The type of drift boat you want to purchase largely depends on the “technicality” of the rivers on which you’ll be fishing.
When it comes to drift boating, “technicality” refers to the level of navigational difficulty the oarsman will face. Some rivers are relatively non-technical, meaning there aren’t many twists and turns, and the water speed is mainly consistent. More technical rivers are going to involve a lot of angles, large rocks, and rapids.
While on a river where water is quickly being pushed through rocky areas, the oarsman is going to have to fight the water pressure in order to navigate through the safest areas.
A successful fishing trip depends on a thorough understanding of the river and the ability to operate the right boat for the job.
Drift Boat Characteristics
High Side vs. Low Side
With river technicality in mind, should you be looking at getting a high side or low side drift boat? Low side is ideal for large rivers with gentle streams. They’re also easy to use in strong winds. When it comes to low-technicality rivers, low sides are the way to go.
High side drift boats are better for technical rivers with lots of rapids, twists, and turns.
- Plastic: You’d be surprised how durable plastic drift boats can be. Whitewater kayaks are made of plastic and they’re incredibly tough; a plastic drift boat will hold up just as well.
- Wood: Wood drift boats combine aesthetic appeal and ease of use. That said, keep in mind that they’re a little more high-maintenance than other drift boats. These will work fine for people who don’t mind putting in a little extra effort in boat maintenance.
- Fiberglass: These are often used by professional fishing guides. Fiberglass drift boats are the current industry standard because they’re durable, comfortable, stable, low maintenance, and easy to use. On the other hand, they can leave a little to be desired in terms of aesthetics. So if you’re more of a utilitarian, fiberglass drift boats are the way to go.
Benefits of Using Drift Boats
Fishermen love drift boats as they’re usually comfortable and easy to fish out of. They’re also a great place to carry plenty of fishing gear. After all, drift boats were designed for fishing.
The best drift boats have plenty of internal storage spaces for extra fishing gear and food. Plus, you get to bring your friends along in them with you!
Once you get the hang of it, drift boats are easy to maneuver, although more technical rivers can present quite a physical challenge. Look at it this way: you’re going to get a decent workout in during your fishing trip if you brave these rivers.
Paddling is easy due to the drift boat’s V hull, which makes them easy to row. Whether you’re on a river with long stretches of slack water or drifting through rapids, it’s a relatively easy process once you get the hang of it.
Drift boat trailers are an easy way of transporting your boat. Once it’s loaded up just drive it to your desired river, back the trailer out into the water, and unstrap it.
Good drift boats are highly durable. Whether it’s plastic, hardwood, or aluminum, you can expect a drift boat to handle most of what the river is going to throw at it.
It’s true that drift boats were created by and for fishermen, but they can also be used for people who simply desire a recreational float along a beautiful river.
Tips On Fly Fishing from a Drift Boat
Know the Left from the Right
You might actually be offended by this statement unless you’re familiar with the language of drift boat fishing. In this case, we’re talking about river-right vs river-left.
River right and river left are always oriented from looking downstream. In other words, if you’re looking downstream, river-left is on your left; if you’re looking upstream, river-left is on your right.
Your Water Is Downstream
As you’re drifting down the river, you really only have one shot at spots that look like they’re teeming with fish. Trying to take a second chance at these spots means you’ll be casting further toward the back of the boat.
Don’t do this. The problem here is, if you’re fishing from the font of the boat, this second cast means you’re going to be fishing your partner’s water, which is pretty rude.
Avoid Casting Over the Boat
The problem with doing this should be obvious: you risk hooking one of your buddies. No one wants a hook to the face during their fishing trip, or a fight to break out on the water.
Keep an Eye on the Oars
You don’t want your line caught up in one of the oars, especially if you’re in a situation where the oarsman can’t stop rowing. This is another problem that can occur if you’re casting too far back.
Remember: your water is downstream.
As stated above a number of times, your water is downstream. So keep an eye out for what you’re coming upon. You want to be prepared for spots on the river that are rife with fish. You want to plan your cast for that perfect spot, rather than having to rush your cast at the last second because you weren’t paying attention.
Keep Your Partner’s Fishing in Mind
You’re all sharing the water, so why cast your fly along the same water unless you have a really good reason to?
When fishing from the back of the boat, it’s a good idea to watch your partner’s fishing and exploit any of their missed opportunities.
Don’t Forget the Middle of the River
It’s easy for fishermen to focus on targeting fish on the bank and forget about the opportunities out there in the open. Sometimes you’ll find the biggest fish holding in the middle of the river.
Manage Your Line
Don’t dump your fly line on the boat floor – this can cause serious damage to it if you end up standing on it, and your casting will suffer as a result.
Many drift boats have places to stack line. If they don’t, you can always use your seat.
When problems happen on a drift boat, they happen fast and there’s little time to react. Everyone, not just the oarsman, needs to pay attention to where the boat is on the water and how it’s being maneuvered.
When things get rough, use the leaning braces and sit down.
It’s also important to have a designated captain. What he or she says goes.