How to Use a Float Tube to Sneak Up on Trout, Pike, and Bass

A float tube or a kick boat offers great stealth advantages when you're fishing lakes for pike, bass, panfish, or trout. No motor vibration. No clunking around. And because you're sitting closer to the surface, your lower profile allows you to sneak in tight without casting shadows over the fish.

These advantages are negated, however, by too much splashing and kicking, or when your casts miss the zone because of a sloppy presentation. The trick is to plan a route of attack, move into position, and then let natural elements like currents, wind, and the sun work for you. Just like this.

#1: Wind Power: __ Let the breeze push you along as you fish.
#2 I Spy: Scout closely for fish clues, such as wakes and rise rings.
#3 Take The Lead: __Cast your fly where the fish is headed--not where you saw it cruising or eating off the surface.

Scouting Report: Watch the water and plan your path. Rings on the water mean that fish are eating bugs off the surface. Wakes indicate baitfish chases. Identify weedlines, areas with submerged structure, shallow flats, and foamlines that suggest current breaks. These spots are where the fish you can't see are often holding.
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Sneak Attack:** Figure out which way the wind is blowing. You'll want to kick into place upwind from your target zone. But don't kick into casting positions; your feet should make long, slow, quiet beats to brake your momentum, and set you up for accurate shots as you drift along.
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Bright Idea:** Consider the angle of the sun as you plan your approach. Surface eaters--especially trout--are reluctant to point and feed straight into brightness, unless strong currents are flowing from that direction. And be mindful of the shadows you create.
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Think Ahead:** In flat water, presentation really matters. Lead your fish and let the fly sit--more than you would in moving water. When you hook up, gently kick away from the feeding alley to move the fight to open water.
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Silent Retreat:** After you've drifted through a zone, if you want to hit it again, gently kick out into open water well away from your target fish before going into "motor mode." As a rule, if you're kicking like a swimmer within 30 feet of the fish you're chasing, you're ruining your odds. And do all of your digging for tackle and rerigging at a safe distance from the fish zone.
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From the August 2013 issue of Field & Stream_