ye material treated to resist the effects ultra violet rays which break down the nylon over time. Some fly fishers fear sagging their tube with a wayward cast a bass bug. The chance of a hook or branch penetrating and letting out the air is remote. Even if it does happen don't too excited. Pin hole leaks release air at such a slow rate that the tuber has plenty of time to head for shore. The higher priced models offer several air bladders that provide a certain safety factor. In my home state of Nebraska, a personal flotation device is required equipment for float tubes. I prefer a Sterns flotation/fishing vest. It doesn't restrict cast- form and even has a couple of pockets for extra fly boxes. I have become accustomed to wearing it even when I cross border to other states.

Once when tubing a small lake in Iowa my inner tube burst. Now I don't want to frighten off would he float tubers, and I must say that this is the only time this has happened tome or anyone I know. I was fishing for bluegills along the dam when a sound like a slap occurred behind me. Instantly the air was released from my tube from a six inch gash. I sank, but my vest and back rest kept my head and shoulders above water. I kicked and paddled with my arms to the shore, looking much like the proverbial "drowned rat." I was wet and a little chilly but not turned off. I don't know what caused the rupture but a new inner tube put me hack in business.

Waders are usually necessary while belly boating, except in the warmest set tings. Stocking foot breathables are certainly the best choice. Get a pair that covers your torso up to the armpits to avoid ice water down the back. Remember you'll be sitting down. A hint about what to wear under your waders: blue jeans tend to chafe the legs and may cause blisters behind the knees after several hours of kicking around in a tube. In cooler waters I prefer sweat pants and as the sea son progresses and the water warms, shorts work well under breathables . If you don't mind getting wet and there aren't too many leaches, swimming trunks will suffice on a hot day. Be careful as the evening temperatures drop not to become too cool. Water can absorb your body heat rapidly and leave you with hypothermia.

To propel the belly boat I prefer swim fins. These cause the tube to travel back ward and take some getting used to but are most efficient. Before I put them on I strip a neoprene bootie on over my stocking foot waders. These shoes have a rubber sole that protects the wader feet from the parking area to the pond. For those that prefer a boot foot wader, Force Fins and Caddis both manufacture fins that fit over the larger boot. I know of several flyfishers with physical handicaps that find the float tube is a way to fish that they didn't expect to be so easy. Because of the buoyancy of the water, tubing be comes more like aquatic aerobics that they might do in physical therapy. When they get tired the tube provides safe sup port while they test. Naturally people with such problems should choose calm, small waters to try out the tube. That's probably good advice for beginners too.

That's about it for fancy equipment. Around $200.00 entry level price will get the fly fisher into float tubing. Fly fishing for all species is seeing a revitalization. Warm water species are presenting a "down home" challenge and it makes sense to fish for them when one considers the typical pond.

Farm ponds are generally shallow or have a great deal of shallow water. Bass, sunfish, bluegills, pickerel and crappies frequent these shoals daily in warmer months. That's when the fly rod really comes into its own. Fly fishing is extremely efficient and exciting when used in three feet of water or less. Farm ponds are easy to find if one wanders back roads during off season. Finding the owner sometimes presents a problem, as more farm land is being sold to nonresident corporations. Usually, however, someone in the area will know who you should con tact for permission. Explain to the owner or manager that you are a flyfisher (usually good for some recognition of an ethical sports person) and that you practice catch and release. Talk about the weather, crops, cattle prices or anything else that come up, as well as fishing. Tell the farmer you will close gates and pick up litter, and you may have a terrific "private pond" to call your own. Basically, if you want to maximize your fishing time close to home and catch lots of fish, then use a fly rod from a float tube in a farm pond. Take advantage of the latest technology in tubes, waders, fins and rods...and have yourself a ball!

(to be continued)


Dennis Galyardt currently lives in Tecumseh, Missouri. He was the Warm Water editor of the Federation of Fly Fishers magazine Flyfisher. He is the 1999 recipient of the Federation of Fly Fishers' Dr. James A. Henshall Warm Water Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Promoting the Enjoyment or Convervation of Warm Water Fishiers.