Float tubes, Pontoon boats and a 6 year old

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Jeff Hale, Sep 25, 2006.

  1. Jeff Hale B.I.G.F.F.

    Posts: 641
    Bainbridge Island, WA
    Ratings: +27 / 0
    Looking for experience regarding the use of a float tube or pontoon boat and my 6 year old son. What have you folks with kids experienced with respect to an appropriate age to allow your youngster to have his/her own watercraft? My son, Max, is very independent and bright and is already pushing me for a float tube. I wonder if they make a smaller diameter tube that would fit him, but I also worry whether or not it is safe for him, even if I am right next to him. He's a good swimmer in the pool, but that makes no difference in cold water with waders. Would a pontoon boat be safer? Any comments and opinions welcome. I want to think this through carefully before I go putting my kid in a personal watercraft. By the way, we are talking only about fishing small lakes in reasonably warm weather? Thanks, Jeff
  2. Sloan Craven Active Member

    Posts: 2,464
    NoSho, ma
    Ratings: +30 / 0
    Kids, if they are disciplined, generally have safer behavior than adults.
    -I would go with a pontoon boat since there is probably not a kid sized float tube, and it could be dangerous to put him in an adult tube.

    -I would also throw him in the pool with waders on, without his lifevest to make sure he can swim or at least tread water while wearing those.

    -Always a life vest with no exceptions.

    -Here's the real hard part. You need to determine if your kid can do what he's told without question for however long while he's on the water. You need to be really honest with yourself. You need to think about every time your kid disobeyed you or argued with you or questioned what you told him to do. There are some 5 year olds that I would trust and some 18 year-olds I wouldn't. I don't think age is really a question. I was given them helm of a 42 foot yacht under full sail at the age of 7, there are some 35 year-olds that shouldn't have a drift boat.
    You need to ask a really good friend (and said friendship won't be ruined) who knows your son to give you an honest opinion. Your opinion really shouldn't factor in to your final decision. Everyone thinks their kid is mature and bright. And everyone says their kid is bright. How many people say, "my kid is an immature idiot"? I don't mean to doubt you, its just that most people have to be wrong in this instance. Maybe your kid has a 160 IQ and is in 5th grade already, I don't know. I just want to stress the point- you really need to put your personal feelings aside in determining where your kid is at. That way you will make the best decision for his sake.
  3. YAKIMA AKA: Gregory Mine

    Posts: 766
    Las Vegas
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    I would vote small pontoon. With some hesitation...

    Me, I would consider these as well - Is he able to keep himself under control regarding tying on new flies, working out problems with tangles, understand what is going on and the dangers if making the wrong choice if your not around. By those I refer to dropping things and splash, they are gone. Him included in that last statement. Will he spend more time working out the problems instead of having a good time? This seems it is a making or breaking decision you have in front of you.

    Do you already have a pontoon, or know of one you could borrow and find out? Can he cast and understand what to do. Me, before I did anything I would have a fly fishing 101 and make sure he can do all the things that we take for granted during the course of a day on the water. That, and I would stay CLOSE once your out there...

    Just seems a bit young to me

  4. Surf_Candy Member

    Posts: 804
    Bainbridge Island, WA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I went through a similar thing with my 8 and 11 year olds - and decided that based their skill levels and comparing them to some experiences I have had taking "new to fly fishing" friends out on the water (hooking themselves, boat, tangles, selecting the right fly , mis-handling fish etc) that I would simply take the 3 of us out in a 12' john boat until they were mostly self sufficient.

    Also, if you plan to fish, don't - you are the guide and captain. The idea is getting out with your kids and letting them have the most positive experience possible and mentoring them- which means your fishing comes 2nd.

  5. spowino New Member

    Posts: 296
    Spokane, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Also you may want to put some type of a tether on the fly rod to the 'toon.
    It would be a bitch to have him lose his rod while on the lake.
  6. PeteM Member

    Posts: 625
    Snohomish, WA, US.
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    I've used float tubes with my kids for years. First, the younger ones used a tube that has both a lap belt and a strap between the legs. An example is a TU Gunnison. This keeps them from sliding out.

    Second, I always have them use a life vest with a whistle.

    Third, I tether them to my tube. I do all the casting until they are older and I can untether them.

    Lastly, they can't stand up until both feet are firmly on the ground and only with me next to them.

    Have fun. My kids (ages 15 - 9) love it.

  7. mstrofsinanju {Fly fishing} = Time well spent

    Posts: 45
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I am just now breaking my sons' in to the sport. Both are 9 this year. One has more interest than the other. Either way, I told them that I would not take them out with me until they could tie the two knots they need to know for the basic requirements. While their knots are coming along, I have taken them swimming several times in the lake with the fins and tube. You might not think it takes much "know how" to control A float tube but, try taking an 8 year old, his first time in fins, out in A tube. It will open you're eyes for sure.
    I'm not so sure about A pontoon boat. Seems like allot to focus on, what with rowing, flippers, fly rod and all. As well, it seems A child could slip off A toon allot easier than A circular float tube. One of the older stile round ones with A strap in the middle of his/her legs is highly... ((((( recommended ))))).
    I like the idea of not fishing yourself for the first couple of times. They get so much more out of one on one instruction. Plus you're right there should anything happen unexpectedly, (as it always does with kids).
    The logistics of the in and out of the water are critical. This is where someone is going to get hurt, or equipment broken.
    (-(-(- tethering the rod and reel to the tube is critical -)-)-)
    You're hard earned money spent on that rod/reel set up means nothing to them. "Do not forget to do this." If they don't drop it, A fish (should they hook one) will pull the rod right out of their hands.
    Before you even think of getting him/her out on the water, back yard casting lessons for lawn trout (or the cat) are A must. It's no fun for anyone if they can't even get the line out of the guides.
    Take you're time. Don't stress.. Dad! and leave you're selves lots of time.
    Remember, kids don't have that big of A bladder either. You probably won't spend A hole lot of time on the water any way.
    Always end the trip at McDonalds (or appropriate eatery in you're area) after you are done. You'll be the favorite dad forever.

    Just my .02
  8. theworm New Member

    Posts: 193
    Smokey Point Wa.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    My 2 cents:
    I think age does play a role. 6 years old means "I wants to do something because it sounds like fun". Ask him if he wants ice cream for dinner and I am sure he will say yes. I would see how he reacts to 3 or 4 trips in a boat first then give you can give him ice cream for dinner.
  9. Bob Young Member

    Posts: 75
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +14 / 0
    What ever you do, please stay away from moving water. We lost a flyfisher in a pontoon boat on The Yakima this year.
  10. PeteM Member

    Posts: 625
    Snohomish, WA, US.
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    That's a good point. When taking younger kids, the emphasis should be on having fun and not fishing. For the first couple of trips, we were on the water a max of one hour. It was a lot of work for an hour but it has led to longer trips. Also, we've got several fish when we were dragging our flies while racing in our float tubes.

    Last point, make sure you tether your fins. I had a scuba pro fin slip off one of my sons while out one day. It was a pain trying to find just one fin to replace it. All my fins have tethers now.

  11. Demon Spey New Member

    Posts: 42
    Bremerton Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0

    Hey Buddy iagree 100% w/ Sloan
  12. Jeff Hale B.I.G.F.F.

    Posts: 641
    Bainbridge Island, WA
    Ratings: +27 / 0
    Thanks for all the great opinions and advice. I will take it all into account. Max can cast, strip line, etc, with his little 6 foot 3 weight, but I think we will start off together in a raft with a life vest. Thanks guys, Jeff
  13. Sloan Craven Active Member

    Posts: 2,464
    NoSho, ma
    Ratings: +30 / 0
    Superfly-this may be the greatest excuse you'll ever have to get a two man pontoon.:thumb:
  14. YAKIMA AKA: Gregory Mine

    Posts: 766
    Las Vegas
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    Superfly... To me, you made the best choice in many ways. Nothing beats bonding with them in the same boat, raft, or just standing together on some water. All of my kids did just that. With me, my closest fishing partners, or thier Grandpa. They learn from watching and listening. Togetherness will travel a lot farther than just being in another boat next to Dad.

    My youngest is 16 now, and last July I was rewarded with the joy of watching my duaghter put this one in the boat. I just sat back and watched her years of learning and patience put this fish in the net I so proudly and happily got to help her with. It doesn't get any better than this for this dad...

  15. dp ~El Pescador

    Posts: 717
    .Renton, Wa
    Ratings: +91 / 0
    good post and good info.
    I recently took my 10 year son on Lenice. The emphasis was on him having a good time and learning to be safe.
    I have a pontoon boat and I had Adam in a small tube with the strap that goes between his legs. he can't slip thru with this setup.
    I attached his tube directly behind me and between my pontoons with bungy cords. I could see right over him the entire time. He had a life preserver on and I chose not to put fins on him. I wanted control on him and the boat. he did not seem to mind. I cast for him and at times had a line out for me as well. My plan was to stay out no more than 3 hours. Of course if we got into fish, the time would extend.
    The islands were a great place to let him out of the boat and strech his legs for a bit. I would troll right in front of the islands with him in site at all.
    The best part was when a fish hit his fly. He was all over the place. we missed that fish and 3 others. Off the water by 11:00 and I feel a very successful day. Went back a few weeks later by myself (two weeks ago now) and did very well with chironomids.
    Going this weekend again.