Called drift socks, drogues and sea anchors, "drag bags" are a great way to control your boat's progress whether drifting or under power. If you're familiar with drift socks, but all you do is drag them behind your boat when you want to slow down your drifting or trolling speed, you're missing out on the full potential of modern-day drift socks.
Fishing pro Ted Takasaki pushes the "drag bag" envelope by using underwater socks in a variety of ways, from stabilizing his boat to using the fishing aids to "steer" his craft in a desired direction, as well as deploying them to perform their primary "pace-slowing" purpose.
"Drift socks are vital tools for an angler who wants to control both his speed and to better control his boat in general," says Takasaki, who also serves as president of Lindy-Little Joe tackle. "A drift sock can affect the drifting or trolling speed of the boat by as little as one-quarter to as much as one full mile per hour, depending upon the size of the sock. That's quite a variable, and sometimes the difference between catching fish or not is being able to key in on-and stay at-a particular speed in that range."
Takasaki also says that the direction of a drift, and the resulting presentation, can make the difference between a full or an empty livewell at the end of a fishing day.
"Often, using a drift sock is the only way to achieve a particular speed or angle or combination of both," claims Takasaki, who breaks out his drift socks when he wants more control when facing the following situations:
"A drift sock can cut down on the rocking and surging of your boat while you're fishing. Just think how much more accurate your casts are when your feet are steady underneath you," he said. "And we all know what it's like when you lay in bed at night after a long day of fishing the wind in a rocking and rolling boat. That bed just keeps on rocking."
"While anchored in current, the wind can blow the boat back and forth from side to side, making precise presentations impossible," he explained. "A drift sock tied to the transom will catch the current, hold and stabilize the boat, keeping that side-to-side movement to a minimum."
"When drifting flats, boat speed can be critical to catching fish," said Takasaki. "The same is true when pitching jigs or cranks along the shoreline; there are many times when the wind is too strong or at the wrong angle to effectively present baits to the shoreline. A drift sock will help to slow the boat and allow more time to work a particular area."
"Attaching one or two socks to various positions along the side, bow or transom of the boat will alter the angle by which the boat will drift," says Takasaki. "For example, high- sided boats (like pontoons) have a tendency to drift with the bow down-wind.
"Adding a drift sock to the bow will direct the boat to drift perpendicular to the wind. Adding a second, smaller sock to the transom will slow the boat down even more, while maintaining the proper angle of drift and allowing the anglers in the boat to fish additional lines more effectively by drifting perpendicular to the wind."
"Many anglers own boats that do not have a small kicker motor for trolling slow, and must rely on their primary outboards," says Takasaki. "These large outboards often can't slow down to sub-two mph speed without stalling or taking their motor out of gear."
By dragging a drift sock or two, one on each side of the boat, from the bow or the stern, the motor can operate at an rpm that is above stalling speed while pushing the boat at speeds slow enough to tempt a finicky fish, according to Takasaki, which remains the primary reason for putting a sock overboard in the first place!