“I want ’em to look in the eye of that fish.”
The moment the first spey cast jumps from the screen in high definition, and the fly line falls over the currents of the Deschutes River, the viewer is hooked. The film’s vibrancy strikes an immediate chord, and it’s easy to settle in thinking Drift will progress as a collection of high quality destination pieces. Not exactly.
The new fly fishing film from Confluence Films takes the viewer to intriguing places, sure, but Drift isn’t really about where to fish, it’s about people and why they fish. The destinations provide the backdrop.
Drift is comprised of five segments that have the feel of magazine profiles brought to life. In Oregon, it focuses on John and Amy Hazel of the Deschutes Angler as they cast for steelhead. When John Hazel says the above highlighted quote in discussing what he hopes his clients take from every fish, you get that this is more about his passion than it is about the Deschutes or the steelhead. The same holds true as Drift follows Brian O’Keefe down to Turneffe Flats in Belize and then Punta Gorda with the Garbutt Brothers. (Plus, you get a sense of how hard permit fishing is when one of the brothers spots one and says to O’Keefe, “Only 80 feet, moving left.”)
The people do not come through as strongly in the third segment about winter tailwaters, probably because it packs in three locales–the Green, The Frying Pan, and the Bighorn–but you still get a good overall feel for the why of winter fishing.
Drift hits it perfectly in its profile of Charlie Smith, the Andros Island bonefish legend who invented the Crazy Charlie. It is the strongest piece in the film; it would have been had it not featured a single bonefish and just shown Smith picking the banjo.
Drift closes in Kashmir, where it follows two anglers (Jon Steihl and Travis Smith) who find that the trout fishing is the same but, “The minute you got out of the water…everywhere there were signs you weren’t at home anymore.”
Find interesting people in interesting places and tell the stories through strong cinematography and narrative, and you get Drift, a fly fishing film that hits its mark.