Not since the invention of the Slinky has there been as big revolution in drift fishing sinker technology as the “Sploosh Ball.” Over the past 10 seasons, these big plastic bombs have slowly been replacing other forms of lead on Western steelie waters.
And it’s easy to see why…they cast great, glide like a dream and are super snag resistant. The only real drawback is they aren’t the greatest bank fishing tool…when side-drifted, however, they are tough to beat. The venerable Plunk-N-Dunk got the “sploosh” movement going and now Mad River Manufacturing has entered the arena with their Mad River Drifters. But can they improve upon an already good idea?
We aimed to find out…
Comparing a No. 2 Mad River Drifter to a similarly-sized 3/4-ounce Plunk-N-Dunk, the first thing we noticed was the fact that the Mad River offering is a made from a slightly harder and more dense plastic. On the scale, they were also a tad heavier.
The only other real difference was the the MR Drifters featured nickel swivels and the P-N-D’s had black. That could be an issue in clear water, but the folks at Mad River Mfg said that the nickel were used only on the initial batch of drifters and that all the future sinkers will feature black as well.
The most enticing feature of the new drifters from Mad River Mfg. is the fact that they come in a weighted version — as well as the standard unweighted model — something Plunk-N-Dunk doesn’t offer. The terms “unweighted” and “weighted” are a bit misleading when you’re talking about sinkers, so let me clarify.
Well, since Mad River Mfg. offers a leaded model, you can order them ready to fish — and save yourself the time and hassle. Very cool!
Being a little more dense, I suppose you could argue that the Mad River Drifters were easier to cast but both brands of balls fly with ease. The heavier plastic, however, enabled us to get the unweighted ones down better in water where we’d often have to switch over to the leaded versions. But that didn’t compromise their “glideability”…if that’s even a word. As with all sploosh balls, these new models were as snag-resistant as ever, and though we lost several leaders throughout the day, all the drift balls came back home alive.
Again, because of a sploosh ball’s wide profile, they typically don’t fish all that well off shore (except in slow flats). By the time the ball gets down, you usually have about two bounces on the bottom before the swing starts and the current sweeps it up and towards the surface. That wasn’t the case as much with the Mad Drifters — we actually found that we could fish them from shore in more cases than the other balls. Still, not the ideal situation and they’re best used from a moving boat…
That denseness logically translated into better fishability while side-drifting from the boat as well. The unweighted Mad Drifters got down quicker (the leaded versions of both brands have about the same sink rate) and generally seemed to be a better tool for drifting for steelies. We’ve also been a big fan of balls for dragging or boondogglin.’ Once you get them down, these things glide like champs in all but the deepest salmon water — and that’s again where the dense plastic was superior.
It’s hard to talk a whole lot about sinkers and not be totally boring, but our initial impressions of the Mad River Drifters were extremely favorable. Unfortunately, they only come in the one size at the moment, but there are several other sizes coming soon, including some that the trout guys are going to go bonkers for.
To learn more about Mad River Drifters, visit them at www.madrivermanufacturing.com