Today was my first day riding the 420 and I was automatically detecting similarities and differences between this newer one and my old one. Here are some comparisons that will hopefully help future float tubers with their decision:
**Remember, I am comparing the ODC 420 "heavy model" and the Fish Cat 4 LCS float tubes.**
First off, both tubes are awesome. They both sit really high out of the water, are very stable, and have the "v-shape" design that allows you to maneuver quickly and skim over choppy water. Compared to other tubes such as the round or U-shaped ones, these two tubes win hands down. If you can't decide on a tube, get a v-shaped one and you will be forever grateful. If you want to get into specifics then keep on reading.
The 420 has pockets, lots of them! I love being organized when I'm on the water and we all know how digging through a tackle box while jabbing hooks into your finger is no fun. With my older FC4 this was a constant problem. Also, it's really hard finding boxes that fit in the FC4 pockets while still taking advantage of every square inch of available space. With my new tube, I finally have the ability to store specific items separately from one another. On today's trip I was able to store my camera, small boxes, wallet/phone/keys, box of weights, bags of plastics, and fish scent in their own compartments....and I still had left over pockets! As times goes on I plan on buying specific boxes for each pocket. This organization is really important for me, when I want a soft plastic or a crank bait I want it now, not later. I need everything at the tips of my fingers, and I hate missed opportunities. The ODC 420 definitely wins when it comes to storage.
On the downside, the valves of the 420 are located INSIDE the pockets, covered by a fabric flap to avoid damage to the valves. Personally I didn't see a problem with this, but many anglers complain about the "lack of space". I can tell you first hand though, it seems like the 420 still has more room even with the poorly placed valves. In the future my opinion may change, but as of now the many storage pockets make up for this small design flaw. I would have to check actual pocket dimensions (maybe the 420 really does have more storage space) but I feel like being able to store different items in different pockets gives the illusion of more room because you aren't forced to cram everything in two gigantic pockets. Think of it like this: Junk drawer vs. a neatly organized desk. :cool:
HANDLES AND D-RINGS:
The first time I picked up my 420 I went to grab the handles that I always used on my FC4....but they weren't there. These were the two handles located on either side of the seat. Unfortunately I was not able to compare these tubes next to each other, but I did notice that the 420 lacked the above mentioned handles but it did have two extra D-rings located at the front of the tube on each of the separate bladders. I can live without the handles but I really do like these extra D-rings for a very important reason: Drifting live bait for halibut! If you guys have seen my reports before you know I occasionally enjoy drifting dines for butts while hauling around the bait in a bait net. Well, with my FC4 I would have to tie off the net to a d-ring located near the side pockets which caused the tube to spin a lot and constantly got in my way. Hopefully these two d-rings allow for some better and more convenient placement of my bait net.
The 420 wins this one. The FC4 mesh goes up to 18 inches and is not 100% accurate (although it is BARELY off). The 420 goes up to 20" (I haven't measured it's accuracy yet) which will come in handy for me this January when I start hauling in the big spotties late at night. The big difference though is that the FC4 apron has some weird plastic "posts" that stick into the tube....you get used to them after awhile but they are annoying. The apron on the 420 goes across your lap and attaches with some velcro. Nice and simple. On the FC4 the plastic posts have a metal "hinge" on them that will rust pretty bad if you don't take care of them. No metal on the 420 so no rust.
If there are holes on the FC4 I never noticed. Today I took the 420 out of the water and as soon as I got out of the water I lifted it on my shoulder and walked away....and was surprised at how much water leaked out. I will inspect this more on my next trip but it suggests that the 420 either allows more water to come aboard while on the water or it just does a really good job letting the water drain out of it vs. the fish cat. I do remember some holes on the FC4 but don't remember this much water leaking out.
Both tubes have a decent amount of room in the rear to store gear. Be advised, anything you put here will get wet. I learned this the hard way when I put my sweatshirt back there on my very first trip. The 420 does have more room though (the 420 is bigger) so you can use this extra space to store a small cooler, your life preserver, a sweatshirt in a dry bag etc.
For me this isn't that important but I did notice that the 420 is bigger than the Fish Cat 4 but smaller than the Fish Cat Deluxe. How is this important? Well, it probably adds stability to the tube which is great for those who use it for salt water fishing. One thing I really like is how I'm not forced to rest my arms on the pockets of my new tube. The FC4 is a bit narrower and I was forced to rest me forearms on the pockets when I started to get tired....which is great at night for breaking your sunglasses that you tucked away. Been there done that.
This is an important factor. The FC4 has awesome, thick bladders and I never had a problem with mine. However, I do know some people who've had small leaks, but never anything that couldn't be patched up. I have heard that the 420 has bad bladders, and this does make me a bit nervous. As soon as I unboxed my new tube I checked to see if this was true and the bladders do feel a bit "thinner". After doing some searching online it seems like an equal amount of problems have occurred with FC4 bladders and 420 bladder so I have my fingers crossed. Until then I will continue to deflate my tube when not in use and will make sure I don't over inflate it when on the water.
Originally priced at $229.99, the ODC is currently $159.99 on amazon.com (which was a huge factor in buying this tube...that's a $70 savings!!!). On the other hand, the FC4 is currently $199. The way I see it, I paid less for a tube that is "worth" more. I'm happy with that.
WEIGHT & Capacity:
The 420 weighs 16 pounds vs. the Fish Cat's 14 pounds, but at 300 pounds the ODC 420 will carry 50 pounds more than the FC4. Definitely something to consider if you are a bigger guy or like to lug a ton of tackle around with you.
From what I've seen the FC4 has a 5 year warranty and the ODC as a lifetime warranty. Either way, I have heard AMAZING things about customer service from both manufacturers, and rarely is a warranty ever needed. I know some guys who've had their tubes for years and years and use them way more than "normal people" do.
Specifications taken from manufactures website:
Individual 14 gauge PVC bladders with high volume Boston Valves.
Tough 420 denier nylon upper cover.
30 oz. PVC bottom cover for added durability.
Thick foam seat and adjustable seat back for all day comfort.
Rear storage area.
D-Rings for Optional Pack Straps. (not included)
Doe's not come with a pump.
Overall Weight - 16 pounds.
Weight Capacity - 300 lbs.
Packed Dimensions - 22x19x12 inches.
FISH CAT 4:
Inflated Size: 44" x 54"
Tube Diameter: 12"
Fabric: 420 PC/500 PVC
Material Weight: 30 oz/sq. yd.
AireCell Material: Vinyl
Seam Construction: Sewn
Valve Type: 2-Boston
Weight: 14 lbs.
Load Capacity: 250 lbs.
For more information:
Fish Cat 4:
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So far I like my 420 and it seems to be better than the FC4. The fish cat is a tank though with really thick bladders. In the end I think the winner is the ODC simply because I got it for cheaper (even though it sells for more) and the storage on this thing is amazing. Valve placement on the 420 isn't ideal and the bladders don't seem to be as thick....but I know guys who've ridden old Caddis float tubes around for years with no problems. I give this win to the ODC 420 but remember, this could change in the future and my opinion is probably leaning towards the 420 because I just bought it and don't want to have any buyers regrets :cool: