Float-Tube Fun

I have recently been fly fishing lakes from a float tube. This inflatable water craft is best described as a tractor tube with a seat fitted. However, they are much more sophisticated than that, being purpose-built as a fishing platform. The float tube comprises two separate bladders that surrounds a built-in seat.  Propulsion is provided by the angler kicking away with swim fins fitted.

These are very stable and comfortable. I think the rated load is in excess of 130kg! I certainly do not feel concerned about taking my DSLR out on my tube.

Casting is surprisingly still fairly straight forward despite that you are sitting just above water level. Two main fly fishing methods deployed are:

1. Fishing a team of “buzzer” flies under an indicator using a floating line.

2. Fishing a “Woolley Bugger” or similar lure style fly using a sinking line.

The first relies on trying to represent an aquatic invertebrate known as a Chironomid. These are more commonly known as midges or gnats. Unlike mosquitoes they do not bite. They have a very short lifespan and a considerable amount end up as a snack for hungry trout. After adults lay eggs on the surface, bloodworms emerge & sink to the bottom of the lake to live in the mud. Then they float up to the surface film as pupae (or buzzers). As they try to break through the surface tension they are an easy meal.

Bloodworms spend most of their time in the bottom of the lake but often wind and wave action can move them up the water column. Trout often can be located at a depth of 3-5m. This is a zone where any deeper and the water is too cold and de-oxygenated, or any shallower can be too warm or bright. A long leader with a team of two or three flies spaced at 1.5m are used to locate a suitable depth were fish may be holding.

I am still learning to fish the “buzzer array”, but if the fish are switched onto feeding Chironomids it can be a very effective method!

The second method involves using a sinking fly line which is cast out. After counting-down the fly is twitched and retrieved. A variation is to let the line sink all the way to the bottom, then retrieve up through the “strike zone”. This method can be deadly when a small nymph is used.

All the photos have been “tweaked” to some degree or another using a combination of LightRoom and Nik Colour Efex software. In general I will make any exposure adjustments and crop/rotate in LightRoom, then use the Colour Efex plugin. I currently like the grungy “bleach bypass” filter, although it is easy to over-do the effect. Also, as it brings out a lot of detail peoples faces are not generally flattering. I find I am now nearly always using a “subtractive” control point, so that the filter effect is not applied to faces.

When Colour Efex is done it creates a duplicate image and then proceeds to automatically load that image back into LightRoom. I find that I will often use the graduated filter to balance out the effects especially in the sky. I may add a vignette or even use a brush to selectively lighten or darken areas.

Paul Miller has recently published a book about fishing. Not necessarily a “how to”, but more a collection of interesting fishing related stories. It is available from his website as both a standard edition, or a leather bound  limited edition. It is also available from Amazon as a e-book from this link: Paul Miller Ebook.


Float Tube Fun – A Change in the Weather

Kevin Booth Float Tube in the Mist

Kevin Booth Float Tube in the Mist


Nick Reay Thinks Strategy to Trick Trout


Nick Reay Ties on New Fly


Nick Reay Waits For a Trout


Paul Miller Float Tube Hookup #1


Paul Miller Float Tube Hookup #2


Paul Miller Float Tube Large Rainbow Trout #1


Paul Miller Float Tube Large Rainbow Trout #2



  1. Robert Norman January 15, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Mark,
    I thought I’d check out your web site and see what else you’ve been up to. I trust you didn’t take the Phase One out in the little inflatable. That would be one very expensive anchor!

    • admin January 16, 2013 at 7:55 am #

      Hi Robert
      Thanks for your message. Ha ha, Phase is a landblubber! although I must admit I was a bit nervous about taking my Canon out, but after a couple of goes all good now. Also enjoying playing with Nik software to make images a bit more “grungy”.

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  7. […] technological level, where the float-tubes are fitted with depth sounders. An earlier post “Float-tube Fun” explains a bit more about float tubes. Anyway, Paul submitted his article to FlyLife. The […]

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