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43 pages
127 Pictures

3-28-11

By TubeDude
I have been adding various contrivances to my float tubes since about the mid 1970s.
My most frequent and common add-ons have been rod holdersfirst for the single rods with
which I began tube fishingand ultimately progressing to fancy multi-tube modular rod racks.
My first rod tubes were pieces of metal or plastic plumbing pipe I bought at the local
hardware store or building supply outlet. I found some short sections of drain pipe with flanged
ends that were just about right to hold a rod handle. I attached them to my tubes by tying them
down with ropeor plastic clothesline cord.
One of my first manufactured float tubes.
It is a Fishmaster, made in Oklahoma.
Very bare bones with no D rings. I had to
lash on the piece of plumbing pipe on the
front to serve as a utility rod holder for the
one and only rod I took out on most of my
early tubing trips.

I also dissected a few commercially available aluminum rod holders to appropriate the
rod tubes for my float tubes. They also worked fine, when lashed down firmly before completely
airing up my tube. The added friction when I topped off the air chamber helped keep them from
rotating and dumping my rods in the drink.
There are two rod tubes lashed onto this float
tube. The white plumbing pipe at the front, as
a utility rod holderfor the rod I am using at
the timeand the red-lipped aluminum rod
holder at the left rear. It was disconnected
from a commercial stick-in-the-ground rod
holder and was used to hold a spare rod.

Another early picture showing the introduction


of the outward-slanted Fishmaster rod holder on
the left front of my tube. It didnt hold spinning
rods very well and almost put a couple over the
side. But, it did serve well as a hook upon which
to hang my metal fish basketas long as I had it
cinched down tightly enough and it did not
rotate forward.

Sometime in the mid 70s the Fishmaster Companyone of the first commercial float
tube manufacturersbegan selling strap on rod holders for float tubes. They were actually
designed to hold the large pistol grip handles on the bait casting rods of that day. So they were
both too short and too spacious for the average spinning rod handle and my rods wobbled around
in them precariously. I nearly lost more than one rod while using them.

Heres a better picture of the strap-on


rod holder. However it has been
moved to the back corner on this tube.

At first, I strapped those commercial models to the left side of my round tubesjust in
front of the left pocket. That kept the extra rod out of the way while casting with my right arm.
And, as in one of the pictures on the previous page, It served as a hanger for my fish basket. But,
because it became more of a nuisance than an aid I relocated it back behind the front pocket on
later modelsas in the above pic.
As always, the critical thing was to cinch it on before airing up the tube completely, so
that it would hold firmly and not slide around on the tube. I also began using a short stretchy
tether cord to keep the rod and reel from slipping out of the rod holder.
As my rod collection grew, I worked on new ways to carry more rods out with me on the
float tube. Initially, I just added one or two more single rod tubeseither plumbing pipes or
metal rod holder tubes from other sources. They were individually secured to the side of my
tubes with rope or plastic cord.
After buying a stick of 1 PVC pipe, to make my own rod tubes, I had the blinding
revelation that I could actually use standard PVC fittings to create multi-tube rod racks. I started
right out with a 3-tube modelshaped like a W. It lashed down on my tube firmly and held the
rods nicely. I still had not advanced to grinding out notches at the top for the reels to nest in.

Heres my old 3-tube W rod holder.


It was made of heavy schedule 40 PVC
in 1 sizeas was the single tube
utility rod holder on the front.

The lash-down PVC rod tubes worked well for a few years. But then I formulated plans
for my first modular rod rack system. It consisted of a rectangular wood frame that was more
or less permanently lasted to the float tube. It was designed to allow another wooden frame, with
the rod tubes attachedto slide down inside with a close and secure fit.
This modular system accomplished several things for me. First, it brought my rods and
reels up higher off the water. And that was important because I sometimes tubed the salt waters
of the Sea of Cortez. There was never much of a surf condition, but always the potential during
launching and beaching for getting salt water and sand in my reels. Not a good lubricant.
The modular setup was also quick and easy to install and take downfor launching and
beaching. I could even carry my rods pre-rigged and then just slide them down into the frame
when I launched. That was better than having to tie the ropes on the PVC W every trip.
This wooden frame model also allowed me to add a fourth rod tubeand to attach a
couple of broom handle clips to hold the PVC shaft for my sonar transducer. It was a bit
heavier and more cumbersome overall, but vastly more efficient. The positives far outweighed
the negatives.
My first modular rod rack, designed
during the years when I was still fishing
from a round tube. The wooden frame is
lashed to the tube with white plastic
clothesline cord and the wooden and
PVC rod rack slips down inside to lodge
firmly during use. Note the inclusion of
the sonar transducer shaft.

Here is the modular system all fitted


together and ready for some fishing. This
system was efficient and effective but it
was heavy and bulky.

At some point I decided that I wanted a simpler and lighter 4 tube rod rack. So I did
away with the lash-down frame and simply installed the PVC rod tubes on a similar frame.

The next step was to reduce the


weight and bulk somewhat by doing
away with the lash-on frame and
strapping on the wood and PVC rod
rack. Again, it worked fine but was
still a bit weighty and cumbersome.

This led to reducing the weight even more by using only the two lateral wood slats.

This model had less wood and was quite


a bit lighter. The PVC tubes were
screwed to the lateral wooden slats
through the larger access holes drilled
into the heavy 1 schedule 40 PVC.
The framework was then tied to the two
D rings at the bottom of the pocket.

And also to the design for an even lighter rod rack made from a single horizontal wood
slat with the rod tubes secured with metal pipe clamps.

A still lighter wood and PVC rod rack.


There was only one lateral wood slat and
the PVC pipe was secured with metal
hanger clamps. One of the first racks to
incorporate the use of class 200 PVC
pipe. The thinner walled 1 class 200
pipe can be used with the clamps,
whereas the heavier schedule 40 in 1
cannot.

And, for short trips with a limited need for extra rods I also fabbed a 3-tube rod rack
using the same single strip of wood and the metal clamps.

The epitome of simplicity and lightness.


This is a 3-tube rod rack I put together
for quick trip when there was little need
for a lot of rods. It uses the same one slat
and clamp design as the 4 tube model
preceding it. It also uses the lighter class
200 PVC pipe and is secured with yellow
nylon rope through the D rings and
fastened with a clip and ring.

In the early 1990s I graduated from round tubes to open-fronted craft. The first tube I
owned that was not round was a Kennebeca kind of mini-pontoon with an air chamber on each
side and an inflatable backrest in the middle. It also had a front stabilizer bar. Although it
proved to be tough to navigate in any kind of breezy condition, the flat sided shape allowed for
more creative rod holder designs. It also had more D rings.

My former Kennebeca mini-pontoon


that was better than a round tube but
had some handling problems in wind
and waves. However, it had flat sides
and plenty of D rings for mounting rod
racks and other goodies.

While I truly enjoyed the greater ease of launching and beaching with the open front
design of the Kennebec, I never did like the handling properties. Thus, when I had the chance to
acquire an Outcast Super Fat Catwith the pointed nose/sternI jumped all over it. I have
been a Fat Cat man in the years since thenin spite of trying multiple other makes and models.
It was in the early years of my Fat Cat days that I really began to delve deep into the
mystical world of PVC-ology. My wood frame rod rack creations transferred well to my new
ride, but I began to lust after more exotic modelsconstructed entirely of PVC. I hung out a lot
at Home Depot and spent a lot of money on PVC pipe and fittingsand sniffed a lot of PVC
cement. That stuff must contain some powerful hallucinogenic properties.

The purpose of this write-up is not to provide complete diagrams and instructions on how
to fabricate each of the many different designs and innovations in float tube and pontoon rod
racks. It is merely to show pictorially the evolutionary process in creating rod holdersfrom a
variety of materialsand for a variety of applications.
There will be a couple of sections at the end that will show greater details on the cutting,
fitting and attaching of rod tubes. However, I have also put together a much longer separate on
WORKING WITH PVC. It goes into greater detail on PVC components and how to cut, shape
and attach them.
The remainder of this work will be broken down into arbitrary sections that more or less
go together.

COMMERCIAL HOLDERS:
There have been single and multi-rod holders available to the boating contingent for
many years. And most of their stuff can be successfully mounted and used on tubes and toons.
However, there are some basic design factors that make it more desirable and efficient to use
PVC rod racks that you specifically create for your craft, your rods and your way of fishing.
Almost any boat dealeror purveyor of
boating accessorieshas plastic rod holders
for sale. The good news is that they can be
successfully deployed on float tubes and
pontoons. The bad news is that they are not
as good as some you can make yourself.

Commercial rod racks made for boating


applications are sturdy and efficient.
However, their tubes are generally too
big for the average fresh water rod
handle and the front reel grooves are a
bit too deep for float tube mounts.

I bought and tried several boating rod racks


on my float tubes. I had to make some
modifications to get them to work okay. In
addition to using duct tape to shorten the reel
handle groove, I also unscrewed the tubes,
drilled new access holes and raised them up
higher to keep the reels out of water.

A commercial rod rack mounted on a


Fat Cat. Even with the modifications
the reels still rode lower toward the
water than I prefer. It worked, but
not as well as custom made.

This is a good illustration of how low


your reels ride in a commercial rod
rack made for boatswhen attached to
your tube the best way possibleand
without any modification.

UTILITY HOLDERS:
As mentioned in the introductory paragraphs, some of my earliest rod holders were single
tubes lashed down to hold one rod at a time. In those days I did not have as much tackle and the
laws were that I could only use one rod at a time anyway. No two-rod permits.
Over the years I acquired more rods and reels, made multi-tube rod racks and learned a
lot more about working with PVC. I also realized that no matter how many tubes there were in
my off side rod rack I still needed a single rod tube on my casting sideto hold my rod while I
re-rigged, baited hooks or handled freshly landed fish. Thus the ongoing quest for the perfect
utility rod holder on my right sidewith the extra rods in the rack to my left.
I cannot begin to remember all of the experiments I have made to find an ideal utility rod
holder. Im including a few pictures here, but I tried and discarded many others without ever
taking a picture for posterity. Sorry about that.
Now we are getting into utility rod holders,
like the one at the far right of this picture. It is
designed to hold the rod you are actively using
while you handle fish, re-bait or rig tackle.
These extra hands increase your overall
efficiency and also help reduce the loss of rods
and reels over the side by laying them down.

Early rod tubes served both as spare


rod holders and places to prop your
active rod while not in use. When you
only have one rod it is a luxury to have
two rod holders.

A good example of one of the primary


benefits of having a utility rod holder.
Handling catfish can be tricky and
dangerous. Being able put your rod in
a holder and use both hands on the
fish will help prevent holes in both you
and your float tube.

When I designed my first modular rod


rackon the opposite side of this float
tubeI also designed a modular utility
rod tube. It is also a PVC tube attached
to a piece of wood and slides down inside
the wooden frame. Cumbersome but
effective. And it did keep the rod and reel
well up above the water.

Before I developed my PVC skills enough


to create fancier stuff I continued to use
the same old design that had served me
since the round tube days. For this utility
rod holder I just lashed on a piece of PVC
pipe with yellow nylon rope.

Same thingbut with


blue parachute cord.

This utility rackwith utility rod holderwas


a natural adaptation of the early multiple tube
PVC rod racks I had been using.

This is a combo utility rod holder and bait


rigger setupinstalled on a round float tube. It
uses the same interior wood block mounting
base as most of my more recent Fat Cat
installations. Note the heads of the long sheet
rock screws that secure the PVC assembly to
the wood block inside the pocket. The short
piece of PVC coming out at a right angle is
a stabilizer barto reduce forward rotation.

A similar installation
on the right front of a
Fat Cat.

10

One of my more recent utility


rack installationswith a utility
rod holder on the front. With
this modular design the
individual tubes slip on and off
easily and can rotate forward or
backward for simple adjustments
in position.

MULTI-TUBE RACKS:
I have already shown pics of some of the early 3 and 4 tube rod racks I installed on my
tubes. Here are some moreboth of my own creation and a few that other tubers and tooners
have devised by themselvesusually based upon my earlier designs.
We will start with a couple of 2-tube models. These were both crafted by other tubers. I
made and used 2-tube racks only briefly in my early tubing careeraccelerating quickly through
3 tubes and on to 4 tubes. Although it is possible to create a rack to carry as many rods as you
want, it begins to approach overkill after about 4 or 5 rods per trip.
This 2-tube rod rack was fashioned
by a fellow tuber who did not have a
large arsenal of rods. He did not
need more than a couple of holders.

An interesting combo
contrivance. It combines rod
holders with bait rigger and
transducer mount. Not my
design, by the way.

11

A 3-tube rod rack made entirely of 1


class 200 PVC. This model was actually
a downsize adaptation of the standard
4-tube models I had been making for
years. It was installed on a round
tubeusing the yellow rope loops
attached to D rings below the pocket.
Note that one of the rod tubes has a deep
groove so that it will hold a fly rod.

A combo 3-tube rod rack and mount


for a sonar transducer. It also has the
long-grooved tube for a fly rod. The
assembly is attached with the yellow
nylon rope loops at the topand is
secured on the bottom with stretch
cord and clips that attach to D rings
on the bottom of the tube.

Another 3-tube combo rack. This one


includes mounts for the sonar display on
one end and the transducer on the other
end. Note the mountingsnap clips on
D rings at the top and a stabilizer shaft
on the bottom. Cool design. Wish I
could take the credit for it.

Another tubers
simple but effective
3 tube rod rack.

12

This 4-tube rod rack was a take-off


on earlier models that used a single
wood slat for the frame. On this
one the base is white plastic
molding. As with the wood and
PVC models the rod tubes are
secured with metal hanger straps.

This weird-looking setup was an attempt


to eliminate the rope and clip mounting
system I had been using. It was actually
a modular system. The base was
made from heat-bent light PVC pipe and
slipped down through the D rings. The
top partwith the rod tubessnapped
down on the PVC fittings spaced to
receive them.

Another grotesque experiment in PVC


construction. This 4-tube lash-on rod
rack was made from the heavy 1
schedule 40 PVC pipe that I used before
discovering the lighter class 200 1 pipe
for rod tubes. I Swiss-cheesed the
rack after it was glued together in an
effort to reduce the weightholes both
front and back. Didnt significantly
reduce the weight but made a great flute
when the wind blew.

13

Another 4-tube rod rack made with


lightweight class 200 PVC 1 pipe. This was
an attempt to create a design that would
attach and detach quickly and easilyand
would automatically ride with just the right
outward slant of the rods. The extension of
PVC at the rear accomplished that, when
balanced against the extended tubes and held
in place with the nylon rope loops and the
stretch cord at the bottom.

This is the basic 4-tube that has become the


most commonly used by new tubers who are
still learning PVCology as well as tubism.
It requires only about 5 feet of class 200 1
PVC pipe and 4 fittingsand of course
some PVC cement. It attaches and removes
easily and holds 4 rods securelyand at
the right angle once you have everything
properly adjusted.

Another form of the classic 4-tube rack.


Because only two lower tubes are
necessary to secure the rack to the nylon
rope loops you can eliminate the bottom
extensions on two of the rod tubes. This
one was painted red with Rustoleum
plastic paint.
Here is the same abbreviated 4-tube
rackin green. A close-up of the yellow
nylon rope loops will be included in the
last few pics of the last pages.

14

TubeBabe likes pink and purple so she


got her 4-tube rack in lavender with
silver sparkles. Doesnt help her
catch any more fish but she has
something purty to look at while
waiting for action.

This is a combo 5 tube rack put together


by a salt water tuberfor bigger rods.
The slanted tube on the outside serves
both as a utility rod holder and as a bait
rigger tube for dragging bait.

This is a multi-tube combo rack installed on a


comparatively small Fish Cat 4. While all of the
rods and reels seemingly fit okay, the close
proximity creates problems in getting them in
and out easily without dropping one over the
side accidently.

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MODULAR RACKS:
I chose the term modular to apply to any rod rack more than just a simple multi-tube
setup. In some cases the system will include connections for sonar display and/or transducer
mount. Most modular systems have permanent attachment components or are large one-piece
assemblies that fit down over the tube and are then secured in place. No real definitive terms.
My earliest modular rod rack was the aforementioned wood frame setup on one of my old
round tubes. Since then I have tried several others. I currently fish with a modular system that
features an exterior PVC anchor screwed into a wooden frame inside the tube pockets. I will be
showing more descriptive pictures of that toward the end of this write-up. Lets start with some
pics of what a few other tubers have come up with.
This combo modular rack is nicely
designed and well built. Good
engineering incorporating the sonar
mount and including easy snap
attachment system.

A similar setup but utilizing a cross


bar across the backto the utility
rack on the other side. A larger
modular system but very stable and
effective.

Here is a picture of the basic modular


frame from the previous picture.

16

This is the mounted base for a


4-tube snap-on rod rack. It
is screwed to an interior wood
frame and provides PVC
tubes over which the fittings
on the rod tube portion fit
down upon installation.

The two parts of the snap-on


system. The top part simply
fits down over the PVC tubes
spaced appropriately at the
bottom for a secure fit.

Here is the mounted rod rack. It is


light and compact and remains tight
while in use. But it is easily wiggled
free when it is time to leave.

The snap-on modular system with


4 rods and reelsready to rumble.

17

These are the component parts of my


ultimate 4-tube modular rod rack.
Each of the 4 rod tube assemblies is
attached individually and rotates
freely upon the unglued connection.

When the individual rod tubes are


attached to the base they can
rotate left or rightto make minor
position adjustments while in
useor to fold down for compact
storage during moves.

The completed rack, mounted on my


tube by running long sheet rock screws
through the base and into an interior
wooden frame. (pictures at the end)

4-tube modular rod racklocked and


loaded. Again, each rod tube attaches
separately and can be independently
rotated left or right as desired.

18

HORIZONTAL & SLANT RACKS:


After a lot of experimenting with various rod rack designsmostly with vertical tubesI
got the idea for trying to carry the extra rods at a lower angleto reduce problems with casting
and hook-setting sometimes experienced with the vertical rod holders. I immediately discarded
the idea of merely lowering the angle of the vertical racks I was then usingallowing the rod
tips to point outward. That created more problems than it solvedfrom the standpoint of
balance and profile.
My next through was to build a horizontal PVC shelf, upon which to lie the rods at the
side of my tubefront to back. That design worked, but I soon discovered that the platform had
to be higher in order to keep the reels from dunking into the water. But raising the frame too
high made it less handy to select or exchange rods and took too much engineering.
A third alternative was to create an angled frame that would slant up and out from the
tubeat a convenient height for the angler to see and select rodsbut high enough to keep the
reels out of the water during high speed maneuvers (Ha!) or while taking incoming waves from
wind or boats. I came up with a couple of designs. Both worked well. The downside was that
when the rods are pointing back behind you there is a greater potential for hanging them up on
brush or trees. It also creates the hazard to rods during the launching and beaching process,
while close to hostile shoreline.
This is a horizontal rod holder I created
to allow my rods to remain low and out
of danger to wild hook setting or sloppy
casting. My main goal was to be able to
fish both spinning and fly fishing without
having problems of fly line wrapping
around my racked spinning rods. It
worked but sometimes allowed the low
hanging reels to get dunked.

This upward slanted version solved the


reel-dunking problem but still didnt
address the potential for having rod tips
catching in brush or breaking on hostile
shoreline during launching or beaching.
Still, this has proven to be a popular idea
for anglers who fish with multiple fly rod
setups. It definitely reduces the problem
of line tangling around the other rods
during castingespecially in the wind.

19

This picture shows the slanted rod


rack in use. It worked great on open
water but required that you gather
and hold your rods during launching
and beachingespecially on hostile
shoreline like this Arizona lake.

Here is a copycat installation of the


slanted rod rack. The tuber who
liked my idea was primarily a fly
fisherman and appreciated being
able to have multiple outfits easy to
access as needed.

This horizontal rack worked fine, in


principle. But, as might be expected, it
rode very low and allowed the reels to
drag in the water. However, if it had
been converted to an upward slanted
model it would have probably worked
much better

Here is a creative slanted rod rack,


designed for fly rodswith long grooves
in the tubes. There is a picture of the
plain white PVC assembly, before
painting, at the bottom of page 21.

20

FLYROD HOLDERS:
Float tubes were originally developed largely for the fly fishing contingent. Since the
early days of tubing and tooning there have been a lot more accessories designed and sold for
this group than for those who prefer spinning or bait casting. This is especially true of rod
holders. Many float tube models include fabric fly rod holders or Velcro strips placed to hold fly
rods across the tube. And at least a couple of aftermarket manufacturers sell add-on fly rod
holders that snap or strap onto tubes or toons.
A lot of tubers who fish mainly with spinning gear also enjoy taking one or more fly rods
on their tube. If they make their own PVC rod racks they can easily adapt a spinning rod tube to
hold a fly rodby cutting a long groove down one side. This allows you to push the end of the
fly rodand reeldown far enough inside the rod tube so that it rides safely and securely.
The Scotty fly rod holders are popular
with the fairy wand contingent. They
are compact but very secureand easy
to get rods in and out of. This one was
mounted on a piece of carpeted wood
and snapped to D rings.

Another commercially available add-on


rod holder. Called the Float N Tote.
As can be seen in the picture, it attaches
by strap and buckle. It is a good idea to
attach it and cinch it down tight before
completing the airing up process. That
adds more pressure to keep the strap
from rotating around on the tube.

21

A couple of my early rod tube


modifications to allow inserting and
carrying fly rods in my 4-tube rod rack.
The tubes are heavy 1 schedule 40
PVC. One has been grooved to hold
the fly rod. The short tube on the
ground is an insert, with screws in the
sides, to create an add-on that slips
down inside the bigger tube and lodges
in place. See the next picture.

Here are three different fly rods being


carried in 3 different rod tubes. The one
closest is slipped down into the special
groove in the main tube. The middle one
is fitted into a tube insertinside the
main tube. The far rod has an elongated
fighting butt and holds well inside an
unmodified tube normally used for
spinning or baitcast rods.

This is the unpainted and unmounted


version of the slanted fly rod holder
pictured back on page 19. Again, the
slotted tubes allow you to carry fly
rods and reels inside the tubes securely
and safely. However, many tubers add
Velcro or bungee cords to wrap around
the tops to secure the rods inside.

22

A 3-tube combo rod and net holder


devised by a tooner in the Netherlands.
The tubes are screwed into a wood
block, mounted on the toon frame with
nuts and bolts. See following pic.

This is a close-up of the combo holder in the


previous pictureshowing the construction
and attachment. Note the Velcro strips on
the fly rod tubes to help hold the rods more
securely.

Another example of a slotted PVC tube and


the use of a Velcro strip to cinch the rod
firmly in place.

23

Here is an engineered fly rod


rack that attaches to the side of
the tube and allows the rods to
slant slightly outward. Note the
use of small bungee cords to
secure the rods in place.

BAIT RIGGERS:
Once it became legal to fish with two rods, I began looking for a way to drag bait around
on one rod while casting lures with the other. On some occasions I wanted to fish two baits at a
timewithout having to hold both rods in my hands. Having been exposed to the concept of
using outriggerson boatsit was a short leap of imagination to create something similar for a
float tube. Simple conceptbut it took a lot of trial and error to get it at least almost right.
Some of my earliest bait rigger designs were plain tubes. They held the rods up and out
from the tube but I had to constantly be alert for bitesboth to set the hook and to insure that a
big fish did not either break the line or steal a rod. Now I set up all of my bait riggers with a line
clip. I leave the bail on my spinning reels openand the spool release on my bait casters. Then
when a fish hits, it pulls the line out of the clip and can swim off with the bait while I put up my
other rod and get ready to do battle.
Actually, I still use bait riggers with the bail closed sometimes. If I am dragging jigs or
flies behind my tube, I leave the bail closed so that when a fish hits there is enough resistance to
help start the hook set. In many cases the fish hits hard enough to hook themselves.
The majority of the time I use them for slowly dragging a dead minnow or a piece of cut
bait out behind my tube while I actively cast some kind of lures with my second rod setup. I
always buy a second rod permit and it really adds to my success and enjoyment on most trips.
There is a special kind of thrill when a big catfish, wiper or walleye picks up the bait, pops the
line free of the clip and begins pulling line off the reel. You never know what is going to be on
the other end when you close the bail and set the hook.
Setting up and adjusting the bait riggers properly is a big part of the enjoyment and
effectiveness. They should be at an angle outward from the tube and elevated a bit above
horizontal. This helps increase the friction of the rod handle inside the rod tubereducing the
potential for a fish stealing your rod. Having the rods elevated too high makes it more difficult
to watch the tips. And having them too low and close together increases tangles.

24

Heres a picture of TubeBabe using both bait riggers at one time. We often drag two
different baits while prospecting for fish when they are not active and fishing with
lures is not effective. The bait riggers allow hands-free and relaxed fishing.

This is a side view of my Fat


Catall tricked out. Note the
bait riggers on the fronton
both sides. They can be used
for dragging bait, with the bail
open and line under a clipor
with the bail closed when
fishing small jigs for perch or
other smaller species.

Here is a picture showing a


two rigger setupwith rods in
both holders. This is about the
right angle for both upward
and outward angle when using
the bait riggers. Too low and
you risk having rods pulled out
of the tubes. Too high and they
are hard to watch. Too close
together and you get tangles.

25

A front view of a dual rigger setup.


This model has the tubes rising
close to the seated angler and uses
the extended stabilizer along the top
of the air chamber. These absorb
the weight of a heavier rod and also
the downward pull of fish.

A close-up view of a bait rigger setup


on the right front of a float tube. The
fittings are properly positioned during
mounting to have the rod pointing in
the right direction after the angler sits
in the tube and the riggers are in use.
It sometimes requires some minor
adjustments after installation to get the
rods positioned just the way you like
them while fishing. Note the black
plastic line clipsecured with white
electricians tape.

This is the same rigger with a spinning


rod inserted. The bail is left opento
the rightand a loop of line is brought
back and slipped under the plastic clip.
When a fish takes the bait, the line pops
free and the fish can take line from the
reel freely. When you think the fish has
the bait good enough you remove the rod
from the rigger, close the bail on the
reel, allow the fish to pull the line tight
and then set the hook.

26

This is one of the first bait rigger


setups I fashioned from PVC. It
comes up out of one of the side
pockets on my float tubewhere it is
attached to a horizontal piece of the
same pipe inside the pocket. It was a
big step up from just propping a rod
in a vertical rod tube and hoping I
could grab it in time to set a hook
when I got a bite.

Here is a more advanced edition of


a bait rigger and stabilizer setup. It
is secured to a wooden block inside
the tube pocket with long sheet rock
screws. It was very strong and
stableand easily adjustable.

This is a shorty tube model. Most


of the rods I build for float tube
fishing have short handles so it is
usually not necessary to have long rod
tubes on either rod racks or bait
riggers. The open-ended T fitting
allows the end of the rod to extend out
the back so this holder could be used
with any sized rod handle.

27

This close-up shows the older


design bait riggerwith the
riser coming up from the inside
corner of the pocket. This
setup brought the rod tube in
closer to the angler but also got
in the way at times. Note the
stabilizer bar running down the
top center.

A later versionwith the riser


for the rigger relocated to the
center of the stabilizer bar. This
moves the rigger slightly further
from the angler but is still
within easy reachand is much
less likely to create problems
with catching on clothes, apron
or other things.

A still more recent development


is replacing the stabilizer bar
with a front deck. This
makes a much more stable base
for the rigger and for the apron
catch too. The rigger assembly
is removed when not in use and
fits down into a T which has a
screw inside into which the
slotted bottom of the riser fits.
That insures a tight fit and no
turning from the desired setting.

28

This is the combo utility holder and


bait rigger pictured earlier. It was
installed on a float tubewith screws
run through the base and into an
interior wooden block.

This is a bait rigger setup fashioned as


an extension off from a strap-on utility
rack. The tubes fit inside nylon rope
loops and everything is stabilized with
bungee cords running around the tube
or attached to bottom D rings.

This is a simple frame strap-on bait


rigger setup. It is designed for quick
attachment and removal for times you
want a rigger but may not want it
permanently set up on your tube. Also
works well on borrowed or rented
tubesor even on boats.

29

Here is a bait rigger mounted


on the frame of a pontoon. All
pontoons have different frame
configurations and require
creativity to figure out how to
attach PVC goodies without
interfering with rowing or
other functions. This one was
attached on a transverse part
of the framewith a riser.

Another pontoon frame mount of a


bait rigger setup. This one
attaches to a vertical part of the
frameto achieve the right
outward angleand the vertical is
adjusted by the PVC fittings. The
design allows unhampered use of
the oars.

Still another frame mounted


bait rigger setup on a
pontoon. This one is attached
to an outside piece of the
frame but could have been
just as easily attached to the
crosspiece next to it.

30

There are a lot of different ways you


can rig something to hold a loop of
line on your bait rigger. Ideally, it
will hold the line firmly enough so
that it does not pop free at the
slightest pullbut will release when
a fish does tug at it, without feeling
too much pressure. This band of
surgical tubing worked well but
tended to degrade quickly.

This line clip employs a large paper


clip to hold the line on the rigger.
The tension can be adjusted by the
strength of the rubber bands and how
far down you push the clip under
themand how far you bring the loop
of line. The main problem here was
that rubber turns brittle after
prolonged exposure to the sun and
needs to be replaced often. Later
versions had tape holding the clip.

Another office product employed as


a line clip. It workedbut no better
than a plain paper clipand it was
easily bumped or tangled.

31

To make the removable riser part of


a bait rigger, begin by attaching a
1 to reducing T to a 3 piece of
schedule 40 PVC pipe. Then
break about 3 off the end of a
plastic fork or spoon. Have plastic
tape ready for the attachment.

White electricians tape has been


used to wrap the rear 1 or so of
the plastic utensil. Any color will
work but white blends in with the
PVC better. The longer you leave
the exposed plastic the looser the
hold on the line while fishing. If it
is too tight and the loop of line does
not slip out easily enough you can
slit the tape back a bit at a time
until you get the right tension.

Here is the completed


riggerrigged and readywith a
loop of line tucked back under the
plastic clip. The whole system
works best when the line is brought
back on the right side of the
rodwhere the open bail rests.
That reduces the chance of the
loose line coils catching on the
reel handle and spooking the fish
before it has the bait well and you
can set the hook.

32

This is an experimental model of


a quick-draw bait rigger. It
was designed for fishing with the
bail closedwhile dragging jigs
or flies behind the tubeand for
grabbing the rod and making
quick hooksets upon the strike.
This model had a flanged front
post. It was quick and easy to
prop up the rod but the line
sometimes got tangled around
that postso I changed it to the
one below.

The quick-draw bait rigger with


a simpler and more streamlined
front post. It requires more
attention to set the rod in the slot
but is easier to remove quickly
for hook setting without getting
line tangled around that post.

Quick-draw bait riggers on both


left and right of my tube. This
setup works wonderfully for
bottom bouncing for perch and
walleye, or for slow trolling with
bubble and fly rigs. But it is
more time consuming to set up
and take down and is a lot of
extra PVC on the front end.

33

PONTOON MOUNTS:
Most of the pictures and rhetoric up to this point have been related to float tubes. But, I
have owned pontoons and have also helped quite a few other tooners get their rides properly
pimpedwith rod holders, tool racks, sonar, etc. So I thought it might be appropriate to devote
some paragraphs and pictures to the pontoon side of PVC construction.
The first and most obvious difference between float tubes and pontoons is that toons have
metal frames. However, the frames are vastly different in shapes, sizes and quality. Some
frames are heavy steel tubing. Others are aluminum. And some are of much better quality both
in terms of metal thickness and in the welds and connections.
When you decide to decorate your toon with PVC goodies, you have a few factors to
consider. First are the oars. Whatever you add to your toon must be positioned so that it does
not interfere with rowingor set up so that it can be folded down or removed when necessary.
Second is the method of attachment. If you are hesitant to drill holes in your frame, you
will need to use clamps, zip ties, straps or something else to mount the add-ons to your frame.
But, drilling and screwing rod tubes and tool racks to your frame will usually not weaken the
frame to any extenteven though it may compromise your warranty. And if you drill into a
steel frame you should always seal the connections with silicone or some other agent to keep out
moisture and prevent rusting.
Another big difference between tubes and toons is the greater difference in reach
necessary to access your add-ons from a pontoon. While fishing from a float tube, everything is
usually up close and convenient. The larger size and higher seating of a pontoon require more
reaching and stretching to get to some of the goodies you mount on it.

Here is an example of a fully pimped pontoonwith PVC attachments to


the metal frame. It includes a 4-tube modular rod rack, utility rack with net
holder, utility rod holder, twin bait riggers and mountings for the sonar
display and transducer arm.

34

This is a 4-tube modular rod rack


installed on a pontoonusing the
metal frame to attach PVC fittings
as a base for the individually
removable rod tubes. The rod tube
assemblies snap on to the base
fittings and are not cemented or
screwed in place. They rotate
freelyin or out or sideways. They
can be installed, removed or
adjusted for position as desired.

This is a well-engineered multi-tube


rod rack mounted on the left rear of
a bassers pontoon. It combines the
use of a clamp connection on the
metal frame with a PVC support
assembly to insure stabilitywhile
remaining completely out of the
way of the oars.

Another well-engineered pontoon rod


rack. This one is very simple but
effectivecombining clamp mounts on
the metal frame with a straight run of
PVC pipe and fittings. The main
drawback with a rear-mounted rod
rack is that it requires more twisting
and reaching to access the rods,
especially without a rotating seat.

35

Another rear-mounted
pontoon rod rack.

Here is another frame-mounted


modular rod rack systemincluding
a bait rigger at the front.

Still another modular and removable


rod holder system attached directly to
the metal frame. This mounting was at
the left rear of the craft where it could
be easily reached but would be mostly
out of the way while fly casting. Note
the long-slotted rod tube designed for
holding the fly rod when not in use.

36

This is a rotary rod rack system I made


for one of the pontoons I have owned.
It holds 4 rods in a setup that sits on a
bolt run up through the metal deck. It
rotates easily for access to whichever
rod the angler wants. The rod tubes
are not cemented into the fittings at the
bottom so they can be removed and
packed away during transport.

Another tooners concept of a


circular rod rack. This one attaches
to the diamond metal plate behind
the seat. It does not rotate but is
only slightly behind and to the left of
the seat so the rods are visible and
accessible without a lot of turning.
It is also positioned well enough to
not be a hazard to rowing.

Quick and easy rod tubes clamped


onto the metal frame directly
behind the tooner.

37

CONSTRUCTION, MOUNTING & ATTACHMENT:


Here are a few pictures and general suggestions for creating and hooking up your PVC
projects to your tube or toon. I have also put together a separate 14 page write-up on
WORKING WITH PVC. It presents a lot more detail on component parts, cutting, shaping,
cementing, screwing and bolting, etc.

There is a separate multi-page write-up


on working with PVC to create various
add-ons and accessories for float tubes
and pontoons. This brief treatment will
show only a few of the unique aspects of
PVCology. But, it all starts with having
some PVC pipe, some fittings, some PVC
cement and a few tools. Pictured here
are the clear PVC (in the gold can), a
hacksaw and a rotary tool (Dremel). You
dont need much more for basic PVC
construction.

The rotary tool is helpful in cutting


grooves in the tops of rod tubes.
These grooves give the reels a place
to rest and keep them from rotating
around and tangling with the other
reels in your rod rack.

38

If you want to make any of the front


mounted or modular setups you will
need to install a 2X2 wood block in
the front of your pocket(s). Cut the
block to fit and use sheetrock screws to
anchor it on each sideas below.

Run two or three long screws into the ends


of the wood blockthrough the outside of
the pocket cover. Use washers to prevent
the screws from tearing loose easily.

The red lines indicate where you


put screws to first install the
wooden block and then to anchor
the rod tubes or bait rigger setups.

This is a parts and components layout


showing the interior wooden frame and
the exterior PVC mounts. It is critical
that you measure the available space
inside your pocket and cut the parts for
the wooden frame inside to fit as
snugly as possible. That will make for
a much more stable final assembly.

39

This is just the interior wooden


frameand hardware. If attaching
the side rail for a modular setup you
should run the screws through both
the side rail and the mounting
blocks for the best stability.

The component parts for a modular


rod rack setupwith removable
and moveable rod tubes. The base
is screwed to the interior wooden
frame and the individual tubes are
added, moved or removed as
desired. They are not glued.

Here is what the assembled modular


rod rack looks like. Imagine that it is
already attached to the wood with
long sheet rock screws.

And here is what the bait rigger


would look like when attached
to the interior wooden block.

40

When making a modular rod rack or other


attachments that require a PVC fitting
for a base you will need to make cuts in
some fittings. A plain hacksaw works well.
But power saws are quickerif not safer.

You will need to use a rotary tool or


sander to round corners and smooth
edges on the cut fittings. Then you will
need a drill to make pilot holes for the
screws. Select a bit that is slightly
smaller than the diameter of the screws
you are using to assemble your project.

After anchoring the base fittings,


insert a short piece of PVC pipe. This
will allow the rod tubes or other
pieces to fit quickly and easily onto
the framewhere they can be
adjusted or removed as you wish.

41

These are the component parts of a


3 tube modular rod rack system for
a pontoon. Note that the cut PVC
fitting bases have already been
screwed onto the frame.

This is the completed assembly.


The individual tubes are not
glues or otherwise attached
and may be rotated or removed
easily for transport.

42

This is a close up of the yellow nylon


rope loop system used for simple
attachments of basic PVC rod racks.
Each loop is about 6 long but needs
to be adjusted to allow the rods to ride
at the right angle on each tube.

Here is a 4-tube PVC rod rack with


the nylon rope loops holding two of
the tubes at the D rings below the
pockets. There is a notch in the
bottoms of the two center tubes into
which a bungee cord fits. It is
attached to D rings on the bottom.

This version of the 4-tube rod rack is


also held in place with nylon loops.
However, the bottom is secured by
bungee cords attached to the bottoms of
the two protruding tubes and then on to
the D rings.

This picture illustrates how the bottom


bungee cords attach first to the rod rack
and then to the D rings. This makes the
rod rack very stable and less subject to
rocking and rolling. Note the yellow
nylon rope loops.

43

Another PVC installation using the


clipped bungee cords to attach the rod
rack to the bottom D rings.

And, below, a picture of the entire


bottom of a float tube with both rod
rack and utility rack attachedfrom
either side.