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Float Tube Fishing

Not everyone can afford a fishing boat or has room in their yard to park it. So a growing number of Kentucky anglers are turning to float tubes.

Float tubes are small, one-person watercraft that are inexpensive, portable, and far more stable than canoes. They’re great in creeks, ponds, and small lakes. Deflated, float tubes fit easily in the trunk of a small car. Outdoor stores and Internet suppliers sell them for less than $100.

Float tubes began as a simple truck inner tube with a piece of fabric stretched across the opening for a seat. Anglers first used them in the high mountain lakes of the western United States because they could pack them into places where no boat had ever touched the water.

The original design, while still in use, is losing favor among anglers because it makes it difficult to exit. Newer models feature two pontoons on either side, with a removable spreader bar across the front to allow easy entry and exit. These models are practically impossible to flip because an angler’s legs dangle in the water while in use.

While these models are suitable only for still water or slow-moving streams, a new generation of float tubes sporting bigger pontoons, a metal frame, and oars now opens opportunities for use in faster currents. These models are pricier and may cost $300 or more.

Regardless of the type of float tube you use, always have a life vest with you. It’s the law.

Float tubes offer two advantages over boats or canoes: they’re quiet and they keep anglers low to the water—a major benefit if the water is clear and fish spook easily. Fly rod anglers prefer float tubes because they allow plenty of backcast room.

With a float tube, you can fish weedbed edges inaccessible from the bank. Float tubes allow you to fish completely around fallen trees in the water, always a favorite hiding place for bass, crappie, and bluegill.

Stream anglers find these watercraft give them access to otherwise unreachable water. Avoid using float tubes in major lakes or areas with a lot of high-speed boat traffic, however, because boaters may have difficulty seeing you. Wear a blaze orange cap if you’re concerned about visibility.

Call (800) 858-1549, Monday – Friday, during normal business hours for your free guide to public access fishing areas.

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