Floating & Finning + Fishing -- any tips?

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by adamfkimball, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. Hi all,

    I've just recently began using my watermaster as a fishing platform. With only ocean kayaking in my background, I guess I simply hadn't felt secure enough in my skills to really start fishing - but today I did, and it felt great. Maybe the very best day I've had on the water in weeks, and I got skunked. That says something.

    Anyway, one thing I've learned in fly fishing is that there are always so much to learn. I'm fascinated by the learning process, and watching little tips really solve frustrating problems is awesome. Like looping your tandem nymph rig back behind your reel before connecting the hook at a guide. Genius. I'm guessing there are things like this to learn about fishing and floating.

    But I can start it out with a question - what is the most efficient way to back-pedal for you? So many runs are too short to wiz right buy. They may not be important enough to stop the boat & wade, or even enough to drop anchor - but squeezing in another cast would be nice! So, what do you do? I've heard the right motion resembles pedaling a bicycle. Yes? No?

    What do you ALWAYS carry on your person or boat that you would recommend - and why?

    I understand that dropping anchor in moving water from a small raft is risky. I do have an anchor, and I do intend to use it on moving water. I'm going to start by just dropping anchors in places deep and shallow enough to stand without any strain, and then work my way up to more demanding conditions. It's a risk I am willing to take. That said, beyond carrying a sharp knife (that is readily accessible) - what else should I know? The first place I want to use it is more like a slough than a pool - in fact, I'd argue it is a slough. Might be 15 deep and very slow. I've read slow moving water, no matter how deep (assuming you've got the rope) is no problem. Comments?

    I love this forum. It really is a cool community.

  2. I'm new, too, so I don't have a lot to say. One thing I'm trying is dangling my fly rod from its holder into the water as I slowly backpedal down a river. I have a single-seat 'toon, and I too don't want to stop at every small hole, but I least want to try "fishing" with my boat while paddling.

    This is down a river, mind you. I'm not planning on using fins when I do this. That can be a bit dangerous.

    Also, for the smaller holes, I would just stop the boat in shallow water, stand up, grab rod from holder that was previously "fishing" and make a few casts. Be sure boat has its front safety tether in place. You don't want to lose the boat. Then sit down as quickly and paddle away.
    Sagebrush likes this.
  3. The Watermaster is one of the easiest boats I've used for fins in moving water. Having said that, I've used about 4 different pontoons up to a two man Scadden with my fins and all of them worked very well and allow me to get flies into areas you could never do with wading or even with someone rowing a drift boat. In about 20 years of doing this, I've never had a problem or felt like using fins on moving water was dangerous. Just practice and you will get good soon! Anchoring in moving water, on the other hand, can be very dangerous. If you want to do that, one thing you need close at hand is a very sharp knife and be prepared to lose your anchor and rope! Have fun! Rick
    Ed Call likes this.
  4. Here's a picture from a recent multi day float on the Yakima. These are my two son in laws and we all were set up with fins and fished and finned for 3 days with no problems and several fish caught! I think fins on a pontoon boat are the next best thing to a guide rowing you down the river! I think of my fins as a poor man's guide! Rick P1020607.JPG
    cabezon and Ed Call like this.
  5. For floating water like the Yakima Canyon in my Kodiak, I don't use the oars much and am using both hands to fish for virtually the entire time. By back-pedal to get in another cast I assume you mean slowing down by kicking. For me it's similar to using the fins for propulsion on stillwater, but I typically can't actually go back upriver. However I can steer and pull into slack water with fins and stand up in the boat to fish. This 9 minute WM dog & pony vid shows a lot of examples (from 5:30 on) where the user is doing all that.

    "What do you ALWAYS carry on your person or boat that you would recommend - and why? "
    On rivers I ALWAYS WEAR a Type III kayaking/paddling PFD with a sheathed blunt-pointed river knife fastened on a gear tab.
    On lakes, I ALWAYS WEAR an inflatable SOSpenders PFD.
    On both I have a whistle clipped to my PFD, and carry at least a headlamp
    Why ALWAYS wear a PFD and the knife (that's one and only use is to cut a hung up anchor line in an emergency)? Because I love my family. Why a whistle and light? It's the law.

    NEVER anchor in any water where you cannot either hold in with oars or stand up inside your boat.

    For convenience, I usually wear a lanyard with my basic fishing tools, keep a stringer of tippet spools (and long leaders wound up on used spools for lakes) clipped to a D-ring in easy reach, and a net clipped to and stowed in a (spinning) rod holder of a seat fishing pack made by the OEM of my optional highback seat. Since WMs don't have solid fabric cargo pockets I clip the Fishpond Deep Creek chest pack from a Tundra Tech Pack into one of the seat straps. I don't wear the chest pack because worn over a Type III PFD it interferes with rowing, and IMHO it should not be worn with an inflatable PFD. I stow a Sawyer water filter bottle or other beverages and possibly another waterproof fly box in the mesh cargo bag pockets clipped to the D rings along the gunnel. I also clip in a milk crate behind the seat to keep the Fishpond Tech Pack in. The crate keeps the pack out of the cargo deck bilge and the pack's contents stay dry even in a downpour. I put the bungee cargo net over the cargo deck's contents on rivers. A Thermarest Trail Seat velcro'd and clipped to the seat with a non-skid carpet runner velcro'd to the top of the Thermarest pad provides a warm, comfortable, and stable rowing/finning/fishing seat.

    Enjoy your Water Master. It's a great boat for me.
    Ed Call likes this.
  6. Right after I got my Scadden assault I did a few day trips in the canyon section of the Yak. In 3 days I think I touched my oars a total of 5 times. Very easy to fin and fish. Use your fins to slow down, change orientation, move closer or further from the bank, or move across river - all easily doable. You will find you can get amazingly long drifts while holding yourself at the right distance from the bank and while maintaining a drag free fly-first downstream presentation.
    Ed Call likes this.
  7. I treat my Kodiak like it's a drift boat, and never use the fins. An anchor would be nice, but it's so easy to spot an eddy or shallow section, row into it, and just stand up, why encumber myself with fins? Not, mind you, that I'd abandon them. Fishing lakes and ponds, where I'm constantly flogging the water with the rod, fins are great.

    I'll strap a K-pump, the repair kit, and my vest onto the back along with one of those Fishpond coolers, stick the PFD in there somewhere, but don't wear it. The PFD has a whistle and knife on it, but since i don't have any need to cut an anchor line since there's no anchor, it's redundant. The cigars, cutter and lighter go in my little Herfador in the zippered compartment behind the seat, and the net gets strapped on somewhere close to the oarlocks. A flask of decent scotch, and I'm good to go!
  8. Rob is someone who TOTALLY gets why pontoon boats are such an effective fish getter! I have a drift boat also, but it seems like when I take it I spend most of my time rowing and my buddies are fishing (none of them can row very well, which I think is intentional!) So when I want to spend a day fishing, it is the pontoon or a guide. Rick
    Ed Call likes this.
  9. When my son was at Central, we used to see who was first to need to use the oars on our boats. Many days in the canyon, we never touched the oars. In the upper river I need them occasionally, but on the 3 day float, from South to Thorp, my son didn't get on the oars until below East. He actually thinks oars on a pontoon boat are redundant! Rick
  10. I'm of the "fin most of the way down the river" type. In rougher water it is sometimes difficult to keep the bow pointed in the right direction with just fins. Since I cast right-handed, I hold the left oar and if I need any direction change, I can just pull or push the oar and very quickly maintain my desired heading. All accomplished while banging out casts into the pockets with my right hand.
  11. On Friday floating the Methow between Riverbend campground and the take out below Twisp, just for fun, I didn't use the oars once and never had a problem with being right where I wanted to be. I was floating with a guy who was on a pontoon and no fins. It killed him to see me catching fish while he was rowing! He was heading out to buy fins the last time I saw him! Rick
  12. I'm in the camp of Rick, Brian, Stewart and Rob. I actually fish a bit from time to time with Rob, and other friends. I rarely touch my oars when floating the Yakima and my hands are free to fish. I can recall a trip last summer where I fished three days with Gregg and Jesse, each of us in solo boats, hardly any rowing was done and we each caught a lot of fish. I've come to prefer using my Scadden Assault (very similar to your watermaster, only rockered front and back) with fins anywhere that I can fin kick without catching the bottom. You will find that just articulating your ankle and flexing the right way will slow your boat allowing those limitless drag free drifts that Rob is referring to, and you can make all the fine adjustments needed to keep the fly on the fish feeding conveyor known as the river. When you get to a shallower area, you can pull your feet up on the foot bar/strap or tuck them to the underside of the front tube and use your oars if you need to.

    Go back and read Brian's post again, maybe twice. Fully understand his response on anchoring, having a good knife and his Personal Floatation Device. Better yet, realize that the reason Brian has shared this is because he's used his best tool, his mind, to keep him from making poor choices. Please float safely!
  13. I'm selling my raft because i'm getting tired of rowing my buddies down the river!
  14. My river pontooning experience thus far is limited to a handful of floats down the lower Yak here in the Tri Cities fishing for smallmouth. Even for someone brand new to floating moving water like me, it wasn't too difficult to get the hang of using the fins to hold position. The oars were mostly only used for big moves, like crossing from bank to bank. The only time I used the anchor was when I was in less than waist deep water, I would drop anchor and slide off the seat to stand between the pontoons and fish from one spot. I wasn't too fond of standing on the slick rocks with just the plastic from the fins as my contact point with the bottom so it was nice having the toons right there to hang on to if needed.

    I know Red's has a river pontooning class, but I wonder if it would work out to set up some kind of "WFF newbie float" on an easy section in the canyon where we could all figure it out together.

    Brian, why do you wear different PFDs for moving vs still water? Last year I only had a regular boating PDF to wear, which was way too bulky and uncomfortable to wear here in the hot sun. For Christmas I got a Cabelas auto inflatable, though.

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