Lead the Boat

Sean Visintainer - 07/03/15

Leading the boat presentation fly casting.

Avoid rubbernecking, fish ahead of you.

It's great to know your past... but your future is a lot brighter... or in this case fishier. If you are new to floating rivers in a drift boat, raft, or pontoon boat this simple article and video is perfect for you. The other side of that is if you are a oarsman and are tired of your buddies casting behind the boat and having to crank your neck around to see their flies... then pass this article along!

When presenting flies (typically dry flies) in most (not all) float situations on a trout stream, you will find that a down and across presentation where the fly leads the boat will often yield the best results. Why is leading the boat with your flies a good idea?

Well here are 4 tips to why

  • Spook less fish. - Flies fished slightly ahead (down and across) will enter the "fishy" zone first before the boat. A 45 degree angle from the boat often times is a good angle... lots of variables here though.
  • Line management is easier. - This one is a big deal. Mending line is far easier when the line is below the boat at an angle... easier to lift and manipulate, easier to feed slack with no interruption in the drift, and it provides you with potential time to throw another shot in the zone if you blew the first one or the first one didn't get a hook up.
  • Easier to watch the drift. - This applies to the anglers, but mostly the oarsman. The oarsman is busy trying to set the boat up for the drift so he is looking downstream naturally. Avoid sore necks and look downriver.
  • Boat management is easier. - This mainly applies to drift boat, rafts, or 2 man pontoons... not single person boats like pontoons where the rower is the fisherman as well. When leading the boat with the flies the oarsman will have an easier time setting up the drift, responding to changes in the drift, and speeding up or slowing down the boat speed. Overall it will improve the rowers efficiency in anticipating or adapting to the drift.

Whether you are fishing with 1 or 2 anglers in the boat, if both anglers fish the same direction with a downstream presentation the drift is more efficient and effective.