Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
  |  First Published: December 2002

MANY American fly fishers fish from float tubes with much success in ponds and dams. Gavin and I have sampled this style of fishing in Texas, where fly fishing for large-mouth bass is very popular.


When you’re float tube fishing, your presence is less noticeable to the fish than when you walk a bank or fish from a boat or canoe. To the fish, the tube is just another large obstacle in the water and, because your means of propulsion is from a slight flick from a fin, there’s virtually no disturbance.

Sight casting is obviously reduced because you’re submerged from the waist down. However, because the fish don’t consider you a threat, it’s likely that you’ll see more rises and therefore more opportunities to present a fly.

Casting from a sitting position requires some practice, but there are a number of techniques that can make this easier. Stopping the backcast earlier forces the loop higher and stops the line from hitting the water at the back, slowing down the cast. Roll casting is also useful and can be used when you can’t make a backcast or you need to change direction to present the fly. A side arm cast may feel more comfortable, but it’s not very effective. It puts the line too close to the water when casting.

In this type of environment, a longer fly rod can give you an advantage. One of the Innovator Matrix ‘loch style’ rods is a sweet 10’ three-piece rod that’s perfect for getting a little extra reach in tight spots.


The deluxe model float tube we use is easy to inflate with a double-action hand pump. This model has an outer covering of heavy weave denier with an internal inflatable vinyl bladder. There are a number of large zippered pockets within the armrest sections of the tube for keeping fly boxes, sunscreen and so forth dry and handy, and a mesh stripping basket across your lap doubles as a fish cradle. Most float tubes have a ruler measurement printed to make it easy to check legal sizes, and you can easily attach a landing net to the headrest if you wish.


Gavin and I like to use waders and skindiving flippers when we’re float tube fishing. Flippers allow you to move easily around the snags, but they do require some practice. The best method is to simply enter the water walking backwards, and already be braced up in the float tube so you can simply wade out until you are floating.

Anchoring is a simple matter of dropping a couple of snapper leads on a piece of heavy monofilament tied off to one of the ‘O’ rings on the sides of the tube. This can be particularly useful if the wind picks up and you want to keep working a particular area. When you decide to move along, simply retrieve the leads and fin off to the next snag and repeat the process. You can also tether the tube to a tree or snag and allow the wind to push you back and hold you off at a distance to fish.

It’s not advisable to fish out of a float tube in saltwater unless you’re very familiar with the area. You don’t want to look like a tasty snack bobbing along! This is why float tube fishing in dams and land-locked ponds is perfect. Check them out and have a go – you’ll be hooked! – Maria Platz.

1) The fish assume that the tube is just a harmless floating obstacle, giving you more opportunities to present a fly.

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