Drift boat rowing techniques are an essential part of your success on the water. If you do not know how to row, you need to either pay for a few lessons or hit the water with an experienced oarsmen who can give you tips and demonstrate different strokes and safety measures. Attempting to row without any experience can prove dangerous, even if you are on a slow river.
There are several different important drift boat rowing techniques that we will cover on this page. When you are rowing, you have to consider safety first, then you have to learn to read water as you are drifting. You also have to pick a line that will place your fisherman within casting range of good holding water. At first, you will be nervous and will be working way to hard. If you are rowing like crazy, you will be all over the place. With experience you will become comfortable with different strokes and you will settle down. You will be able to hold a perfect line, position the boat based on the fisherman's range and make a safe passage to the take out. Scroll down to read more.
There are several drift boat rowing techniques.
The first thing you will notice when you are behind the oars are obstacles. You will see boulders, log jams, shallow water and a number of other things that want to interrupt your passage. In order to navigate around these obstacles, you must point the bow (front) of the boat at the obstacle and back row. This will slow you down and pull you away from the obstacle. If you do not know how to avoid these obstacles you can get into big trouble. Bouncing off the occasional rock is not a big deal but when there is a log or object that sits perpendicular to the
current, you must steer clear. The "sweeper" has dangerous hydraulics that will not only destroy a boat, it will pull you under the object and create a potentially deadly situation.
Another safety measure that may seem like it doesn't require mentioning
is the life vest. Many anglers do not wear a life vest while on a drift
boat and we did not for a good number of years. After the deaths of
several experienced oarsmen in recent years we have starting wearing one
everyday we are in a boat.
Back rowing is what you will do the majority of the time in a drift boat. In most cases, you want to go slower than the current and you will be back rowing throughout the day. Typically, you do not need to expend a ton of energy and you can set the oar blades at an angle to simply scoop water and hold the boat steady. When you are in fast water and need to slow down to get a good drift for your anglers, you will need to work a little harder behind the oars. This is an important drift boat rowing technique.
Check this Hyde video demonstrating cross strokes.
The cross stroke allows you to adjust your position and the angle of the boat. Basically, you are pushing with one oar and pulling with the other oar at the same time. Usually it only takes one or two of these strokes to make the adjustment. You will use this stroke on a regular basis to reposition but the trick is not to over power or you will spin too much. In most cases you can use just a little bit of power for a micro adjustment. If you need to completely change direction, you will put some power into the stroke.
Forward rowing may sound easy and fun but when you are forward rowing on a regular basis it either means the wind is so bad you just want to get down river, the fishing is so bad you want to get down river, it is so cold you want to get down river or you are just pushing through a stretch of flat, unproductive water. If you are forward rowing and it is not to make a minor speed adjustment, you are probably not a happy camper but it is not an unusual drift boat rowing technique.
Also known as skull strokes, this is an advanced technique that is very effective for holding a line. It is common to have your anglers positioned to cast against a bank. You will want to maintain a steady distance from the bank but the current will try to suck you in too close or push you too far away. For this stroke you will place one oar blade parallel to the boat and keep one in the normal position. You either back row or forward row with the normal blade and you use the parallel blade to push in or out to hold your distance.
You can increase the success of your anglers by assisting their drift. The means speeding up and slowing down the boat to match the speed of their line. This can be more difficult than it sounds because you may be riding a fast current while their fly is sitting in a very slow current. If you make the effort to hold their drift for as long as possible, they will be casting less which translates to less tangles and more fish. You do this by using a combination of all of the drift boat rowing techniques.
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