Monday, April 9, 2012

Drift Fishing - How to Drift Fish: Steelhead and Salmon

I grew up drift fishing. It's a technique used by all fisherman, no matter the species, to catch fish. This should be one of the first techniques any fisherman learns. The idea is to give your bait a "tumbling" presentation as it floats down the river. You can find some information about rods here under my Get The Right Fishing Rod  post and a reels here under my Get The Right Fishing Reel post. Lets start with a shopping list:

  • For steelhead from size 2 to 1/0. Salmon 2/0 to 4/0. DO NOT buy cheap hooks. Spend some money. This will prevent the hook from bending out. No one wants to loose a fish to that. Also learn how to tie your own egg loops. Get yourself a leader storage container. Tie a bunch of pre-made leaders and be ready to go fishing. Egg loops are important to keep bait on. You can find out how to tie your own egg loops here: Link

  • This isn't bobber or floats. This is corkies, foam balls, cheaters, and anything that keeps your bait suspended of the bottom. 

  • Hollow core is the best here. Fill your box with assorted lengths. These can be easily snipped so that you can adjust the amount of weight you need to get to the bottom of the river. A snap swivel with a tag lead is the way to do it. About 1" of tag line is good to crimp your weight too. Thread the tag end through the hollow core and crimp it with a pair of pliers. This way if you snag bottom, you just pull the weight off without loosing your set up. It keeps your rigging time low and keeps our rivers free of line. Remember keep your rivers clean.

  • There's a couple different swivels you can use as far as the weight goes. You can do a 3 way swivel, tie your tag line to one eye and your leader to another. Or you can do a snap swivel that slides up and down your mainline with your mainline and leader connected to a barrel swivel. I prefer the snap swivel method with a bead between my snap swivel and barrel swivel. With a free moving weight, your bait can adjust to the contours of the river bottom. 

Line and Leader 
  • It's good to stick to a mono line throughout the set up. This isn't like float fishing where your main line isn't in the water. Mono appears invisible in the water. Steelhead and Salmon can be line shy, especially in clear conditions. 10-15lb is good for Steelhead. Salmon depends on the species. 20-25lb is a safe bet. 
Corkie's, yarn balls, and foam float balls

Weight, swivels, beads and hooks. The Basics

Pre tied egg loops with corkies attached. Good to be prepared.

When you cast your freshly tied drift rig out, cast slightly upstream, but not to far upstream. If you cast to far upstream you'll hit bottom to fast and your bait won't be in the sweet spot. You want to "feel" your weight tagging the bottom as it drifts out in front of you. It's important that its tapping the bottom. You don't want it sitting on the bottom dragging through the rocks. If your properly fishing a drifting set up, it will feel like your "ticking" the bottom. This is ideal. If it drags or hangs up, reel in, snip some weight off your pencil lead, and try again.

Your presentation should resemble "food" tumbling through the current. If your weight is snagging on the bottom your bait is essentially stopping on the bottom, not appearing "natural." This is a proven technique and works. Once you've perfected it, you'll be pulling in more fish in no time. But remember practice makes perfect. It can get frustrating in the beginning.

For other tips and advice, check my links below. Not only is it informative, but will get you going in the right direction!


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