Belly-Boat is a very practical fishing vessel, which is becoming more popular, especially when fly fishing and spinning! If you want to fish from Belly-Boat as efficiently as possible and at the same time feel completely safe in open and deep water, you should be well prepared and know all its advantages, disadvantages and suitable conditions for its use! This article should serve anyone who is considering to buy Belly-Boat, or already owns it, but is not yet quite clear about its usage!
HISTORY OF BELLY-BOAT: I first read about something with a special name "Belly-Boat" on the "First Czech Fly Fishing Website", where was some instructions on how to make your own and very cheap round Belly-Boat (O-Boat) from a tractor wheel inner tube and simple straps. Even though my uncle is a farmer, I wouldn't be far from a big inner tube from a tractor wheel and a simple strap wouldn't be a challenge for my friend seamstress, I never did it and waited a few years for my first U-Boat from Snowbee!
Maybe it's actually good, because the first O-Boats were not very comfortable and especially safe - I can't imagine a situation where a single-chamber bladder would start run to seed on the water - with fins on my legs and waist in a cloth strap. I think at such a moment it would really be life threatening!
The already mentioned U-Boat was another and much more comfortable and safer stage of development. Such a Belly-Boat was U-shaped, ie open at the front for free movement of legs. The wedge was dammed with a rod with a net for storing the fly line. There was also a practical inflatable backrest and therefore another extra air chamber, which was a great benefit in case the main soul started to run to seed! The U-Boats also had fabric pockets on the sides, where it was possible to store boxes with flies, spare clothes or a snack. The best known and probably the most used model was the legendary purple-green U-Boat Creek Company for purchase in Gammarus store. A huge disadvantage of this type of boat was the thin fabric "seat" - a strip of fabric connecting the both sides of Belly-Boat, so you actually sat in the water! With my U-Boat, I solved it with an inflatable pillow, but I still did not avoid the access of water to my back.
Leaving aside the various pontoons, catamarans and their all sorts of "hybrids" with the original Belly-Boat concept, which I don't want to focus on, because I don't even consider them to be a real Belly-Boat, we get to the last and almost perfect stage of Belly-Boat: V-Boat whose excellent specific example is Belly Boat Guideline Drifter Kick Boat.
This type of boat retained the basic principles of Belly-Boat as such, and also solved all the problematic elements of its predecessor in the form of U-Boat.
First of all, here we find the division of a single main soul into two "banana" inner tubes, which are connected at their thinner ends (hence the shape of the letter V). These tubes are covered with a tough nylon material, on which we find on both sides spacious and divided zipper pockets, velcro fasteners for attaching a spare rod or landing net, or on some models (OutCast) even padded holders for a bottle or cup with a drink. Between these inner tubes is an elevated comfortable inflatable seat with a backrest, which is attracted to the fabric cover of the boat and so it does not bend, and thus creates a great support for the fisherman's back!
At the Belly Boat Guideline Drifter Kick Boat, we also find a back support rod, which rests on inflated souls and provides real support for our backs! The seat is connected to the backrest, it sits with the main tubes on the water, so the access of water to the fisherman's body is really only from the feet, which are submerged in the water below the knees, so that they can correct the V-Boat by moving the fins. Everything ends with a practical solid rod that keeps the soul level and thus complements the overall stability of the V-Boat. On this rod we will also find a practical net with a measure for storing the fly line and an approximate measurement of the catch.
An excellent and very special affair with the Belly Boat Guideline Drifter Kick Boat is the inner division of the main inner tubes into other inner tubes. With such a Belly-Boat, you really don't have to worry about your safety anymore, because if you counted me correctly when calculating the separate air space, you could count 6 independent inner tubes(2 main with 2 internal smaller - each with a separate valve + separately inflatable seat + separately inflatable backrest).
The space between the souls and the seat is connected by a rubberized net, which is under water at all times during the dive and serves as an excellent space for storing the catch, or I personally use this space to cool the drink in a PET bottle, store the landing net and Crocs, in which I come to the water!
Another excellent addition to this type of Belly-Boat are detachable suspenders, thanks to which you can comfortably carry the boat to the water calmly even over longer distances and in worse terrain. During the summer hunts, I really appreciate this during my expeditions to the trout-flooded sand pits, which are not allowed to enter with car. With a kilometer walk with a boat full of equipment and enough fluids from the car to the water, these suspenders are priceless.
WHERE TO HUNT WITH BELLY-BOAT? In the Czech Republic from the trout hunter's point of view, fishing from Belly-Boat is practically only possible in private areas with salmonid fish. Of course, there are also some trout still waters, in which even salmonid fish occur and on which fishing from vessels is allowed at the same time, but they are in the Czech Republic (given the great potential and number of clean dam reservoirs suitable for occurrence and fishing salmonid fish) so sadly that these are rather embarrassing exceptions!
In union waters - especially non-trout waters - fishing from Belly-Boat is allowed only in such areas where fishing from a boat (fishing from vessels) is allowed, or where more detailed conditions directly state the permitted hunting from Belly-Boat!
This basically brings us to the issue of using Belly-Boat when fishing on the river, where fishing from vessels is allowed. Of course, this is possible and even feasible without any problems, I just appeal to everyone to choose the right places where they want to fish on the river with Belly-Boat. I usually fish only in overpasses and calm water places, where I know that there are no strong currents and dangerous obstacles that could complicate my life while fishing. Sometimes I swim down the river with Belly-Boat to get to normally hard to reach places, but let's assume that I know what to expect on the river and I definitely don't go to it with Belly-Boat during its flooding, etc.
ADVANTAGES OF BELLY-BOAT: Size, lightness, stability, very simple, unobtrusive and precise control with the help of fins, amount of storage space, easy portability, price (compared to kayak, boat or paddleboard), fishing comfort, direct contact with water (warm months).
DISADVANTAGES OF BELLY-BOAT: Lower position of the hunter when STALING fish under surface (compared to paddle board, boat), slow movement on the water - moving over a long distance, direct contact with water (cold months), permanent possession without the possibility of changing the position, the price (compared to the inflatable boat).
SAFETY WHEN FISHING FROM BELLY-BOAT is very important and must be taken care of! It is generally recommended to fish at least two and use a life jacket, which is very important when, for example, a boat would start to run to seed. This never happened to me and as I wrote above, today, the Belly-Boats are really stable and safe, and this recommendation applies mainly to users of older models.
GOOD TIPS FOR HUNTING FROM BELLY-BOAT: As I wrote in my recent article "How To Choose The Right Waders & Wading Boots" - If you like to fish on a Belly-Boats, you should get one more waders at least a lot bigger for this style of fishing! Definitely do not use waders in which you normally catch on the river and which will fit you perfectly according to the above aspects. Due to the kicking of the fins, the material of the waders is gradually pulled up towards the crotch and the fabric is thus switched off on the knees. In this case, the material and seams expand, which leads to a gradual leakage of external water into the pants - the waders begin to leak water and once they start, they usually do not stop! ;-)
Get big Crocs shoes, which you can put on the neoprene sock of waders. With such light rubber boots, you can walk on land, but also in water when boarding a Belly-Boat. They are floating, so if they fall, for example, when you put your fins on, you won't drown them! In addition, they are very light and ideally stored in the rear mesh area of the boat or. somewhere on the shore. And if someone steals them from you or you lose them, nothing really happened! With wading boots, all this would be much more difficult and their loss more painful. - My own patent! :-)
Dress well! Especially in the cold months and in cold water! Cold goes to the body from the legs and if you are not insulated enough, you will cool down quickly and you won't last long on the water! Quality clothing is the basis and this is even more true when fishing from Belly-Boat!
Take into account the weather and the boat material! In warm weather, do not inflate the Belly-Boat unnecessarily, the expansion of the air will take care of it on the water itself, and if you have the boat inflated, there is a risk of bursting inner tubes. In warm sunny weather, check the tubes, or release air from them, or cool them by watering them - I regularly practice this during hot summer hunts.
If you plan an all-day hunt and the space in the pockets of the boat is not enough for all luggage and snacks, get a lockable plastic transparent box of appropriate dimensions for its placement in the back space behind the backrest. Such a box can easily be in the water and you can hide everything you need in it! - My own patent! :-)
Land the fish from the side of the Belly-Boat, not from the front side, where you have to lean over your bent legs! It is much more comfortable from the side and there is no risk of losing the often trophy catch! ;-)
FIN SELECTION: This topic was discussed so many times - the hardness and length of the fins, also whether to fish in wading boots or in neoprene socks, etc. I see it clearly! Be sure to choose fins for a neoprene sock and don't overdo it with the length of the fin blade, you won't race with anyone on the boat! If you buy medium-long fins with an optimally flexible harder blade, you will be satisfied! I have been using traditional Belly-Boat fins from Creek Company for several years and I have never dealt with anything fundamental. Guideline also offers quality fins to its Belly-Boats!
WORDS IN CONCLUSION: Today, there are already many ways to fish directly from the open water. Some, for example, are much more effective in finding fish below the surface due to their higher position on a given vessel (paddleboard, boat, kayak), but again they have their shortcomings compared to Belly-Boat. The paddleboard or kayak is, for example, less stable when fighting, handling the catch and in the wind, and it is very unstable, the boat (inflatable boat) is too big or heavy to carry, etc.
Despite the above-mentioned shortcomings, I am still convinced that the Belly-Boat has more practical advantages than meaningful disadvantages and is therefore a very complex - very manoeuvrable - stable fishing vessel, which is perfect especially for fly fishing or spinning. And even though, thanks to my gradual laziness on the water surface in Belly-Boat, I go less than before, I'm very happy to own it and take it as a stable part of my fly fishing equipment!
If you are hesitant about buying it, I will be very happy if my article will help persuade you to take action! ;-) And if I can advise you on a specific type, especially given my positive years of experience, I can really recommend the Belly-Boat Guideline Drifter Kick Boat with a clear conscience, because it is really very cleverly designed, reliable and in all respects the best of the offer that is on the market today! In short, I am 100% convinced about this product! :-)