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Fly Fishing Boat Tips

image of fly fishing drift boat

Fly fishing boats, better known as drift boats, are made specifically for fly fishing. If you ever have the chance to go fishing on one of these boats, take it! It will be one of the coolest fishing experiences you’ll ever have. 

In this blog post, I am going to cover everything that makes up a drift boat, how to properly fish from one, and some of the coolest new boats on the market. Zinger Fishing owns a drift boat, so I always get to go out on the rivers and catch beautiful fish at ease.  


Why fishing from a drift boat is awesome! 

The main purpose of the drift boat is to float down the river in a slow and steady fashion. The boat is easily maneuverable making it very simple to cross the river and to stop in every great fishing hole along the river. When you walk, you usually only get to hit a couple fishing holes within a few kilometer/mile distance. Drift boating makes you able to hit 10 or more holes which drastically increases your chances of catching more fish. 

Some of the fishing holes you will get to fish off a drift boat are 10 times better than the fishing holes everyone else walks to. If the fishing hole is within walking distance of a bridge or road, it will get fished by hundreds of anglers. When you use a drift boat, you will be hitting fishing holes that are 10km or more from any road. This means that these fish haven’t been fished all that often, making them more likely to strike your fly. It also usually means there are more fish in these less fished holes.  

Another one of my favorite things about fly fishing off a drift boat is the ease of casting. On shore or in waders, you are constantly having to cast your line out, usually as far as possible. On a drift boat, you typically flop your line from one side of the boat to the other because you are so close to where the fish are. At times you will cast, but when you do, it is very easy compared to casting from shore.  

Drift boats have seats! Every angler knows that it can get tiring when standing all day and fishing. The swivel seats in a drift boat make it so you can keep fishing when taking your breaks. The longer those flies are in the water, the better chances you have at catching more fish! 


The ins and outs of a drift boat. 

Most drift boats are created the same way as their purpose is made for fly fishing. Drifts boats are often wide, and they disburse the weight evenly, this makes it so you can drift through shallow water, found in many different places when floating down rivers. The boats typically seat 3 people. The person in both the back and front of the boat each fly fish and the person in the middle of the boat rows and steers the boat. If the boat has a motor on the back, then the person at the back will be doing the steering. 

The ores are long and are fastened to the boat. They make it easy to move and steer the boat. The anchor sits outside the boat and at the back. The person in the middle doing the rowing often has the lever where they can drop or pick up the anchor with a rope.  

The boats usually come with 3 seats and plenty of storage space for your fishing gear. There are two stands that are made for standing against. These stands are made so the 2 people fishing can brace themselves against them, keeping their balance while they are fly fishing. Rivers and sudden movements can be a little rough, the stands come in very handy to keep you from falling outside of the boat. Good stands will also have cupholders as you always want to be hydrating yourself when out on the water. Heat stroke can ruin a good day of fishing! 

image of fly fishing drift boat


How to fish from a drift boat and proper etiquette.  

If you go fishing with a guide, the guide will do the rowing so you can fish the entire time. If you go with friends, you should each take turns every 30 minutes in each spot. If you have rowed for 30 minutes, then you go to the front of the boat. The person that was in the front now goes to the back and the person that was in the back now goes to the middle to row. This keeps it fun and fair, so everyone gets equal time in each position. Fishing from the front of the boat is the best as you usually get to be the first person to fish each hole.  

When fishing in close quarters to other people, you need to be very mindful of your casting. The last thing you want to do is hook your buddy or the guide! The ores in the middle of the boat that stick out each side act as the middle ground. If you are fishing from the front of the boat, you should keep your fly and line from the ores forward. The person fishing from the back of the boat should keep their fly and line from the ores backward. This is so lines don’t get tangled and to keep the other person from cherry picking the best fishing holes. When you are drifting down the river, once your line gets to the ores, it is time to recast.  

Fishing from a drift boat means multitasking. You will be focused on fishing, but don’t forget to keep an eye out on your surroundings. You don’t want to fall out of the boat! 

The person rowing should always be looking out for obstructions in the river such as rocks and logs, and of course where the best fishing holes are. It is their job to position the boat properly so the people fishing have the best opportunities to catch fish. The rower also needs to be on the lookout for other fisherman on the shores. If you see someone fishing, it is proper etiquette to go around the person's line and fishing hole. 

The rower often handles the net when a fish is being caught as they are in the middle of the boat. Remember that not hitting a rock is more important than landing the fish, so make sure to only use the net when the boat is in a safe position on the river. 


Safe drifting. 

Rivers can be very dangerous, and they should be taken seriously. Each person in the drift boat should have a life jacket in case things go bad. The safety of you and everyone else on board is more important than fishing. The rower will be doing their best job to guide the boat down the river, but the people fishing should also be on the lookout for obstructions that could be hit. Communication from all 3 people in the boat is key to a fun and safe fishing adventure.  


Cool new drift boats on the market. 

image of hyde fly fishing boat

XL Hi/Low made from HYDE Drift Boats 


image of hyde fishing boat

High Side Pro Series made from HYDE Drift Boats 


image of hyde drift boat

Contender Series Fiberglass Design made from HYDE Drift Boats 


There are a few different manufactures of drift boats out there, I personally love the designs of the Hyde boats. When it comes to the prices, they vary quite a bit. You can always pick up a great used one for a steal of a deal. If you are on the fence about picking one of these bad boys up, I would suggest going for it! The fishing experience is unreal when using a drift boat compared to fishing from shore.  


If you like reading about fly fishing, our Zinger Fishing blog has a wide variety of different articles. We cover places to fish, what patterns to use, techniques, gear, and everything else to help fellow anglers land more fish in their nets.