Must-Have Gear for Your Drift Boat
by PJ Delhomme
Justin Karnopp has guided clients on fly-fishing adventures for decades across the western U.S. As a producer for outdoor television shows, he’s fished all over the world. Along the way, he’s learned a few lessons about what to pack in his drift boat for a fun and safe day on the river. Aside from the obvious gear to take like rods, reels, and lures, he offered up a few things weekend fishing warriors might not think about. We threw in a few not-so-obvious items, too.
A throw bag is a rescue device that allows a person to throw a rescue line to someone in the water who needs help. Instead of having a bunch of loose rope rolling around the bottom of a boat, the bag neatly contains 50 or 75 feet of rope that can be thrown accurately. Throwing a bag effectively takes practice, and Karnopp stresses the need to practice throwing it in a mock rescue. There are numerous tutorials online, and this video produced by NRS is a great start.
Spare Oar, Oar Leash, and Oar Lock
Losing an oar on the river isn’t just annoying, it’s downright dangerous. A spare breakdown oar takes up less space than you think, and it’s going to save your behind. In addition, use oar leashes, and carry a spare oar lock on your drift boat. Like the throw rope, practice replacing a lost oar on a boat while you’re on the river. If you lose an oar, it likely won’t be in flat water.
Few of us want to waste time scooping ice-cold water out of the boat with our hands. And even fewer want to stand in it. Spend $60 and splurge on a bilge pump that makes fast work of this annoying, but necessary, task.
Propane Heater and Fuel
This might sound like a luxury, but if you’re fishing with clients, kids, or a spouse that tends to run cold, a small propane heater will turn you into a hero. No, don’t use it while you’re floating on the boat. Use it when you need to stop for a shore lunch or just to warm up.
Fishing First-aid Kit
Hunters and hikers have dozens of first-aid kit options. Anglers are a different story. You will likely need to buy a regular first-aid kit and customize it. For fishing, add a multi-tool for fish hook removal and an instant ice pack to numb the pain of an embedded fish hook. Every kit needs a tourniquet regardless of the activity. And finally, because you’re on the water, buy a waterproof case for your first-aid supplies.
Friendly (and Obvious) Reminder of Items to Bring Fishing:
- Spare truck keys hidden somewhere special on the boat
- Extra drain plug
- Dry bags with warm, dry clothes
- Wader repair kit
- Fishing license
- Ice chest
- Big ol’ smile because you’re not at work
PJ DelHomme writes and edits content from his home in western Montana. He runs Crazy Canyon Media and Crazy Canyon Journal.
More articles in our Be An Expert on the Water series!