Sid's Fin Hack
Modifying float tube fins with better straps normally used on snowboard bindings. This article shows how you can easily modify the fins yourself.
By David ”Sid” Cheraghi
I make no claim of being the first with this type of modification. The purpose of this article is to share my way of modifying float tube fins with pump-straps from snowboard bindings. I've got a lot of joy out of my modification and hope others can have great use of it as well!
Destruction can sometimes breed creation
Step-In fins with cardboard straps are, in my opinion, practically made for float tube fishing. They weigh little, are easy to pack into an IKEA bag and easy to put on. The entire procedure of putting the fins on and getting into the tube feels neat in comparison to others fins that I've tried.
Needless to say, fins with cardboard straps are nothing less than divine, until the straps give way; that's when your goose is really cooked! It's not a question of IF they give way as much as WHEN, because they don't float. If you are somewhat lucky this will happen close to shore and not in deeper waters on a stormy day, which is exactly what happened to me. However, I was lucky enough to be somewhat close to shore. The fins didn't have bad quality, you just have to realize that equipment have a given lifespan based on how much you use it. This can be compared to a light bulb's projected lifespan measured in hours and the hours of my fins had definitely reached their limit. That being said, I rushed to buy a pair of new ones of the same brand and model the very same night.
The fin that remained from the old pair was brought on every trip as a reserve. The new pair eventually gave way too and, to my chagrin, I discovered that the strap on the spare fin was very worn. Every trip thereafter was nothing less than pure horror, being constantly afraid that the straps would go off at any moment.
With cardboard straps, you can't just step into the fins; you have to remove the straps, then step in and finally fasten the straps. With a pair of snowboard straps, the procedure is shortened to just stepping in and fastening the straps. In addition, a great benefit is that you won't have to touch wet cardboard straps with frozen fingers when unstrapping.
Getting your hands on a pair of snowboard straps isn't that difficult, just go into your local snowboard specialty shop or try contacting a manufacturer. The front spare straps cost me about 10 Euros at a specialty shop. You will also need some nuts and bolts that can be found at most well-stocked hardware stores. If you want to increase the security, you can attaches board-walkers to the fins and fasten them around your waders built-in grovel guards.
2. The front straps (pump model) from a pair snowboard bindings.
3. 4 pcs of Coach Bolts, M6x30mm. They should be acid-proof in A4 steel. Not just electro galvanized, but acid-proof all through.
4. 4 pcs of Fender Washers in M6. They should be acid-proof in A4 steel. Not just electro galvanized, but acid-proof all through.
5. 4 pcs of Lock Nuts in M6. They should be acid-proof in A4 steel. Not just electro galvanized, but acid-proof all through.
6. Loctite 2701 - High Strength Treadlocker
2. Needle files
1. Mark in the inside of the fins where the coach bolts are going to be.
2. Puncture the material with an awl
3. Form square hole with needle files or any tool of you liking. Just make sure the holes are square and match the square parts of the coach bolts.
4. Drill 6mm holes in the end parts of the snowboard straps if needed.
5. Grind the area around the 6mm holes so both sides are smooth if there is anything sticking out. You want smooth surfaces for an optimum fitting.
6. Cut the coach bolt to desired length or buy the perfect length if you can find any.
7. Mount the fender washers and lock nuts onto the straps and coach bolts on the outside of the fins. Use Loctite 2701 when doing this.
Legal and Moral Disclaimer of Fin Modification
Making such modifications are solely your own responsibility. The modification does not guarantee for your safety whatsoever! Make sure to use all possible safety precautions when using this modification. DO NOT TAKE UNNECESSARY RISKS! BE SAFE AT ALL TIMES!