Drift Fishing - Part One
As the name implies, drift fishing is accomplished by sitting in yourboat drifting along with the tides. What could be better? Imagine a latesummer afternoon, a bottle of low-alcohol beer, the slanting rays of yellowsun and complete and utter silence on a moist, summer-hazy bay. You stareabsently into the deep green sea, lift your rod tip slowly then drop itquickly, mastering the one basic fishing skill required for drift fishing.The line curls on the water and the hook sinks home. 100 yards of monofilamentscream from the reel. A salmon wave bolts across the surface, and by thetime you have recovered from your reverie, the coho leaps in a twistingsilver flash high into the air. Lucky you.
Although the simplest of saltwater fishing techniques, drift fishingrequires proper gear. This includes a 7 to 8 foot rod with a semi-stifftip. The importance of tip stiffness becomes abundantly clear on days whenyou receive many bites but fail to hook fish. It is absolutely vital thatyou set hooks in drift fishing, therefore a tip with backbone is necessary.
Match the rod with a graphite, single- action reel. Unlike metal reelsof the same price range, these do not rust or become fouled with salt. Theyare also the most fun, as the run of the fish is controlled largely by thepressure of your palm on the reel. Leave the casting reels, which tend tofoul with line backlash during drift fishing, to casting applications. Fillthe single-action reel with 300 yards of 25 pound mainline. The need forthis pound test becomes clear when your lure snags on the bottom; line oflighter test breaks rather than straightening hooks and pulling the lurefrom its watery grave.
For the business end, the market niche for drift fishing lures is widerthan any other lure type. The reason is that drift fishing lures are inevitablyfashioned from a lead blank that has been painted or doctored up in someway, hence, any competent fisher can easily and cheaply make his or herown lure. Once the lure starts catching fish, the attraction of puttingit on the market often proves irresistible. Try it yourself; catching salmonon a lure you made yourself can be highly satisfying. Take some plasterof Paris and make a mold, melt some lead into it and presto, you have alure. Its that simple.
My tackle box reserved for drift fishing bulges with lures: Buzz Bombs,Stingsildas, Deadly Dicks, Spinnows, MacDeeps, Pirks, Pirkens, Rip TideStrikers, halibut rigs with their chromed metal weights and huge, floppy,rubber hootchies, Reef Raiders, old-fashioned banana jigs, Zingers, Phishes,King of Diamonds, Magic Lures, Cod Kings, etc., etc. At minimum, considerpurchasing the black and green 40 gram Stingsilda and a few Buzz Bombs:white, white and grey, white and pink, and white and green. Buy the otherson local advice.
Virtually all drift fishing lures flutter down on their sides. The theoryof their action isnt hard to understand. Baitfish on which salmonfeed produce a characteristic fluttering motion when injured - a flutteringspiral as they try in vain to right themselves. This motion produces vibrationsin the water that travel off in all directions. Acutely sensitive to motion,predators such as salmon, lingcod and halibut, instinctively respond tosuch vibration before visually contacting the injured animal. They flashtoward it, and in the last instant, sight cues them to the exact locationof the much-easier-caught-than-a-healthy-animal meal.
Some lures come ready to be fished, others do not. The Stingsilda, forinstance, needs to be bent. Press down on one end of the lure with boththumbs, then, on the same side, press down on the other end of the lure.This produces the classic, slight bend known as a "C" curve. Itis most important to test lure action in the water at the side of the boat.Drop the rod tip and if the lure gently flutters and shimmies here and theregiving off nice sparkles of light as it drops perfectly and delectably onits side, you may well have a killer. If you know someone skilled at driftfishing, have them bend your lures. Get them to explain what they look forin action.
Some lure action possibilities are not preferred. An overbent lure willfall lifelessly, requiring flattening and rebending. A lure, other thana Spinnow, should not fall in a tight spiral. If it does, be prepared tocatch zero fish until you change the bend. A spiral indicates that one endof the lure is bent too much. It can also indicate that your mainline testis too heavy, resulting in drag. If lure fall time decreases with depth,line drag is also the culprit and mainline test should be reduced. Linewrap on the rod tip also indicates a spiralling lure. This problem can besolved by adding a small simple swivel and six feet of 20 pound leader tothe lure.
Tie drift fishing lures with a palomar knot: simple, effective, strong.Lures that slide up and down the line such as Buzz Bombs should be retiedeach time out. A day of thunk-thunking onto the hook fatally weakens manyknots. Strip off 6 feet of line and retie.
Drift Fishing Part Two:
where andwhen to drift fish, drift fishing technique, how to recognize a bite, andhow to set hooks.