I have been a float tube person for several years now and probably can boldly state that I logged about as many hours in the Creek Company’s ODC 420 as anyone. The progress and technology made in float tubes over the past 20 years has been remarkable to say the least. In the old days you fished basically upright in a big car inner tube…they weren’t too practical, not very comfortable and for sure…weren’t very safe because if the tube itself went down…the chances are you went down with the ship!
There are many companies now that produce a very comfortable, efficient and safe float tube. As I mentioned I am used to the Creek Company’s ODC 420 and can tell you first hand that I’ve fished from the particular model for as many as 8 hours in one day…and did so very comfortably. Truth is that if you are looking for a way to fish smaller waters (lakes and ponds) a float tube is about as functional as it gets. I love to put the shore on my left side (float tube facing backwards) and fish completely around a lake or pond; unlike many other kayaks, canoes, etc….you can fly-fish from a float tube and never have any down time!
Now the next generation of float tubes are out and these are the frameless pontoon boats…once again many of the companies have thrown their hat into the marketing of these neat crafts…however, I recently purchased the Voyager, also from the Creek Company and I will give it a glowing report. I had the new tube out on the North Fork of the White River and found it to be all I could have expected…and lots more. So here is a quick and hopefully concise review of what this new craft will allow you to do.
The Voyager is rated at a class II for whitewater and several of the places that we went through on the NF were class II and the boat went down smoothly with no issues at all. I am not sure how brave I would get with fast water…but I was very comfortable in handling everything that the NF threw at me.
I fished with an older friend of mine, Frank, who is 67 and also purchased a Voyager; I found that Frank did very well in the boat and used his like a walker on water by standing in the river between the two sides of the pontoon. I also tried this in several places and found that by facing the point or back of the boat downstream, you can use the seat as a stripping basket and by doing so you can move very securely around from place to place and if you slip or feel insecure…you can use the sides of the boat to stabilize yourself.
>>> Click Here <<< to listen to a discussion that I had with my good friend Frank. It is a discussion about float tubes and the new Voyager all made by the Creek Company. We also discuss the ins and outs of float tubes for an older fisherman.
The video below is short, but it shows my friend Frank moving through a set of rapids while we were fishing the North Fork of the White River in south-central Missouri. I think you can easily see how manageable the Voyager is while in faster water.
My favorite way to use the Voyager was to have my kick fins on at the same time I was traveling down the river and in the slower water I was able to use the Voyager just like a float tube. I would put the current at my back and use my fins to maneuver from place to place, side to side to hit the most productive spots. I found that this was a highly productive way to hit many of the deep holes and if I worked hard with the kick fins….could hover in place for a while and really probe in and around the big boulders in search of big trout. In one section of slower water I simple zigzagged from side to side across the pool, basically trolling and slowly retrieving a cream colored, cone headed wooly bugger; I was able to catch three nice browns using this method.
As I would near a rapid, I would reach down and pull my kick fins up and rest them on the foot bar, drop the oars and negotiate the rapids…then, once through the white water, drop my fins down and immediately start to cast and strip through the bottom of the pool. This was a highly effective way of working these productive areas of the stream…in fact at one pool I made a long cast into some heavy riffles and immediately hooked a decent 15 inch brown. Me and the fish rode the rapids about a 150 feet and when we came through I landed the fish, this made for a very exciting few seconds as I really couldn’t negotiate or move while passing through the rapids but was able to keep tension on the fish and had 2X tippet which allowed me to ‘bully’ the fish a bit and make it through without any big issues.
If you are someone looking for a tube to fish still water with…then the Voyager is also your boat. Just like a float tube, the Voyager gives you all the options of the ODC 420 but then allows you to drop the oars and literally scoot over the top of water and get to another portion of the lake very quickly. I use the Voyager just like a float tube while on still water with the added bonus of being able to move very quickly to hop from one spot to the next and so on….I might also add that there is just a little more seat room in the Voyager and this gives you the ability to move around and get comfortable from time to time. One last item…the Voyager packs up into a small and neat package for travel or to put in your car while on vacation…and in a matter of a few minutes you can go from packed up to fishing your favorite water.
So…this was a quick overview of the current float tubes and a couple models that I am familiar with and would feel totally confident in recommending to other fly-guys. If you have been thinking….then get going, you won’t be disappointed at all. If you would like to see a video of the ODC 420, check out this comparison video that I did a couple years back…it will give you a good idea of what the tubes look like. I also have a short video that shows how to get in a float tube and then how to put your kick fins on…check it out as well. Best of luck in your pursuit from a tube…I know you will do well!