Catfish and the Princess Bride

Catfish and the Princess Bride Aug 8, 2018 I haven't been fishing in a while. Work commitments, mostly, are the culprit. Summer is ...

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Catfish and the Princess Bride

Catfish and the Princess Bride

Aug 8, 2018

I haven't been fishing in a while. Work commitments, mostly, are the culprit. Summer is the busiest time of year for we in the fire alarm service business. And it's hot as beejeezus, anyway. 
I'd rather be on the water, but then I find a nap in the cool, dark of an air-conditioned room sounds nice.
The nap wins.

And I'm not what I consider "addicted" to fishing.

That seems to be a pretty common sentiment these days, although to be frank, I'm a little confused by it. You know, many people going around with the phrase 'fishing addiction' on their lips. 

Maybe its tying flies, or fly fishing - these guys seem to get addicted a lot. I do both, and they are absorbing, to be sure.
Or maybe it's bass fishing, or they just gotta get their "fix" with a hook. 

You know what I mean; you might even be one of those folks.

But "addicted?" When I hear this, I often recall the 'Cliffs of Insanity' scene from the movie, "The Princess Bride".... 

Vizzini, the outlaw Sicilian boss, has said the word, "inconceivable" at least a hundred times by that point in the movie; its his standard answer for everything that happens.

Atop the jagged cliffs, he and his companions, Inigo Montoya and Fezzik the Giant, peer over the precipice they have just scaled, only to see their pursuer, Westly, still climbing towards them.

"He didn't fall to his death?!"exclaims Vizzini. 

Montoya, the honorable swordsman accompanying the weasely Vizzini, turns to him, pauses wryly, and says....

Image result for princess bride you keep using that word

I guess I have a Montoya-esque view of  the phrase. I probably need to work harder at it.


Without any good fishing adventures going on, however, I find myself in a quandary: Just what to post? 

This is when I dive into my files. Somewhere in my vast archive I'm sure I can find something useful and interesting. Lets see whats in there....

Understanding Catfish Senses
With more than 250,000 taste buds on even the smallest catfish, these game fish can rightly be called "swimming tongues." 
But that's just the tip of the sensory iceberg when it comes to catfish.

To most folks, catfish don't inspire much admiration. They're great on a dinner plate with a side of hushpuppies, for sure. 
And no one could dispute they'll put a bend in your rod. But there's really nothing special about a catfish, right?

Well, guess again, friend. 

Catfish are among the most extraordinary animals on earth. More than 2,200 species swim the waters of the world (about 8 percent of the total number of fishes). They're found on every continent except Antarctica and comprise what many fish scientists consider the most diverse group of fishes on earth.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about catfish is their astounding sensory abilities. No fish have more finely honed senses of taste, touch, smell and hearing to keep them attuned to their environment. In fact, the sensory abilities of catfish are like something out of Ripley's Believe It or Not.

A catfish just 6 inches long has more than a quarter-million taste buds on its body. On a giant blue cat or flathead . . . well, who knows? No one wants to count.

The mouth and gill rakers are packed with taste buds, and these sensory receptors cover the outside of the catfish as well - the whiskers, fins, back, belly, sides and even the tail. 
If you were a catfish, you could taste a slice of pizza just by sitting on it.

"Catfish are swimming tongues," says Dr. John Caprio of Louisiana State University. "You can't touch any place on a catfish without touching thousands of taste buds. To use an analogy, it's as if the tip of your tongue grew out and covered your body."

Caprio, a neurophysiologist, has studied what fish taste and smell since 1971. His research has given him extraordinary insights into catfish feeding behavior, insights that can help you understand what makes catfish bite.

"The catfish's sense of smell is equally keen," says Caprio. 
"Catfish can smell some compounds at one part to 10 billion parts of water."
Water flows over folds of highly sensitive tissue inside the catfish's nostrils, allowing the fish to detect certain substances in its environment. The number of these folds seems related to sharpness of smell. 
Channel cats have more than 140. 
Rainbow trout have only 18, and largemouth bass have just eight to 13.

By this virtue, many catfish anglers believe smelly baits are best for catfish, but Caprio disputes this.

"Most anglers think horrible-smelling baits work best," he notes. "But that's way off. What stinks to you doesn't stink to fish. 
You're smelling chemicals volatilized to the air, which give these distinctive odors. But animals living in water can't detect them. Catfish detect certain chemical compounds in the water, primarily aminase compounds associated with the decomposition of proteins. 
But, what drives your wife from the house with its stench, well, the cats don't smell it like that."

With no visible ears, it might seem that catfish can't hear well, but that's not true, either. 
A catfish's body is the same density as water, so it doesn't need external ears. Sound waves traveling through water go right through a catfish as well. 

When these sound waves hit the fish's swim bladder, the bladder starts vibrating. This amplifies sound waves, which then travel to small bones (otoliths) in the inner ear. The otoliths start vibrating, too, and as they vibrate, they bend little hairlike projections on the cells beneath them. Nerves in these cells carry a sound message to the brain.

The swim bladder on most fish is independent of the inner ear, but in catfish, a series of bones connects the swim bladder and inner ear. 
Fish without these bone connections (e.g., bass and trout) can detect sounds from about 20 to 1,000 cycles per second. 
The hearing of catfish, however, is much more acute. 
They can hear sounds of much higher frequency, up to about 13,000 cycles per second.

Low-frequency sounds undetectable by the catfish's inner ear are picked up by the lateral line, a series of little pores along the fish's sides. Inside the pores are cells with hairlike projections. These projections bend in response to water displacements, thus stimulating nerve endings that signal the brain. 

The catfish uses this system to locate nearby prey, potential enemies, and other catfish. Creatures scurrying across the bottom, flopping at the surface, swimming through the water or walking along a riverbank all create low-frequency vibrations which the lateral line detects.

"This 'vibrational' sense is very well developed in catfish," Caprio notes. "The Chinese have used catfish for centuries to warn of earthquakes. Catfish can detect days in advance a lot of earthquakes because they have an ultra-sensitivity to low frequency vibrations."

Catfish also have excellent senses of touch and sight. "Channel catfish, in particular, have great eyesight," says Caprio. 
"The eye of the channel catfish is used in many medical centers for research in vision."

Caprio points out that channel cats in clear water - and other species as well - often will strike fishing lures with no sensory cues other than sight triggering the action. They see something that looks like prey, and they attack.

The lack of scales heightens the catfish's sense of touch as well. Their smooth skin is very sensitive, and the brush of wiry fishing line or something else out of place in their environment may send them scurrying.

Most extraordinary of all, perhaps, is a sense called, "electroreception." 
Catfish don't have to see prey, or smell it, or taste it. 
That's because tiny clusters of special cells on the head and along the lateral line detect electrical fields in living organisms. A catfish can find its prey through electroreception, just like sharks.

"A catfish has electroreceptors all over its head," says Caprio. "These little pores go to electric sensory receptors. They work, because every living cell is a battery. That is, if you stick an electrode inside a cell and outside a cell, you get some kind of reading just as if you were measuring a battery with a voltmeter. 
So catfish use this electric sense to help them find food. 

It's a proximity sense; they must be within centimeters of the object. Catfish can dig in the mud and find insect larvae, worms and such by using their electric sense alone."

All the senses interact when a catfish seeks something to eat. 
The sensory organs all detect chemicals, vibrations and/or electric charges from potential food items and send messages to the fish's brain telling it to find the food. 
Then, when the cat picks up the food, taste buds in the mouth relay messages to another part of the brain and tell it to eat the food - or spit it out.

"All the catfish's senses are used," says Caprio. 
"It's like going to a restaurant. You walk in. It looks and smells good, so you order a steak. The waiter brings it on a covered platter; it smells great. You really want this steak, but when the waiter lifts the top, the steak is bright blue. Now you don't want it.
You see, many sensory cues control your feeding behavior. 

The same thing with fish. A catfish doesn't just search with its nose or taste buds or eyes. It uses every sensory cue available before deciding to eat."

And they decide not to eat, as often as not. 
If a catfish tastes or smells certain compounds in the water or on your bait, feeding activities may cease. 
These compounds include such things as gasoline and certain ingredients in sunscreen, tobacco, insect repellent and other items commonly used by fishermen. 
You'll catch more cats if you avoid contact with such materials as much as possible.

Vision, however, is the sense most likely to cause fright in a catfish, Caprio says.
"If a bird flies overhead, or someone casts a shadow that moves across the water, all feeding may cease," he says. 
"We have fouled up lab experiments for weeks just by having someone put their hand over the top of a tank. 
If you tape the silhouette of a predatory bird to the top of a fish's tank, that cat won't come out to eat, no matter how hungry it gets. The fish will die before he goes out and gets food right in front of it, unless you turn the lights off; then he'll come out and get it. That's one reason much catfishing success comes when fishing at night."

The exceptionally powerful senses of catfish enable them to thrive in a wide variety of habitats. They cope better than other fish in difficult environments, and thus are often found where other fish are not. 

The next time you feel a big one tugging on your line, think about how it found your bait. It will help you better appreciate the remarkable senses of these extraordinary fish

Tight Lines, 

Comment, subscribe, and visit us at Palmetto Fly N Fish

Friday, August 3, 2018

4 Must-Haves For Fly Fishing Leaders

4 Must-Haves For Fly Fishing Leaders

David Hutton, Aug 3 2018

"If you really take this leader business seriously, you should have four items of tackle, three of which are carried on the stream.

1. The first is most important – and the one you will leave at home while fishing.This is the micrometer. Whether it costs you $10 or $100 matters not; what is needed is a way to measure diameters, as diameter is the most important element of matching leaders to line. Even a basic micrometer will at least give a proportionate value you can work with.

2. The second item is a leader material holder of some sort.With the holder you will have all the materials needed to customize leaders, ready for use.

3. The next item is a leader pouch or carrier in which to carry spares, all marked as to taper and use.

4. The final thing is a piece of soft rubber. That's right, rubber.
This one thing will put more fish in the bag than a dozen extra fly patterns.

Before stepping near the water, your leaders should be rubbed with the rubber until it lies out perfectly straight. This is accomplished by pulling the leader through the rubber (a small piece of old inner tube will do the job).

This will get most of the stretch out of the nylon, prevent kinking, and the resultant flexibility will cause the fly to go straight to the target. It is most important in fly fishing to have a perfectly straight leader. It only takes a few seconds to do this, and it guarantees optimum casting efficiency."

- A. J. McClane

Rubber, you say? Straighten leaders, eh?

Here's the leader straightener I use.

It is 1/16" sheet rubber, glued to two tear-drop shaped leather tabs.They are connected by a split ring, and the pair are hung from a clip ring on one of my vest zippers.

A lot of people, at this point, will say, "You don't need no stinkin' leader straightener. Just grip the leader and run it between your fingers a couple times."

Well, contrary to what my wife says, I do listen to others.
So I tried their finger-straightening method.

Either the skin of my fingers was nearly cut through by the nylon, or they caught fire from the friction before I ever got the leader straight.
Seriously, not even close.The rubber works exponentially better.
I strongly suggest you buy or make one of these and use it as McClane suggests Tight Lines, David Hutton

PFnF, 2018, All rights Reserved

Subscribe by email, comment and visit us on facebook at: Palmetto Fly N Fish

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Bass Flies of A.J. McClane, Part 1

Bass Flies of A.J. McClane

David Hutton, 2018

Part One
Who The Heck Is A.J. McClane?
In the annals of fishing lore, few men have spoken to the fisherman like A. J. McClane. He was a sport fisherman, champion distance and exhibition caster, an ichthyologist, a fly-tier, artist, photographer, explorer, world-class chef... a real-life Renaissance Man. He almost single-handedly popularized spinning tackle, too. Millions of everyday anglers owe him a debt of gratitude for that. 

However, from the 1940's through the 1980's, McClane was the most familiar, beloved, and respected byline in angling literature. He was the longtime fishing editor of Field & Stream magazine, filling it's pages with compelling and insightful articles. He also wrote more than 20 books, all of which sold widely as standards in their field.

Among the many books and hundreds of pieces penned by McClane, one, especially, stands out. Arnold Gingrich, publisher and founding editor of Esquire magazine, called this one the, "most comprehensive and useful single volume on all forms of freshwater fly fishing."

It is McClane's first book, "The Practical Fly Fisherman," first published in 1953.

In it he covers topics ranging from the rod, to the leader, from the various flies to the many fishes one might catch. It truly is comprehensive. And a special chapter was devoted to the flies and catching of black bass, both large-, and smallmouth. 

It is to this chapter that I turn our attention.

The Bass Flies of A.J. McClane - Sorta
Since 'The Practical Fly Fisherman' is a fly fishing book, we'd expect to see the flies that McClane and others used to catch bass back in the 1940's and 50's. Right?
Well, yes, and... no. 

First, you find the book is not a tutorial work on the tying of flies. Step-by-step tying instructions?

Glossy color fotos of each thread wrap?
Shopping lists of materials and tools? 
Not there. 

Like many writers of the period, McClane is fairly sparing of such things. There are almost no pictures, for example. 
He covers a lot of ground, to be sure, but much about the flies is either left to ones imagination, or it is assumed you already know about such things.

Second, a large part of the work is devoted to fishing stories. 

These tales are factual accounts of where and when the flies were put to use, and they are a good read. They fill the mind with images of glorious fish, manly men in plaid wool shirts, and the great, Great, GREAT, outdoors. 

This is entertainment, from a time when there were no TV channels... because there were no TV's. If you're accustomed to YouTube vids, this may challenge your attention span

Lastly, many of McClanes flies will be unfamiliar to us. 

There are no Game Changers, no Clousers, Buggers, or Slumpbusters.... the “bass fly's” that fill the pages of modern magazines and internet pages are conspicuously absent.
Since most of the bass flies we consider "must-haves" today weren't around when McClane wrote this book, this makes sense.

The Pay Off

That's how it goes when you first discover the traditional flies. These things are different, because, well, they are traditional.... and that usually means forgotten to current generations. 
So, if you study these older patterns, well, it sometimes requires you to put aside your expectations.

Is all this worth the trouble, when we have perfectly good modern patterns? Well, in a word, yes. 

If you take the information seriously, a reward eventually surfaces during this dive into the odd and traditional.

That reward is this: 

Your local bass probably haven't seen anything like these patterns. Ever. 

Forget the satisfaction of being the only dude for miles to even try these flies for bass. That's cool enough, but most people could care less. 
Instead, throw one of these near a modern bass, a fish trained to ignore buzz baits from Wal-Mart..., and don't be surprised if it jumps on your fake with a vengeance. 
So, give these venerable old patterns a chance. They may actually be more useful than you know. 


The first flies discussed in the book, those first out of McClanes fly box, are what would be called “wet flies.”

McClane and others of the day were used to this type; they had been around for many decades by 1953. It really was no stretch to put them to uses other than just trout fishing. 

In their day, they were sometimes referred to as “dazzle” flies (4). They get this name from their eye-popping colors - they were anything but subdued by aquatic standards. These flies are what could rightly be called “attractor” patterns! 

Resembling a circus act more than any living thing, they were also tied pretty large to accommodate the bass's willingness to attack bigger prey. Anything between #10 and #2 would have been appropriate, with #6 being the happy medium.

1. The Colonel Fuller

This one comes in two versions – a wet fly and a feathered streamer
  • Colonel Fuller Wet Fly 

This fly was designed in 1894 and is basically a wet fly version of the later, Mickey Finn. According to George L. Herter, it was “a good small mouth fly with a spinner ahead of it... a better than average steelhead fly, a poor trout fly, and a fair bream and crappie fly.” (1)
Tail - Black quill slip 
Body Yellow Floss
Rib - Gold tinsel
Hackle - yellow
Wing - Dyed goose, married yellow-red-yellow

  • Colonel Fuller Streamer 

Colonel Fuller Streamer
foto courtesy of FAOL (3)

The streamer pattern has been described as:

Tail: Black quill slip
Body: Gold tinsel
Rib: Gold oval tinsel
Hackle: Yellow
Wing: Bright yellow saddle, with an outer wing or shoulder of scarlet.

2. The Lord Baltimore

Next mentioned is a design by Alfred Mayer of Hoboken N.J., from 1883. Herter says Meyer was a champion ”minnow caster” (as baitcasting was called back then), more than he was a fly angler, and he describes the Lord Baltimore fly as a...”fair to poor bass fly, but a VERY poor trout or panfish fly.” (1)

Lord Baltimore

Tail - Black quill slip
Body - Orange floss
Rib - Black tying silk
Hackle - black 
Wing - Black quill slip with jungle cock shoulder

Now we come to flies that are a little less obscure, maybe even known at least by name.

3. The Yellow Sally

The Yellow Sally wet fly has been around a long time. It is found in Ray Bergmans, “Trout,” in Mary Orvis Marbury's “Favorite Flies and Their Histories,” and others.

However, none seem to give much account of the fly's background. Even the outspoken Herter offers nothing. About all we get is that it may mimic a yellow stone fly. I don't see it, but, hey... I'm not judging.

Nevertheless, this all-yellow fly is an all around fish catcher.

Yellow Sally
 foto courtesy of FAOL (3) 
Tail: Yellow hackle
Rib: Gold tinsel
Body: Yellow floss
Hackle: Yellow
Wing: Yellow quill

4. The Scarlet Ibis

An early American pattern, this is all-red, in the same manner as the Yellow Sally. 

In the old days there were few restrictions on feathers, fur, etc., and the Scarlet Ibis was originally tied with feathers from the tropical bird of that same name. Today, these birds are protected and trade in their feathers is illegal, so we substitute dyed duck or goose. 
The color, 'scarlet,' is actually an orange-red color, and is hard to reproduce exactly, so red stands in. 
The name, “Crimson Ibis” would probably be more appropriate, I suppose, but we'll stick to the original.
Scarlet Ibis
foto courtesy of FAOL (3)

Tail - Red quill slip
Body - Red floss
Rib - Gold tinsel 
Hackle - Red 
Wing - Dyed goose or duck, red

5. Parmachene Belle

Created in 1876 by attorney Henry P. Wells, this one is named after Parmacheene Lake in Maine. Supposedly, the fly imitates the fin of a brook trout, which must be some kind of long lost joke... with a forgotten punchline.
According to Herter, the fly is...”an average pattern for rainbow, steelhead, brook trout and small mouth bass.” (2)

Parmachene Belle

Tail - Red and white hackle, mixed
Butt - Peacock herl
Body - Yellow floss
Rib - Silver oval tinsel
Hackle - as for tail
Wing - Goose quill slip, white-red-white, married

6. Black Gnat

This is a very old English pattern that has stood the test of time, but also with little background information. We should probably accept that it goes back a long way, in one form or another, and leave it at that. It's yet another among the many attractor patterns we've already seen, in that it doesn't represent anything in particular, but still looks eatable. Black is sometimes the one color that fish seem to see, especially in stained, muddy, or low light conditions.

Tail - Black Hackle
Body - Black, scruffy wool
Hackle - Black, as for tail
Wing - Black quill slip

Installment 2 will have us diving into more wet flies, like the Woolly Worm, some fur nymphs, streamers and a surprise fly that you may only read about here.

Watch for it.

Thanks, David
Palmetto Fly N' Fish, © 2018

  1. The Practical Fly Fisherman,” Albert Jules, “A.J.” McClane, 2nd Edition, 1975, Prentice Hall
  2. Professional Fly Tying, Spinning and Tackle Making Manual and Manufacturers Guide,” George L. Herter, 17th Edition, 1968, Herters, Inc.
  3. Fly Anglers Online – www.flyanglersonline.com
  4. “Black Bass Lore,” Wallace Gallagher, 1937, Van Rees Press
Dont forget to subscribe via email, and visit us on facebook at

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Craft Fur Nymph

Faux Fur Casual Dress

July 8, 2018

"Lets go to the Goodwill - we haven't been there in a while." 
Lori likes to shop, and we were already in that part of town. Besides, my wife is always on the lookout for a bargain. 
We don't spend big money on clothes, toys for the grand kids, or other household things, either, because we watch our money. 
So picking around the shelves at the the Goodwill satisfies a couple of urges, cheaply. 
To be honest, I don't really mind a bargain, myself. I can usually find something useful there. So it was easy enough to agree.

The Shelves Provide

Some of the things I've found there might even surprise you - fly reels, rods, cases, line and tackle, clothing suited for fishing and many other things for the cause. Yesterday was no different. 

As I shuffled among all the items, I ran across what looked like a piece of animal fur - or so it seemed...

I hoped it was a piece of mink or muskrat; I've found similar things. there. What I got, however, was a "faux fur" collar that was once part of a jacket. The jacket was long gone, but the collar held promise.
And it was only 50 cents.

"What you gonna do with that?" Lori asked. 

I started to describe my plans, when she said, "Oh for fly tying? How about that? And only 50 cents. Nice."

The Fly Within

My plans were for a Polly Rosborough, "fuzzy nymph." More specifically, his classic, "Casual Dress" fur nymph.
The Casual Dress is tied from muskrat, traditionally, and I've also used squirrel, fox and even mink. So its versatile in its material needs.  
I should also add that, to date, it is one of my best fish-catching flies, and this season it's proven to be a can't miss addition to the fly box. 
Added to this are these other attributes:

  • It's hardy
Its made entirely of garment-grade craft fur, after all, so it takes some punishment. 
  • It's cheap  
In this case, 50 cents for an awful lot of them. If I were to use craft fur, instead, well, that's cheap, too. 
  • The tying isn't too complicated 
Just one split-thread loop technique is needed, along with the usual nymph methods. 
  • The fish go for it big-time.
This is the best part.

Comparing the faux fur to the mink and muskrat I'm used to, I see it's more coarse; but not by much. It was close enough to try.
And at the price, it could hardly be left behind. It if it worked, I could be in nymphs for a long time!

Success Is In The Details

Faux Fur Casual Dress

The vise work went pretty smooth; the fake fur is just a little harder to clean and prepare than natural furs. The fly itself turned out a little scruffy, as you can see above. That never hurts this sort of pattern.

I added an orange dubbing thorax, and its ribbed with red copper wire. There's no extra weight, so this will be a near surface/slow sinking pattern.

  • Hook - #6 Aberdeen (fits into the Bass-Bluegill Lap)
  • Tail - Faux fur "hairs," sorted and evened
  • Body - Underfur dubbing combed out from the fur 
  • Ribbing - Soft red wire, tied full length and doubled over in the thorax area
  • Hackle - Faux fur hair, applied using a split-thread loop

Water testing shows this pattern sinks with a horizontal posture, which is how nymphs in general behave - they swim, or scurry, or scamper... and then they kinda glide.
It's dressing flows readily in the water, much as a nymph tied from natural furs, and I'm especially happy with the glide.
That sometimes takes a little experimenting to get it right.

The Action

I'm a big fan of nymph patterns, and I find they normally fish well around structure and, especially cover. Weed, rocks, bottom clutter and wood are their natural home. 
You'll notice I've made this one fairly large by nymph standards - size #6.
This is because in our Southern lakes, we have some big nymphs. I've found the shucks of dragon fly nymphs in the 2" range...

Swimming Dragon Fly Nymph

I've also seen some of the burrowing dragonfly nymphs we have here grow as big as your thumb! 
All this means the fish, both bass and sunfish, are accustomed to such critters and their reaction is usually quite strong when they strike. 

The fly, as tied, sinks at around 3 seconds per foot, so that's just about right for the 4 foot depth around the shore. On a long leader, a little tungsten putty on the tippet ring should get me a foot or two more. 
Fished in the clear water around the mid-lake regions, I suppose I could go to a sinking line and get down to an easy 8 foot depth.

Other Uses, Other Materials

I also occurs to me that this Faux Fur Nymph could mimic a baitfish pattern, at least in some small part. Imagine this same thing tied from light grey, grizzly or even white craft fur. Now squint your eyes and picture this swimming around like a minnow.
Do you see it?

But, its main intent is as a stillwater attractor nymph.
One that is dirt cheap, long lasting, and, well, effective. I don't know if Polly Rosborough envisioned his fuzzy Casual Dress being used in this way, but Id like to think he would approve.   

Thanks and Tight Lines,

David Hutton
Palmetto Fly N Fish 2018©

Hope you enjoyed. Comment, subscribe by email, and visit us at: 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Float Tube GO List

My Float Tube Go List

June 21, 2018

Here we are, the first day of summer. It seems only appropriate to run a post about float tubes on this auspicious day. 
I really love them during the hot time of year. 
I like other forms of being afloat, too, so don't think I'm discriminating, here.

But float tubes are special. They suit my style.

Whats up With Float Tubes?
The main reason they are ideal for summer is that your lower legs stay in the water, and are cooled by the water itself. 

In my case, the underside of my thighs, and my butt, both get water sloshed, too... one of the benefits of being fat, I suppose, is you sit lower in the water.

A skinny guy might not get a wet ass like I do.
His loss for missing out on all those tacos.

Anyway, scuba fins are the source of propulsion in a float tube - and once you start paddling with them, cooled blood from your legs is pumped all around your body. 
Only swimming in the water with a fishing pole would be better.
That would also be more exercise than paddling a tube - but not by much.

Net effect? Lowered body temperature. 
Just the ticket for the heat of summer.

Then, there's the warm and fuzzy feeling of closeness with the water, a sort of connected-ness you'll get with no other fishing style except spearfishing.
It's a neat feeling to stand in the shallows, push back into the seat, and kick away from shore. You instantly become part of the water.
You squirm around a little, adjust your position, and get the seat back set just right. 
Voila! You're a human bobber, after fish! 
Kinda hard to describe; try it, though, and you'll get it...

The List
Recently, someone asked just what I take in my float tube when I go out in it. There I am in my inflatable easy chair, waving as I pass. But what's in there with me?

This prompted me to do a "List Post," where I describe what I actually bring along.

Everyone likes lists, after all, or so the saying goes. There's just something magical about having everything all sorted and itemized, a stub of pencil in hand with which to make check marks...it's all so satisfying. 

Of course, there's no guarantee that's how it will work out. Some of us can have a list and still end up leaving something behind. But you probably stand the best chance of having what you need if you make a list and follow the darned thing.

Which is where it kinda fell apart for me. 

There I am, planning to go on another fishing trip. I know I should load up the night before. I know it.
But I procrastinate, the family comes over for dinner, I have a few glasses of wine and ... well, I find myself scrambling at 6AM, hoping I didn't forget anything. 

Which is when I began asking:

"If I had a checklist to follow, that would be great. But what should be on it?"

To answer that, I just inventoried what I was toting around at the end of several tubing sessions. My thinking was that after 3 or 4 outings, I'd have a pretty good idea of whats important to me. Not really rocket science, but I needed a plan and that was as good as any. 

With everything compiled and examined, I next grouped the stuff into "At The Ready Items," Group 1-3, and the "Variables," Group 4.

So here we go... my Float Tubing Go List.

The Float Tubing Go List 

Group 1 - 3: At The Ready Items

Group 1
Float tube
Tube patches 
Spare valves
Signal Mirror
All are stowed in the pocket of the float tube

Group 2
Fins, open heel
Scuba boots
Air pump - I have a 12vdc pump, but I use a hand operated, dual action pump most of the time. During the season, my tube stays partially inflated- it only takes a few seconds to re-inflate it fully.   
Crushable Shoes - for walking when ashore
Spare sunglasses
Suncreen lotion
All group 2 items are stowed in a rolling carry bag.

Group 3
Neck lanyard - tippet spools, nippers, forceps

Vest -
1 multi tool 
1 scissors tool 
tungsten putty, mini shot 
Assorted leaders 
Fly/lure holder
Hook sharpener
Fish scale
Car keys 
Vivarin and Tylenol - A little pick me up comes in handy 
Toilet paper
Camera, in waterproof bag
Cell phone, in waterproof bag

I wear these two, the lanyard and vest, whenever I go. They are on a hook together and I just grab them on the way out.  

Group 4: The Variables


** Rod - fly, spinning, or telescoping fixed pole
** Reel - to match above
** Line - spare line, depending on the outfit 
** leaders/tippet - most of the time, my usual fly tippet selection doubles as leader. But I carry a spool of slightly heavier 10-12 lb leader for spin fishing. 
** flies, lures, bait, tackle - this can be almost anything, and is dependent mostly on the season.

The rods are strapped to Velcro holders. All the lures, tackle, snacks, water, and other items are stowed in the pockets of the tube. 
If it won't fit so I can zip it closed, it doesn't come along. 

The tube is itself is carried on my back with shoulder straps, like a back pack. Getting to the water is a pain in the soon-to-be-wet butt if everything isn't neatly and securely stowed on the tube.

When I walk to the water, I only have my fins in my hand. 

I don't use a fish finder on my tube, either, and I only take two rods. I think of this as minimalist fishing, relying on my wits for success. With me, relying on wits is always a dicey proposition, but I like to keep things simple. 

Could I add more gear? Sure; some guys outfit their tubes with more gear than a BASSmasters tourney boat.

But that 'aint my style.

Thanks and Tight Lines,


Please comment, subscribe for email updates and visit us at Palmetto Fly N Fish

David Hutton, Palmetto Fly N Fish©
All rights reserved 2018