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TubeDude's Tubing History & Archives

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TubeDude's Tubing History & Archives
CoolI'm glad I saved as many pics as I did over the years, but sad that I did not take more. When I first started tubing I had no idea that I would devote so much time to it, or go so far with it.

I started "tubing" by hanging my extremities over the side of a plain old inner tube and fishing for perch, smelt and other small denizens of the inshore regions of the Pacific Ocean, off southern California, when I was about 13 years old. That would have been about 1956. Yeah, do the math.

I began by simply using my hands and bare feet to propel myself out beyond the breakers on calm days. I soon added a pair of cheap swim fins and began experimenting with making various seats out of any kind of wood or fabric I could get hold of. Some of those contraptions were deadly to my anatomy.

For many years, I fished from a homemade canvas seat model tube, but was not serious about it. I did more fishing from boats and piers.

In about 1973, after moving to Sacramento, CA, I saw a commercially made "donut" hanging in a local sports shop. It was a molded plastic affair, with a formed seat and indentations on the top for a small tackle box and a rod holder. Of course I had to have it, so that was my first commercially bought "tube".

I never did get any pictures of either my early inner tube craft or the hard plastic model. I fished with the latter only sporadically, preferring my boat. The hard donut was barely sufficient to float my substantial frame, even though I weighed much less in those days. I eventually bequeathed it to a young TubeN2, who almost rode it to the bottom on a fishing trip to Willard Bay, when the molded seam around the middle suddenly gave up after being moved around and abused for several years.

About 1978, after moving back to Salt Lake, I invested in a couple of Fish Master float tubes. These were some of the first commercially made covers that were made by a company in Oklahoma, for the good old boys that fished the bass ponds in the southern states. They were terrible, by today's standards, but they were wonderful then, and I used them a lot for the next several years in Utah.

I think I was the first tuber on many of Utah's warm water fisheries and probably on some of the trout ponds too. I had acquired about 4 of the Fish Masters, so I could take family or friends afloat too. TubeBabe was joining me on the water before we actually got married in 1979. I also introduced tubing to a whole bunch of reluctant Utah fishermen who still questioned both the safety and fishing efficiency of tubing.

About 1980, I got an Insul Dri tube. Unlike the rubberized canvas covering of the Fish Master, the Insul Dri featured the latest in tube covers...high denier nylon, with more pockets and D rings. It was a well made and tough craft. Too bad Insul Dri went out of business. They also made a good line of neoprene waders, booties and an insulated pocket insert for keeping drinks cold in your craft.

I put a whuppin' on the Insul Dri, and retired it a couple of years later, when I upgraded to a new craft...made by Ray Scott company. It was one of the first float tubes to have a "squared off" design, with greater volume and flotation in the rear portion. I put it to good use during my last year in Utah, before being transferred first to Denver in late '83 (for six months) and then to Tucson, AZ in 1984.

Arizona is a dry state, but there are lots of small to medium lakes, and a few big ones. My tube was right at home. There were several great tubing lakes within an hour of Tucson, and it was only about 4 hours to the Sea of Cortez, in Mexico. My Ray Scott tasted a lot of salt water, in addition to the fresh water ponds in southern Arizona.

From 1985 through about 2002, TubeBabe and I wore out a succession of tubes, of many different makes and models. These were all the round or squared round models. Many were Caddis tubes. They have always made a decent craft for the money, and we put them to the test.

In the early 90's, while doing more "research" for my still unpublished book on tubing, I acquired two of the recently developed "big guy" model tubes. These took a 22" truck tire tube, instead of the standard 20" tube used on most float tubes. One was a Browning and the other was made by Bucks Bags.

I especially liked the Bucks Bags craft for salt water. It had a strong mesh seat that rode a bit higher than most tubes, and carried my ample frame well. I eventually "downloaded" both of these large craft to Road and FB2, when they were both looking for a good deal. I think they have gotten a lot of use out of them...until FB2's Browning was "destroyed by his sister and her boyfriend". Gotta be a story there.

I also spent some time in the New Orleans, LA area, where I fished the heck out of the bayous and salt water canals down along the Gulf of Mexico below New Orleans. I was using a green Caddis round tube mostly, and really got lots of strange looks from the Cajuns down there. Also got some looks from gators and water moccasins. But, I smacked the redfish, sea trout, flounders and a dozen other species from my donut.

Moved back to Tucson, after six months in New Orleans and continued to work the small lakes and Sea of Cortez until we moved to Phoenix in 1992. There was even more tubing potential around Phoenix and we wore out several more tubes, mostly Caddis, until we acquired a pair of Trout Unlimited Kennebecs in 2002.

These were the first open ended craft we had owned and we really appreciated both sitting higher out of the water and being able to get in and out easier. We did not enjoy the air valves, the small pockets (made for fly fishermen...not bassers) or the poor handling in the wind. Those two mini pontoons really caught the air and were tough to steer. Nevertheless, we got a lot of fish with them and advanced our overall knowledge of the sport.

In late 2003, I finally succumbed to lust and bought an Outcast Super Fat Cat. Once I got it set up right, I decided I could tolerate some of the things I was not fond of in favor of all of the many positives. I had just posted a couple of good reports when we got an offer from a BFT member in California to purchase the Fat Cat, waders, fins, pump and paraphernalia left by his recently departed father. It had never been used before the old man died, and his widow was selling everything off. We scored a good price for TubeBabe and helped out the estate.

TubeBabe and I have been jockeying around our Fat Cats for almost two years at this writing. We have messed with them something fierce and have them all tricked out with all the goodies.

Outcast Fat Cats and Fish Cats will be covered in a separate thread. The balance of this thread will include pics of the "early years".

" Fish-N-Float " Float tubes may seem like a fairly new invention but not so. Prior to the 1940's, early pioneers of these crafts fastened some type of seat across a car tire tube providing a means to get to the fish. It was during the 1940's when a small commercial tube manufacture surfaced. The Tucker Duck & Rubber Company of Fort Smith, Arkansas
The tube was plagued with problems. They were very heavy when wet and the seams would fall apart fairly rapidly. Even so, the ? Fish-N-Float ? was a success and was the first to offer attached waders to the canvas tube.


Nope, that ain't TubeDude. He don't even got a fishin' rod. But, that's how I got started...only on a smaller inner tube.


Two limits of bluegills taken from my original Fish Master tube. Pelican Lake, Utah. Notice the old Voit patriotic fins too.


A night's catch on a "Gorilla Flotilla" at Willard Bay. Actually 4 people contributed to the catch. This is my Fish Master and the 15 pounder was mine too.


An 8# channel cat and some crappies taken from the South Marina area of Willard Bay, from my first Fish Master, in August of 1978.


TubeBabe fishing for perch in Deer Creek in the late 70's, when there used to be some perch.


TubeBabe getting her Fish Master ready for a fly flingin' trip on Strawberry in the late 70's.


TubeBabe wrestlin' a hefty channel cat from her Fish Master on Willard Bay.


TubeDude and Fish Master on Willard Bay in the late 70's. Walleye and "bugle mouth bass" (carp)


Former friend and business associate who had only one partially formed arm. Note the custom rod and reel I built for him, so that he could fish cats from one of my Fish Masters at Willard.


He managed to take his full limit of channel cats on his first float tubing trip. It wasn't his last.


Another tubing newbie, broken in on a Fish Master on Willard Bay kitties.


A 10# channel cat taken from an Insul Dri about 1980, from Willard Bay.


A mixed double...10# channel cat and 7# walleye...taken in the fall from Willard Bay (Insul Dri tube) early 80's.


A small northern and several perch from Yuba reservoir, taken from the Insul Dri in the fall of '82.


Insul Dri on Willard, and a decent channel cat about to come aboard circa 1980.


One of the first trips with a new Ray Scott tube resulted in this limit of walleyes from Utah Lake. There was little pressure on them in the early 80's and there were no slot limits.


The Ray Scott tube in the Sea Of Cortez, about 1985. The fish is a "machete", also known as a milkfish.


The Ray Scott tube (background) and a high backed Caddis tube, at Cholla Bay on the Sea of Cortez, during the mid 80's.


The Ray Scott and Caddis again, with some of the inshore fishes that swarm in the Sea of Cortez.


The green Caddis round tube I got shortly before a 6 month work assignment in the New Orleans area. The fish are all "speckled sea trout".


More results from the green Caddis in Louisiana. These nice redfish (up to 13#) came from a back canal near buras, off the Gulf of Mexico.


The green Caddis strikes again. A limit of "reds" from 4# to 8#...plus a blue crab that wanted my lure and got invited home to dinner.


A mix of specks and reds from the Louisiana salt water channels, taken from the green Caddis. Note the old 3 tube PVC rod holder, shaped like a W and lashed onto the tube with white clothesline rope.


The green Caddis did fine in the salt water of the Sea of Cortez too. This is near the town of San Carlos.



The faded out high backed Caddis and a new red Caddis, being taken out of Lake Pleasant, AZ, in the mid 90's


A 7.5# largemouth taken from a red Caddis in the mid 90's, from Lake Pleasant, AZ.


TubeBabe coming ashore with her high backed Caddis, and a 9# channel cat she caught on a small jig being fished for bluegills (and 4# line). Parker Canyon Lake, AZ, in about 1987



TubeBabe with a 12# flathead cat, taken from her red Caddis, below Horseshoe Dam on the Verde River, in Arizona in early 2002.


My red Caddis accounts for a basket of crappies and small cats, as well as a 24# flathead that took a small crappie jig on 6# line. Below Horseshoe Dam in Az in early 2002


The red Caddis continued to work the tailout pool below Horseshoe dam effectively for a couple of years. Here are 10# and 12# channel cats (and some bait) taken before the drought ruined the fishing for several years.


The green Caddis and a large size Bucks Bags tube near San Carlos on the Sea of Cortez, about 1990. Mixed bag of triggerfish and several kinds of sea basses.


The "big boy" Bucks Bags craft, with one of my earliest rod rack setups...a modular slide-in wooden frame design that was efficient but heavy.


Trout Unlimited Kennebec, bought about 2002, and fished heavily on the lakes around Phoenix, AZ.


Kennebec with a mixed bag of yellow bass and channel cats taken from Saguaro Lake in AZ about 2003.


TubeDude in tricked out Kennebec, with channel cat from Saguaro Lake, AZ.



TubeDude and TubeBabe coming ashore after a good day on Saguaro Lake. Lots of yellow bass and channel cats.


TubeDude with Kennebec balanced on head and ready to trudge the 1/4 mile back to the vehicle on Saguaro Lake.
(This post was edited by TubeDude on Mar 26, 2018, 6:47 AM)