Custom ultra light float tube

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Rory McMahon, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. Peyton00

    Peyton00 Active Member

    I have been hiking into alpine lakes for over 20 yrs. I have always used a small raft/oars. I dont pack a tent, waders or fins. I use the raft for bedding at nite and cover the raft with a tarp if it rains( the floor is inflated and my back is okay in the morning);) . I made a bench seat( pvc material) that goes across the top part of the side chambers for getting up off the floor to cast, the pvc bench seat breaks down and fits in my backpack. The raft has 4+ chambers for safety. It has worked for me all these years( new rafts overtime) but generally i have been very happy with the raft and i can take extra gear, food and misc items out with me on the lake. It has been tweaked and fine tuned over the years, but in the past 10 yrs it has been the same setup. I am 6'4 and 215 lbs. I agree with most, lose some belly fat and pack in more whiskey. Come June/July when the snow melts, i will be ready to hit the trails again.
  2. rory

    rory Go Outside

    Please keep us posted as the project progresses.
  3. scottybs

    scottybs Active Member

    Floaty wings looped with rope! JK good luck
  4. Sir Homey

    Sir Homey Member

    I do a fair amount of alpine lakes tubing and as much of it to off-trail lakes as I can. Weight is always an issue.

    For years I stayed away from the old-school "widow maker" donut tubes but finally caved and picked one up a couple years ago. It is the lightest I've seen anywhere, Bucks Bags or whatever they're called, approx 5 lbs if you strip off the extra useless crap.

    For U-shaped tubes the classic Caddis was a good option at around 6 lbs. Still, add waders, fins, and a SOS PFD and yer adding on the weight. Fins, you can go low brow on, maybe leave the Force Fins at home. Waders, I use Simms travel waders. Super thin and light, patched all to hell :)

    Other than that, if it aint essential don't pack it.

    It's a challenge though, some things you can't skimp on. And I'm down with the pack rafts, but you give up something in return. There's nothing like using your fins to keep position and have 2 hands free for fighting fish, taking pics, or whatever.

    I saw these guys mentioned earlier, maybe they'll partner with you on a tube option? If so, report back, I'll be next in line for one.
  5. Bill Aubrey

    Bill Aubrey Active Member

    Or, since you are trying for minimalism, combine the PFD with the tube--just wear some SOS penders and inflate when you want to fish.

    Warning--not all of the info on this site is real helpful, although most of it is.
  6. David Loy

    David Loy Senior Moment

    Some of this crowd might be looking for a hiking staff/2 piece rod holder. I've seen some in the past but the sites vaporized. Recently I found this, and a review on Gear Talk.

    With some difficulty I tracked Tim down and these are indeed still available ($80 approx. w/shipping). He's working on a new website ( but it's not up yet. He may be emailed at:
    I know that you could build your own out of PVC for a fraction of the cost, but a nice piece of kit. I hiked for many years with a 3 piece (in it's tube) when that was considered a multi piece. It was more like a cane and I realized a 2 piece in a good tube would actually be more comfortable for walking, and useful for decents and stream crossing.
  7. Blue

    Blue Active Member

    Dang and I have been doing that for years with a rod tube and a rubber cap! $80? I could have been rich LOL
  8. David Loy

    David Loy Senior Moment

    A head of your time I guess.
  9. Blue

    Blue Active Member

  10. SHigSpeed

    SHigSpeed Active Member

    Newest photo: Seat tacked in place - though I'm not sure I'm happy with the location. I may head to my local trout truck pond tomorrow to see how she floats.


  11. Blue

    Blue Active Member

    Awesome. Final weight? I like the D rings
  12. SHigSpeed

    SHigSpeed Active Member

    I like the D-rings too but I think they are more risk than worth the attachment through the skin. I'll either glue them on or use straps over the tubes with attachment points.

    Weight? 2 lbs 0 ounces by bathroom scale (with and without me holding it). :)

    I can shave possibly 7 ounces by going with thinner material for the main bladder as well.

    Pretty happy so far.

  13. Bill Aubrey

    Bill Aubrey Active Member

  14. TonyZ

    TonyZ Member

    When the final production is running, put me down for a preorder
  15. SHigSpeed

    SHigSpeed Active Member

    I'd love to help you guys go light and high, but I'd be worried about the potential liability issues. Now if I sold them as inflatable gaming chairs...

  16. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    Exactly! If you produce them, sell them as "lightweight cushions" not be used in or around water.
  17. SHigSpeed

    SHigSpeed Active Member

    Well, she floats! I do have to reposition the seat a bit, and I may need to choke a cat or two - there was a small claw hole in the seat that kept me from staying out longer than a minute or two. GRR!

    At any rate, proof of concept - CHECK! Seems like I'll be sitting high and dry once everything is worked out and it seemed pretty stable while I had air in it.




    No, I didn't catch any fish, but that was secondary. :)

  18. Peyton00

    Peyton00 Active Member

    Congrats! Taking the time and energy to produce your own floatation device is a great accomplishment.
  19. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Active Member

  20. Mike Monsos

    Mike Monsos AKA flyman219