Tips for the “Drag-Free” Drift

By Jeff Durniak, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

1. Dress right – drab clothing & polarized glasses. Leave the white cap at home!

2. From the bank, read the water: predict the trout lies and find your casting locations. (Hint: in your mind, break up a large river into a bunch of small streams.)

3. “Hunt” – move slow; stalk like a heron.

4. Get Close: 10-20 feet (which means you’ll have 0 to10 feet of fly line on the water).

5. Split shot! Use enough to “tick” the bottom. Change the number/size of shot with each spot fished. Most marginal anglers fish OVER the trout.

6. Strike indicator – cork, yarn, or buoyant dry fly. Put it at twice the water depth. Slide indicator up/down with each spot.

7. What fly? “How” is more important than “what”, but standards are #8 black bugger, #12 peach egg, #14-16 prince, #16-20 pheasant tail. Hatch chart:

8. Stop false casting! Use roll cast, water load, or Belgian cast (

9. Cast upstream (opposite shoulder) and leave rod tip down 1-2 seconds after line hits water.

10. “Hi-Stick: – raise and lower rod at same speed as the current

11. “Drag-Free” strike indicator at same speed and line of travel as leaf or bubble. Most of your good drift is over when the indicator is directly across from you.

12. At end of drift, hold tight and let fly swing (for hits on the uplifting emerger).

13. “Paint the pool” with your casts. Three casts to good lie, then hit another. In other words, fish for all the eager fish rather than pound away at the one spooked or selective trout (exception: Smithgall). If possible, move your body instead of casting farther.

14. Set the hook with a sidearm, downstream wrist snap. Strike everything, since every 20th “rock” will have an adipose fin. Waaah-HOOO! (Rabunite term for “fish on”)

15. Drag-Free is like learning to ride a bicycle. Practice these techniques for 30-60 minutes and they will become second nature.

16. Grip and grin. Push fish out toward camera!

17. Find a mentor. Learn from a better angler, then . . .

Be a mentor. Pass it on!

Good Luck!

Read Your Chapter Newsletter


Find Us On

Call to Action! Attention All Rabunites!

If you are out fishing and see a stream conservation need (erosion control, bank restoration, trout structure maintenance, etc), contact the Georgia Council. Details here.



Go Fishin’