canoe "drag" in river

very sensible post

– Last Updated: Aug-22-15 11:38 PM EST –

trolling motors, oar frames all sensible. Dragging something in current against the bottom of a river bed is asking for trouble. If the current is strong enough to make fishing difficult then it is certainly strong enough to create a situation where things could get dicey. OP noted a rocky bottom.

It’s a matter of degree
In the rivers I paddle people drop and anchor and fish all the time. What is the difference between anchoring a boat and drifting with something that could possibly become snagged and anchoring you?


I can certainly picture rivers where dropping anchor would be dangerous, but I assume since the OP is talking about rivers where he floats and fishes already that’s not what he is talking about.

the difference is “the current”

– Last Updated: Aug-23-15 7:42 AM EST –

The op wants to slow himself down on a river with a rock bottom and snag things along the way to accomplish this, if I read the post right?- I see this type of fishing a lot- two people, one is fishing and another is working oars on a dory or raft, or one person is simply using a trolling motor to slow the descent, usually in jon boat when I see that. Way safer than dragging anything along the river bed and less disruptive to the critters that live on the river bottom.

The fact that your going to fish means you'll be focused on that rather than the anchor itself. If you're lucky you'll lose the anchor eventually in the rocks- end up cutting the rope. If your unlucky you'll capsize or fall out of the boat in the current and find yourself swimming against the current to get back to it. All of this happening with taunt rope under the water on the upstream end of the boat. Add a bunch of current to that scenario and then you've got a real mess.
Are there some situations which this could possibly work? Maybe, but there are way better solutions that will work in a wider variety of conditions that are less hazardous.

If I read the original post right I think OP wants to "drift fish" by slowing their rate of speed down, by bumping an object off of a rocky river bottom-It's just not a good solution. You can dress it up, rationalize it, maybe even get away with it for a while or tell me how its the same as dropping an anchor in a stationary position but I'm not buying one ounce of it. Seen way to much stuff snagged between rocks, submerged trees and the like- just a bad idea in general. If you were absolutely set on doing it then I think the chain would be the way to go but I'd never go that route to begin with.

Damn lucky u lived to tell about it huh?

It is not as bad as all that.

– Last Updated: Aug-23-15 8:58 PM EST –

I generally agree that it's a bad idea for practical and ecological reasons, but as to all the other stuff that seems to be the crux of your argument? No. I am very certain that you don't fish from a canoe (or hardly ever have), especially not solo, and I am also very sure that you have never anchored in current (or hardly ever have), because you are just reaching way too far to support your conclusion. Mentioning drift boats and the like illustrates that you are envisioning mush worse conditions than what's warranted. I grant you that there are plenty of situations where you'd be right, but I can promise you that if you actually HAD any first-hand experience dropping anchor (where appropriate) or HAD experience with the way that even drifting with a very gentle current your speed ends up being "too fast" the moment you see an opportunity to put your lure into a nice spot and you don't have any chance for that second or third cast, and maybe not even a really good first cast, you'd know just how benign moving-water conditions can be yet still leave you wanting to pause or slow down.

In any case, your statement about the "surprise" of a drag device getting snagged on the bottom would make no sense to you at all if you had actual experience dropping anchor in the kinds of moving-water situations I am thinking of. We aren't talking about doing this in really swift water, and we aren't talking about doing it from a surf ski. Trust me, even in a moderate current (and this is the judgement part of the problem), you'd be in no danger if your canoe ended up being stopped instead of drifting, as long as you weren't in a Wenonah Voyager or similar boat.

Making a blanket statement about how much can go wrong, no matter where this is done? The rest of the world has already proven you wrong.

Thanks for the concern of me dropping an anchor in class IV rapids while trying to stand on my baby-oiled gunwales to fly fish.

I’ve fished this way in rivers for years and though you say I am only playing the odds and have just been lucky until now…what is the difference in an “accidental” snag and me throwing my 10lb grappling anchor out on purpose in the same river?

The scenario of me having to swim back to my canoe upstream and all the business of a tight anchor line, etc… You know what I’ll do if I capsize where I fish? I’ll stand up and walk back to it. The river is about 2’ deep. And if it were deeper I would float down and work to the shore downstream, walk back upstream, and then swim out to my boat.

I do understand that everyone may not know the river characteristics where I am fishing, and that there ARE places you would not throw an anchor in a canoe. But if that’s the case maybe ask a few questions to get the details. I mention in the original post that I do this in the Delaware River at 4k cu.ft. flow which is low and slow. Slow is a relative term for fishing speed!

Thanks for the posts and advice.

I was gonna suggest a sail
You know, just to make it more challenging.



I don’t fish at all anymore,
used to fish for food, six summers of dehydrated food and you start wanting to catch fish to eat. Fiddleheads and chubs taste pretty good when you get hungry enough.

Canoeing and fishing together were generally a pain in a** for me when done solo in a canoe. Did it, would rather fish from shore if I’m gonna fish or in oar rig, or with trolling motor.

Your right of course, that nice looking striper a young kid caught tonight must have been my imagination, it’s not like anybody ever fishes the new river or that there are a number of competing businesses ready to take you out to slay the smallies where I live. Nobody fishes where I paddle. It’s all in my head, furthermore they drag s*** down the river to slow down and just pretend to man the oars while they take there customers sightseeing instead of fishing.

Man, I gotta start eatin’ more fish, and less of them little mushrooms, thanks for setting my straight. I wonder what one ounce of shrooms will do to ya?

try reading your original post again

– Last Updated: Aug-25-15 12:24 AM EST –

and actually read what you wrote. Nothing about Delaware, nothing about 2 ft deep. What you did write about is current, anchors, and rocks.

You don't have to like or agree with my assessment but it won't take "class IV standing on the gunwales" to prove that dragging stuff down a rocky riverbed in current is "crazy". I think that's what you actually wrote about. You wanted to know if it was a "crazy idea" or not. The answer is yes but the good news is "that you can walk away from trouble". I am a little confused, if you're already doing it, then why are you asking about how to do it?

In general people don't like to be told what to do. They like it even less when they are told what not to do. I would kind of think they'd be a little over that if they are actually asking for advice.

Wear your pfd. Dragging stuff along a rocky river bottom in current isn't a very safe way to slow yourself down. Use sunscreen.

Dang, I'm full of radical ideas tonight- it's all the ww infecting my sinus cavities and rotting my brain, did four laps at fayette station tonight. If you don't know what that is, be sure to ask. After all that's your responsibility as the reader and not mine as the OP.

Just remember, I'm not buyin' one ounce of it!

I'm not a very good fisherman. I'm pretty decent at keepin' folks alive on the water. I couldn't help the person that jumped off the NRG bridge tonight. Probably read one too many of my posts. They just couldn't take it anymore. Not as bad as the lady who jumped with her dog a number of years ago.

Just glad they didn't have the access road closed, that would have messed up my evening paddle. Lots of blue lights down in the gorge tonight. Too bad they couldn't keep the fishermen out. I worry about runnin' over their fishin' poles as I back up my mini van on the rock beach while I'm blind 'em with my headlights after running rapids until it is too dark to see.

My buds rollover and catch fish in their teeth.

Scary thing is, it's all true!....even the part about the anchors. If I say it loud enough and often enough then you might become a believer of my bs.

Not likely though. I wonder if you drag a magic 8ball across the riverbed what it would say? In general is that a good or a bad idea? Does it vary from river to river? Dang, paddlin' sure is complicated.

Drift Socks
Google canoe drift socks & you will get all kinds of options. I have never used one & not sure how it will work in shallow water but it might be what your looking for.


Won’t work…

– Last Updated: Aug-25-15 8:40 AM EST –

... as already explained. You can't go slower than the current by gripping the water that carries you. If you are going to use water itself for any kind of traction, it has to be via a motor, paddle or oars, pushing you in an upstream direction.


– Last Updated: Aug-25-15 8:57 AM EST –

Your response to me (about my experience in waters where anchoring, accidental or otherwise, is no big deal) is to imply that I'm denying that drift boats with oars are used in your area. Do you really need to resort to nonsensical replies like that to avoid recognizing that having a boat snubbed to a stop by a rope can be pretty benign in a lot of cases? You've singled me out in your reply because I addressed you, but your same answers apply to pirateover40 and al_a (who also have experience doing this). Though you usually seem pretty practical (and your statements about damaging the riverbed environment and dealing with an inconvenient method ARE practical), the OP's sarcastic reply (below) is well earned by you in this case.

Just for the heck of it, I'll try one more reasonable method of illustration. Can you envision how, on a lot of rivers, you can absent-mindedly drift into a stump and be in no danger? It's no worse than being bumped into by a fellow paddler's boat. Now, just imagine what that would be like if your downstream progress was only at half the speed of the current at the moment of impact on account of the fact that a drag was already slowing you down. Can you see that getting your drag device stuck actually puts less of a jolt on your boat than simply dropping the anchor in the first place? And as already noted, dropping anchor CAN be done in the kind of waters we are thinking of.

well now

– Last Updated: Aug-25-15 12:49 PM EST –

I asked opinions because I wanted to know what others do in this situation. I thanked everyone. I mentioned the Delaware and my particular flow rate in my second post, which you may not have noticed. No biggie.
I didn't mention the 2' until later, and well, we all know that flow rate and depth is a stream/day/minute variable which also changes with each linear foot of river bottom.

I wear my PFD and sunscreen. I use a neck gaiter and big straw hat too.

Yes, I've been using an anchor for a while now and it's a grappling hook I throw it and it sticks. If I were to dag a "magic 8 ball" along the bottom of the river it would slow my drift rate proportional to the weight of said "8 ball". In which case, it would be safer than simply throwing my grappling hook over the edge. Correct? This would allow me to not have to stop-start while fishing.

If a log were to tumble through my line while dragging an 8 ball it would likely tangle my line and potentially swamp my canoe, throwing me into the water. That would also happen with a fixed anchor as well. I was asking (honestly) how (and if) they are different? If my 8 ball snags a tree at 1 mph drift versus me throwing a hook into the river at a 4 mph drift?

I'm sure you are more experienced than I and you have helped many. I'll listen and will heed your advice. Everyone has something to teach us. I obviously paid attention to it the first time. I have no problem having someone tell me I am wrong, or that there is a better way to do things.

I don't recall your posts specifically, but some responded to this as a death wish scenario. Again, I am certain there are rivers where it would be insane to do this. If more information is needed to make the call about my questions then by all means do ask.

I used to go a lot softer on folks in
this forum but I’ve reached the conclusion after a couple of years of posting that if you want to make headway you’ve got to be a straight shooter. Take a stand. Politically correct isn’t my thing.

I learn a lot from this forum because I learn how others think and perceive boating. I enjoy their passion be it sea kayaking, rec kayaks, sit on tops, freestyle or paddling to fish. None of that is my thing but I do enjoy learning a bit about it. Canoe tripping, c1ing, ww kayaking, rafting, duckying, swamp paddling, and exploring small creeks is what I’m into.

I deal with a lot of rec kayakers who buy boats at a local sporting goods store and want to paddle the rivers here in wv. I’m currently president of the west virginia wildwater association. One of few organizations in my state to provide classes on beginning and intermediate ww kayaking, river rescue, and also sponsors roll sessions. Our mission as an organization is to educate and promote paddling within the state of wv. Our members range from beginners to expert ww boaters and national champions. I’m somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

So how does all this relate to your post? I’ve dealt a lot with boats in current and I’ve never seen anyone here in wv, or up in maine, or out west “drift fishing” dragging an anchor. It’s simply not safe. They use oars or a trolling motor to neutralize the current. Your specific idea of what is current maybe way different than mine.

Stay safe and thanks for a more sensible post, I’ve tried to match that with a more sensible response.

When folks resort to ridicule they get the magic 8 ball to answer their questions but I much prefer this more respectful approach.

Just a note
that when advice is given, it is given (generally) for the worst case scenario. Moving water could be anything from a drift to a cataract and unless specifics are provided in the original post, most will assume that the environment is on the most challenging end of the spectrum since what can be done in slow or still water is often not what can be done as water speed increases.

One doesn’t want to provide advice that is unsafe in moderate to severe conditions and get someone injured or killed.


Agreed…thanks for the response

I assumed the OP was not an idiot
And if he was wanting to do this in class IV rapids then really it’s better for the gene pool to encourage him.

It is hard
to make something idiot-proof because idiots are so ingenious, or so goes the saying.

I’ve seen too many instances where someone has taken advice that was perfectly reasonable in the context in which it was offered and applied to a context that was completely inappropriate for said advice.

Case in point: Back in the 60’s when you could easily do this, a neighbor of ours, a heavy smoker, asked for a hose for siphoning gas from his car. Dad provided the hose and he promptly went over to his car, lit up, and began siphoning gas into his mower.

How that didn’t end up badly is a testament to the difficulty there is when finding the right mix of gas/oxygen for an explosion.