How to propel a float tube?

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Justadd Water, Apr 26, 2014.

  1. Justadd Water

    Justadd Water Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    43
    Well this may seem like a stupid question but, I'm having a hard time getting around in a float tube.

    I recently picked up a Super Fat Cat in the WFF classifieds and took it out for some Crappie fishing last Sunday. I would normally use a kayak for this but, I was between trucks and had to take the little Mini Cooper. On a positive note, the float tube and gear fit in the Mini without a problem, I used about half as much gas and it was less gear to drag to the lake and back.

    Anyway so I'm fishing around a marina that was closed and trying to kick propell the thing with some Buck's Bags fins. I really wasn't getting anywhere very quickly and I had a tendency to go in circles. What kicking technique do yous folks use and how to you steer? I think I would have done better with a kayak paddle. Anyone use a paddle?

    I did some float tube fishing in Idaho once a long time ago and don't remember it being so difficult.

    Dave
     
  2. Wayne Kohan

    Wayne Kohan fish-ician

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Messages:
    1,142
    Media:
    36
    Likes Received:
    231
    Location:
    TriCities, WA
    I have an SFC and use Omega flip fins, longer than the usual strap-on boot fins and I zoom along. Did you have the tube fully inflated?

    Wayne
     
    Blue likes this.
  3. Justadd Water

    Justadd Water Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    43
    Good point, the tube probably could have used a little more air. I didn't have a very good pump with me.


    Does Omega have a fin that goes over wading boots or are you going bootless?
     
  4. Rob Ast

    Rob Ast Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Messages:
    2,018
    Media:
    36
    Likes Received:
    302
    Location:
    West Pugetopolis WA
    Omega fins or force fins are the way to go. Way better than the little rigid caddis/bucks bags fins that lace over your boots.
     
  5. Jim Ficklin

    Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2008
    Messages:
    3,310
    Likes Received:
    1,550
    Location:
    Columbia Basin
    The tube should be fairly hard. Any fins should move it, but the bigger/longer the better. Steady finning with each leg should move you straight ahead. When I spin around, I just bend my knees and turn; a kick with the leg opposite the direction you want to go adjusts your course when moving. I've used Turtle fins for years & I'll put them up against any other fins for shear motive force; they're heavy, have massive vented blades, don't "flip" for walking convenience and are old school, but they give me a good workout & I like them (I must; I have 3 sets.). They fit great over flats boots, which are my preferred footwear for tubing. Air your tube up & practice; you'll have it down in no time.
     
  6. Wayne Kohan

    Wayne Kohan fish-ician

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Messages:
    1,142
    Media:
    36
    Likes Received:
    231
    Location:
    TriCities, WA
    My fins fit over my boot, Force Fins can do that too, though some wear them with thinner neoprene booties. I rarely flip my up, the flip mechanism is way too stiff to use easily.

    Wayne
     
  7. wolfie

    wolfie New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    bc
    Had the same problem with my first tube.Lousy fins. Buddy had force fins and went everywhere.Bought a set and never looked back.Had them about 20 yrs now.
    Expensive but worth it.
     
  8. Justadd Water

    Justadd Water Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    43
    Thanks guys. That sounds like a few good things to try. It have another set a fins that will try before buying new ones. I think going with neoprene booties would make things easier but I will have situations where regular wading boots are required. I like the the flip fin idea but if they are hard to flip up/down the Force fins might be the best choice for boot or booty flexibility.
     
  9. Jim Ficklin

    Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2008
    Messages:
    3,310
    Likes Received:
    1,550
    Location:
    Columbia Basin
    if you want something with a substantial sole, look at flats boots; get a pair with a lug on the back that retains the fin strap. I also prefer zipper closures to Velcro, although both work . . . the Velcro occasionally loads with moss/other debris. these boots also keep your feet a bit warmer. I used cheap sneakers when I first started tubing (built my own tube back in the late 50's; ugly, but it put me in fish that other guys couldn't reach.). I have no clue as to whether the Force Fins or other fins dedicated to float tubing will fit on flats boots, however since I've never tried them. I tried a set of Caddis fins when these first came out & was disappointed; researched, discovered the Turtles & never looked back. Good luck.
     
  10. Justadd Water

    Justadd Water Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    43
    Thanks. I'll keep the Turtle fins in mind as well.
     
  11. Blue

    Blue Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,243
    Likes Received:
    125
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Home Page:
    I have had the Turtle fins, a great fin! I also have Force Fins, but I vote for scuba style or Omegas (although I am not sure they are still being made)
    Nice thing about scuba or longer fins is you can flutter your feet like a swimmer and move on the up and the down stroke.
    The other fins like the Caddis, Turtle, FF you are scooping the water up. Also on FF, the bigger your foot, the smaller the blade.
    I use Simm boots on all my fins, but on the Omegas my Hubby wears a size 13. Tis boot with sole was too big for the fin pocket so he uses Simms flats booties. The strap on the back of the fin can and will wear the bootie out however.
     
  12. ryfly

    ryfly Addicted to flyfishing

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2004
    Messages:
    445
    Likes Received:
    92
    Location:
    Snoqualmie, WA



    Get new fins.
     
  13. SHigSpeed

    SHigSpeed Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    46
    Location:
    Rocklin, CA
    I'm going to chime in...

    I own Force Fins. I own the old school rubbery lace-up Caddis fins, I own big scuba fins, and I make ultralight fins for backpacking made from ABS plastic platforms, carbon spars, and fabric webbing.

    I've been float tubing since the late '80s, and I though that the Force Fins were the best thing ever after falling for the hype and getting a pair recently.

    Funny thing is before I had my UL fins, when I'd backpack tube I'd take my old Caddis fins (that I recently got out of the attic) because they were lighter than the Force Fins. It was then that I realized that they just may propel better and cause less cramping than the Forces. I think it has to do with how much more flexible the Caddis are vs. the Force.

    The first pair of UL packing fins I made used arrow shafts as the spars and they flat out didn't work. Way too stiff. My current UL fins use extremely (some would say laughably) flexible spars, softer than even the Caddis fins, and I like them a hell of a lot. The other day on a very windy lake I was using my Force Fins and having a hard time kicking into the wind (kicking nearly flat out) whereas my friend (using my current spec UL fins) was easily making headway.

    I think what it comes down to is that design is very important, and leg condition can overcome an non-optimized design. If you're strong enough, you can make just about anything work. However, for kicking backward in a float tube, the vectoring of water directly away from the direction you want to go is the most efficient use of leg power, and super flexible blades allow this to happen. Longer blades will help too as they will more readily flex, though at a higher work input depending on stiffness. Shorter, stiffer blades can do the same thing, but to get them to flex, you're going to have to put a lot more work into it unless they flex (like the Force Fins do), and if your legs aren't strong enough to put the flex into the blades you'll be wasting energy by sloshing water up and down vs. straight back. The downside to flexible fins is that it limits the absolute maximum thrust you can generate, but unless you have the legs to take advantage of this, it's not going to make a difference.

    The experience the other day really opened my eyes to the "Force Fins are the best" argument. I really like them, and with no wind they work fine (as probably do most fins), but I'm convinced that an efficient, well designed flexible fin will win out every time.

    As with most things, YMMV. Try out a bunch and use the ones you like. I've never tried Omegas, though I'd jump at the opportunity to strap some on. I just know that my old Mares Power Plana fins can generate a ton of thrust but they wear out my legs. The Force are great all around fins if heavy and overpriced - also they sink if you don't tether them or add flotation. The Caddis rubber/plastic lace up fins kick nicely but the foot pockets leave a lot to be desired. The Caddis/Outcast backpacking fins are pretty light, but they're way too stiff to be comfortable. Looks like I'll be using my backpacking fins a lot more, but the downside is they're somewhat fragile out of necessity based on what they were designed to do.

    Oh well...

    _SHig
     
    Gary Knowels and Blue like this.
  14. Justadd Water

    Justadd Water Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    43
    Maybe I could just strap a trolling motor to my back side! :)
     
    triploidjunkie likes this.
  15. Blue

    Blue Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,243
    Likes Received:
    125
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Home Page:
    I do have several friends that do have a motor on a SFC or similar boat. That is an easy option.
     
  16. Matthew Kaphan

    Matthew Kaphan Active Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2011
    Messages:
    277
    Media:
    7
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    I bought a pair of scuba fins years and years ago. I wear sandals over my waders until I launch, then I take the sandals off and put the fins on right over the wader booties. It's worked great for 2 decades. I should mention that I'm in a pontoon and not a float tube, so that does make a difference with the ability of taking your fins on and off when you launch and come back to shore.

    I think I paid $20 for the fins 15 or 20 years ago.

    Matthew
     
    Gary Knowels and Blue like this.
  17. Justadd Water

    Justadd Water Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    43
    The fat cat is kind of cross between a float tube and a pontoon but it has a membrane across the bottom. Personally I think it would control better and move easier without the membrane.
     
  18. SHigSpeed

    SHigSpeed Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    46
    Location:
    Rocklin, CA
    The "membrane" is the bottom of the foam\inflatable seat. This is what allows the person to sit so high out of the water.

    I don't think that this detracts from the maneuverability of the tube though it certainly will add a little drag.

    Even if you put a board across the pontoons and remove the seat, the extra draft of the main tubes due to the loss of flotation from the seat would negate some of the drag loss of the seat not being wetted.

    I think better fins and some seat time may be all the OP needs to feel more comfortable in the tube.

    _SHig
     
  19. Blue

    Blue Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,243
    Likes Received:
    125
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Home Page:
    Are you thinking the SUPER CAT like Denny Richards uses? The Fat Cat, Super Fat Cat, Fish Cat, ODC are all V shaped tubes.
     
  20. Justadd Water

    Justadd Water Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    43