Lessons Learned (Stories)

Two Rods in the Boat — More Fish, More Fun

It was just cold enough at night to build a fire in the wood burning stove.  It was in the corner of the cabin and my brother had set the flue to burn all night.  The cabin was well made from cedar logs that were a deep, rich red.  The three of us sat in chairs around the coffee table next to the stove.  We talked about the day’s fishing.  The warmth kept us together.   

My father watched my brother and I prepare our flies and rods.  He was happy to watch us, to sip whiskey, and to talk with his sons about fishing and hunting and the next time we would rendezvous. 

“Why don’t you guys use my rod when I’m rowing?” he asked.   

My father changed the way we fished from a drift boat with that question. 

I looked at my brother and took a sip of whiskey.  He half smiled, took a deep breath, then grinned along with me.

“That’s actually a really good idea Pop.” It really was a good idea.

“How many reels do we have?”  I asked. 

“I brought two.” My brother replied.

“I brought two too.  And Pop has one.”  My brother and I were still.  My father drank from a coffee cup that I had poured whiskey into.  He smiled.  He knew.  It was quiet.  Then I continued, “And we have an extra rod, right?”

My brother looked at the kitchen table.  There were rods laying across it and piles of clothes damp from river water on the chairs. 

“Yeah, I brought my travel rod too.   It’s a Cabelas.  I actually haven’t used it that much, and I was kinda hoping to fish it out here.”

It was quiet. 

My brother spoke slowly, “Sooooooo, why don’t we set up one rod for dries and one for nymphs.  We can fish dries in the morning and if we want to nymph at all, we can switch rods instead of changing everything.”

“I cannot believe” I paused, “we have not”, another dramatic pause, “thought of that before.”

“See Jas, Pop’s not totally worthless.”

We both contained our laughter.  Holding back made it funnier.

“Yep — That’s why we bring him along folks.”  I said. 

We all laughed hard and long.  When we stopped laughing, we went out into the cold to look at the stars.

Why Have Two Rods in The Drift Boat Ready?

It can save you time.  If you are fishing from a drift boat, you can use one rod for dries and one for nymphs.  It is faster to pick up the new rod, than changing strike indicator, split shot, tippet, and flies.  The same concept applies if you get a massive tangle in your line.

There is less hesitation to switch.  Sometimes we know its time to start nymphing, but we hesitate because all the changing of flies and line.  It’s not good logic, but it happens.  Having another rod set up can keep you from delaying the inevitable.

It keeps things interesting.  If the fishing is great nymphing, but you see some rising fish along the shore, it may not be time to give up on the fish beneath, but you would like to take a shot at a trout that you can see rising.  You can cast to a rising trout while nymphing and then go back.

Two rods give you a back-up in case one breaks.

How Did It Go?

The Bighole River was fishing good.  Dry fly fishing was good when the PMD hatch was on, but trout would also rise throughout the day. Fish were also eating lightening bugs, and pheasant tails underneath. 

We caught more fish and had more fun with two rods set up to fish nymphs and two for dries.

When we thought it was time to nymph, we would.  If we wanted to fish dries a bit, we would.  It was convenient to have two rods set up.  If we stopped and got out of the boat to wade fish, we would just take one rod.

There is something to be said for patience and trusting you have the right fly for the conditions you are fishing.  Changing back and forth constantly is not the best strategy, but sometimes it is good to switch it up.  I still change to nymphing or back to dries on the same rod sometimes as we drift or when we stop, but it’s nice to have options.

Thanks Pop, for two great ideas you had that night:

Fishing two rigs from a drift boat.  And going outside to look at the stars. 



Jason Shemchuk

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  • Reply
    Timothy Chapman
    May 20, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    Ha! Love this one. I read every line in either Drew, Andy, or your voice.

    • Reply
      Jason Shemchuk
      May 20, 2020 at 10:19 pm

      Glad it was entertaining! Thanks for reading my friend. Cheers.

  • Reply
    Brian Dahle
    May 21, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    Great advice as always! Your Dad has three Good ideas, the third being drinking Whiskey from a coffee cup! Must be a Dad thing as my Dad has perfected drinking his Wine out of a coffee cup too…at family gatherings nobody knows…but me and Dad!

    • Reply
      Jason Shemchuk
      May 22, 2020 at 12:37 am

      I’m happy you enjoyed it. Must be! Thanks for reading and for sharing. Cheers.

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