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HOLY HECK what a day!! + a bit of info so you can join the fun!!! – Corona Lake

ZING!!!

POW!!!

YOINK!!!

BOOM!!!

CROOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKK!!!!!

Fishing is fishing and sometimes you go out there and simply put in work. I use the term “work” lightly as any day on the water is a blessing, but there are definitely those days where you hunt and hunt and hunt with little, if anything at all, to show for it at day’s end. Well think of one of those days, do a mental 180 degree turn with that thought and you’ll have a pretty precise picture of what I was blessed with today! Just an amazing afternoon of fishing with a good buddy that really just made my week!!!

I got a few calls earlier in the week from my good friend Eddie letting me know that I need to go fishing with him. If you watch the stocking videos or have had you’re picture taken at either of the Lakes’ edge, then you know Eddie. The guy is classic. Always a smile on his face, always happy to chat, and always stoked on fishing. Just a really cool cat and I’m always stoked when I get to share the water with him…especially when he says, “Dude, our spots are GOING OFF!” Well…‘nuff said! Let’s go have some fun!!!

The party began at about 3pm and on the agenda was attacking a few of the spots that have been consistently producing for us over the past few weeks. These spots are buried in the structure meaning that they are a float tuber’s paradise. Looking at these spots for the first time, you’d without a doubt think, “No way, those guys aren’t going to catch anything but logs and seagrass.” But you’d be dead wrong. I’m not kidding you when I say that if you want to get bit, GO TO THE TREES! The fish are absolutely bundled up like kids around a campfire in every nook and cranny of the timber. Not 5 yards away from the structure, not along the sandy portions of the west shoreline, IN the trees! And what’s more, add a bit of inflowing water in the timber and it becomes this…

…of the catfish world! Fish on top of fish on top of fish and they all want to eat. Here is a map of the dining halls we found…

The stars mark where we rung the dinner bell. Each of these spots was wide open with us leaving the fish biting just for a change of scenery. Note that each star spills a little bit onto the shore. That was done completely on purpose to really highlight the importance of working the structure along the shoreline. It truly is important if you want to really get on the fish.

We threw the nightcrawler/marshmallow combo until we ran out of that…then we threw the mealworm/marshmallow combo until we ran out of that! Absolutely insane and it doesn’t get any better…Well I guess it does…if you’re Eddie!…

We had split up a bit in the tight timber and at about 5 pm, I hear the infamous hoots and hollers of my buddy.

“BIG ONE!!!! I GOT BIG ONE!!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!”

I can’t see the fish as we are literally that buried in the woods so Eddie sends me this via text…

He wasn’t lying. What a beautiful fish and huge kudos to Eddie for keeping that thing out of the woodwork. Weighed out to be 4.5 pounds of beautiful channel cat goodness! Awesome work!!

The action continued from there until I literally ran out of bait and had to leave them biting long before the sun went down. Other than Eddie’s beauty, fish were about 2-3 pounds in average weight and 10-20 pounds in average HEART! Unbelievable how hard the cats can pull. With the Ci4 loaded down with 10 pound power pro, the drag still sang all afternoon! What a day, what a life, WHAT A BLESSING!!!

Those of you heading out there, really do concentrate ALL of your efforts in the structure. Fan cast the edges of the treeline and directly into the submerged structure until you find them. If you’re not getting bit after 10 minutes, MOVE! Things really should start happening that fast. You shouldn’t be constantly going back and forth across the entire lake, but try one nook, if that doesn’t produce, move on to the next one. Once you find them, you’ll know it! In each of the spots listed above, I was slammed on the first cast after about a 30 second soak and you should be too! Stick with the worm (of any variety)/marshmallow combo as it’s cheap and easy and they have been eating it amazingly well. Plus, it’s always nice to not have to go home smelling like a 3 week old decaying carcass…for both me and the mrs.!!!

As always, a sincere thanks guys and gals for taking a read…now LET’S GET OUT THERE AND KILL SOME FISH!!!

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Corona Lake…so good to be back!!! LIMITS of cats on the ‘tube (New VIDEO!)

NO NO NO!!! This is NOT that kind of report….

IT’S CATFISH LIMITS FROM A TUBE KIND OF REPORT!!

THERE!!! That’s more like it!!!!!!!!!! A mouthful of sunflower seeds and a whiskerfish in the net, WOOHOO!!

The catfish out at Corona decided to wake up and I crawled out from a mountain of “nose to the grindstone” paperwork just in time to hear the alarm GOING OFF…unreal fishing and good grief did it feel good to pay a visit to an old friend. And it turns out that the new residents like to party…you just gotta find where to bang on the door!

I’ve been buried to the very tip top of my upstretched fingertips in a ton of life’s “stuff”, all of it good, but far more than enough of it to keep me off of the water. But with the plate now a whole heck of a lot more empty, I’m off the wagon and on a total bender, fishing the last 4 days, diving yesterday and heading out on another overnighter in the salt later in the week. I’m now basking in a bit of the light towards the end of the tunnel and loving it! Thank God for fishing. Seriously.

After turning in a few projects and having a work-related trip cancelled earlier in the week, I was dead set on getting back out to Corona on Saturday. I called up a friend and we made it a two man afternoon mission with a plan to bury ourselves in the trees and see what we could get to go. And what a day it turned out to be! Easy limits on the catfish and to mix it up, we put some hash marks in the trout, bluegill and tilapia categories too!! Cats bit everything we threw at them (shrimp, mackerel, nightcrawlers and meal worms) while the tilapia, bluegill and trout seemed to have a more selective palate that seemed keen on only the nightcrawlers. 12 inch leaders or so on 4 pound test with a #6 baitholder hook below a small #5 splitshot did the trick all around. We fished until we ran out of bait and had an absolute blast! What a day!!!!

I’ll let the video do most of the rest of the talking but I will say this…catfish love to entomb themselves in the timber, both before AND after you hook them. The float tube is perfect for navigating the shallow, tight, structure burdened water that you should be fishing but obviously, not everyone has access to a tube. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fish where you need to be. You’ll see in the video exactly what I mean by “in tight” and you can exploit these areas whether you’re fishing from the shore, a rental boat or even your 30’ sportfisher. The difference between skunked and as wide open as it gets last Saturday was having the ability to get in tight to the trees, toss your bait in the most dense structure you could find, and literally chase the fish down AS SOON as you set the hook. Wait a second too long and you could just about guarantee yourself losing the fish. Every catfish we caught was in about 4’ of water in dense cover with not even a nibble from the cats in the open water. So if you’re fishing from shore and launching your bait into the middle of the lake, you’re severely reducing your odds of catching fish. If you’re fishing from a boat and casting 50 yards into dense cover, there is a slim chance you’ll be able to get those fish out of there. So do yourself a favor and get up close and personal. I was casting only a few feet in front of me at submerged structure and was bit on most casts. No reason to try to take care of business from farther away than you need to be!

Now sit back, relax, and grab your finest single malt (or soda if you’re more inclined (or under 21)) and enjoy the video! Good music, spitting, temper tantrums and FISH, what more could you ask for!?! Thanks as always for reading and watching. A super big thanks to those that sent me emails and pm’s asking how I’ve been while I slugged away in the office. It’s just an awesome show of support and I can’t say enough how much it’s appreciated. Let’s be sure to get out there soon and attack it in full force!!! It’s time…

A little on the water update… I couldn’t resist and came back out.
Got here for the afternoon session…lost more fish than I care to mention but managed to win a few games of tug of war…

Your turn!!

 

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ANGLER SPOTLIGHT… The man, the myth, THE LEGEND – KIRK YAUCHZEE!!

Some fish as a hobby. A way to escape the daily grind. A way to spend time outdoors. Others fish to keep themselves sane. Because the water beckons every time they are away from it. Because the thought of big fish keeps them awake at night. And because they are absolutely addicted to putting a serious bend in the rod. Fishing is not just a “hobby” or even just a “sport” to these anglers. Fishing defines them. These people are exceptional in every sense of the word and it’s their stories that bring us here…

I’ve always found inspiration in those that are truly passionate about anything that they do. From the guys you see running a construction crew with a fervor that goes beyond what is required to build a building to the scientific researcher that simply can’t walk away from the test tubes as the next great discovery may be incubating, the people that approach what they do with deep seeded passion are a testament to how we should all live our lives. As a fisherman, I have been particularly intrigued by the stories of my fellow anglers that have spent vast amounts of time on the water, chasing down their finned adversaries, all for the pursuit of something that goes far beyond putting a fish in a net. There is just something extremely special about fishing that makes for incredible stories that traverse cultural and generational gaps to inspire people that may or may not be anglers themselves. I’m not talking about stories of the big ones that were caught and the few that got away (though those are fun too), I’m talking about the personal stories of the anglers that through countless hours on the water baiting hooks, rigging rods, and watching fish come on board, have found themselves. These stories are always remarkable and with From Aaron’s Angle I’ve been granted an amazing opportunity to share some of these stories with you guys in this new series, ”ANGLER SPOTLIGHT”.

As you may have noticed while out at the Lakes, there are a few guys that you can easily recognize as they almost always seem to be out there. They look a little “salty”, grizzled, and most significantly, they seem to be consistently catching a TON of fish! This crew goes by a variety of names. Some will remember the megafish being brought to the scales by various members of “The Dogs”, now people easily recognize the “Inflatable Navy” crew, and other fish slayers are simply known as “regulars”. Whatever their title, these anglers know how to fish and though they may say different, they weren’t born that way. They’ve acquired their knowledge and talents through vast amounts of time on the water. And in addition to their personal stories, with the Angler Spotlight we’ll be able to share you all a little bit of what they have learned.

So sit back, grab yourself your favorite beverage, and prepare yourself for a treat. The anglers highlighted in the Angler Spotlight are the best in the business and they are people that you’ve seen out there catching fish first hand. This isn’t media hype surrounding some guy that is trying to sell a product. This isn’t some angler that was handed a rod and reel and told to “hold it” for a photo-op. These are guys and gals that are truly motivating in both their passion for fishing as well as their amazing ability to catch fish. The lessons they are willing to share with me for the Angler Spotlight in both life and fishing are priceless, and for that I owe them a sincere thanks. With that, let’s dive in and meet our very first spotlighted angler…KIRK YAUCHZEE!!!

In the early hours of yet another gorgeous southern California day, I watch a red float tube escape from the shoreline. A stout man donning an off-white, circle-brimmed hat leans back as his legs flick the fins that propel him in my general direction. As our paths cross, we each offer one another a casual nod and a wave as we proceed with the task at hand…putting blood on the deck. Little did I know that I just met an angler with a truly inspirational story, a wealth of knowledge, and an uncanny ability to put fish on the boat. This was the first time I met Kirk.

Since my first encounter with Kirk I’ve seen him put an insane amount of fish on the boat. And what I find truly amazing is the way he spends his time on the water. To Kirk, being on the water is not simply being at the Lake. Kirk is not a guy that you will see on the shoreline fiddling with his gear. He is not the guy that you will find rummaging through an ice chest for yet another beer. Kirk has a focus when he is fishing that is virtually unbreakable. Because of this focus, he is typically a man of few words while out on the water. That generalization excludes, of course, those numerous times that I’ve seen him rigging up someone’s gear or going through techniques with someone struggling to catch fish. But between these lessons are fish after fish after fish that keep heads turning Kirk’s way…no words required!

While speaking with Kirk for this “Angler Spotlight” special I felt more like a student than an interviewer and it’s a privilege to get to share with you guys what I learned. Lest anyone think that fishing can only teach us about the behavior of fish, Kirk’s story goes far beyond the water and I walked away from our talk feeling that I just learned a bit more about life…how to approach it, how to deal with it, and most importantly, how to live it.


Kirk, in his element.

As the sun just peaked over the eastern hills at Corona Lake, Kirk and I sat down for our “talk” at a small picnic table on JD’s point. Kirk was fully geared up, waders and all, anxious to get on the water but willing to take a few minutes out of his day to speak with me. The first thing I was anxious to hear was how and when Kirk’s interest in fishing began.

Kirk began fishing as a child like many of us do, under the supervision of his father. “My dad weaned me on a fly rod that he bought for 50 cents out of an antique store. I can remember being a kid and going out in my uncle’s homemade wooden boat at Big Bear Lake. We would spend half of the day bailing water out of the stupid thing while we were out there. My first big fish was a 7-8 pound trout that I can remember to this day” Kirk stated. He continued, “My personal belief is that something happens in your young YOUNG days that locks you into fishing. For me it was that great big ol’ trout. For my son, it was a great big halibut that got us into Western Outdoors News. These are OUR moments and we carry them with us forever. They are the bait for us anglers that once tasted, we are forever ‘hooked’.”

Kirk made sure to note to me the importance of taking your kids fishing. His vivid recollection of a fish he caught more than six decades ago shows how important those times on the water with your kids can be. They are the special moments with our parents that we all remember eternally, myself included. Those times that we recollect to put a smile on our face when everything else in life may not be so peachy. And incidentally, the smile that crossed his face when he told me about his son’s halibut is testament to how rewarding it can be for parents as well. Take your kids fishing, plant the seed, and watch a tree grow out of it that will NEVER stop bearing fruit.


Kirk (right) with a big marlin caught in local waters. What a fish!! Kirk sparked the “marlin bug” in his son who is now very involved in the southern California billfish scene.

Kirk is an avid float tuber. His red Fish Cat 4 Deluxe has become a staple on the local lakes. For those that haven’t seen his boat, here’s what to look for…

I refuse to say that Kirk is old as I think he has the heart of a man much younger than I, though if you ask him he will gladly tell you, “I’m an old fart.” I will say that he is “experienced” in life. So, as I see men much younger than Kirk scared to take even a small step off of the shoreline, I was curious as to what got him so into float tubing. From this simple question came a remarkable response.

“I’m a three time cancer survivor. I’ll tell you, you better be a tough S.O.B. to survive your golden years! 15 years ago I was told that I had melanoma that had metastasized and that I had 3 months to live. I’ve battled and beat ’em and am since in full remission but after my last bout with chemo, I lost some of the feeling in my hands and feet. After I recovered from treatment, we would make these long motorhome trips to northern California and I could only take looking at historical monuments while passing up numerous bodies of water for so long. So I bought a set of waders and dug out my dad’s fly rod but the slippery shoreline was difficult to negotiate with the loss of feeling in my feet. I had seen people float tubing and had read about it in various places so I decided to take the plunge. I bought a float tube and could not be any more pleased. I fish all of the time and have found ways of coping with the loss of sensitivity in my hands including the foam rod floaters you see wrapped around my rods.” You just can’t keep this guy down. Seated in the water, Kirk was able to explore the lake in a new way that allowed him to fish as hard as he ever had. After overcoming what he called “senile fears” of being in the middle of the water in a set of waders, Kirk found what he thinks is so special about float tubing.

“There is something personal about being out there in a float tube. You’re in contact with the water, when you catch a fish it splashes you…there’s just a closeness to it all that makes it so much more personal than being on a boat or on the shore. That personal element is so special.” He continued, “I think there is also something competitive in me and in fishing from the float tube, I’ve found that I can be remarkably successful. I really enjoy hearing, ‘He’s got another one?!?!’ from nearby anglers. Fishing is not a spectator sport and it feels really good when you figure things out and get dialed in.” And evidently, Kirk has things dialed in…

Kirk’s passion for float tubing goes far beyond the norm. He told me, “My wife and I counted up the other night, I’ve had thirteen boats. We kept upgrading until we got to the 26’ Skipjack that we marlin fished out of, sold that and have since owned a couple of bass boats which is what I have now. But I’ll tell you that if I had to give up either my boat or my float tube, I think I’d have to keep the float tube.”

So it should be fairly obvious with these few short paragraphs and some truly amazing pictures that Kirk knows what he is doing. And as our conversation continued I was able to pry a bit of that knowledge out of him. Kirk is a man with about a million tricks up his sleeve. In those pockets on his float tube are numerous secrets that I am sworn to uphold and several that Kirk STILL won’t fill me in on! But he was willing to spill the beans on a few things that he thinks really makes a difference in his success on the water. Things that you can do right away that WILL help you catch more fish.

I began, “Kirk, I know you have more well-guarded secrets than I could count, but what can you tell the guys that are watching you out there catching fish after fish thinking, ‘what the heck is that guy doing that I am not?’”

“One of the biggest mistakes that I see people making out here [when working the plastic worm for trout] is using a hook that is too heavy for their bait. I’ve found that having a worm floating in the water column can make the difference between wide open and a skunk. This means using an appropriately sized hook. Most of the time I am using a size 8 to 10 hook but to make sure that my bait doesn’t sink, I use thin wire hooks that weigh next to nothing.”

On equipment Kirk says, “Buy the best the first time. Find out what your wife and/or your bank account will let you spend on a rod, reel, float tube, whatever…Find out how long your leash is and consider that your price point. Don’t go to WalMart and buy a $20 combo. I’m not sponsored by anybody and I highly recommend G-Loomis, Phenix and Shimano. I’ve given friends that were below average fisherman some higher quality equipment to use and watched them almost immediately become more productive. There are days where it’s wide open and they are knocking ‘em out of the rod holder and it don’t matter. You could string up a piece of bamboo and it just wouldn’t matter. But those days when it’s not wide open and you’re looking for the smallest indication of a strike, you gotta have some good equipment.”

Kirk hit the nail on the head. It’s hard to turn someone away from a $15-$20 combo at Walmart to something that ends up costing $300+ with a promise that they’ll catch more fish. But it’s true. Nothing beats a quality fishing rod and reel that will allow you to see that strike because it has a nice soft tip, will allow you to pull in that big fish because it has a nice strong backbone, and will allow you to fight said fish on light test because it has a super smooth drag. Not that everyone needs to run out and spend a fortune on their first rig, Kirk’s point that quality gear makes a difference is a great one that a lot of people miss out on because of large price tags. There is no reason why a rod and reel should not last you a lifetime. Spending a little bit up front can make a real difference in the memories that eventually make up your fishing career.


Kirk with a fantastic roosterfish caught down south. Top quality gear can make the difference between catching fish like this and going home empty handed.

As Kirk kept glancing at his float tube, then the water, then his tube, then people on the water, then back at me, I knew my time chatting with Kirk was drawing to a close. I asked him one last thing. “In closing Kirk, what is the take home message that you would like to give to people reading this?” His response was epic.

“Every person has to develop a system that works for them. If you want to use surf rods out here and that works for you, then use surf rods. You have to develop your methods, your game plan, what suits you and makes you comfortable and happy. If you don’t enjoy doing what someone teaches ya, then don’t do it! Do what you want to do, develop it, and make that work. But you have to believe. If you’re throwing a bait, you HAVE to believe it’s going to get bit. Ya know, there are three things that define a good fisherman: 1) intensity, 2) attention to detail, and 3) the “x-factor”. That “x-factor” is the total of the first two plus something extra. Some people just catch more fish than other people. Maybe they have a fish brain, think like a fish, I don’t know what it is, maybe they just have fish charisma. But if you can increase your intensity and your attention to detail, anybody can become a good fisherman. That x-factor is something I work on every time I am out here.” And it shows Kirk, boy oh boy does it show.


Kirk at the Inflatable Navy Prefish Event, showing us all how it is done.

After I finished speaking to Kirk, I had about 15 minutes before I had to leave for work. Knowing this was a small window, I still decided to hop on a boat to see if I could get any pictures of Kirk in action. The guy is just incredible. As I pulled away from the dock, I see Kirk ALREADY bent on a fish! Turns out it’s a small crappie but I still wanted to take some pictures. Kirk was having none of it. “I can do better,” he informed me as I glanced at my watch. My window was shortening and with what I thought to be an unlikely scenario of finding another fish willing to go in the next few minutes I wanted to tell Kirk to forget it and just hold up the stupid crappie. But again, this is Kirk we are dealing with here. No more than 5 minutes later…

Just amazing. It’s too bad for Kirk that you can’t bottle that “something else”, that “fish charisma” that he had mentioned earlier, because if you could, the guy would be a zillionaire!

Kirk is an ambassador for the fishing community in every sense of the word. Since our talk I’ve shared a number of amazing days fishing with him out at Corona and more laughs than I can count while we’ve been out there. Kirk is dedicated to his craft and it shows in every way. In fact, Kirk is so keen on seeing the float tubing community thrive, especially with the youngsters, that he’s volunteered his time in the past with an open invitation for the future for people that want to see how to really put fish on the boat out there, all free of charge.


Kirk putting people on fish!

I can’t say enough how thankful I am to Kirk for taking time out of his day to share his story. I walked away from our talk feeling inspired and as I write this I am once again reminded of how great of a time we had. His story is one of overcoming anything that life throws at you and walking away from it not only unscathed, but a better person because of it. In his own words, Kirk has the “x-factor” not only in fishing, but in life. And as is readily apparent, fishing has undoubtedly played a key part in Kirk living his life. While slamming fish after fish is something he does, fishing is an important part of who he is. Kirk is one of the fishing afflicted. And what he’s done with this infectious disease is remarkable in what he’s accomplished over the years and in how he’s gotten to where he is. When you see Kirk out there, be sure to send him a “Hello!” while you watch the “lesson” unfold. Welcome to the Spotlight Kirk!! We feel incredibly lucky to have you.

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Advanced FLOAT TUBE RIGGING: Arming the INFLATABLE NAVY for BATTLE!! “How to” w/ pics

When I began float tubing, like most people I started with the bare minimum…A float tube, a pair of waders, fins, a PFD, and a single fishing rod. I used the provided Velcro lashing straps sewn into the float tube’s canvas shell to hold my rod when it wasn’t in use, held my fishing rod in my hands when it was in use, and fumbled with the stupid thing when I actually succeeded in catching a fish! Watching me from the shoreline HAD to have provided some laughs for any nearby anglers. But who cares?! I was having a blast and was slamming more fish than any of the chuckleheads on the shoreline! Truth be told, we don’t come out of the womb knowing how to float tube. There is no “Float Tubing Chromosome” that some are blessed to have. It takes time. And for most float tubers, a lot of that time, both in and out of the water, is spent thinking, “How can I make this whole float tubing gig more comfortable?”

From the minute I made my first kick away from the shoreline in a float tube, I realized that some “tinkering” could result in a dramatically more comfortable fishing experience. Subsequently, I have spent countless hours in the garage and far too much money at the hardware store to come up with a system that works for me. And what I’m hoping to do here is share a bit of what I’ve done to make my float tube setup as comfortable, convenient, economical, and portable as possible in a format that should make this a snap for you to put together too!!

What many may not realize is how easy it is to get their float tubes completely dialed in. PVC piping is a wonder material for rigging your float tube that is inexpensive and incredibly easy to work with. With only a few very basic hand tools and a little bit of time, you can create a long-lasting fishing apparatus that will make your time on the water so much more enjoyable and that you’ll be proud to show your buddies! And putting this wonder material to good use is exactly what I hope to show you how to do herein…

Below you will find step by step instructions for building much of the rig pictured above. This setup is completely modular and can be dialed in and modified to exactly how YOU want it! It also collapses so that it can fit IN ITS ENTIERETY into your float tube bag! Tinkering requires a personal touch and you are strongly encouraged to modify anything and/or everything to fit your needs!! In NO way, shape or form is this the most simplistic, cheapest or ONLY mode of accomplishing the goal of holding your gear…but it is my way! I’ve been using this same rig for about 6 years now (with a little modifying here and there) and LOVE IT. Everything is just how I like it and it has not failed me yet!

My friend Steve was nice enough to loan me his Outcast Fish Cat 4 Deluxe for this project so all sizes and dimensions provided will be as per the specs of this particular boat. I also have my setup rigged for my Super Fat Cat and will provide the specs for that boat as well. So the sizes and dimensions listed herein will work for the Fish Cat 4-LCS, Fish Cat 4 Deluxe, Fat Cat, and Super Fat Cat. I have a Prowler on its way and will be able to provide those specs in the coming days to complete the Outcast lineup (other than the Trinity). And what else is great about this system, is that if you have multiple different boats (e.g. a Fish Cat 4 Deluxe and a Super Fat Cat), you can easily transfer this system among your fleet! No doubt some variation of this rig should work on other boats such as the ODC 420 and Caddis boats, however, I have been an Outcast guy for a long time so have no idea what would be required to do so! But be sure to let us know if you come up with something!!

All of the materials (piping, hardware, adhesives, tape, etc.) required for this project can be purchased for about $50-$60 from your local hardware store and the entire project can be assembled in an afternoon. Remember, we are not building a piano! No need to agonize over 1/64 of an inch or a slightly rough cut!!! I THOROUGHLY RECOMMEND READING THIS ENTIRE SET OF INSTRUCTIONS PRIOR TO BEGINNING YOUR BUILD FOR OBVIOUS REASONS! And most importantly, be sure to have fun, take your time, and enjoy reaping the benefits of having a convenient setup that stores well and keeps all of your gear at your fingertips! HERE WE GO!!!

REQUIRED TOOLS

The list of tools required to complete this project is short and are probably tools you already have on hand. If you do not have a particular tool, use that ingenuity of yours to figure out a way around it! Or use your wallet to go out and buy the tool!!

Tools

Tape Measurer
Pencil
Marker
PVC cutters
Drill
5/16″ Drill Bit
5/8” Drill Bit (can substitute with a 1″ step bit)
Hammer
Pliers and/or a crescent wrench
Miter Saw (optional)
Vise (optional)

SHOPPING LIST

As stated previously, all of these bits and pieces were purchased from Lowe’s. But these are common items and I’m sure that most hardware stores will have them.

PVC AISLE

(2) 8’ Schedule 40 1/2” PVC piping (this includes a little extra “just in case”)
(1) 5’ Schedule 40 1 1/2” PVC piping
(1) SHORTEST PIECE YOU CAN BUY 1” PVC piping (will only need a couple of inches of material)
(8) 1/2” T connectors (slip-slip)
(8) 1/2″ Elbows (slip-slip)
(1) 1 1/2” to 1” Reducing T connector (slip-slip)
(2) 1″ to 1/2″ reducing elbows (slip-slip)
(1) 1″ T connector
(1) 1 1/2” end cap
(7) 1/2” Screw together couplings (slip-slip)
(1) Small bottle of PVC Primer
(1) Small bottle of PVC cement

HARDWARE AISLE

***You can use galvanized, zinc coated, stainless steel, etc. hardware. Stainless Steel is probably the best option but is also the most expensive. But if you plan on taking your rig into the saltwater, I would definitely recommend stainless steel! If you are a freshwater only float tuber, the cheapest hardware option should work fine***

(3) 1/4” x 3” Carriage bolts
(3) 1/4” x 1 1/4” Carriage bolts
(4) 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ eyelets
(4) 1/2” Trigger Snaps (clips)
(10) 1/4″ Acorn Nuts
*no washers required*

Miscellaneous (optional)
(1) Electrical tape
(1) Thread Locker (e.g. Loctite)

PREP

So you’ve gathered all of your materials and are now ready to start the prep work! Below is a comprehensive list of all of the bits and pieces that you will need to cut and prime in preparation for this project. Doing this up front will make following the assembly instructions easier and will also make the entire build much quicker!

1/2” PVC pipe

4 @ 21 1/2”
6 @ 5 1/2”
16 @ 1 1/4”
3 @ 1 3/8
2 @ 18” ***FOR SUPER FAT CAT OWNERS, MAKE THESE PIECES 18 3/4”***

1” PVC pipe

3 @ 1 1/2”

1 1/2” PVC pipe

1 @ 2”
1 @ 3” ***FOR SUPER FAT CAT OWNERS, MAKE THIS PIECE 4”***
1 @ 12”
45 degree miter pieces…
2 @ 13 1/2 FROM LONG POINT TO SHORT POINT! To clarify what that means, refer to the image below…

1” T

Cut the 2 legs at the top of the “T” so that they protrude only about 1/4” from the central portion of the “T”. For clarification, refer to the image below…

After you have made all of your cuts, a compilation of all of your PVC materials and hardware should look like these images…

Note where it says “…PART CODE SHEET”. As you can see in the images, ALL of the parts correspond with a letter. These letters will be used in the step by step instructions to identify the pieces required for that particular step.

Below is a comprehensive list as to the specific pieces that each letter corresponds to:

A. 1/2” PVC cut to 21 1/2”
B. 1/2” PVC cut to 18” (18 3/4” for Super Fat Cat owners)
C. 1/2” PVC cut to 5 1/2”
D. 1/2” PVC cut to 1 1/4”
E. 1” PVC cut to 1 1/2”
F. Cut down 1” T connector
G. 1 1/2” to 1” reducing T connector
H. 1” to 1/2” reducing elbow
I. 1 1/2” End Cap
J. 1 1/2” PVC cut to 2”
K. 1 1/2” PVC cut to 3” (4” for Super Fat Cat owners)
L. 1/2 PVC Elbows
M. 1/2” PVC T connectors
N. 1/2” Screw together connectors
O. 1 1/2” PVC mitered rod holders (45 degree angle cut to 13 1/2” from long point to short point)
P. 1 1/2” PVC square cut rod holder (cut to 12”)
Q. 1/2” PVC cut to 1 3/8”
R. 1/2” Trigger Snaps (clips)
S. 1 1/4” Eyebolts
T. 1/4” Acorn nuts
U. 1 1/4” Carriage bolts
V. 3” Carriage bolts

And we are ALMOST ready to build. While you have your parts neatly laid out and prior to building anything, I recommend that you prime the ends of all of your pipe pieces and the insides of all of your connectors. Some people will skip priming their PVC but I do not recommend doing so! I’ve ran the experiment and unprimed connections will pull apart in due time. Plus, priming is really easy so you may as well just do it! Use the purple primer that you bought at the hardware store…

…and put a ring of primer no less than 1/2” wide as shown in the images below…

Doing this all in one shot will save you a heap of time during the build! And with that…LET’S GET BUILDING!!!

STEP 1 – THE SIDE FRAMES

Gather your materials and your PVC cement and lay everything out as shown in the image above. YOU WILL REPEAT THIS STEP TWICE AS THERE ARE TWO SIDE FRAMES IN THIS BUILD!

Begin by grabbing the “C”’s and the elbows (L’s) and T connectors (M’s) that they will fit into.

Apply a generous amount of PVC cement BOTH to the outside of “C” and to the insides of the connectors ONLY where “C” will fit in. Push these pieces firmly together MAKING SURE THAT EVERYTHING STAYS SQUARE AS SO…

After assembling the 3 vertical pieces, you can now proceed with gluing the remaining elements of Step 1 together. With the small connecting pieces (“D”’s), be sure that plenty of the pipe is shared among the 2 connecting pieces that it fits into. Also, once again, BE SURE THAT EVERYTHING STAYS SQUARE LIKE SO…

When you finish one side, then start the other! You should end up with two perfect replicas as so…

On to step 2…

STEP 2 – Back Braces

The back braces are an absolutely critical element to this build. They stabilize the entire frame so that when you go to put a rod in it or grab a tool, it is absolutely RIGID! They also provide an additional point of attachment for things like net holders and camera mounts.

We are now building a LEFT AND A RIGHT back brace. It is critical that you do so as THESE TWO BRACES ARE MIRROR IMAGES OF EACH OTHER AND NOT EXACT REPLICAS!! I THOROUGHLY RECOMMEND READING THROUGH THIS ENTIRE STEP BEFORE BEGINNING YOUR BUILD OF THE BACK BRACES!!! This is a simple step but it is critical that you establish a left and right side and that all pieces remain square to each other and to the 2 side frames you just built!

Begin by gluing the elbows (L) and T Connectors (M) to the cross braces (B). The elbows need to be offset from the T connectors by exactly 90 degrees as so…

After doing this on BOTH the left and right side, begin gluing the remaining pieces (except for the side panels you previously built…those are next!) in Step 2 together. After you have everything assembled, it should look like this…

Now grab those two side panels and position them so that they are ready to be secured to the back braces. Secure 2 “D”’s in the open ends of the elbows (L) on the back braces. Now slide the entire back brace into position, gluing the 2 D’s you just installed on the back braces into the open vertical T connectors on the side panels you built. BE SURE THAT EVERYTHING IS SQUARE!!!! Here is what you should end up with…

And as you can see, YOU’RE GETTING THERE!!! Just a few more steps away from fishing bliss!

STEP 3 – The Back Linkage

The Back Linkage is the final critical structural component of the boat. It firmly locks all of the pieces together forming an integrated unit that could stand alone, even if there were no tube at all! Having a rigid stand-alone frame on your boat is the most robust system that you are going to find. It’s the reason why the camera footage you see taken from my tube is so stable. I also use my back linkage as a net holder and thus the vertical tube. You could also use the vertical tube as an additional rod holder. Or, if you don’t like the vertical tube at all, you can simply alleviate it! But linking the two back braces with the Back Linkage is critical to having the most robust connection possible.

You can begin assembling the Back Linkage wherever you wish. The only requirement is that the J, G, K, and I pieces be perfectly perpendicular to the H, E, F,E,H pieces as so…

Other than that, assembly is pretty cut and dry! After you are done assembling, DRILL AT LEAST A 1/4” SIZE DRAIN HOLE IN THE END CAP SO THAT WATER CAN ESCAPE IF ANY HAPPENS TO GET IN THERE! If you skip this step, look forward to getting splashed when you go to put your net back behind you!! This is what the Back Linkage should look like up to this point…

If you want to make this as secure as possible, wrap the connections in electrical tape, ESPECIALLY, the connections in your cut down T connector (F). This T connector has minimal connection and some solid electrical tape wrapping can do wonders for making this a stronger connection.

You now need to insert the 2 exposed “D” pieces (the purple pieces above) into the threaded pieces of the back braces you built previously. This may take a bit of “coaxing” so if it does, no worries! For those that care, the ease of fit will depend on how good your cut was on the 1” T connector in the first phase of this build. After you glue the back linkage to the back braces in place, here is what you should have…

You now have what looks like a frame right?!? GREAT! Let’s move on to now attach this frame to the boat so that everything becomes a single, integrated unit.

Step 4 – The attachment hardware

Outcast thought ahead and realized that us anglers may want to do ridiculous additions like this one to our float tubes! With their forward thinking abilities, Outcast supplied all of their float tubes with 2 D-rings on the outside of each of their pockets. These will be our attachment points for our frame…

Begin by fully inflating your float tube, seat cushions and all! Following inflation, place the frame that you just built over your boat. Sit in your float tube and lean a bit back in your seat. Then pull the frame forward so that it is just touching the back of your seat. Once the frame is in place, mark the position of all 4 d-rings on the side panels.

Remove the frame from the boat and remove the side panels from the frame. Locate where you marked the D-rings on the side panels and drill a 1/4” hole PERFECTLY VERTICAL to the side panel.

Next, take your eyebolts and clamp them into a vice or hand clamp. What you are trying to do is slightly open up the eyebolts so that you can loop it through your trigger clips.

Once you have looped the eye bolt through the trigger clip, use your hammer to close the eyebolt back up. Do this for all 4 eyebolts and trigger clips.

***You can skip this step by using a split ring or a ring from a key chain to link the trigger clip to the eyebolt. The only problem with doing this is that your frame will have more backwards and forwards play to it.***

Now take the eyebolt and trigger clip assemblies you just made and insert them through the holes you drilled in the side panels so that the ring portion of the eyebolt IS FACING DOWN! Use an acorn nut on the top of all 4 assemblies and STEP 4 IS A WRAP!

COMPLETING STEP 4 COMPLETES THE STRUCTURAL PART OF THE BUILD!!!!! WOOOHOOOO! This frame that you have now built is the basis for everything I have added onto my tube. It serves as the foundation for mounting cameras, sonar, rods, pliers, nets, you name it! The possibilities are endless! I am going to go on to explain how I have my rod holders mounted but know that THEY DO NOT HAVE TO BE MOUNTED THIS WAY!!! You could stop here and come up with any configuration you want and that would be GREAT!!! But for those that want to trudge on, I’ll show you how to mount the rod holders.

STEP 5 – Rod holders

I am a guy who loves to have a lot of rod holders on board. I feel very strongly that it is of great benefit to you to have a ton of different places to stash a rod quickly so that it is both secure AND out of the way! That being said, I added three rod holders on my frame that I use to not only hold my fishing rods, but I’ll also stash my pliers in there, I’ll throw my net in one from time to time, and the list goes on! These little tubes are used for a variety of purposes and are super handy dandy to have on board.

The arrangement of your rod holders is entirely up to you. I like having my 3 rod holders arranged like a fan. The rod holder leaning forward is a great place to set down a rod that has a fish on while you wind in your other lines and/or the anchor. The backwards leaning tube is where I typically throw an extra rod. And the center, vertical tube is often where I keep my pliers.

The first step is to lay the side panel that you are going to mount your rod holders onto down on your workbench (or in my case, the kitchen counter!) in a spot adjacent to a wall. Arrange your rod holders in whatever “array” you see fit and make sure that the bottom of the side panel and the bottom of each of the rod holders are all touching the wall. This will keep everything square and nicely lined up.

Once you are satisfied with the arrangement, mark the rod holder tube where it crosses the top and bottom crossmembers on the side panel. Also mark the crossmembers on the side panel where they hit the rod holder.

Label the rod holders and the side panel so that you know which rod holder corresponds with each position. Drill THE BOTTOM HOLE ONLY on the rod holder tube with the 1/4” drill bit. When you’ve done this to all three rod holders, reposition them back on the frame. When everything is lined up, use the 1/4” holes you just drilled in the rod holder tubes as guides to drill 1/4” holes in the side panel as well.

Once the bottom tube on the side panel is drilled, grab the 3” carriage bolts and begin to push them into the rod holder tube. Use the 1 3/8” 1/2” PVC pipe as spacers on the inside of the rod holder tube so that you can tighten down the bolt without crushing the tube.

Once the bolt is through the rod holder tube it can be mounted onto the bottom rung of the frame. Secure it onto the frame with an acorn nut. Do not overtighten! Even with the spacer in place it is possible to crack the plastic if you go all Heman on it!!

To attach the top of the rod holder, realign the marks you made on top tube of the side panel and on the rod holder tube. When in position, drill a 5/16” hole through both the rod holder and the top tube of the side panel. Do this for all three rod holders.

To prevent an upper carriage bolt from blocking the rod holder, you have to enlarge the outer hole so that the head of the carriage bolt can pass through it. Do this by using your 5/8” drill bit, being sure to ONLY drill through the outermost hole on your rod holder!

After this hole has been drilled, you now have to finagle the 1 1/4” carriage bolt into position. This is indeed tricky and can become a complete pain in the neck. One great way to get the bolt through is by using a “pull string”. Take a short piece of fishing line and tie it to the end of the threads on the carriage bolt. On the opposite side of the line, clamp on a small sinker. Drop the sinker through all of the holes and pull the bolt through. Works like a charm!!!

Once you have the carriage bolt in position, secure it to the frame with an acorn nut and BOOM…you’ve got rod holders!!!!

CUSTOMIZATION

One of the biggest benefits of this system is that it can be quickly and easily customized for virtually anything. Without the rigid frame, I could kiss any steadiness to my videos goodbye!! I’ve figured out a quick and easy way of mounting my sonar. And I’ve got a bundle of other ideas for this thing that would be impossible to even consider without it. I will do detailed write-ups soon on how exactly I have my sonar and camera mounted as this thread is already long enough! But in the meanwhile here are a few detailed pics of the rig on my Super Fat Cat that should clue the tinkerers in on exactly how I have some of the nitty gritty custom stuff set up!!

Some of you may want to paint your frame, I know that I did! Painting your frame is quick and easy but I do have a few tips for you. 1) I use the krylon fusion paint. It is specifically designed for painting plastic meaning that it sticks really well with minimal crinkling or running. 2) When you paint your setup, do it with the frame COMPLETELY put together! This will prevent you from painting the threads on the screw together adapter pieces. If you were to paint them it would make assembly a complete pain in the butt! 3) Some of the paint WILL rub off on your canvas. You can see it if you look really close in the pics above. I don’t mind but some people are pretty particular about things!!

TIME TO GO FISH…

So looky what we have here…Father Super Fat Cat and son, Fish Cat 4 Deluxe!!!

And I think my favorite part about this entire thing is that despite this being a significant component of your ride, by unscrewing the threaded connectors the entire thing completely collapses to become a compact pile of plastic that easily fits inside of your boat bag!

In fact, I can fit my Super Fat Cat, 2 caddis rod holders, an anchor, 2 sets of waders, my wader boots, fins, my pump, backpack straps, repair kit PLUS THIS ENTIRE SYSTEM ALL INTO MY FLOAT TUBE BAG!!!

BEFORE

AFTER!!

I’ve received a ton of FANTASTIC emails asking a variety of questions, many of which expressed a curiosity in my extravagant rig! I hope that I’ve answered your questions but if not, feel free to ask anything and everything and I’ll do my best to give you my 2 cents. I truly can’t wait to see the creative things that you guys come up with using this system!!! If you do end up putting this together, I’d really love to see pics!!!!

As always, thanks a bundle for taking a read guys and looking forward to seeing you all out on the water!!! IT’S TIME TO GO FISHING!!!!!!! WOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Update: With the thread already reaching epic proportions I thought that the pics on the tube would suffice. But of course I should have taken some stand alone pics of the rig! Here are a few cell phone pics with my dog for scale…She’s quite the ham in front of the camera!!

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