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5 common drift fishing mistakes and how to fix them

Written by Fiona

December 13 2016

Drift boat fly fishing can be a very rewarding sport. My guest writer John Holman offers his tips for success.

Drift boat fly fishing puts amazing opportunities within the reach of a good cast – but it also gives plenty of chances to make some pretty ordinary gaffes. I don’t mind sharing some of these embarrassing moments because I know that can they sneak up on anybody.

Check out my fixes for these five common drift boat fishing mistakes.

1 Try Throwing a Roll Cast

In most situations, a lack of precision with this throw doesn’t cost more than a missed fish. It’s always the efficient cast of choice when a backcast is impossible. In a drift boat, it’s a good way to turn your sink tip line into a thing of danger.

The Fix: Earn the appreciation of fellow trout bums by avoiding this cast when you’re drift fishing.

2 Fish Inside the Lines

You see a really nice caddis hatch. As expected, fish rise to the occasion, so you know exactly what to do. It isn’t working. How can they ignore your perfectly tied fly? What’s wrong with your presentation? Unfortunately, the trout aren’t talking.

The Fix: Go radical. Try fishing a streamer. Reverse this whole scenario and throw a caddis or a stonefly. Don’t stick with what isn’t working just because it should.

3 Wear Out Way Too Early

You can be on your feet in waders for hours without getting too tired. It’s different when you’re standing in a drift boat. The ongoing effort it takes to balance you, your gear and your action can be a real workout even on the smoothest water.

The Fix: Learn to fish sitting down with a high backcast stop and tight loops. This strategy also works really well when you need to sneak up on spooky trout.

4 Bring Your Fish On Board

All you want is a picture. You’ve done this so many times, and you know it only takes a quick minute. You also know that dropping that trout inside the boat pretty much ruins the moment. A great catch shouldn’t ever end like this.

The Fix: Scoop him close with a big net, and hold still until the camera’s ready. Proudly raise that fish high out of the net but over the water, and smile. If you drop him, at least he’ll make a clean getaway.

5 Assume That Nothing Can Go Wrong

Chances are very good that you’ll never face an emergency on the river. Odds that you’ll successfully weather a bad situation go down when you’re not prepared. Drift fishing without a first aid kit, extra water, a flashlight and a backup cell phone can be very dicey.

The Fix: Pack a waterproof emergency bag once, check its content’s integrity several times a year, and toss it in with your gear every time you go out.

When you’re ready to try a little drift boat fishing, why not spend some time at our fly fishing lodge in Alaska? If we make any mistakes, you can set us straight.


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