Boat Control: Guide to Buying & Using Drift Socks (video)

News & Tips: Boat Control: Guide to Buying & Using Drift Socks (video)...

Angler setting out a drift sock from his boatMost anglers curse the existence of the wind. It can make boat positioning frustrating at the best of times, and casting and retrieving baits impossible at the worst.

But there is hope. The light at the end of the wind tunnel is an essential and functional angling tool called the drift sock also known as drift anchors. Here are some tips on what to look for when shopping for one or more drift socks.

The Right Drift Sock Match for Your Boat

drift sock lindy magnum
Lindy Drift Control Magnum Series Drift Socks

When purchasing a drift sock, the rule of thumb is to buy one to match the length of boat you run. This will give you a ballpark size to begin your search with, which can then be fine-tuned to the perfect fit dependent on what severity of wind conditions you routinely face.

drift sock BPS extreme anchor
Bass Pro Shops Extreme Drift Anchor

Many drifting applications call for the use of two drift socks, so choose one that matches your boat specifications and another the next size up. This will cover a variety of bases while allowing you to experiment and see which methods work best.


Drift Sock Size Chart by Boat Length

  Boat Length
Wind Conditions 14-foot (or canoe, kayak) 16- to 18-foot 20-foot +
Light/Breezy 18-24" 25-30" 36-42"
Moderate 25-30" 36-42" 48-50"
Heavy/Strong 36-42" 48-50" 54-60"

Click here to for a larger view of the Drift Sock Size Chart.

Windy Fishing With Drift Socks

drift sock diagramDrifting Flats — Working expansive flats when the wind is howling can make for a tough day of fishing, especially if pitching jigs to walleye or tossing spoons to northern pike. In order to slow down your approach, while keeping a controlled drift, you will want to utilize two drift socks on the windward side of the boat. Attach a larger sock to a cleat just below the bow and a smaller sock at the rear on either the port or starboard side - depending on which direction the wind is blowing.

Deploying the drift socks in this configuration will alleviate any issues with uneven boat drifting, and with the outboard motor also creating drag, will allow you to slowly pick apart a flat and fish it effectively and thoroughly.

image source:

Windblown Shorelines — Trying to fan cast a shoreline effectively, without being pushed up on shore, can often be an exercise in frustration — especially when the winds are gusting strongly. To combat this problem, a drift sock should be attached to the rear corner of the windblown side. With this configuration, your boat will remain parallel to the shoreline, and the bow mount trolling motor will be used to inch your way along the drift and periodically nose the bow out and away from the shore.

Tying a Drift Sock Onto the Boat

drift sock lindy control diagramAn integral part of the drift sock system is the tow rope and dump line. As the name suggests, the tow rope is attached to the main harness of the sock. Tying off to a cleat on the boat is then done with the loose end. By using a length of rope (4 to 8 feet) variances can be made for certain applications, and the drift sock itself can always be kept out and away from the boat.

Pulling a drift sock back into the boat when fully inflated and submerged can be a tough deal — and an exercise in brute strength. A dump line makes life easier.

image source: Lindy Fishing Tackle

Attached to the tail end of the sock (and the boat cleat or tow rope), a tug on this retrieval line will swing the smallest end forward, collapsing the sock and allowing it to be pulled easily and effortlessly on board. A key rule to keep in mind is to ensure that your dump line is longer than the overall length of the tow rope and drift sock.

VIEDO: Drift Control Tips by Lindy