Please remember one of Kelly's laws when reading the following: "Nothing can be made foolproof because fools are so ingenious".At all times when around or on the water, be aware of the presence and needs of other people, animals and property. Please be respectful, courteous and polite to others.
Remember you are a guest, and representing a group of people who have worked very hard to get you an invitation to be there.
At all times when near or on the water, wear a life jacket of at least 120 newtons capacity
and ensure that it is 'armed' with a full CO2 cylinder and correctly done up.ALWAYS
carry a loud whistle when on the water
. (A referee's whistle is good, many of the whistles which come with life jackets are too quiet). This is the device which will alert other anglers if you are in difficulties.
The BFTA advise that float tubers fish in pairs
no matter what their experience. On some waters, (i.e all SWW reservoirs this rule is mandatory). If you are new to float tubing, it is advised that you go out with VERY EXPERIENCED
float tubers, who will be able to advise you of anything you are doing wrong and maybe prevent an unfortunate incident.Float tubes should be correctly inflated before taking to the water.
Virtually all recently produced and newly sold float tubes use low pressure bladders - at most they should only be inflated to a pressure slightly higher than you could blow with your lungs. Over-inflation will put stress on the seam welds and could lead to a rapid deflation 'blow out' on the water. However, equally dangerous is under-inflation. This will result in the tube sitting low in the water and could adversely affect the handling and manoeuvrability.
Further to the above - on cold water air will contract and a float tube will 'go soft', so in this situation it is advisable to put a little more air into the bladders. Conversely on a very hot day the air will expand and the tube will inflate to a 'hard state', so put a little less air in. NEVER
leave a fully pumped up float tube in a car in the hot sun, at best it will stress the bladder seams badly, at worst it will explode! In most 'normal' sunny situations in the UK, the cool temperature of the water will counteract the heat of the sun, therefore the effects of expansion or contraction of the air in the bladders will cancel each other out.Before each trip check the condition of buckles, snap catches and webbing straps
. After inflation check stitching and zips for evidence of splitting. Periodically check the bladder condition, particularly the seams and check inside the hull for sharp objects such as stones.When launching or landing a float tube, great care needs to be taken.
This is probably the part of the day which is most vulnerable to an 'accident'. Depending on the design, there are various ways of getting into a float tube and out onto the water. In the now old fashioned doughnut style float tube, you have to get into it on the shore and carefully feed your feet and fins through the bottom past the crotch strap. The doughnut ring is then lifted up above your knees and you walk backward into the water and sit down when the water lifts the tube. BE CAREFUL of the bank drop-off into the water, and then any rocks or slippery surfaces under your feet!
Getting into an open fronted U or Vee tube is generally much easier. Get into the water and float the tube round behind you, then sit down when the seat is touching behind your knees. Tubes with crossbars are entered with a variation on the open fronted U tube method just described. Get into the water and bring the tube round behind your knees, but stay standing up - first lock both ends of the crossbar into the pockets on the sponsons, then reach down and, (if fitted), snap the crotch strap buckle home. Make sure the seat back is upright, now shuffle gently backwards until the tube is floating above your knees, now sit down. There are adjustments on the seats of most float tubes which need to be made properly.
On open fronted tubes in particular, the seat rear level needs to be adjusted so it is sloping down backwards. This effectively pushes your bottom and back towards the rear of the tube and ensures that you stay in when fishing rough water. Where a crotch strap is fitted,
you would be well advised to use it.
It needs to be adjusted so that it effectively pulls the front of the seat upwards slightly. Many float tubes now have inflatable seat cushions and backs - DO NOT over-inflate these.
They need to be slightly floppy both for comfort when seated, and also they will ensure that you remain in the tube - rather than being thrown or slide out of the front if they were pumped up too hard.
When you are seated in your float tube on the water, please ensure that you remain firmly in the se
at. A float tube has been carefully designed to be stable and safe with the angler sitting where intended. NEVER EVER try to climb out of the seat
or greatly overextend your body outside the limits of the tube - actions of this type could be SERIOUSLY DANGEROUS!
Waders need to have the waist belt done up reasonably tightly around the body.
There is also a drawstring at the top of most waders around the chest, this should also be tightened before taking to the water. The air trapped in the waders should give you a minute or so of buoyancy if you inadvertently become submerged. Waders filled with water will make it very difficult for someone to lift you out of the lake.
Life jackets come in a variety of styles, but the braces design is most convenient and popular with float tubers. The BFTA recommend a life jacket rated at 120 newtons or more.
This figure should be printed on a label stitched into the seam. The life jacket should ALWAYS be worn on the OUTSIDE
of any other clothing. The chest strap should be firmly adjusted
so that the jacket does not slip off when fired. Automatically inflating life jackets are a mixed blessing - they will fire when you are immersed in water without you doing anything - very good if you are unconscious. When wearing the manual version, ensure that the trigger toggle is readily available for your hand to reach it in a hurry.
If necessary make and fit an extension cord to ensure it is clear of any other equipment you are wearing.
Fins of whatever design you employ, should be correctly and firmly fitted.
It is advisable that they are also connected to a 'saver strap' around the ankle. A long bootlace will suffice as a temporary measure and will save a fin from dropping to the lake bottom. ALWAYS walk backwards when wearing fins in the water
- if you try walking forwards, at best you will get wet when falling over - at worst you will be unconscious in the water when you hit your head on a rock!
Always wear a hat to prevent both sunburn and miscast hooks lodging in your head. A baseball cap will shield the sun from the eyes - a wide brimmed hat will help prevent sunburn on neck and ears, but will not prevent reflected UV rays from the water burning your face. You should carry and apply a suitable factor suncream to prevent 'sunburn'. For safety purposes you are also advised to wear spectacles
to prevent a hook entering your eye, (resulting from a miscast). Polarised glasses or prescription spectacles are equally good, but either type should be fitted with a neck lanyard to prevent them dropping overboard.
If you have previously fished on a water where there are known to be invasive weeds or other organisms / creatures that would transfer to another fishery - you MUST disinfect all your tackle, nets, float tube, waders etc.
before entering another fishery.
If fishing on a water frequented by sailing boats, you should wear a High-Vis orange or yellow cap
and ensure that any High-Vis flashbacks or panels on the float tube are clean and clear. This regulation is mandatory on SWW reservoirs.
It is generally best to avoid getting too close to dam spillways or large aerators.
Common sense would apply here - a spillway with a couple of feet depth of water going over it will likely have a strong undercurrent, if there is only a couple of inches of water, then it might be safe to get within a cast length or so.
This should go without saying. However, you should always be appropriately dressed for the conditions on the water.
In winter warm clothing, thermal underwear and good woollen, (not cotton), jumpers should be worn to avoid internal temperature drop from windchill and very cold water. It is not necessary to wear thick neoprene waders in winter, (they are warmer). However, experience has shown that breathable waders with good quality modern body fitting thermal underwear, give greater freedom of movement and are just as warm.
In bad weather; depending on experience, strength, age and frailty of the angler, launching a float tube onto a water in strong winds is at best inadvisable.
Some very strong people do this and do not get into difficulties, others could get driven onto the 'wrong' shore or even suffer exhaustion in the same conditions. Know your limitations!NEVER stay on the water in a thunderstorm!
Get off the water quickly, dismantle your rod and keep low until the storm has passed by. Carbon fibre is one of the best lightning conductors ever invented!Avoid getting in the way of other anglers in boats or on the bank.
Many will welcome your presence and be pleased to speak with you. However, there are some that would wish you were several miles away. The general rule is to stay 40 yards away
, (at least), from other anglers. You will occasionally encounter an angler who considers himself an Olympic standard caster and who will require at least 150 yards of clear water over 'his shoal of fish'!
Boat anglers tend to be an interesting breed of fishermen. Keep a close eye an any boats, because they are not always anchored, and may well be on a drift.
Inevitably your back is generally to the wind and you cannot easily see behind you when fishing, they can fairly quickly 'sneak' up on you unexpectedly. Their premis is that you are in their way - and most have little understanding of how quickly a tube can, or cannot, be turned and moved in a wind.
Be aware of people and animals on the bank behind you. Ensure that your back cast is not going to catch or endanger them.
If you hook your waders or float tube, cut the line and retrieve the fly later. NEVER pull the leader
- it may cause a puncture to your tube or waders.
Members are strongly advised to use scissors or clippers to cut fly tippets/leaders.
Do not be tempted to cut the line with your teeth. Even drinking water reservoirs may be the home of rats which can carry weil's disease. Additionally, numerous other unsavoury organisms may well be present in the water.
Esure that you remove all rubbish and particularly unwanted line. Nylon leaders should be chopped into very short 20mm lengths before finally being discarded.
IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY.If a problem arises try and stay calm.
The most common incident will probably be a leak of air from a punctured bladder. In most cases the air escape will be slow enough for you to get to the nearest shore and deal with the situation, or go home.
If you find yourself in a position where you are going into the water, do not panic,
inflate your life jacket. The jacket will support you in the water - you will not sink. Do not not try to swim until you have sorted yourself and your kit out. If the tube is still partially afloat, hang on to it. Undo all straps and anything that will impede you. Whistle or shout for help and get another angler take your rods and get other removable kit from you. Once free of all obstructions, lay on your back and steadily swim for the shore. If a boat comes to your aid, advise the boat to tow you to the shore
- do not try and get in.
If the above 'accident' happens to you, you will be unfortunate to have joined a very small and select group of float tubers. Small punctures are not uncommon, and generally just a bit annoying. These are usually caused by a miscast hook point. Several of us carry a patch kit and a mouth tube fitted with a valve adapter, to blow the tube up on the water in case this situation arises - (obviously you have to get to shore to fit the patch)!A link to a very informative Irish Float Tubing Site where there is an excellent section on float tubing safety.