Updated: Oct 21
River smallmouth fishing in a kayak with soft plastics is all about the “Drift”. Getting the right drift with the right presentation is key to catching fish. Current, wind, terrain and lure presentation all play a big part in getting the right drift. Having the right equipment for this type of fishing is key to a great day. Two pieces of equipment that have greatly improved my drift fishing are the The Hobie PA with the "360 Drive" and the the VMC Tokyo Rig with Rugby weight.
Evaluate your drift
Every day is different on every river. Wind, water flow, terrain and other conditions change the river on a daily, and sometimes hourly basis. When trying to find a good drift for Smallmouth, I usually look for a rocky bottom, with a manageable current or wind. I have found great spots, but the current or wind on that day make it impossible to fish, and I have found great drift conditions but no fish in the area. Evaluate your options, and set up your drift on the best area you can find considering all options
Advantages of the Hobie PA 360.
Once you have start your drift, I have found that the Hobie PA 360 has several advantages over all other kayaks. First is the peddle drive that allows for hands free fishing. I still use my paddle kayaks, but there is no question that it is easier and more efficient to fish from a peddle drive kayak
The Hobie PA 360 Keeps you in the drift!
The second, and most important benefit to the Hobie PA 360 is the "360 Drive" - it is incredible. The 360 drive enables you to consistently keep your kayak in the drift and more importantly, in the correct position. All you need to do in order to maintain position is to turn the Hobie "360 Drive " knob in the direction you want to go, and add a couple of peddles. You can easily maintain your position as you drift through the area. It is like having a trolling motor on your kayak, it enables you to quickly turn in almost any direction. No more spinning in circles, fishing over your shoulder or fishing backwards - The Hobie 360 drive keeps you fishing and not working to keep your kayak straight.
Choose your presentation
I use a lot tubes or ned rigs when I drift for Smallmouth. I fish both of these lures on a jig head, and have found it to be super effective. The only issue with fishing these lures is they snag up - a lot. When you snag on a rock during your drift you have to stop what you are doing and row or peddle back up river to try to free the lure. This not only stops your drift and takes time away from fishing, it is also a lot of work to constantly row or peddle up river to free your lure. The VMC Tokyo rig is the answer for snag free lure presentation.
VMC EWG Tokyo Rig with Tungsten Rugby Weight
Advantages VMC Toyko Rig
The VMC Tokyo rig is a unique rig from VMC Hooks. The VMC Tokyo rig combines a hook and a 2.5" stainless steel "dropper" arm connected by a one piece solid ring. A premium rolling swivel is added onto the ring as well that allows the bait to move freely above the dropper arm with a natural flowing and undulating action.
Here is a video from VMC about the Tokyo Rig
Add the weight of your choice to the "dropper" arm to create unique presentation that keeps the lure just off the bottom, and helps it to remain extremely snag free. The Tokyo rig is available in EWG, Flippin, Finesse and HD Worm hook options to accommodate many different fishing applications. For Kayak drifting I like the EWG for my tubes and the finesse for small worms and grubs.
- VMC EWG Tokyo Rig with VMC Rugby Weight -
Choose your Weight
VMC offers a unique tungsten weight called the Rugby Weight. It is basically a modified “Football head” with a recessed hole in the head. It is absolutely perfect for this type of fishing and when used in conjunction with the Tokyo rig it creates a super effective presentation that will greatly reduce your snags and put more fish in the boat. The Tokyo rig in combination with the Rugby weights is as much of an advantage as the Hobie 360 drive. Available from 1/4 up to 1oz, you can pick the weight that best matches your rig and your drift.
Finesse VMC Tokyo Rig with Tungsten Rugby Weight
The VMC Tokyo rig with Rugby weight is a Game Changer for Kayak Drift fishing. Pick some up at your local retailer and do the “Tokyo Drift” next time out in your Kayak.
Tokyo Drifting in my Hobie PA12 360