Drift fishing is an effective way to target salmon species in rivers, and pinks are no exception. While it takes some practice to master, I love how the light gear and simple rigs make catching these fish lots of fun. It is something you can do from both the bank and boat.
Rod and Reel
For a rod most people use something about 9 feet long, rated for 8-12# line with moderate-fast action. While you can go heavier, the lighter rods offer you an advantage of being able to cast lighter weights easier. Most steelhead rods works pretty well.
Since this is cast and retrieve many people prefer a spinning rod and reel, but casting setups also work.
I spool my setup with 10# high vis mono. The high vis line really helps you track your line through the drift, and can help notify you of bites.
Drift fishing tackle is pretty simple and consists of some form of drift weight attached to the mainline, then some leader to whatever lure you are using.
For weight the 2 most popular choices are pencil lead and slinkies. Both have their pros and cons, but a lot of it goes down to personal preference. I usually use pencil lead as it is cheap and easy to adjust the amount of weight.
For leader I use 8# Maxima Ultragreen. The length of the leader will depend on water conditions, but 3 feet is a good place to start.
However my favorite is a Dick Nite spoon. I normally use the smallest size – the size 0. The 50/50 and Hot Pink/Pearl are the most popular colors – although other colors work too.
To rig it up I tie a snap swivel to my mainline. Then I tie the leader to the other end of the swivel. This leaves the snap part free to use to attach the weight.
How to Fish
To drift fish:
- Position yourself slightly upstream from the area you want to fish
- Cast straight out, across the current
- When the lure hits the water, take in any slack in the line
- Follow the line downstream with your rod tip – SLOWLY reeling in
- Once the line is pointing straight downstream, reel in and repeat
Bites can manifest themselves in different ways. The most common ways are:
- A pause in the drift
- A quick twitch of the rod tip
If either of these things happen, then set the hook immediately.
You should have enough weight on to feel it tap bottom every 2 or 3 seconds. If its not hitting bottom then you aren’t fishing right. If you are feeling bottom much more than that, then you have too much weight and aren’t getting the right fish attracting drift.
By changing up how far you cast, and occasionally taking a few steps downstream you can really cover a wide area of water.
For additional techniques and tips on how to fish pink salmon, please check this out.