Float tube

I'm getting ready to make the plunge (figurative, I hope) and buy a tube. This has be a fret-filled process, mostly due to my inexperience (never floated before, in fact, never caught a fish on a fly either - yikes!) I've pretty much decided on the T.U. Kennebec. Given the price range (mid 100's) my budget is no longer a secret. What other tubes should I consider in this price range?

Any sage advice will be appreciated.




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Outcast Fishcat 4 - $139.00 Foam seat keeps you higher off water, V shape easy to kick, valves sames as high end pontoon boats-blows up with double action pump in just a few seconds.

Caddis Basic round tube - $39.95 Can't do better paying more if all you need is a basic float tube. The one I bought 15 years ago is still going strong.
Markd: I'll chime in, since I recently upgraded to a T.U. Kennebec after using an old donut-style Caddis float tube for many years.

In my eyes, the Kennebec is a solid value for the money. The stadium seat is wonderful -- the most comfortable seat I've experienced in the 6 or so float tubes I've tried -- and I really like the rod holders running along each pontoon (I like to strap on an extra rod/reel for easy switchovers). I haven't had any problems with my tube yet, knock on wood; the company I work for (REI) sells these tubes, and the last I heard we hadn't had one Kennebec tube returned due to failure, so that's a good omen as far as long-term durability goes. The one thing missing on the Kennebec is backpack straps; its cousin tube, the Togiak, does come with these, but I think the Kennebec is a better tube overall (more features, more comfortable). Fortunately, I have an old pair of float tube backpack straps that work fine with my Kennebec; if your local fly shop doesn't sell backpack straps for float tubes, do a search on the net or go to thefloattubestore.com -- the straps are really nice to have when you have to hike into a lake, even if it's only a couple hundred yards.

One other thing I'd point out about the Kennebec: the pontoon bladders are very sensitive to temperature. I'm no scientist, but I believe this has something to do with air molecules expanding in warm temperatures and contracting in colder ones. Anyway, what this means is that if you put a fully inflated Kennebec in a cold lake, you'll notice that the inflation level goes down after a while. No big deal -- there's still plenty of air to keep you safely afloat, and if you want to blow some more air, just pull to the shore and pucker up. Conversely, if you leave the boat fully inflated out in the heat -- or worse, in the shell of pickup truck on a warm day -- the bladders expand to dangerous levels. So be sure to let out air when you're done fishing.

Overall, I think the Kennebec is a great choice for your first tube. There used to be a glowing review of the Kennebec over on floattuber.com, but the link seems to be broken now.

Anyway, good luck with your purchase, and good luck learning to fish from your new boat. It's a lot of fun fishing from a float tube -- especially when you've brought a fish in close and it's splashing in front of you and spraying water in your face. That's the essence of float tubing to me -- being right there where the action is.

If you have any questions about gear, tactics, whatever, give me a holler. I'm no expert, but I'd be more than willing to share what I know.
Great comments from both, thanks. I had read some really good reviews about the Kennebek with the only "knock" being the valves. How big an issue is that?

Forgot about the valves...

Yep, valves aren't perfect. My biggest problem with them is getting them to lie down flat once the tube is inflated; they end up jutting upwards in strange directions. I don't know if that's my fault or what. It's not that big a deal though, at least not to me. The tube has too many good things going for it for me to lose sleep about the valves.

As far as inflating the bladders goes, I think the valves are fine. If you want to inflate by mouth, just untwist the blue head and start blowing. If you want to use a pump -- I've got a portable electric pump that I use for an air mattress -- the blue head can be snapped off to accommodate the pump's nozzle.
I think the fishcat mentioned before is a good choice, after you pump one with a hand pump you will never blow one up again! Electric pumps are not all they are cut out to be...i have a pontoon boat and never use my elec pump anymore.

***Whatever you get don't get a round one. I have fished in many situations where the water is very shallow (1 foot or so) and it is IMPOSSIBLE :DUNNO to get out of the tube in a round one...imagine your legs straight out underneath you, butt touching the ground...Look only at the U or V style boats you can easily get in and out of.

My advise, stick with the fishcat, buy a double action pump (cabelas $20) and you need a plastic section of tubing to go between the pump and the valves (you can use the plastic tube to blow it up with if hiking in). :THUMBSUP
Looks like it's all up to me, now. Thanks for all the input! I'm thinking that I might need to keep my decision a secret so's as not to offend anyone - everyone made great points and comments.

Now, if I can only keep my line tight!