When people think of iconic Western trout streams like the Madison or the Big Horn, they think of floating down the river in a drift boat, casting towards the banks. More often than not, this is the best way to catch the most numbers of fish. You cover large amounts of water and find the most aggressive fish. There are however some benefits of that come with wade fishing these large rivers…
- Avoid crowds. You can work stretches that are upstream of popular put ins or down stream of take outs. Bumper boats on certain protective pools can be avoided.
- Bigger fish. I find I catch more fish when floating but that is just because I am covering more water. When I want to target larger fish, I personally think wading is better. You can work stretches more thoroughly or sight fish, really hunt for that trophy. You aren’t forced to fish at the same pace as the current.
- Side Channels. Many bigger rivers have side channels, tributaries, or braided sections that boats can not get into. These can lead to you fishing at unpressured targets.
- You can swing flies! Hard to do from a boat but when wading, you can swing flies! Our favorite way to efficiently cover large stretches of holding water.
- Stalking individual risers. Throwing larger grasshoppers or other attractors towards the banks is my favorite way to fish from a drift boat. But when wading, you have a better chance at finding and targeting individual fish. Sight casting at an 18 inch rainbow barely breaking the surface to sip trico spinners is difficult from a boat. You need an expert oarsman to hold you in place while not spooking the fish. This situation on foot is more manageable and in my opinion, more rewarding.