For many years my wife’s watched my vibrant blue Fishcat Deluxe fade into something she deemed unworthy of floating on a dam. To right this wrong she gifted me with a brand new Xplorer Journey Deluxe for my birthday and Christmas presents. At first I was torn, not wanting to discard my still buoyant Fishcat, however curiosity soon got the better of me and I decided to give it a try at my local bass dam, Inanda.
After convincing my wife that Emma would love a morning of sun, water and open spaces we climbed into the car and headed for the dam. So far all was on track. There was a short queue at the gate but it didn’t take long and soon I’d setup a small picnic spot for the family. And then came the fut bit, unboxing my new float tube.
It started off well as I lay everything onto the grass and inserted the foam seats. Things then took a turn for the worse as I discovered that none of the nozzles on my standard pump fitted into the tube’s summit valves. Two bass fisherman wondered over to assist or laugh at me, I’m not sure which. Thankfully they too were soon sucked into the puzzle as we tried 3 different pumps with no success. The instructions didn’t offer any assistance other than the hope that the tube could be inflated by mouth. Now I’d love to see the person who could inflate this tube by mouth as all I succeeded in doing was bursting a lung.
By this stage the bass fishermen had lost interest and wondered back to their fully inflated tubes. I battled on and eventually worked out that I could lock the valves open, pump the bladder to near full, and then shut the valves without loosing too much air. I then managed the last few pumps by getting Sharon to hold the nozzle against the valve while I pumped like crazy. An hour later and the tube was finally ready; I kicked out onto the water a little frustrated but glad I was finally going to get some fishing done.
Since writing this post I’ve visited 2 fishing shops neither of whom were able to assist in pumping up the tube. One assistant was so kind as to get out a tube and to open a pump, boasting it was an easy task, only to discover it was near impossible. After leaving them flustered in the shop I taped the attachment Xplorer provide onto my pump’s tube and the tube now goes up with ease. I wouldn’t however want to open this v-boat for the first time at the dam, far from home.
The dam itself was low (80% according to a local website) which meant that the water was 10 meters back from the reed beds I usually fished against. There was therefore very little structure available other than a few sunken trees. I’m guessing this is why the fishing had been tough as neither of the two fisherman who’d assisted me had caught, and neither had any of the small boats bobbing around me.
Being quite busy near the picnic sight I kicked my way north-west searching for structure. Eventually, after about an hour, I found a section with some weed and picked up my first small bass of the day. Feeling better about my outing I decided it was a good time to u-turn and head back to the picnic sight. Amazingly my journey back was more successful and I picked up several more small bass over the sandy bottom.
The tube itself performed well. Coming from a Fishcat with inflatable seats I was worried that the foam seats would be uncomfortable but, although they are firmer, this certainly isn’t the case as I fished happily for two hours. The stripping apron is fuller than on the Fishcat which I loved as my line got snagged less often. Otherwise it was much of a muchness to be honest. The pockets were roughly the same size although the built in drinks holders take up a little space once holding a drink. The boat moved easily though the water which is a must. And the stabiliser bar didn’t worry me although some say it’s a safety concern if the tube ever flips. That said Nick and I have tested this before and it didn’t cause us any issues (read our tube myth busting here). All in all I found it to be a great tube which I’d happily recommend to a friend.