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Float Tube Fishing in Ireland

Having a really great time fishing from the world's best floating fishing platform

Float Tube Buyers Guide - Buying the Right Float Tube              

Factors to consider             My Reviews of the Tubes           Evaluating Low Cost Float Tubes          Top

Float Tubes I can recommend .... try to get a urethane bladder tube if possible.

BUCK BAGS BULLET  Manufacturers Comment:
The Bullet offers all the benefits of an open front, without the crossbar. The patented adjustable 22Ē mesh seat is padded on an internal stainless steel frame, setting a new standard for comfort and providing structural support for the open front design. The bow in the back of the boat helps you move through the water more efficiently. There are two storage pockets on each side with one additional pocket on top of the backrest. With a 42Ē width and 56Ē length, this boat is large enough to add a significant amount of stability and is very comfortable to sit in for a long period of time. The shell is a durable 420 denier nylon and the internal bladder is 100% urethane. 5 year warranty. Weight Capacity = 325lbs.
OUTCAST FAT CAT  Manufacturers Comment:
The original V-shaped style float tube just got better. The addition of an adjustable height stripping apron allows a personalized fit for casting and landing fish. The foam seat and backrest provide a warmer and drier ride, a more efficient fin kick and the ability to see and cast farther than belly boats. The 600-denier PVC bottom resists snags, sharp rocks and everyday wear and tear. Urethane bladder in earlier versions, please check current specification.
SPARTON RED DEVIL CRUISER  Manufacturers Comment:
Modified Vee designs specifically to suit British conditions. All pressure seams are triple stitched . Exclusive use of YKK zips and 1000 Denier CORDURA. Our standard V hull model supports fishermen up to 17stones in weight and comes with long pockets on either side, carrying straps, lung Inflation, triple urethane bladder, line tray, back bladder, adjustable seat, integral rod carriers and landing net velcro strip mounts. The most comfortable tube made ! (Please specify preferred colour and your weight) 
OUTCAST FISH CAT 4 & FC4 DELUXE  Manufacturers Comment:
The Fish Cat 4-LCS is an excellent value by combining a superior design with quality materials. This float tube, with a foam seat, was designed to keep anglers warmer and drier by positioning the seat above the water level. This also properly positions the angler for a more effective fin kick, offers a better field of vision and the opportunity for longer casts. The Fish Cat 4-LCS now incorporates an adjustable height stripping apron for easy entry and exit and a tensioned apron surface for better control of stripped line. Two spacious gear pockets with beverage holders keep necessities close. Constructed using two durable vinyl aircells and a 600-denier PVC bottom that resists snags and everyday wear and tear.
The FC4 Deluxe has an inflatable seat.
SHAKESPEARE EXPEDITION  Manufacturers Comment:
A totally new and innovative design by Steve Parton ... the well known UK  Float tube specialist. ... has culminated in the launch of the Expedition - the ultimate top specification float tube that provides comfort, stability and above all safety.
Field testing has been extensive and the unique ĎVí shaped hull design ensures improved manoeuvrability and reduced drag through the water. The Expedition boasts 5 durable PVC bladders - 3 main hull bladders + 2 backrest compartment bladders for additional safety. All are fitted with life jacket quality inflation/deflation valves.
Float Tube Hybrid from The Creek Company. Thick foam seat keeps you comfortable and out of the water while increasing floatation. Tough PVC bottoms to resist wear and tear; the same material we use on our top of the line pontoon boats. Streamlined design makes moving around quicker than ever and increased side storage pocket size lets you bring the little extras you need. Rear storage area allows you to bring a small cooler with lunch or a dry bag with the bulkier items you may need (rain gear, cameras, nets, etc.). Comes with D-ring attachments for using our pack straps (not included) for easy packing. Weight 16lbs, capacity 300lbs . The lightweight version weight 8 lbs, capacity 300lbs.
BUCKS BAGS Hi & Dri II  Manufacturers Comment:
donut round tube is slower, but very suitable for the newcomers, etc.
The Hi & Dri II has been the standard for round tube design since 1981. It is unique in the fact that when inflated, it takes on a streamlined shape on the sides and forms a bow in the back of the boat which helps you move through the water more efficiently. The interior squares at the backrest, giving you more hip-room and expanding the patented adjustable seat to a roomy 20Ē width. There are two storage pockets on each side with one additional pocket on top of the backrest. With a 40Ē diameter we have designed this boat for stability and comfort. The shell is a durable 420 denier nylon.
5 year warranty 
Weight Capacity = 250lbs 
SUPER FAT CAT  Manufacturers Comment:
The Super Fat Cat
tube from Outcast is loaded with comfort, convenience and durability and these features have been upgraded for 2008. There's a new adjustable-height stripping apron. The above-the-water seat allows you to see and cast farther than you can from traditional belly boats. With large pockets with beverage holders, D-rings for nets and accessories, and space for cargo or dry bags, you're ready for an entire day of fishing. When inflated, it measures a roomy 45" x 64", yet is highly manoeuvrable. Weighing 12 lbs., it can easily be packed into a remote mountain lake. The 600-denier PVC bottom is snag- and tear-resistant. All seams are sewn to guard against leaks. Features Summit 2 valves. Maximum capacity: 300 lbs. Five-year warranty.
Colors: Green, Willow
Freestyle H3  Manufacturers Comment:
A patent-pending, fully rockered design from North Fork Outdoors provides the stability needed to keep you fishing safely and comfortably. The Freestyle H3 comes standard with a rugged, heavy-duty Cordura nylon shell, four puncture-resistant urethane bladders, deluxe padded pockets and four air chambers with Halkey Roberts valves. 10-year manufacturer's warranty. Weight capacity: 350 lbs.     

Factors to consider             My Reviews of the Tubes           Evaluating Low Cost Float Tubes          Top

Factors to Consider When Making the Final Choice:

Raised Seats Made of Aeroboard Foam
Both the ODC 420 and the regular Fat Cat have foam insert seats. The seat is a 3" thick 2 foot wide slab of white foam. So these foam blocks take up significant additional storage space beyond the rolled up bladder(s) and shell when deflated.
It would be difficult to get either of these tubes into a frame type backpack. The foam blocks are too large, clumsy, and bulky.
So if you need to get it into a backpack, don't go with a tube with foam seats.
For a compact (when deflated) tube, you can choose either a Super Fat Cat or a Fish Cat 4 Deluxe. The FC4 Deluxe is a Fish Cat 4 with an inflatable seat.
The inflatable seats that roll up with the rest of the tube. The Bucks Bags Bullet and Expedition have a mesh seat which is not so high. These fit in reasonably small spaces and might fit into your backpack.

Backpacking inflated tubes
You can carry your tube fully inflated with backpack type straps. In this case the foam seat poses no problem. Just check the makes supplies a pre-made backpack set, otherwise you will have to play with straps and sewing needles!  There is no problem backpacking an inflated tube. It is pumped up at the car, maybe with a convenient electric pump. then it will be ready to use when you walk to the fishing spot.
The reason why backpacking a deflated tube (inside the backpack) might be desirable would be due to walking through a brushy tangled area where the inflated tube would catch in tree branches causing wear and tear.

Weight considerations arise when backpacking. If you want to backback your craft into a high mountain trout lake ... for example you will find a simple round boat, with a lightweight vinyl bladder, to be the best choice from a weight consideration.     

Urethane Vs PVC Vinyl Inner Air Chambers?
Experienced float tubers learn to value the difference between more expensive urethane vs lower cost vinyl inner air bladders. Vinyl is a less expensive air chamber, used to  provide affordable floating for tubers who are not going to be using their craft very much, over a long period of time. Like the old rubber round inner tubes, vinyl degrades over time, with heavy use and exposure to sun, water and abuse.
Urethane air chambers generally have slightly thicker walls and are "harder". In other words, they are more resistant to casual pokes from fish spines or glass splinters on tarmac at the carpark or lakeshore launch spot. Urethane is not impervious to getting holes, just a little more resistant. Vinyl is soft and sharp points find easier access.

Choosing ... round float tubes, U-tubes, or Vee-tubes
The single biggest difference between "round boats" and the U-boat or Vee-boat designs is in the launching and beaching process. Launching the traditional "donut" requires that you step down into your craft, at some point during the launching process. This is a big challenge for beginners who do things in the wrong order.
The beginners try to step into their tubes with their scuba fins already on their feet. Very funny to watch, it can be dangerous, toppling onto rod and tackle often occurs!  It is easier to lay your fins down under the tube first (out of the water), in the place your feet will go once you step in, and then step into both the tube and fins at the same time,sit on the tube and place the ankle straps in position . After that, you just lift the tube up around your waist and walk (backwards) into the water.
For my children I have always used round tubes. The crotch cross strap makes slipping out impossible. As they are more familiar with tubing the U or Vee tubes with a crossbar are more suitable. Later a full open front tube can be considered.
The U and Vee open end designs make launching and beaching much easier. You can push your tube out into knee deep water in front of you as you walk in. Pull it over to you, position yourself inside the open front of the tube and then simply sit down. Beaching is just the reverse. You fin over into water shallow enough to be able to stand up, stand up and walk ashore towing or pushing the tube to shore like a dog on a leash.

V-Tube with raised nose or ship's bow?                                           My Reviews of the Tubes             Top
The ODC 420, Fish Cat and Fat Cat tubes have a vee bow which rises above the water. This means that if you are sitting wrong you can tilt backwards, pushing the nose of your craft down into the water. Now you are sitting uncomfortably, and the streamlined design is not so efficient, making it harder to fin along.  On the other hand, these tubes have a higher seat, with a better view, and faster  speed.
The Expedition and Bullet have a vee nose which reaches down to the water, like the bow of a ship. This means that these tubes have more support up front, and the front can carry more weight. So if you are top heavy, or very tall, or lean back while seated then these tubes may suit you more. These particular tubes have a seat which is higher than a round donut tube, but not so high as an ODC420, Fat Cat or Fish Cat, and this means that in a wind you may be a tad slower, but there is less of you sticking up to catch the breeze, and your energy to fin upwind will be reduced.

Factors to consider             My Reviews of the Tubes           Evaluating Low Cost Float Tubes          Top

My Own Reviews of the Tubes Above:

In sheltered areas, or big lakes on calm days high profile vee tubes  Fish Cat, ODC420 and Fat Cat ride higher on the water surface and go faster. The  Super Fat Cat and Freestyle H3 are similar for bigger people over eg 220lbs/10kgs. They have nice big pockets for tackle boxes. These are ideal for eg, lakes under 1 mile x 1/2 mile. If you are fishing in US, Canada, or continental European countries where wind is half what it is in the oceanic countries, these are ones to think hard about.  For countries on the Atlantic seaboards eg Ireland, UK, Scotland, consider these but look more towards lower profile vee-tubes (next paragraph below).

However if you are in the habit of fishing in a wind of force 3 - 4, the slightly lower height, medium profile, streamlined, vee-tubes come into their own. The tubes listed above are long gone off the water by now but these are still out fishing. A slightly lower profile reduces the effect of the wind on these.
For a typical big breezy Irish or Scottish lough, or a bay in a major lough like Ree, Derg, Owel, Ennell or Sheelin you can't beat a Bucks Bags Bullet,   or Cruiser
which are the ones I currently prefer for average days, and they won't drop their nose and tilt if you lean back. The Shakespeare Expedition is a lower cost tube with this height ride without the urethane bladder and some other goodies of the Bullet and Cruiser.

When the wind exceeds force 4 you should not go out tubing on wide exposed loughs. The tube can take it no problem, but your legs will get tired from fighting the wind, and your enjoyment will reduce. In these conditions a 14' - 16' Irish outboard lake boat is more interesting because these are designed to take big rolling waves in their stride. However, on smaller 1/4 mile x 1/2 mile size lakes, or a bay off the big lough, float tubers with medium profile vee-tubes can still go afloat without a boat.

Beginners might try a round tube first, like the Buckaroo, Cutthroat or High & Dri. A round donut tube is a bit slower on the water,  but it has a lower profile, a lower centre of gravity, and these features create a steady platform. Later when you are ready move up to a vee tube, the donut tube won't be wasted, it's also ideal for younger float tubing teens. I find an early version Fishmaster donut tube is made of seemingly  indestructible materials and takes every abuse beginners dish out, remaining as good as it was coming out of the packaging.

If you expect to keep the same tube for over two years, cough up the extra cash and try to ensure your new water craft has a urethane air bladder inside. If the one you buy does not have this option, just a vinyl bladder, pay attention to bleeding a bit of air out during hot conditions, or before driving a pre-inflated tube up to higher altitudes in the car. After a couple of years you can get a new vinyl air bladder to refresh the strength and durability of this part of your tube.

People backpacking over a distance to a remote lake should pay attention to weight. Round donut tubes are far lighter, but some  vee tubes are reasonable in the weight department provided you pick carefully.
Not all tubes have a pre-made set of backpack straps available. these allow it to be carried a good distance fully inflated, which can be handy, you can then leave electric air pumps and batteries at the car  and not have to carry them with you, although a lightweight hand pump may be useful for topping up if you have a drop in temperature. That is an ODC420 ready for backpacking in the picture (right).
In fact the only reason I can think of for backpacking your tube deflated, would be if you are walking along forested or bushy pathways, which would catch and scrape at a bulky inflated tube on your back. The best designed straps can take the tube inflated, or deflated, whichever suits the angler and the venue best. The Bucks Bags straps do this, I am not sure which of the others do, but it may be a key feature to research while making your buying decision.

Start with medium fins for the first few months. You can not jump straight in with the best fins. Trust me on this. Plenty have tried before you. A stiff long fin too soon will break you and give muscle cramps which are painful. After maybe six months or a year get a pair of Mares Avantis and then you can go faster, tube longer, and deal with more wind. (But if you had got them at first you would have most likely thrown them away as not suitable, or possibly given up float tubing altogether.)

Summary of my personal views: Bucks Bags, Outcast, and Sparton (incl Shakespeare) make good tubes. In my opinion their tubes are better designed or better made than the other makes. Barring unforeseen developments I will buy my next new tube from one of these makers.
North Fork outdoors are top quality but longer in size, I worry about wind drift from the side, but they are also interesting.
If you are going hiking into high lakes, a round tube weighs a lot less. It depends on your fitness and what the rest of your gear weighs whether you should choose a light donut tube, or a heavier v-tube for long distance portage.

Factors to consider             My Reviews of the Tubes           Evaluating Low Cost Float Tubes          Top

Evaluating Budget Float Tube Deals & Low Cost Float Tubes

I have often seen anglers researching a float tube purchase, and a funny process takes place, where they look at the top ones, then at their cost.
Next they look at the cheapest ones and their cost.
Then they say "that's what tubes should cost, those top ones are dear for no good reason".

A separation of buyers now takes place: some pick the specification they require, and that's that.
Others assume that the lowest cost tubes are very close in quality to the top tubes and get one of those. But this isn't the case. There is a huge difference in quality. You get what you pay for.

Try to look at it this way. From a pure cost point of view a float tube could be described as a low cost low speed boat for carrying a small number of people.
If you accept that it is a boat, then maybe itís not advisable to buy the lowest version in the smallest size of boat.

I myself believe that having gone to the lowest size you must admit that there is now a greater need to get the top spec. After all, if you were trying for a line class record with thin line for big fish, wouldn't you want it to be the best thin line?

I consider Ä350/$400/£325 is not expensive for a tube. The existence of cheaper tubes does not change this. A 2/3rds budget will lack some features and still be ok. If you compare with boats itís small beer. If you have not had a boat yet, try to mentally become a boatman and remember your life is worth more than the savings on this or that inferior tube.

This is not me being elitist or showing off wealth, or being wasteful. There is an engineering concept called spare unused capacity. It is in bridges, tall buildings, airplanes, the brakes of cars, all around us where the consequences of a failure are fatal. Itís applies to things that even if they do fail, must still remain physically safe.

The specification must be greater than is required (by the average person) to cover for an event that will come along unexpectedly once every 100 years. Spare capacity costs money, but when you need extra strength, or flotation, RIGHT NOW, you donít want to be let down by your equipment.

Boat people know all about spare capacity. You see them with 15 horsepower engines on a boat that only needs 8hp. They have a 18í boat where 16í would do. Experienced boatmen will pay extra for security, safety and comfort. That unused capacity is there available for them to use when they really, really need it. It gets them out of trouble. Their experience tells them that it is a good thing to do, and worth the extra cost.

Bring this experience to bear on choosing your float tube and the costs of the good ones. A boat-engine-trailer combination would cost a lot more than the good tubes. A good rod can cost more.
Even the petrol saved (of not towing a boat/trailer/engine/fuel for the engine for 2-3 seasons) is more than the cost of the best tubes.

I have the smallest boat (my tube) and therefore I want the best tube I can afford, even if it hurts a bit. I power it with the best fins, and I wear a great lifejacket. And it all cost more than the cheapest, but it's an insignificant cost when looked at realistically. Itís a reasonable cost.

If it costs more than I have at the time, I donít downsize my safety. Instead I save another week or month, then I get the right one - the one I need.
In the best tube big waves are an interesting experience, nothing more. Rocks can be stood up on and casted around. Urethane inners are good for many years use. Even the seat is more comfortable every minute you are in the thing. It's all good.
All you have to do to enjoy the nice gear is cough up and get it. Don't cut-price yourself into equipment that is so basic and difficult itís no fun to use.

Its undoubted the reason that most purchases of cheaper tubes is down to the fact that not everyone can afford to spend money on the cost of a better tube.
Itís the same as any other market. Lower priced items are aimed at people on the lower income scale. The comparison to cost of petrol, towing trailers and such like wonít even enter the thought process of buying a tube because some people donít have a car in the first place.
So I will point out typical disadvantages and possible precautions to take with cheaper tubes, staying clear of rocky areas, always making sure we wear lifejackets etc.

Itís naÔve to ignore the fact that many cheaper tubes will be purchased and used, in an ideal world we would all have the best of everything but unfortunately that is not the case and people have to compromise with some things, even a cheap tube is a big outlay for a lot of people.

It comes down to a matter of ability and experience versus cost and buying power.

The classic example being where if you are a powerful swimmer a cheap lifejacket might not kill you. But if you have less swimming ability you need more lifejacket, and your other options are zero.

Without the ability and experience it's hard to spot the pitfalls and recognise them for what they are, or know how to negate those pitfalls.

Many simple tubes have only one air bladder, which is a disadvantage. However the backrest could hold an arc shape bladder, or a car inner folded in half to double itself over.
Then it would have two air bladders, and in that way the safety aspect is partly taken care of.

In addition, putting an air cushion on the seat (velcro and bootlaces) to raise the ride height which is a bit low, and also add another bouyancy tank gives the three compartments. It gives an improved ride height too.
It would be sensible to add in the costs of air cushion, and a 13" car inner or arc bladder, before comparison with other types of tube. I mean the ones with a higher seat and a 2nd bladder.

But those are the mods I would consider to upgrade the basic tube. They're not difficult or expensive.

Factors to consider             My Reviews of the Tubes           Evaluating Low Cost Float Tubes          Top


 Email me for more information if needed. See the float tube contacts HERECall Norm or Patrick at Green Hobby & Model,  Harolds Cross, Dublin Tel: From outside Ireland 00-353-1-4928776 ,  From Ireland 01-4928776