At our Alaskan operations, we’re really lucky to have access to some extremely diverse trout fisheries. At any point during the season at Alaska West, we target trout by sight fishing for rainbows in side channels, fishing the main river on foot, or fishing from our jet boats ‘drift boat style.’ The beauty of our river is that trout can usually be caught using your method of choice, not by the only thing that’s ‘working’ at the time.
One of the most productive methods throughout the season however is drift fishing from the jet boat as your guide rows you downstream. We’ve coined it “boondoggin‘” in the past, and its pretty darn effective.
Most of the time when drift fishing from a boat, the boat is rowed in the faster water (such as the middle of the river), while casts are made to the slower water towards shore. A common mistake made by non-boondoggin’ savvy anglers is casting directly towards shore at a 90 degree angle. Doing so usually causes the fly to drag as soon as it hits the water. Instead, cast slightly downstream from the boat! Sure, there are exceptions to the ‘rule,’ but for the most part, we’ve found that casting at a downstream angle to be the most effective method. Here’s why.
- Better presentations. Whether dead drifting dries and nymphs or stripping streamers, most flies are usually more effective when they’re not being pulled unnaturally by the current. Casting downstream enables you to present your fly as naturally as possible.
- Longer drifts. What makes drift fishing so effective is the ability to cover more water than you ever could on foot. By casting downstream, your fly is able to drift uninhibited by the current for a much longer amount of time, allowing your fly to fish effectively longer. Fishing a subsurface fly? Casting at a downstream angle gives your fly more time to sink as well.
- Anticipate the next ‘good’ water. We’ve said it before, but when fishing streamers from the boat, anticipating your target is key. Casting into the likely water, making a few quality strips, and then recasting your fly into the next honey hole is streamer fishing 101. Casting downstream allows you to anticipate the next ‘fishy’ target before its too late.
- Be a good boat buddy. Most of the time we fish two anglers per boat, one in the front and one in the back. Casting directly towards shore leaves little water for the angler in the back of the boat to fish. By casting downstream, both anglers can fish quality water.
- Less tangles. Casting in the same angle is the key to avoid tangling lines with another angler. Sure, you could cast at any angle as long as the other guy did the same thing, but odds are your buddy knows better and is casting at a downstream angle. Cast slightly downstream and avoid frustrating tangles.
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