The Advantages of Fly Fishing Float Trips
Fly fishing float trips offer many advantages to both novice and expert anglers. While wade fishing a small stream is a pleasant way to spend a few hours stalking trout, a float trip down a large, scenic western river gives fly fishermen opportunities that can’t be matched from shore. For the last fifteen years as a professional fly fishing guide, I have spent countless hours behind the oars and believe float fishing is often the best way to maximize my clients’ chances at catching more trout.
The biggest advantage of a float trip is simply the fact that drifting down miles of remote water allows anglers to put their flies over more trout than is ever possible while wading. Rather than casting to the same fish over and over, from a drift boat or raft, every new riffle, undercut bank and bend in the river creates new possibilities with trout that are often unreachable by anglers who are limited by walking or rivers that are too deep to cross safely. Anglers who do enjoy wading are able to get out of the boat to thoroughly fish prime areas that rarely see other wade fishermen. Dry fly fishing and streamer fishing generally requires wading anglers to stay on the move to look for new fish but from a boat each cast puts your dry fly or streamer into new territory.
Fishing Productive Bank Water
Wading anglers are often standing where the trout would prefer to be feeding. Banks offer both security and food for trout. Grasshoppers and ants commonly fall into the water near the bank and the trout look for them there, sometimes holding mere inches from shore. From a boat these productive holding areas can be fished easily without spooking the fish.
Some fly fishermen just have trouble wading safely. Older anglers and young children can be challenged when dealing with moving water and slick rocks. Even experienced anglers can have trouble wading in high, fast currents. Float fishing trips eliminate the risk of trying to negotiate rushing water, over “greased bowling balls”, logjams and other wading hazards. Anglers can comfortably fish while standing in a drift boat or sitting in a raft and relax to take breaks to enjoy the scenery if they get tired. Often, it isn’t even necessary to wear waders, which makes for a more comfortable day when the mercury rises on summer afternoons.
Fly fishing from a boat also allows the guide to give his anglers a better shot at catching more and bigger trout. From an elevated position above the water, fly casting is made easier. In addition to casting, mending, setting the hook and spotting fish are all easier from the higher location anglers fish from in a boat. Longer “drag free” drifts can be achieved while the boat drifts with the flies. In the event a truly large, trophy sized fish is hooked, playing the fish is easier from the boat. The guide is also able to follow the fish should it decide to go on a long run downstream. Rising trout can be approached from upstream. The first thing they see is the fly drifting towards. This increases the percentage of hookups and decreases the chance of spooking fish.
Carrying Gear and People
All wade fishermen must carry what they may need on their backs. In a boat, lunch and drinks are kept cold in a cooler. Cameras can be stowed in dry storage, and extra rods can be brought along in the boat. Additionally, two anglers can fish from the same boat. It’s nice to have a buddy to converse with throughout the day. Its also great to have someone to snap photos of your trophy trout.
What to Bring
Generally, your guide will have you covered for flies and gear but bring your own equipment if you prefer. As mentioned earlier, waders are often optional. A Buff face and neck guard is an excellent way to avoid a sunburn. The technical fabric breathes and beats the sun coming from above and reflecting off the water. A lanyard for tippet, clippers, hemostats and floatant is handy. Don’t forget raingear, polarized sunglasses, sunscreen and plenty of water.
Wading is a great way to get close to the fish and immerse yourself in the environment trout call home. However, it is hard to beat a day of floating down a beautiful western river like the Colorado or Eagle. All while your professional fly fishing guide rows and offers instruction. The mountain scenery and wildlife alone is worth a float. However, you will cover more water and cast to more trout than is possible on any wade fly fishing trip. For more information on guided float fishing trips visit vailvalleyanglers.com in or check out the shop in Edwards, Colorado.
Brody Henderson, Content Writer