How To Fish From a Drift Boat

A wooden drift boat running through rapidsProper fishing from a drift boat will increase every ones catch rate and make the life of the rower much easier. On a typical guiding day on the South Fork of the Snake I will tell my clients to cast downstream up to (but certainly not limited to)  100 times. With everyone following basic rules inside the drift boat, everyone’s fishing will not only be better, but there will be less tangles. I will outline some key points here that are certain to not only cut down on your tangling with each other problems, but increase your catch rate exponentially.

Casting Downstream

Proper casting angle from a drift boat
Shown here is the proper angle for casting in a drift boat. Notice the slower slack water on the side of the river that holds the fish, while the boat is in much faster water. This downstream angle will allow for maximum drift length.

The fact is that most of the time the fish are tucked up against the bank in slower water than the boat is in; therefore the boat will be traveling faster than your flies on the surface of the water.

If you are casting to the side of the boat your flies are drifting backwards quickly and dragging within a very short period of time.

Casting at the maximum downstream angle will allow you to attain maximum drift time and most certainly increase your rate of catching trout.

Casting at the Same Angle and the Same Side of the Boat

Casting a fly rod involves taking up a lot of real estate in the air with your line. With 2 people casting in opposite directions (or even slightly different angles) there can quickly become problems that all fishing guides despise– Tangles..

Casting in different directions from a drift boat
As you can see the lines of these two fisherman have crossed in mid air. Casting in 2 directions from a drift boat leads to huge tangles.

Granted, two people can cast at different sides of the boat if they are capable of paying attention, but that almost never happens. Even a slight difference in downstream angle casting will lead to back casts being caught and causing a catastrophe.

The Angler in the Back needs to Pay Attention

Since the fly fisherman in the back of the boat is looking forward and eying up the next perfect cast, he (or she) should be paying close attention to the front anglers casting. The best way to efficiently fish from a drift boat with 2 people is to pay attention. I know it’s hard to watch every time the front person casts, but you are a human being capable of predicting problems before they occur, so do that..

As I type this I have just finished guiding almost every day for 3 months, so I might seem a little cranky about this subject. If you take only one piece of advice from this article, it should be- Cast it downstream dude!

If  you can follow these simple tips, you can successfully catch endless amounts of trout from a boat.