Drift boat fishing

mcnerney

Administrator
Messages
20,723
Reaction score
131
Location
Pinedale, WY
I do both, but prefer using the boat for access, then getting out and wading the best locations!
 

cooutlaw

Well-known member
Messages
877
Reaction score
21
Location
Colorado
Good question Dillon - In my experience only, your mileage may vary...I think that it is entirely based on the water being fished and personal preference at the time....a boat offers access in many cases to water that could not reasonably be reached (too deep or fast to wade in sections, to far to reach on foot in a reasonable timeframe, within a steep canyon, little to no access via shore, private property areas abutting the water, etc. etc.)...and with someone good on the sticks and ability to anchor, it can give you options you wouldn't otherwise have available....there are places a boat can cover that are simply too deep or swift or both to safely wade...and offer the ability to fish these from the boat, it also offers great and usually quicker access to reach areas where you then can wade.....if an area is very productive, hatches are reliable and in full bloom, and/or may require working it for a longer period of time...anchoring off, getting out and wade fishing is, no doubt, superior to drifting through the area, even slowly, and with someone skilled on the sticks, boats simply don't have a very good reverse gear. Personally, I like boats on certain water for access purposes, but really enjoy the more engaged aspects of stalking and wading. I guided, and I always felt boats covered a lot of water and put clients on more fishing areas in an outing than solely wading, however, I also always felt there were fewer opportunities to fish the water thoroughly casting from a boat when it's far more hurried while passing through various sections of water....I think there is a nice compromise to be found....boat access to productive water (fish along the way if desired), exit, wade, and enjoy with no time constraint,....reload, repeat next stop. From a guides mind...fishing for wages and tips, you cover most water possible for most opportunities.... conversely, if they are fishing for themselves, or with seasoned and familiar clients, or friends, there is a good chance my above spoken compromise will likely be in play. Luckily, boats don't enforce specific usage rules and we have the freedom to use them as we alone desire....guess this is one of those questions that has no right or wrong answer and further has that personal preference quotient and "it depends" half dozen variables factor as well.
 

dillon

Well-known member
Messages
1,794
Reaction score
27
Location
Portland and Maupin, Oregon
Very well stated, cooutlaw. I have a driftboat that I use for floating my local steelhead streams. We always get out and fish, as we step cast runs, swinging flies with Spey rods. On my home trout/steelhead river, the Deschutes, fishing from a floating device is not allowed. My favorite trips there are guided on the Warm Springs Reservation. One must have a guide for access and may choose between floating or driving along the river on dirt roads in a 4 wheel drive monstrous truck. We always take the truck as it can go in both river directions.

I've towed the boat on our annual trout trip to Id/mt. Although it has offered some great access it doesn't seem worth it for many of the reasons you mentioned. The way we fish requires getting out of the boat or dropping the anchor. We aren't great oarsmen and pulling on that anchor rope all day is pretty hard work. However, we have enjoyed some great fun taking turns casting to risers from the boat. It really facilitates working together and learning from each other. Seldom do we have that experience when wading. It's more like parallel play as we each usually focus on our own fish, sometimes a great distance apart.

So, the solution has been to have three guys to share the work and rent a boat where they are available. Those adipose rentals are pretty nice and my clackacraft model is not designed for trout fishing. However, hiring a guide to do all the work would be the best option. They know where all the fish are feeding too. By the time we spot them it's usually too late to drop the hook.

i just wondered how others felt about it. You nailed it, imho. Boats are fun, but the answer to my own question is really to walk in and wade. My boat has been sitting in storage for a couple or three years. But, I do hope to get out on a winter float at least once this year...
 

Ard

Administrator
Messages
19,323
Reaction score
272
Location
Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
We are all different, but me? I found that slinging flies from a moving boat injects a level of stress, hurry and excitement into fishing that I did not like at my first experience with it. I've used boats, various types including drift boats for fishing since 1983 and always preferred them as the 'way' and not the 'means' or is that the other way around...……………….

I have however seen circumstances where I floated a river and it became acutely clear that the only way my passenger could fish certain spots was from the boat. I tended to bookmark those spots and forewarn the fisherman ahead of time what they had to do when we got there. In some currents the guy doing the casting gets one or 2 shots at the honey hole and that's it because you had to use way too much time rowing back up to drift it again.

Now days I only fish from drift boats if they belong to someone else and because of the style of fishing (Spey rods & streamers) we float and park all the way down the river.
 

Lewis Chessman

Well-known member
Messages
910
Reaction score
14
Location
Isle of Lewis, UK.
Thanks for posing the question, dillon, it's made for an interesting read to a man largely ignorant of your 'drift fishing'. It's something we do on lochs, lakes and reservoirs rather than rivers - probably much to do with traditional land ownership / riparian rights limiting river access to a few miles at a time in the UK while you guys are freer to roam.
I was very fortunate to drift the Deschutes with an ex-guide once, somewhere north of Redmond in salmon fly season. I hooked up on my first or second cast but blanked after that. It was a memorable day nevertheless and my host was good company. I remain indebted. I didn't realise (or had forgotten) that one had to wade there - which is what we did, of course.

Is harling practiced anywhere in N.A.? There's a good description of the method here - although a motor helps, oars and a good boatman did the same job for decades before. Not something I've yet tried myself.

Another method I've come across, and one I have gillied myself, is walking a boat down a pool and/or letting it down a few yards at a time from an anchored rope.
In the first instance the guest would Spey or overhead from a seated position in the stern while the gillie, standing in the river, walks the boat down the pool, holding onto the gunwales for dear life, giving the rod a few casts before dropping down a few paces more. It was a method really reserved for well-liked, elderly guests who were finding the wading difficult. It does need a swivel seat for the angler, though, or they tend to complain of a twisted back after a few hours 'on the plank'.

Letting down on a rope is easier on the gillie who stays in the boat, regularly paying out a metre or two of rope at intervals and using an oar as a rudder to swing the boat across a pool (thole pins essential!) when advantageous. The rope is stored in figure of eight wraps on 'bull horns' mounted on the prow. This method is definitely easier on the guide but causes more disturbance to a pool. Not only is there the rope, maybe 60 yards+ of it, there can be noise from the anchor setting or slipping and, of course, the gillie has to pull the boat back up the pool once it's been fished through.

However, both methods do allow a pool to be fished thoroughly and the second often by overheading when the water is too deep or fast for the first method to get clear of bankside greenery. They also have big advantages for the infirm and inexperienced, giving both space behind and (relative) safety. I've had some giggles getting my old boys in and out of the boat though - thankfully no bones broken yet!

I'm sure you guys must do similarly Stateside when conditions dictate?
 

jbcissell

Well-known member
Messages
244
Reaction score
2
We drift fish from the boat and rarely get out. Often times the tailwaters I fish you can't get out. Sometimes we do anchor up and fish but that's because I want to fish and usually the other person can't row or because it's just a honey hole where we can sit in the boat and catch a bunch of fish.

I very rarely wade fish anymore. Just feel like I can't cover enough water wading.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

k_e_v

Well-known member
Messages
951
Reaction score
27
Location
Farmington, ill. -Stop by for a cold beer on your
I prefer the boat. Nothing better than getting that long 100-150 ft drift with the hopper 4 inches from the bank waiting for the water to explode or slamming thru the deeper canyon sections picking and popping every rock cushion, eddy, or seam and quickly picking back up and hitting the next one and the next one and the next one. Just talking about it makes me want to call the fly shop and make a reservation;)
 

huronfly

Well-known member
Messages
742
Reaction score
22
Location
Ontario, Canada
Ill be getting a raft this summer, and it's primary purpose will be to anchor up above pools to swing flies through. A lot of areas around me have steep drop-offs from the bank and no access by foot, and can not be waded so for this fishing out of a boat makes sense.
 

dillon

Well-known member
Messages
1,794
Reaction score
27
Location
Portland and Maupin, Oregon
Ill be getting a raft this summer, and it's primary purpose will be to anchor up above pools to swing flies through. A lot of areas around me have steep drop-offs from the bank and no access by foot, and can not be waded so for this fishing out of a boat makes sense.
Swinging flies for steelhead or trout! With Spey or single hand rod?
 

dillon

Well-known member
Messages
1,794
Reaction score
27
Location
Portland and Maupin, Oregon
I prefer the boat. Nothing better than getting that long 100-150 ft drift with the hopper 4 inches from the bank waiting for the water to explode or slamming thru the deeper canyon sections picking and popping every rock cushion, eddy, or seam and quickly picking back up and hitting the next one and the next one and the next one. Just talking about it makes me want to call the fly shop and make a reservation;)
This post reminds me of a day Sweetandsalt and I were anchored in a long dry fly slick on the Beaverhead. As we were sitting there two guys in a Rocky Mountain skiff came floating down the river. One guy standing in the bow while his partner back rowed the skiff keeping the caster in prefect position to present to risers on the far bank. My pard pointed out one they had passed by. The man on the sticks deftly maneuvered the boat back up stream into position for Eric Troth to make the perfect presentation. The fish ate it. No, not a Elk Hair Caddis, a PMD Thorax Dun. Al, would have been proud of them, anyway...

I never saw those guys drop the hook to cast. They were poetry in motion...
 
Last edited:

huronfly

Well-known member
Messages
742
Reaction score
22
Location
Ontario, Canada
Spey casting from a drift boat was really easy, actually I found shooting line much easier than if I was wading. The fact that the running line was not being pulled by the current made casting very, very easy and made for a great experience.

On the other hand I've done spey casting while seated in a frameless raft and it was a major pain. Seated spey casting does not work too well, for me at least, hard to get your core and leg muscles involved... Also, shooting line was a pain as it was getting caught on my boots seemingly every other cast.
 

dillon

Well-known member
Messages
1,794
Reaction score
27
Location
Portland and Maupin, Oregon
Yes, I can't imagine Spey casting from a seated position and never tried it from the boat, but it does sound doable. On a large coastal stream I like to fish there is a nice run where guides anchor their boats mid river and get out to fish. I've been afraid to do it for fear the anchor might not hold and leave me there unable to wade out. However, casting from an anchored boat might be a good way to do it. But, of course my passenger would have to sit and watch...
 

huronfly

Well-known member
Messages
742
Reaction score
22
Location
Ontario, Canada
Why couldn't your passenger fish too? We had no problem with two of us spey casting from the boat and raft. Rower uses upsteam anchor, and the person on the bow use a downstream anchor(wind permitting). Its a great way to cover water if the two of you are using different tips and weighted/unweighted flies. Strip a couple feet of line off between every cast and once you've maxed your casting distance, pull the anchor and drift down another 30ft and do the same thing.
 

dillon

Well-known member
Messages
1,794
Reaction score
27
Location
Portland and Maupin, Oregon
Good idea, didn't think of that. When anchored and trout fishing two casting at the Same time has been problematic. If both are right handed casters the guy in the front favors casting to the left bank while the guy in the rear has a better angle to the right bank. So we alternate banks and take turns casting. I can't cast over my left shoulder with a single hand rod. But, with a Spey rod I can and usually do when on river right and making mid river casts.
 

row jimmy

Active member
Messages
30
Reaction score
1
Location
Between Camp Baker and Eden
I like both depending on conditions and fishing method.

High water, covering marginal water between prime lies, streamer fishing or searching with a big dry, I'll take my boat all day.
But if I really want to Hoover a section of water I love to get out and wade. This way I can hit very angle and every piece of structure.

This combo is my daily approach.
 

Kyo

Well-known member
Messages
190
Reaction score
3
Location
Billings, Big Sky Country
I find it very relaxing to fish from a drift boat. Stressful part is finding somebody you trust on the sticks. It's easier on my back.

Hope to fish the lower Yellowstone this year where fish counts are lower so I suspect we'll occasionally have to do more wade fishing to cover more ground.
 
Top