How to Drift for Fluke: The Ultimate Fluke Fishing Guide

August 9, 2021

Fluke are a ton of fun to catch. Not only do they fight hard on medium to light equipment, but they are also great to eat. Freshly caught and cooked fluke tastes amazing! Fluke sashimi is also considered a delicacy in Japan. So do you know how to drift for fluke? 

You will after reading this guide! Learning how to drift for fluke is a key technique for fluke fishing. It does require having access to a boat, but drifting gives you a much larger range for finding fish. We think it is the most effective way to catch fluke out there.

In this guide, we will show you how to drift for fluke, what equipment is best for drifting for fluke, as well as the general fluke fishing top tips. By the end of it, you’ll be ready to catch as many fluke as possible!

Let’s dive in.

Equipment Needed for Drifitng for Fluke

Before we talk about the actual technique on how to drift for fluke, let’s quickly go over the equipment you will need. 

Rod and Reel

We recommend either using a lightweight bottom fishing reel or a medium-weight saltwater spinning reel. Both options work great for fluke and have advantages and disadvantages. 

The bottom fishing reel will perform better if you are fishing for fluke in deeper water. 

The spinning rod and reel will be more effective for shallower water and if you plan on casting your line away from the boat. 

Fishing Line

We prefer to use a braided fishing line for our mainline and a monofilament leader when fishing for fluke. Braided line has a smaller diameter than monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line, which means you can spool more line onto your reel and have a greater range. 

Your leader should be monofilament or fluorocarbon line however, as fluke will be able to see the braided line up close and it could scare them away.

Fluke Lures and Bait

The two types of lures and bait we like to use are either traditional bucktail jigs in white or green and squid on a circle hook with a fish finder style rig

You can also use the same style of rig you would use for California halibut, just adjust the circle hook and weight size for smaller fluke. 

How to Drift for Fluke: Step By Step Guide

Alright, now that you have all the necessary equipment need to drift for fluke, let’s go over the step-by-step process for how to drift for fluke. You may need to adjust this method depending on wind and swell conditions, but for the most part, it works well.

Instructions

  1. Since fluke usually are sitting still on the bottom waiting for potential food to drift past them, you want to ensure your bait or lure imitates how natural food would present itself to them. THis means angling your boat and lure or bait up water from where the fluke are hanging out and drifting over them naturally. 
  2. You also will need to pay close attention to how fast you are drifting with your boat. The optimum speed ranging for fluke drifting is between 0.5 knots and 1.75 knots. Anything slower than this and you won’t cover enough ground, and anything faster and you’ll look unnatural to the fluke.
  3. Because you need to drift over the fluke the same way the tide or current is moving, we recommend not drifting for fluke during slack tides. It will be too difficult to make sure your boat is moving the correct way, and fluke are often not feeding during this time anyways. 
  4. Once you have positioned yourself up current from where you want to fish, drop your lures of bait down to the bottom. Then reel them up at least 5 turns to get them off the bottom. While you want your lure as close to the bottom as possible (since that is where the fluke are), you also want to minimize snagging your hook on anything else that is on the bottom. Fluke like hanging out in sandy parts of the ocean bottom, but you never know when you will hit a small patch of rock or other underwater structure. The quickest way to lose a lure is to drift it too close to the bottom. It will only be a matter of time until it’s gone.
  5. After you get your lure or bait to the appropriate depth, we like to give it a little action to entice nearby fluke. This means jigging your bucktail tentatively. We like to jig our lures 3 to 5 feet each swing. Sometimes you’ll need to be less aggressive than this to attract fluke, while other times more action is better. It is up to you test and see what the fluke like!
  6. When you feel a bite on your line, resist the urge to set the hook! The most common mistake when drifting for fluke is to try and ‘set the hook’ super aggressively. All that is going to do is yank the hook our of the fish’s mouth. If you get something on the line, simply begin to reel in firmly and the fish will hook itself.

Landing a Fluke

Congrats! You have a fluke on the line. Now what? Here’s how to successfully land a fluke while drifting.

  1. If you have any other anglers with you on the boat, have them man the controls while you fight the fish. If you are by yourself, pay attention to where your boat is drifting while you fight the fluke. The last thing you want is for your boat to drift into something while you are not paying attention.
  2. Fluke will typically try and hug the bottom or make a couple runs when you first hook them. They’ll angle their body against you to take advantage of the large surface area of their bodies. Don’t force it! Let the fluke tire out with this technique until you can begin reeling them in.
  3. Once you get the fluke to the boat, we like to use a salmon fishing net to bring them into the boat. If you know the fluke is a keeper, you can also use a gaff hook the quickly bring the fish into the boat. Only use a gaff if you plan to keep the fish – gaffs will permanently damage (and probably mortally wound) the fish when you use one.

How to Drift for Fluke: FAQs

How to Adjust to Drifting Conditions

The above technique is fairly easy to execute when it is relatively calm and the tide is moving. But what should you do if the wind picks up? 

You’ll need to use your trolling motor to help augment or lower your drifting speed. Remember, you want to be drifting between 0.5 and 1.5 knots, so use your trolling motor to ensure you stay within this range.

The same thing goes for if the tide begins to really rip where you are fishing. If you need to slow down your drifting speed, simply set your trolling motor to help slow down how fast you are drifting. Fluke usually like to hang out in deep enough water that they will not notice you running your motor above them.

What is the Best Way to Catch Fluke?

We think that drifting with a bucktail jig or squid on a circle hook is the best way to catch fluke. This is because drifting allows you to cover the most amount of ground (and increase your chances of finding fish) and it matches the natural way fluke find food. As long as you have a boat, it’s the best way to catch fluke!

Can You Use Powerbait for Fluke?

The short answer is yes, you can absolutely use Powerbait for fluke. We like to use either the squid-flavored Powerbait or the saltwater series of Powerbait. Both will smell similar to what fluke are used to eating and are great options for drifting with a circle hook.

What is the Best Time to Catch Fluke?

The best months of the year to catch fluke are in the spring and early summer. We find the most success during late April, May, June, and the beginning of July. 

As far as time of day, we like to fish in the morning when the tides line up with having good conditions for drifting. This means they aren’t changing too much but also aren’t flat. You want potential food for fluke to be easy for them to find.

Conclusion

Learning how to drift for fluke is an essential technique for fluke fishermen. As we said above, we think that drifting for fluke is the best way to fish for them! We hope you found this article useful and that you learned something new about how to drift for fluke.

If you have any questions or would like to add your two cents on catching fluke, feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy Hunting!

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