Drift sock basics

When the wind or current is up and you’re spending more time trying to control your boat than you are fishing, you might want to think about using a drift sock. OK, they’re not all that sexy. I’ll admit that. But, if they help you catch fish, do you really care?

Think of them as a huge ice cream cone with the small end cut out. As you drag them along, the water enters the wide part of the cone and exits the small end. That size difference slows your boat down. How much depends upon the current and wind, size of the sock and the size and weight of your boat.

For my money, the best drift socks are made by Bass Pro Shops. (They call them Drift Anchors.) They’re high-quality reinforced nylon, reasonably priced and most importantly stay open when you toss them overboard.

They’re offered is a number of sizes. If you look at their Internet site, you’ll see they match them to boat size. That’s OK as far as a place to start is concerned but don’t let that be the only factor you use when you purchase one.

A smaller sock will slow your boat down less than a big one but it’ll be lighter and easier to use. If you’re serious about your drift socks, I suggest purchasing a couple in different sizes. If you just want to get started try a 3-foot model. That’s about right for a modern bass boat.

Once your sock is out, you have to pull it in – against the water – until you get it close enough to grab the dump line. That’s the cord that’ll let you collapse the cone and pull it in more easily.

Let me give you a few additional tips I’ve learned about the hard way. First, get rid of the notion that using a drift sock is for unsophisticated anglers or for lazy men and women who don’t want to work at controlling their boat. Using one requires a combination of thought and hard work.

Second, don’t pull your trolling motor up just because your using a drift sock. It’ll help you control your boat during your drift and fish more efficiently.

Third, make sure you keep your GPS on when you’re drifting. If you catch a couple of fish, you can use the electronic tails to make another drift over the same area. If your drift was unproductive, you can make sure you don’t repeat it.

Fourth, attach a big float to your basket. If the entire assembly gets loose, it’ll sink — fast and forever. When I said before that BPS models are reasonably priced, I didn’t mean free. A lost drift sock is still lost money.

Using a drift sock is one of the best ways there is to cover a lot of water, and covering water is sometimes the only way to catch them.

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