Middle Fork River Expeditions

Steel Head, Drift Boat: Idaho Awaits

If you’re into steelhead fishing from a drift boat Idaho has some of the best places in the world to get your lure on. Drift boat fishing is probably the most common method used to catch steelhead, but it’s also one of the hardest to get good at. You’ve got to have the right equipment, a clear understanding of how steelhead move and think, and the ability to distinguish between hooking a steelhead and bouncing your lure off of a rock or a log.

That last part is the hardest. When you’re dragging a piece of lead with a lure and hook attached across the bottom of one of Idaho’s hundreds of lakes or rivers, you’re always going to run into natural debris at the bottom of your waters of choice. Even steelhead fishermen with decades of experience have been known to pull up their line after what they thought was a simple rock bump and found evidence of a bite that they simply misread. The mastery of this skill is beyond the scope of this simple article, however: you’re just going to have to learn through experience.

Fortunately, while the skills may take a lifetime to master, you can get started drift boat fishing Idaho with a small investment in the right gear.

The Rod
Your drift boat fishing rod needs to be firm enough that you can feel the bottom as you bounce over the rocks and gravel, but flexible enough to not snap when a big steelhead starts fighting you from 30 or 50 yards out.

The Reel
Your reel needs to match your rod. A bait casting reel — or level wind — takes some getting used to, but they are very effective drift fishing tool, as they let you release additional line while maintaining control. If you’re using light lures or fishing from the banks in areas with lots of natural obstacles, a spinning reel can be the superior choice.

The Line
Your line can be braided or mono according to your preference, but should generally run at least in the 10- to 15-pound test range.

Leaders
When drift boat fishing, you’ll always want a leader that’s lighter than your main line, because the chances of getting snagged on something and having the line break are much greater than in other styles of fishing.

All of the other gear choices are essentially matters of opinion, but follow this advice with your gear, and learn to master the art of telling a bump from a bite, and you’ll be well on your way to drift boat fishing Idaho like the veterans.

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