Custom ultra light float tube

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

  1. I went down to my local "pond" to test out the new boat. I did my best to try to fall out and I failed. I inflated it on shore then hopped in and it immediately tempered - lost pressure due to cooling down. In this less than tight state it was a bit wobbly with how high I sit. Felt a bit like balancing on a ball side to side. Front to back was fine. A quick few breaths to tighten the skin and back in the drink.

    MUCH better. Definitely not as solid feeling as my Fish Cat but that's to be expected because of the way the seat is attached to the "U". It does allow some roll, but I think it won't be hard to get used to. Feels kinda like sitting in a canoe or kayak, especially at first when the pressure dropped. Still, no risk of actually barrel rolling.

    I'm WAY out of the water - probably A good 3", pretty much what I had designed for. I can make do with pants waders, no chest waders required.

    Anyway, photos:






    I made some fly casting motions while I was at it and it was a no-drama affair - not that I had expected any.

    I'll have to take my gear next time I hit the "pond". ;)

  2. Are there any trout in that there pond?

    Looks like an excellent fishing platform you have there! Looks like comfort and effectiveness will exceed the Curtis high lake raft. Congratulations!

    SHigSpeed and Kent Lufkin like this.
  3. I would be upset if you didn't market this vessel. BRAVO!
    SHigSpeed likes this.
  4. Trout, lol!

    I actually got a lot of advice from the man Curtis himself. Have to give him credit for sharing his tips and tricks of working with this material. It was cool to be able to bounce ideas off of him.

    I've been trying to get a hold of Del Canty with no luck. Anyone know him personally?

    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  5. I like it. I want one.
  6. Did you say what specific fabric you were using? I may have missed it in this long thread.

    Was it a heat sealable fabric from Seattle fabrics?

  7. Some of the materials were from Seattle Fabrics. I also have used materials that I managed to get directly from manufacturers and distributors as well.

    Basically I've used what I could get my hands on. :)

  8. I just recently found and read through this thread and have been thoroughly impressed with the development of this ultralight tube and all that SHigSpeed has gone through in the process.

    You, sir, are the da Vinci of float tubes! Major props! :)
  9. When can we buy one?
  10. So many anxious people! Lol...

    I'm still in the process of testing and I still have a few tweaks that I'd lke to try. Only once I'm satisfied with it will I consider making tubes for other wackos like myself. ;)

    In the meantime please PM me if you are interested so I can contact you when the time comes.

    For now, watch this space for updates.

  11. More playing around tonight.

    First off, I am thinking of a way to make a stuff-sack that doubles as an UL sling pouch. Turn the stuffy inside-out and it'll have a tab to pin on a fly patch, maybe a small tippet pocket (where the patch kit otherwise lives), and a tab and loop for some hemos. Thing is the dims of the rolled tube make the bag a bit odd shaped... If not slung over the shoulder, maybe clipped to a D-ring on the tube instead? I really would like it to be a useful and flexible piece of kit though. Maybe it could be folded in half and only use part of the volume?



    With it folded in half it could be used a lot like this gem that's no longer available:



    Also, I got in a bunch of new valves to play around with since I've been pondering an inflatable backrest, and I didn't think the valves I'm currently using are suited for smaller volumes. I've been scratching my head and toying with elaborate backrests with sling straps and other accoutrement that freak me out as far as failure points are concerned, but it kept getting out of hand and weighing too much (in my mind I'd like the thing to weigh around 3 ounces max). Needing inspiration I grabbed a simple square pillow off of my kid's bed and threw it in the back of a prototype... Just might work!

    Anyway, pics:

    New valve -


    Simple backrest:



    I think with either some straps that run under the butt to the front seam of the seat or simply an extended flap that you sit on to hold it in place it should provide enough support without the weight penalty and complexity. That's less than an half a square yard of fabric so it should come in just under 3 ounces with valve and extra fabric for the sit-flap. On the plus side, it can double as an air-pillow for your tent or a rock-softener for sitting on in camp. I LOVE multi-use stuff.

    Quick question - how much is too much weight for a backrest? Would you pay extra for this option? Hmm... I think I really need to go fishing for a day with and without the backrest and see how necessary it is for myself before I spend too much time on this... Regardless, at least I have something to test.

    BTW, you'll notice the Vader tube is back. I'm playing around with a different seat thickness. This bright blue fabric is HEAVY (relatively) but I have it on-hand so I'm using it to prototype stuff. Even with the extra weight, Vader with the blue seat is still right at 30 ounces. Can't cry too hard... Due to the way I had to repair the tube though I'm using a non-production attachment technique - hence the suspenders. No, that's not the direction I'm going in. ;)

  12. Would it be possible to have the stuff sack also be the back rest?
  13. It COULD but generally drybags aren't 100% airtight so it would need reinflation every so often. Also that would make the stuff sack much larger than necessary.

    I did have an idea as I was falling asleep last night of making an inflatable backrest that strapped around your waist which could offer better support and not be required to connect to the boat - kinda like a weightlifting belt but inflatable.

  14. Most of us need the exercise of lifting anyway beyond waving our arms and kicking our legs how else are we going to keep that spare tire down
  15. Someone on the other forum brought up the question of fins..

    I've been working on updating my fins for the last few days. Originally, the platforms were aluminum, but I figured that the material was overly strong and rigid for what was needed, and it was more difficult to work than necessary. Also, the failure of the original design was that the arrow shaft spars for the fabric webbing was too stiff, not allowing the proper curvature to develop and by extension propulsion.

    The "OG" fins:


    I went to the local TAP Plastic today and got some ABS. Boy is this stuff a joy to work! Lighter, not as stiff, and much less fragile boat skin scary as shiny aluminum. ;)

    Also, the overly complicated spar to platform hardware has been ditched for easy, light, and durable zipties! I didn't stoop so low as to use duct tape, but I think these are perfectly suited for this application.

    So, I went from tubular carbon spars to flat carbon spars. These as shown are a bit too flexible so I plan on epoxying a second spar atop the first to about half the protruded length to give a "fast action" to them - a little more backbone at the root and still allowing a softer bend at the tips. I also plan to attach the root of the webbing to the platform at the center as during my testing with Rev I the flappy bit near my toes would ride up and down too much.

    Anyway, PICS!:




    Simple, light, and hopefully effective. I'll be attaching a bungee to the back edge of the fabric foot pocket that will simply pull over the heel. Also, these are designed to be worn over just the neoprene stocking feet of waders. I figure nobody in their right mind would hike up into the hills with a 2 pound float tube with a pair of 3 pound wading boots. I've learned that even my 22 ounce mesh and rubber water shoes seem ridiculously heavy with my "new glasses".

    Based on the weight that I'm seeing now and approximating the mass of the stiffening of the main spars plus the bungee, I'm guessing the total weight of the pair will come in at or around 10 ounces! :) That includes the extra ledge behind the foot pocket which is left on here out of convenience (the stock I had was 8" wide, though the design was for a 6" deep plate). I think the ledge does add a bit of comfort putting the pressure of the up stroke more on the heel than in the arch of the foot, but I may either trim or get rid of it altogether to save another ounce off of the pair?

    These will not work very well with donut tubes as they are designed to be slipped into while fully afloat. Not durable or ergonomic enough to really waddle around shore in. Still, should be a piece of cake to get into from an open-front tube. I will say a leash or a floatie should be considered as I don't believe they'll float. I COULD build in a nice air bladder into the web? Nah...

    If you don't mind taking zipties with you and "building the fins" at the lake, these should pack up very tidy as well, though hanging them from the pack shouldn't really pose any problems. The spars can go in your rod tube, and the rest stack flat and fold up.

    I like.

    Thom Collins likes this.
  16. Oh, BTW:


    How's THAT for sticking the landing? Doubled up spars included - though I tried gluing them and they were TOO stiff. They're just layered in there now. All up, bungees and ready to test.

    JE likes this.
  17. Once again..... BRAVO!!!!
  18. I am again impressed with your development of the fins.

    Given your predilection for lightweight innovative design, I'm kinda expecting to see an ultra-light cold-fusion powered trolling motor for that tube! ;)
  19. Took the tube and fins to a Mother's Day pool party and waited for a lull in the water activity.

    Verdict? The fins work GREAT! The right amount of flex to get easy propulsion and very easy on the ankles. No feeling like the spars are overstressed or at risk of breaking. I seem to be able to get a good clip going but in a small pool it was hard to tell absolute speed.

    The bungee worked well if not a bit loose. I had a cord lock adjuster on it initially but the one I had wasn't tight enough not to slip under tension. The one thing that needs attention is the spar location fixing. I has hoping that just the tension on the zip ties wouldn't allow them to shift, but with all the flexing they did. The main spars shortened up and the cross spar that holds the mid-web at the toe wiggled free and sunk to the bottom of the pool. I had to have one of my boys dive down and retrieve it.

    I have solutions for all of these issues, but they all make it more difficult to do a field tear down off the units without snipping zip ties.

    I really would like to have an easy "inside the pack" solution but I suppose PITA is better than none, and none won't technically be the end of the world.

    I'm not giving up yet but the most important design goals (weight and effectiveness) seem to have already been met.

    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  20. Your the mad fly fishing scientist lol good job!

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