Fly fishing from a drift boat can be a tremendous advantage over wade fishing. It allows you to cover a lot more water and get amazingly long drifts. I row a drift boat about a 180 days a year and have worked hard to perfect my craft. When fly fishing from a drift boat it is important to remember it is different from wade fishing. I watch a countless number of drift boats go by trying to fish like they would while wading. Here are some simple tips to help you catch more fish from a drift boat.
1. Row the boat at the same speed as your flies.
Most of the time your flies and the boat will be moving in different currents. That means the boat and the flies will be traveling at different speeds. The rower needs to focus on one of the flies and slow down or speed up accordingly. It is the job of the fisherman to mend his/her line as needed to keep a proper drift. If two people are fishing, fish out the same side of the boat at a similar distance. It is impossible for the rower to row two different drifts at the same time.
2. Fish nymphs perpendicular to the boat with the boat pointed downstream.
If you fish nymphs in front of the boat you will miss most of your hits. In fact, the majority of your hits won’t even move your indicator. You’ll never know if they even happened. Cast your line straight towards shore and mend accordingly. You want your flies to trail back on a 45 degree angle from your indicator. This will increase the number of hookups.
3. Don’t overweight your nymph rigs.
Weight your rigs enough to get the flies to the bottom without hanging up. It should take the flies five to ten seconds to reach the feeding zone. I can usually float 200 to 500 feet without hanging up. If you never hang up you probably need to add a little weight. Adding too much weight will not allow the flies to drift naturally with the current. Rather your indicator will pull your flies through the natural currents. The undercurrents are not always the same as the surface current. You want your flies to drift naturally.
4. Fish Dry flies downstream from the boat.
An easy way to do this is turn the boat sideways and cast straight downstream. This can be difficult if the wind is blowing. If the boat is pointed downstream, cast as much downstream as possible and still reach your desired target. A 45 degree angle downstream is a good place to start. Both fishermen should fish parallel to one another. When fishing the bank avoid the temptation to cast straight across. Hit the bank as far downstream as possible. A reach cast works best.
5. Things not to do.
Don’t fish behind the boat. Especially with dry flies. You want the fish to see your fly first, not last.
Don’t anchor in a run or on a flat. It is rude to block the natural flow of traffic.
Don’t pull anchor and start fishing in front of someone right behind you.
Don’t switch sides of the river in front of other boats.
Don’t row over other peoples flies.
Don’t criticize other boats for their mistakes.
6.Things to do.
Have fun and catch fish.
Give others lots of space.
Avoid contention on the river.
We are all out there to have a good time, so lets have a good time.