Wade or drift

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Creek 1 year, 1 month ago.

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    Scotty MacFly

    I know people who fish much, & people who only fish like twice a year. And the ones who fish much are ones who will wade & hire guides on a drift boat. They just love to fish & don’t care how they do it.

    The ones who fish seldomly like to only take a drift boat. I guess they like to spend money, or whatever. But I suppose if you’re going to go a few times a year, go big.

    I just don’t understand fishing a river from a boat. Its fast paced for a sport I consider to be something that should stop time, or at least slow it down.

    Also, for dry flies, wouldn’t you have to cast downstream so they fly is in play longer? I know drift fishermen like to use nymphs and they constantly have to mend. Or they use streamers casting towards the banks.

    Yes you can cover a lot of water in a short time, but you can’t cover it and pick it apart methodically. If rather fish 50 yards and take my time executing the best presentations I can than travel & fish at a speed where someone is telling me what to do and where to cast.

    But people seem to want to do it. What’s so special about it? If any of you have used a drift boat & guide, I’d like to know what people find about it appealing.



    I’ve never had any interest in doing it and I live on one of the best rafting rivers in the US.

    I’d like to take a raft during runoff for the thrill, but I wouldn’t be fishing. I’d be hanging on for my life.



    Could write a book on this. Its all good. Drifting lets you float to whatever section or type of water you’d like to fish, and then get out and wade. You get the beauty of a long stretch of river to relax between runs.

    Fishing from the boat? It can be a beautiful thing. Floating down toward a big head coming up on the bank below you. You get a shot or two, and then on to the next one below that, and the next, and the next, for miles, all day! A new fish behind every rock, along every bank, below every bush, and on and on. Not all rivers are raging fast or whitewater. Some mosey along as very slow speeds, and most rivers have slow water, fast water, and everything in between. That’s one of the beauties of it.

    Having said that, and owning both a drift boat and a personal pontoon boat, I wade without the boat far more often than I float in one of them. However, there are rivers, and seasons, and days where I’d feel like I missed much of the experience by not floating.

    A guided float trip? Like treating yourself to an overpriced dinner, or a luxury massage, or some other “splurge.” And always a learning experience if you choose wisely.

    Drifting is not to try and cover a lot of water in a small time. It is not to speed up the pace. You can cast dries straight down, down and across, straight across the current with a mend, or anchor the boat and fish back upstream. Or get out. The possiblilties are endless. Never have to worry about where to cross, or fish on an inaccessible bank. Accessibility. Maybe that’s the one word that most conveys the draw and advantage. On the big rivers, you can fish so many more water types, and get to all of it without killing yourself wading.

    You should do it a time or two and I guarantee you would both form and probably change your opinion. Some of the quiet floats down river, taking everything in, passing the rising fish, not even worried about casting to them. Only the natural sounds of the current, not the current pouring around your legs and waders. Oh, I get lost in that. I can float for miles, right down heaven’s lane. And anytime I see a pool or place I want to stop, I slide right in, just like a duck.

    See, just getting started. Not to mention you can bring a nice lunch, cooler, gear isn’t a factor, take the dogs or the wife or a friend for a float, stop and make a nice lunch. You can slow the pace down with the boat, you don’t have to speed things up.

    OK, I’ll stop.


    Scotty MacFly

    Lightline, you have said it better than I have ever heard anyone describe it. And you’re right about all of it, 100%. I never thought of it as, and I quote you, the possibilities are endless.

    You actually have me wanting to try it for myself, and I thought that would never happen. But owning a drift boat and being able to do floats when you can/choose, I can see how you came up with your explanation because of your experiences.

    Thanks Lightline, I may have to re-think this. No harm in trying it just once to see what all the hype is about.



    There are some prime rivers where a boat is the only way to fish – either just too big and fast to safely wade or where access is restricted by private property. I have considered buying a small personal boat of some kind for just those situations.

    That said, I have hired a guide exactly once in my almost 50 years flyfishing, and don’t anticipate doing it again anytime soon. Maybe when my knees give out and I can’t walk anymore. Nothing against guides, I just get a lot more satisfaction from going new places and figuring things out on my own rather than being told what to do.


    Scotty MacFly

    Grs, the last thing you said about getting more satisfaction on your own is how I feel.

    When I fish, I’m in control, I decide how I’m going to approach my target, position, angle, so on. I can take my time and watch to see if anything is rising or if a fish does show itself.

    In taking this as wading & drifting can be both similar in some ways, but at the same time totally different. But with what Lightline said, when drifting, you obviously get the whole package with different types of water, and being able to reach areas you couldn’t wading. Plus, you can always pull over & wade for a bit. I must have watched all the wrong you tube videos because the way Ligtline defined it, it does now sound like something I shouldn’t knock off till I have tried it. But in all honesty, I know its expensive, so maybe in the future I will give it a try.



    My former employer and her husband were the type of people who liked to claim they’d “been flyfishing for 25 years” when it really meant they would go out with a guide for a day, maybe two, every year. Still, they enjoyed themselves and who am I to say their on-stream experience was somehow less than mine. But they couldn’t understand how I could go off to a river system I’d never seen before except in pictures and not hire a guide. Different strokes.



    I know a lot of hunters (?) like that too. They wouldn’t think of hunting on their own. They’re usually the ones who have a room full of dead heads on the wall. They claim what great hunters they are and I know couldn’t hunt a lick on their own. They’re also the ones showing all the kills on forums and bragging.

    Same goes for fishermen. They show every fish they’ve ever caught and did all of them with a guide. Ask them what fly to use under a certain condition and they show their true colors.

    I asked one of them once if they ever tied their own leaders? He said……….”How can you do that? It’s all one piece.” I rest my case.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by  Creek.

    Scotty MacFly

    Guides have an important place in any sport. They are great for beginners who want to get started, especially the ones who explain to the client what’s going on, and the where’s and why’s of it all. I have seen guides take people out to a section, tie on a indicator & nymph and toss it out to the seam for the client and say that’s all you need to do. I feel sorry for the client. But again, I have seen some really good guides who want to actually teach their clients as well.

    But for those who only fish/hunt once or twice a year & hire guides, ok, that’s their deal, but I like the hunt for fish. I don’t need or want someone to find them for me. Its like me telling a child where all the Easter eggs are hidden so all the child has to do is go get them. There’s no challenge. No challenge, no adventure, no fun.

    My neighbor goes on a fishing trip once a year and has guides take him & his dad on a drift boat in Montana. But he won’t even try the streams or rivers God has put in front of him. He said he has no patience. In these streams here, patience stays at home. Maybe fishing nearby isn’t good enough for him, so he would rather catch 15 inch browns in Montana & spend hundreds of dollars. To each their own.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by  Scotty MacFly.


    I wasn’t talking about the ones who just fish/hunt 1-2 times a year. I’m talking about the ones who do it a lot, but always need a guide. They’re all rich and spoiled and couldn’t find their car in a parking lot without a GPS.

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