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2012 BUYERS' GUIDE

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     2012 BUYERS' GUIDE
CoolAs an aid to newcomers...as well as regulars who are thinking about adding or upgrading...we are putting together a "buyers' guide". It will cover most of the more common gear items needed for tubing and tooning, but will not go into great detail. The primary purpose is to provide some basic stats and some website links so that serious potential shoppers can do their own homework.

In the PDF files under each category heading I have mostly copied and pasted the propaganda from either the manufacturer's website...or from reputable suppliers like Cabelas. We assume no responsibility for the accuracy of the stats given.

This post...and the following subcategories...are going to be locked against member responses. If you have questions or input, you may start an original thread on the main board. Be sure to state the nature of your question or issue in the heading so that it can be easily recognized and addressed.
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     FLOAT TUBES In reply to
CoolWhen shopping for a float tube there are a wide range of considerations. These include budget, type of fishing you will be doing, size and strength of the angler, available space for transportation and storage, etc.

There are several recognized manufacturers of float tubes. Some are made mostly for the "entry level" tuber...or those on a limited budget. At the other end are those of higher quality...and higher price. In the middle are many makes and models that will suit the "average" tuber well.

It takes some time and research to familiarize yourself with the variables in float tube design, materials, storage options, weight capacity, warranty, price, etc. The attached PDF files will list some of the more popular models for each of several manufacturers. This should provide a guideline of comparative features and benefits. But you should also look at the information and details provided on manufacturers websites...or on some of the large online suppiers.

Here are some links:

CLASSIC ACCESSORIES
CREEK COMPANY
OUTCAST
CABELAS
FLOAT TUBE STORE


(This post was edited by TubeDude on Feb 25, 2012, 1:37 PM)
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     PONTOONS In reply to
CoolThere is an increasing number of makes and models of pontoon craft on the market. New materials and technology have enabled manufacturers to develop an astounding array of options. This can all be bewildering to someone looking for a first pontoon...without knowing what the various features mean...and where the value really lies.

As with the other category headings in this buyers guide, we will not endorse specific models. The information included in the PDF files are taken directly from the manufacturers or suppliers online sites...without editorializing or recommendations from BFT. You are encouraged to visit websites to acquaint yourself with as much information as possible. But you are welcome to post your questions or solicit input and recommendations from BFT tooners.

Even more than with float tubes, your choice of a pontoon needs to be carefully considered based upon the type of fishing you will be doing...and what your budget is. It is possible to spend a lot more than you need to in order to get a toon that will suit your needs. And it is very easy to spend TOO LITTLE...and end up with an inferior toon that will be unreliable, unsafe and frustrating.

The pontoon craft covered in the attached PDF files are meant only to be examples of some of the models either proven to be best suited for "average" floatation fishing...or which may be new in the industry and worth further evaluation. They cover a full range for inexpensive "starter" craft to some of the pricier and more exotic "professional" models. We have purposely omitted the models with multiple seats or with more "untraditional" shapes. Some new models blur the lines between pontoons and boats.

Here are a few worthwhile links:

CLASSIC ACCESSORIES
CREEK COMPANY
NORTH FORK OUTDOORS
OUTCAST
CABELAS
BASSPRO

(This post was edited by TubeDude on Feb 26, 2012, 5:49 AM)
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     WADERS In reply to
CoolYou don't always have to wear waders while fishing from a tube or toon. And in some parts of the country (warmer) hardy anglers don the waders only during the coldest weeks of mid winter.

There are several reasons for wearing waders. First and foremost is to keep warm and/or dry. For most anglers it is not comfortable fishing "wet" in water below about 65 degrees. Some wimpy types have even higher temperature tolerances. It is a matter of personal preference.

On some waters you will want to wear waders to protect yourself from waterborne hazards...such as swimmers itch...a tiny organism that attacks the skin and creates a rash and an itch. On still other waters you may be required to wear waders by the owners of the lake...a water users group or a municipality that uses the water for human consumption.

The first time you start looking for waders you might be overwhelmed by the choices. There are lightweights, breathables, neoprenes and hybrids of various materials. There are stockingfoot and bootfoot. There are chest waders, waisthigh waders and hip boots.

The type of waders you choose will depend on a combination of the type craft you have, the type of fishing you do, the range of water temps in which you will be fishing, your budget and your comfort requirements.

Most tubers and tooners can get by with one set of good lightweight waders for fishing year round. They simply add layers of insulation in colder water and go lighter in warmer water.

As a general rule, most tubers and tooners prefer the stockingfoot waders to bootfoot waders. That is especially true for larger anglers with big feet. With bootfoot waders you have to wear special laceup fins, since you cannot fit the boots into any but the very largest swim fins. But, if you are a tooner, who uses oars and/or a motor...and has little or no use for fins...then the bootfoot waders are fine. This is often the situation with tooners who fish moving water and who periodically get out of their toons to fish a stretch of water by wading.

Your type of craft will also help determine the height of the top part of your waders. If you sit low in the water...in a float tube...than chest waders are necessary. But if you have a tube with high seating you may be able to get by with waist high waders...or at least roll the upper part of your chest waders down around your waist. Some tooners sit high enough that they need waders only for launching and beaching. They can do quite well with "hippers".

Waders are an area that really reinforce the old saying that "You get what you pay for." As a rule, good waders aren't cheap and cheap waders are seldom good. The ones at the upper end of the price scale are generally worth the investment. They outlast cheap waders by a wide enough margin that you would have to buy several pairs of the inferior ones during the long period of time that the quality waders continue to serve you well.

Proper sizing is critical in wader selection. Don't just buy waders according to your shoe size. First of all, not all sizing standards are the same among manufacturers. Second, you have to factor in that you will often be wearing extra layers on your lower extremities and these require more room inside the waders to avoid constriction. It is advised that you take a couple of layers with you when you go wader shopping and that you try before you buy.

Helpful links:

HODGMAN

LL BEAN WADERS

ORVIS WADERS

PATAGONIA WADERS

SIMMS

CABELAS

BASSPRO


(This post was edited by TubeDude on Feb 27, 2012, 4:09 AM)
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     FINS In reply to
CoolNot all fins are created equal. There is a wide range of component materials, fastening systems, foot pocket designs, blade sizes and shapes, etc. When you profile those variations against the variations in angler size, strength, craft type, fishing preferences and other factors it begins to make fin selection more difficult.

Originally, virtually all swim fins were designed for the skin diving market. Virtually all of them will work for tubing and tooning...some better than others. Today we have fins available that were ostensibly designed to address our sport...floatation fishing.

Fins are not always wanted or needed when fishing from a pontoon. If you have oars and/or a motor you don't NEED fins. But, it is often a good idea to either wear them or have them readily available as a backup means of propulsion. They also come in handy for hands-free maintianing of position when fishing in mild weather conditions.

It is virtually impossible to fish from a float tube without fins...a full set of fins. You need two matched fins operating in unison to propel yourself effectively or to hold your position while fishing. If you try going out with only one fin...or lose one while on the water...you will flounder around like a ruptured duck. And if you have no fins at all you can kick the water to a froth without moving your tube at all. Tubers definitely need fins.

The size and type of fins you choose should be based not only on budget but on efficiency. As a rule, the larger and stiffer the blade on your fins the greater the propulsion efficiency you get from each kick. The downside is that it takes more physical effort to work those fins. A full day of kicking in stiff fins can put you in traction.

Most tubers like fins with semi flexible blades that will propel them well without beating them to death. It may take some trial and error...or borrowing a buddy's fins...to determine what is best for you. Your style of kicking will also have a bearing on what is best. You will kick differently if you are seated low in the water in a float tube...rather than if you are sitting higher in a pontoon. The former requires an extension of the legs and a "flutter" kick...with equal power on both the upkick and downkick. The latter is more of a vertical "dig" with the fins, with most of the power on the upstroke.

If you wear stockingfoot waders, with water shoes or divers boots, you will probably want a soft pocket fin with a rear strap...with simple adjustments. Full pocket fins are for divers with either bare feet or thin wetsuits.

If you wear heavy wading boots, or have large feet encased in bulky stockingfoot waders and big divers boots, you will probably need to choose a fin that allows you to strap them on and either lace or buckle them into place. There are fins on the market that will fit even the largest foot.

Perhaps one of the most critical considerations in your choice of fins is how much will you be cramming into them. Like waders, you should not buy fins according to shoe size. Invariably you will be wanting to wear extra layers between your feet and the fins. The foot pocket on the fins must be large enough to hold those layers without constriction. If you jam too much into a tight fin in cold water you will get cold numb feet even if you have plenty of warm insulation. Without circulation the feet will not get warmed from within.

Try before you buy.


FORCE FINS
MARES
OMEGA FLIPFINS
LEISUREPRO DIVERS
SCUBA .COM
(This post was edited by TubeDude on Feb 26, 2012, 1:23 PM)
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     FOOT WEAR In reply to
CoolYou can tube and toon in your bare footsies if you like. But if you will be walking across rough ground or rocks...or if you will be wearing fins for a long time...you should have a protective layer or two covering your feet. Hard soles protect the bottoms of your feet...and the soft foot pockets on stockingfoot waders. Softer upper coverings cushion your feet against blisters or pressure points within the fins.

If you are fishing waderless...and launching in a clean sandy spot...you can go without foot coverings. But it is still a good idea to wear at least a pair of soft socks over your bare feet to reduce blistering when your feet rub continuously inside your fins.

Even better is to wear an inexpensive pair of tennies or skateboard shoes. Hard soles and soft uppers. Much more comfortable over a full day of fishing...and protection against the unseen piece of broken glass or other shoreline hazards.

In recent years we have seen an explosion of "water shoes"...also known as reef walkers. These are simple nylon foot covers with a hard sole for walking protection. These work well both for tubing "wet" and for protecting the soft foot portions of stockingfoot waders. Just be sure to get larger sizes if you will be wearing them over waders. Some of the exotic designer models can be pricey. But if you shop at the "big box stores" during the warm months you can usually find these serviceable shoes for low prices.

Next up the ladder are divers boots. These were originally designed for skin divers to wear either as a protection for bare feet or to wear over the neoprene foot sections of wet suits. It wasn't long until tubers and tooners discovered that they worked well for floatation fishing applications too. They are comfortable, slip on and off fairly easily and they have the requisite hard protective soles.

You can wear these as basic footwear for tubing "wet"...without waders. They are a bit more spendy than water shoes but are usually cut higher too...to keep rocks and debris out from between the shoes and your feet. That can be irritating and even damaging to the feet.

You don't need the high top and zippers featured on some divers boots. Even a low cut will suffice. And if you are stuffing a lot of layers of wader and socks inside you will need a size much larger than your shoe size...and may even need to cut a short slit in the top surface to facilitate getting them on and off.

About the last option is the heavy wading shoes worn by stream fishermen. These are the most protective of angler and waders. But they are also big and bulky. They don't fit well in most diving fins so you have to buy special fins with lace up or strap on fastening systems. About the best application for wading shoes is for the pontooner who fishes running water...and who likes to park their ride and get out and fish while wading.


CABELAS WADING FOOTWEAR

SWIM OUTLET WATER SHOES

SWIM OUTLET DIVERS BOOTS

(This post was edited by TubeDude on Feb 26, 2012, 2:42 PM)
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     SONAR In reply to
CoolWith the advances in fish finder technology along with prices remaining relatively low in a competitive market, we tubers and tooners have an ever widening range of quality sonars at affordable prices. Since our needs are not as demanding as boaters who cover more water, fish deeper depths and want speed readings and GPS functions, we can get by with simpler systems and still enjoy most of the benefits of "underwater vision".

As with most other gear components for tubing and tooning, quality in sonar systems is closely related to the price we pay. But it is possible to spend more than you need to and still not get the best setup for your particular style of fishing.

The basic functions you want from your electronics are digital depth readout, temperature readings, fish identification and bottom contour and composition display. Since most tubing and tooning will be in waters shallower than 50 feet, you shouldn't be concerned about whether or not your unit can show the deck chairs on the Titanic. As long as it shows depth, bottom contour and fish marks...in close to "real time"...you are good to go. But, temperature can be a big help too. It is especially good to be able to find temperature breaks when fish are looking for warmer or cooler water.

As a general rule, the higher the wattage rating the more sensitive and accurate your fish finder display will be. But many tubers and tooners find that they use their sonar mainly to verify and maintain depth and to see at what depth the fish (if any) are moving or suspending in the water column. Only rarely will the sonar serve to identify fish directly beneath the angler and then help the angler to catch them. The main exception is when one is fishing for bottom hugging species with a vertical presentation.

If you have never used sonar...or if you are planning to upgrade from a current system...you may want to spend some time on the links below. One covers terminologies and another provides a basic tutorial on how sonar works.

LOWRANCE SONAR TERMINOLOGIES

LOWRANCE SONAR TUTORIAL

FISH FINDER REVIEWS

HUMMINBIRD
LOWRANCE
CABELAS

BASSPRO
FISHFINDERS.COM



(This post was edited by TubeDude on Feb 26, 2012, 2:34 PM)