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 I've thought about getting a float tube for years, but until now have been able to shake it off.

I've gotten a Cabela's Columbia float tube today. My wife thinks I need to be medicated and closely monitored. 

I need some advice on swim fins and anything else helpful Y'all can think of!

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I'm 56 and am looking forward to float tubing - don't sweat it. I know guys with 20 years on us and still doing it regularly.
It offers the perfect exercise for guys at our age, and good sport to boot.

As for fins, I've been looking myself and have taken notes. Several brands seem to be favored among the tubers out West, where the sport is really big:

1. Force Fins - great hydrodynamic theory behind them, they're expensive and have a love-hate thing going among users. To me they seem "gimmicky" - - Anytime you spend hundreds on something "revolutionary," you feel compelled to praise it. But it is the NEGATIVE comments that are enough to keep me away from them.

2. Hot Spot fins- specifically designed for tubing. They are soft and flexible, offer great propulsion and are slightly buoyant. They float, in other words, but not so much that you have to fight to keep them beneath the surface.
Unless you live in Southern California, however, you must order direct from the company... And you must contact them through email or telephone first (I've got the info if you should want it).
This gives them a "cottage industry" ambiance. But, they are well proven and I have not read anything negative about them.

3. Mares Avanti - standard scuba fins, available from any dive supply. Very rugged and used around the world, many Western tubers swear by them. A lot of bragging is done on their robust strap and buckle arrangement. They are narrow, so you don't bang them together as much while finning. Good customer support and nearly indestructible.

4. Mares Power Plana - more power oriented, they are shorter and wider than the Avantis... They'll want to bump each other from time to time. But everything else with Mares fins applies.

5. Atomic - The original split fins. They have a good reputation in the scuba world, but tubers seem to hold them in lower esteem. I think this is because they haven't made inroads into what is essentially a small cadre of users. Longer, supple and narrow, like the Avantis, both have a power stroke that I call "long reach and flowing."
If you have ankle joint problems like me, I'm thinking this type will help.

Whatever you choose, you must also decide if you will use waders, boots or nothing.Most tubers own waders to extend their season on the water, so I plan on it, too.
Most tubers use stocking foot waders, switching to no waders in warmer months. Neoprene booties are common under both schemes, from what I find, and I'm planning to use them as well. This necessitates a roomy fin that can accommodate stocking feet, with or without booties. Bottom line, were talking STRAPPED, OPEN HEEL FINS. Closed fins seem to be only rarely suggested, and reserved for the warmest waters in the warmest climates.

Having said all that, here's my short list:
Open heel, strapped, large to X large (in preferred order)
1. Hot Spots
2. Mares Avanti
3. Atomic

Leo and Jeff Soto will probably have much to add, so let's wait and see what THEY say. Jeff was bragging on a pair of fins a couple seasons back that are not on my list, as I recall, which I can't name now. So, I'll hope he chimes in. Those two are the go-to guys in my book.

 WOW! lots of good information to chew on already!

Hey, I did all the digging, may as well share it with my friends.
I'm sure there is more to know, but my head hurts now.

There are several models here at Cabela's. I'm 'a thinkin' I probably better get some neoprene waders to go along with the flippers. 

I'm getting pretty excited. Probably do a maiden voyage Sunday afternoon. 

Bump to the Top JEFF SOTO and LEO help!!

Neoprene waders are good in the cold water. Once summer hits, they will be a burden.
Make sure you get booties, though, so once you chuck the waders, your fins will still fit!

Booties?? Back to Cabela's website!

I'm in your age group too, and a great fringe benefit of tubing is it does wonders for my knees. If you have stiff knees, you're going to love the float tube!

David has a lot of great info, so +1 to all of that, including about the waders. In spring/summer/early fall, I can be out all day in lightweight breathable waders and not feel cold at all, even in my old and somewhat leaky ones lol. Neoprene would be like a sauna in those conditions, I'm sure.

The setup I've been using is Creek Company lightweight strap-on fins over wading boots. The work, but the downside is the blades are kind of small, so propulsion isn't the great. The upside is that the step-in, strap-on design lets them fit over big wading boots, something most fins can't do. I'm planning to get a new tube this year, or maybe a pontoon, so will be looking at David's info closely myself. Hot Spot fins are a brand I was unaware of, will check them out for sure. Since I do live in SoCal, so maybe I can even get to see some in person.

If you use wading boots + waders, you'll find that your feet tend to be buoyant; if I just stop kicking and stretch my legs out, they'll float up enough that the fins break the surface; nice and restful.

Somebody also makes fins that are hinged so that you can fold the blades up for walking. Don't know how well they perform in the water, but it would sure make things easier on land, I guess.

Welcome to the tubing world!

Jonathan

Thanks! This is something I've considered for years. It's going to be an awesome adventure.

Thank you, Jonathan!

"If you have stiff knees, you're going to love the float tube!"

My sentiments exactly!

"In spring/summer/early fall, I can be out all day in lightweight breathable waders and not feel cold at all, even in my old and somewhat leaky ones lol. Neoprene would be like a sauna in those conditions, I'm sure."

I don't intend to tube or toon in the dead of winter, either. I'm going with Frogg Toggs "Hellbender" breathable waders, an editors top pick in the under $150 class. Here in SC, our season goes from March-November. 9 months of tube and toonin is enough adventure for me.

"Hot Spot fins are a brand I was unaware of, will check them out for sure. Since I do live in SoCal, so maybe I can even get to see some in person."


The Hot Spots are retailed through the 15 or so Turners outlets, there in the Southland. I have to order them direct from the company, as they are NOT sold in SC.

I don't really like the compromise of boots and folding fins, etc. I get why people do it - because they have to trek to get to the wafer. Or the bottom is rocky - or both. But most owners I've noted abandon the folding boot fins, because they are gimmicky and inefficient.
My terrain is soft and woodsy. My bottoms are mucky and soft. I rarely, if ever, make long treks to reach water. My plan is to attach some indoor/outdoor carpet to my bootie bottoms and have wading walkies.

Should I want to make longer hikes, or noodle around the shore for extended periods, I have dedicated water shoes that fit in my kit with no worries.
For fins, I'm favoring a fin and bootie set up, on the premise of "the right tool for the job." If I want to walk, I'll don walkers. When I want to tube, its propulsion over compromise.

Each if us has to make these decisions. I don't have a local tubing fraternity with gear to test and try out; I gotta make calculated decisions and adapt. Being averse to reinventing the wheel, Im basing my choices on what I see the largest percentage of successful tubers already doing.

Thanks, I went with these and am very pleased!

http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=709457&des...;

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