Here is a list of suggestions that will help the angler to more fully understand the basics of fishing from a drift boat. This is especially true if it is their first opportunity to fish from a drift boat. Fishing from a drift boat is not the same as wading along the river or covering water with your feet planted in one spot. In this case, the line and fly are moving and not the angler. The line and fly drift downstream towards you or away from you. When fishing from a drift boat, the angler, fly line and the fly are moving at the same time..
When you are fishing from the boat depending on current speed and how fast the oarsman is back stroking, your line and fly could be drifting at the same speed as your rate of drift or faster or slower.
You will be casting in close quarters to another angler in the boat with you sometimes, so remember to cast out close to parallel away from the drift boat (this will avoid tangles).
If the boat is in slower currents and the rower is holding the boat in one place when backstroking if you cast slightly upstream of the parallel line you will get longer drag free floats.
If the boat is floating along in medium to fast stream flows and the oarsman is not stroking hard, try to cast slightly downstream of that parallel line between the boat and the stream bank. This will assure you of a much longer drag free float with your fly on the water for a longer period and allow you to catch a lot more fish. Not to mention it will save you a lot of energy because it will cut down on a lot of excess casting.
When the boat is drifting along always focus your attention on the water downstream ahead of the boat for rising fish or likely holding lies where the fish will be. This will allow you to prepare ahead of time to present the fly to the fish at an excellent angle when you are within effective casting range. Remember the boat is moving downstream sometimes at a fast pace so be prepared and look ahead so when the time comes you can get a good angle on the fish so the fly won’t drag. Attention to detail will allow you to cast effectively before the boat and angler drift by the primary target loosing your angle and chance for a good accurate presentation.
Remember to communicate with the your guide and fellow angler in the boat by vocally warning when you are going to move about in the boat. Also communicate wherever or whenever you are casting and in what direction your front and back cast will be directed at, especially if you perceive a problem developing at anytime. Remember any sudden physical movement that takes place in the boat that is directed away from the centerline of a drift boat can cause the guide or other angler to loose their balance and potentially injure them or even fall out of the boat. This little bit of extra communication will assuredly cut down on lines being crossed up or tangled and any injuries or soakings to other boat mates.
The angler in the back of the boat or (stern) should key off the movements of the angler casting up in the front of the boat and cast accordingly. Remember if you are the angler positioned in the back of the boat, you can easily observe every move the angler in the front of the boat makes. The angler in the front of the boat is looking downstream out over the front of the boat and obviously cannot see the movements of the angler in the back or (stern) of the boat. Therefore, the angler in the back of the boat can adjust his casting by always observing the anglers casting in the front of the boat and really cut down on the amount of line tangles between anglers. This will really allow the anglers to reduce frustration and really enjoy their trip again attention to small details.
When the angler goes to pick the fly line up off the water when their drift is done on the initial back cast remember keep the rod tip down close to the water surface and strip all the slack out of the line. Begin the back cast slowly, accelerate smoothly, speed up, and stop sharply at the end of the back cast. When your back cast is finished, make sure your thumb on the casting hand located on the rod grip is pointing straight up. This will keep the back cast elevated and away from the heads of the other people in the boat. Your back cast should therefore always be moving on an upward incline throughout the entire back cast.
If you are in the back or (stern) of the boat, remember the oarsman or rower uses a backstroke when rowing. This puts the oar blades in the general proximity of the anglers line in the back of the boat. So when the fly and line are out on the water the rear portion of the line out past the rod tip can at times drift under the oar and become tangled. Keep this in mind and adjust for it and you will not tangle with the oars and everyone will enjoy the day a lot more.