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Float Tube Fishing in Ireland


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

 How Much Air to Pump up the Tube in psi?
I prefer about 3 to 3 1/2 psi air pressure for me with my tubes. Most experienced tubing pals seem to have settled on this amount of pressure as preferable.
When I used to use a low pressure gauge I learned how much psi to use and how it makes the tube feel ...
(don't know what happened to the gauge, I lent it to a "friend" and didn't see it again.)
2-3 psi was "bouncy" surface, would sag if put on the water, creases going or just gone, but reappear if you rest weight on it, making a depression.
3 psi was getting more supportive, all "creases" gone.
3-4 psi was "hard to the touch, no creases, but would make a slight depression from leaning on it" and that is the feel I still fill up to achieve now, and then stop filling.
4 psi was more hard to the touch, resisting pressure from a hand or elbow, and stitching was becoming visible in seams if you looked hard. The tube was feeling very strong at this pressure.
My tubes can take 4psi pressure no problem, 5-6 is the limit which damages, but one time I put a cut in my tube cover from a sharp edged broken reed while wading through a reedbed to a pond. (The inner was unmarked due to being a different material) This was a lesson that woven materials are easier to cut if pulled over taut. I learned that a "little more give" would reduce the chances of that happening again. (Try drawing a knife over something stretched very tight - it cuts more easily than another item less taut.)  So with this in mind I now compromise with 3 1/2 lbs psi, which feels pretty taut, very firm, and getting hard to the touch, but less than rock hard. This has worked just fine for me for over 25 years.

Striking When You Get a Take
If using non-stretch braid or similar or wire, just lift the hook in.
Or if you are using monofilament kick back on the fins and simultaneously lift with more authority, remembering to ease off promptly once the hook is in, to prevent inducing a berserker fishy reaction!
 

Unhooking Big Fish eg Pike "On-the-Water"
There are several photos there showing how simple it is to hold a "chinned" big pike at the tube side, and done this way, unhooking is a calm and methodical affair.
You need a leather glove for the left hand, and a surgical forceps about 8"-10" long for your right hand.
BEGINNERS SHOULD BE AWARE  that once you have put your hand inside a pike's gill cover (avoiding the gill rakers which are sharp-ish) the fish will lie there docile and still, WITH MOUTH OPEN while you unhook it.

The dangerous thing to avoid while unhooking pike, is a jumping fish with hooks flailing about, but "chinning" a pike, inserting your left hand under his chin, feeling for the gill plate (the side away from the hooks is usually the underneath side as he plays out and the line lifts his head slightly) he may thrash as you feel for the right place but you are prepared for this. Then you slide your gloved fingers in, lift his head up, and the pike goes still AND OPENS HIS MOUTH BY HIMSELF.  And you take a forceps in your right hand, reach in, lock it onto the hook bend, turn the hook upside down, and it pops free. Simple and safe.

Admire your unhooked fish, reach out to arms length from the tube. then lower your hand to the water surface, sweep the fish into a little forwards motion, and withdraw you hand from the gill cover allowing the fish to continue onwards just under the surface, released.

It is easier and safer to bring big fish to the side, rather than the front, due to a late dive (which shouldn't happen, but will occur rarely) causing a tangle with the fin straps which are in that area of operations.

Take a look at the photos to see what I mean.

Based on my own personal experiments and thousands of pike the only unhooking devices you need are two:-  a long quality forceps (a surgical one with a hinge that will not twist, and handles that will not bend, thus releasing the lock), and one leather glove for the left hand which will do the chinning, to protect fingers against scrapes from gill rakers.
Using only these two implements I have landed and released very many double figure pike up into high twenties, never a problem.
Many times I have removed my own trace, and then removed another trace left there by other less experienced anglers at some earlier stage

Children in Float Tubes?   Wait until they are older ...
Nothing I mean nothing can compare to float tube fishing. My boat hasn't seen water in over a year. I think it is time to sell it.  A float tube is just so aesthetically "right".  Young people enjoy tubing too. But it is good to be aware of physical limitations that affect enjoyment and safety during a day on the water.
However for younger kids I am definitely biased towards a boat ... it keeps Dad nearby to sort out tangles, tie knots, bait up, etc.
My own kids really enjoyed boating when they were little.
Come age 10 - 12 and a  tube begins to look more adventurous, just as "teenage" kicks in, and time with Dad might be otherwise seen as "un-cool" or "boring". A float tube experience gets rid of all that, and the day is full of adventure again. Start off with a round donut tube, and graduate up as confidence builds, and you observe good safety based tubing, to a Vee tube with a crotch strap. The "no strap" vee tubes are best left to adults.

I suppose it depends a lot on the personal ability/confidence of the children themselves, and the confidence their parents have, and the freedom that seems wise to allow, given the always present water based dangers we deal with while we enjoy our leisure.

Common beginner mistakes - boot foot waders and big fins
Waders: Beginners
buy their first float tube, and know what equipment to buy, but not don't know the relative merits of the different alternatives available. A common mistake beginners make is getting boot foot type waders ( planning to use them for both bankside wading and tubing ) and a pair of fins with extra large feet that fit the boot. This appears to work ok. A kicking gently all day wears red spots on your legs from jeans seams. The loose foot of rubber waders causes chafing on your skin. The beginner assumes this is normal but it isn't. It's self inflicted discomfort. Later they get a pair of stocking foot waders, and slip on tighter fitting glove fins. The rubbing and chafing disappears completely and it's clear they had the wrong gear for a while.
Fins: After you develop an efficient kicking style over a few months you can get some bigger fins and go farther and faster than ever. The mistake here is to buy those advanced fins at the start. They will make you kick harder, too hard, and you will get muscle cramps which are self inflicted and very painful until they go away. You need to work up to those stiff fins, not start off with them.
Refreshments: If you have been boating you know not to knock back a load of beer and eat a big meal before going out. There is no loo out there, and if you have a pal who is ignorant of this it can be a real drag having to leave the fishing to come back to shore so he can take care of "urgent needs". Well a boat is one thing, but in a tube you are out on the water, wearing chest waders, with a jacket over, and maybe a considerable "walking" distance from the lakeshore.
it is NOT a good idea to stay off liquids and food, that reduces your body's energy and could cause dangerous dehydration. Eating too much before exercise is also liable to cause muscle cramp, and that hurts. The sensible middle way we learn after a few trips in the tube is to bring a bottle of water and lunch. Eat and drink small amounts as required, using a periodic top up approach. Think marathon runner rather than sprinter when planning eats. Every so often take a swallow from the water to stay fresh. Consider freezing the water bottle the night before, (empty a little out to allow the contents to expand and replace the cap after freezing) and drink the cold water as it melts. It tastes better that way.