Float Tubing a River?

Matt B

...
WFF Supporter
It seems strange to me that many commenters seem to ignore some very important factors which @MT_Flyfisher addresses, these being the specific conditions of the water you are trying to access, and the float tubers knowledge and skill. Why don't people apply the same grave tone for wading the Deschutes, North Umpqua, or Wenatchee Rivers? There are spots and techniques for wading that can be hazardous and less hazardous--it all depends, right?

If a fisher is always risking instant death any time they enter any moving water in a float tube, what exactly is so special about float tubes that makes them so different from any other fishing activity in a river--or a lake for that matter? Is it reasonable to float tube Klamath Lake? Leech Lake? Lake Washington? I'd say yes, absolutely, depending on water temperature, weather, clothing, gear, and the fisherperson's current mental and physical condition.

There are places where I am willing to argue it is very reasonable to fly fish from a float tube, and this absolutely includes some moving water at some times for some people. There are places and times where a person should not float tube, too. Use your judgment.

 

wadin' boot

Donny, you're out of your element...
WFF Supporter
I'm not ashamed to admit a pool-toy inflated donut and I have floated parts of the Cedar that I did not want to wet wade. As others have noted legs outta the tube, ass in the donut hole. I would argue this is exactly the sort of contraption that is basically the equivalent to camo on certain sections of the Cedar.

(I have found prior engagements on the cedar are always more interesting when dressed like you just came out of your pallet and tarp camp tucked back in the bushes)

Typically these excursions are best suited to the 7.5 foot eagle claw yellow glass with an ancient cortland click and pawl, a tired intermediate line, a 12 to 9 lb home tied leader, and only black streamers. That fly rod and reel is basically indestructible and easy to see on the bottom of the river if salvage is needed. You are better off doing this on a hot day with water flows that are on the kinder side of mean.

I do not fish while floating. I will exchange pleasant banterings with new tubin' friends who invariably want to know if the fishing's good.

"Of course it's good, and so's the floatin'" If you say it with enthusiasm the other floaters are always friendly, even if they are basically blue having badly misjudged how warm the river or Cedar valley is. My warmth to them is in the joy I have for the adventure we are all on....

I'll get out and work the run standing, and when done, backwards launch from a standing to seated position, typically in knee deep water, with an eye for the line needed to minimize paddling and bank mishaps in yet deeper or faster water. You need a trajectory and intent with pre-launch safety checks for where your line and fly is.

When in Rome....(or the Renton Riviera)

Highlights include the side eye the fly guys give you as you walk behind 'em and ask "how's fishin'?" You know you look to them like you may well be a tweaker, but hey, if they missed the part about Cedar Camo, how can they be helped in their judgement errors?

Most of the fly guys are exactly where you would predict them to be, in places where access is +/- 100 yards from conventional. In deference to my fly fishing friends, I typically won't float through their stretch, even if they are hammering it mid day with dries and attired in expensive waders, trucker hats and checked sun-wicking shirts etc etc. (There is even less friendly if I'm carrying a spin rod with a one-hooked crimped-barb black and yellow tiniest sized panther martin...they should know I'm on business time by the high quality swivels I use. Tie your own leaders for fly fishing- always- but never cheap out on swivels when spin fishing....)

"Well have a good day, and good luck to you..." again, with enthusiasm, and a hat tip from the hand not hoisting the pool toy....

They never seem to want to talk much which is fine by me. They never ask how the floatin' is. I suspect it's because deep down they know it is awesome and in the time they repeatedly hammer the same 100 yard stretch worried about their car getting smashed into (mentally recalling the details of how they would describe the suspiciously friendly moron with the fly rod and the pool donut) I've covered 1 river mile with no slick wades and hooked some classic fish near where the shopping cart(s) lie and the flows are a little messed-up...
 
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Dustin Bise

reformed hot-spotter
It seems strange to me that many commenters seem to ignore some very important factors which @MT_Flyfisher addresses, these being the specific conditions of the water you are trying to access, and the float tubers knowledge and skill. Why don't people apply the same grave tone for wading the Deschutes, North Umpqua, or Wenatchee Rivers? There are spots and techniques for wading that can be hazardous and less hazardous--it all depends, right?

your giving people way to much credit. i think the blanket advice of DONT is because anyone dumb enough to need to ask this question to a forum has no business doing it, and probably is not experienced enough to properly assess the risk and mitigate those risks.

anyone who has the knowledge, experience, and ability to use a float tube in moving water would not be asking WFF if its a good idea or not.
 

sroffe

Active Member
Also have a friend who was fishing for Pinks at Lincoln park in a float tube not far from shore current nearly took him to Des moines.
Think I saw him drift by when I was fishing Brace Point, thought he was fighting a 20 pound chinook. ;)

I remember fishing out of my watermaster a few years ago in the Yakima, and was using fins. I was talking with a experience guide about it later, and before I even could finish my thought, he was telling me of the dangers of doing that. Well,... I guess I won't do that again.

If you're going to solo float down a river, be safe, and do it right. A pontoon boat or Watermaster is cheap compared to loosing your life trying to fish out of something not designed for moving water.

I do like what others have said about calculated risk. Anytime we are fishing we weight the risk, benefits of the activity at hand. If it doesn't feel safe, don't do it, if it feels safe, recalculate and look at other factors. I guess the important thing, is be smart, be safe. Nature isn't kind to stupidity.
 
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long_rod_silvers

WFF Supporter
"Well have a good day, and good luck to you..." again, with enthusiasm, and a hat tip from the hand not hoisting the pool toy....

They never seem to want to talk much which is fine by me. They never ask how the floatin' is.
You've clearly never floated by me!!
I've got mad respect for the inner tube fly fisherman - they know what's up. Suns out guns out and no bad days!

giphy.gif
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Drunk CWU students float down the Yakima canyon in inner-tubess all summer long. What's the difference?
And I’ve seen a good number of them nearly drown themselves in the attempt. The lower canyon is one thing, but the slower, winding Farmlands stretch is where I’ve witnessed some near-tragedies unfold. Guides in the area have told me about watching the coroner assess bodies at Ringer while gleeful crowds of tubers prep for their floats. It’s easy to drown on the Yak.
 

wadin' boot

Donny, you're out of your element...
WFF Supporter
You've clearly never floated by me!!
I've got mad respect for the inner tube fly fisherman - they know what's up. Suns out guns out and no bad days!

You have to run the equipment in, like a new outboard. So here's some midsommer urban lake action with plenty of room for spills with a cleanup/rescue/enabling cheer squad crew taking photo. It is some yoga workout to get a good cast from a deflating donut.
1623878563180.png
If you are going to try the donut, Try air casting at home, on land, first.

Picture yourself in your donut. You are one with the donut. Say it like Homer Simpson.

I am one with the donut and the donut is one with me

Your weight is entirely on your ass cheeks, and your feet are up in the air, knees together, and you are going through double haul motions with expected trunk rocking. The final casting stroke in general is synchronized with your ipsilateral gluteus maximus assuming the 90% of the load and serving as the energy store and fulcrum for the rod where the remaining 10% of power lies.

When casting from a donut, your feet are out of the water, while your ass is in it. Your casting distance is in direct proportion to the power of your casting-side glute.

Certified fly fishing instructors will never tell you that, but you sure learn quickly when donut-casting.

( Little known fact, Norman Maclean's first draft of A River runs Through It read as follows "he called it donut casting, and that is how he had developed a hypertrophic and asymmetric ass, casting from an old Model T's innertube, pumped taut, while floating down the Big Blackfoot river, beneath time and over rocks and under the waters were the words printed on the inner tube, inflate to 35 PSI." before he realized that the American Public was not ready for this cheeky methodology and instead changed it to "shadow casting" and revised the rocks and time and words lines, completely removing any reference to tubin', asses, donuts and PSI. )

Still water is sooo much more comfortable than dry land donut casting. And yet, that pivot and trunk rocking is why in moving water fishing from this kind of yellow $7 donut is ill-advised. I would recommend a conventional float tube for stillwater. And as others have pointed out when I first posted this years back, a PFD should be worn. And lest this come off as insensitive to the dangers of fishing from a pool float on moving waters, I used mine to tube across stretches I did not want to wade, not to fish from. Donut casting is a terrible waste of time, amazingly uncomfortable and leads to a tendency to spin...on the other hand, the yoga of it is solid....try it at home!
 
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thesankers

Active Member
There is a big difference between and donut type type and a modern float tube such as a fat cat. Having an open front end allows for moving your legs up out of the lower part of the water column. I have floated the lower part of the Yakima in Tri-cities many times. My rule of thumbs would be:
1. Know the area
2. Places where you can kick we back upstream a little bit if you want or need to are generally fine.
3. Wear a life jacket anyway.
 

long_rod_silvers

WFF Supporter
your giving people way to much credit. i think the blanket advice of DONT is because anyone dumb enough to need to ask this question to a forum has no business doing it, and probably is not experienced enough to properly assess the risk and mitigate those risks.

anyone who has the knowledge, experience, and ability to use a float tube in moving water would not be asking WFF if its a good idea or not.
Kind of like asking if it's a bad idea to float the upper sol duc...
If you have to ask, the answer is yes.
 

Matt B

...
WFF Supporter
Kind of like asking if it's a bad idea to float the upper sol duc...
If you have to ask, the answer is yes.
See I don’t get this attitude either. Why can’t he ask, and weigh the responses? Should @Josh be discouraged from grilling? At least this is fishing related! Haha

 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
Based on where you are located, the water I’ve seen this week and how hot and dry it has been, I probably wouldn’t hesitate on some waters to do them in a tube.
I nearly walked across the Mississippi yesterday while fishing.
Just like rafting, based on the flows you may be walking in some spots rather than floating.
SF
 

long_rod_silvers

WFF Supporter
See I don’t get this attitude either. Why can’t he ask, and weigh the responses? Should @Josh be discouraged from grilling? At least this is fishing related! Haha

Im certainly not saying don't ask. Ask away, free country and free speech and all. But asking what grill people like isn't really a life safety issue is it? Asking if you should do something that could get you killed (and is specifically said not to do in the user's manual) is a life safety issue. And it kind of means you're not aware of the dangers, otherwise, if you were, why ask. If you're not aware of what the dangers are, even after people explain the dangers, can you really effectively weigh the dangers? Maybe. You might have a point there.
Maybe not though!! :D
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