Blue-water boaters use sea anchors to stay bow to the wind and waves in heavy seas. Inshore anglers value the drift sock safety device, such as the Minn Kota model shown at right ($30 to $35, cabelas.com), for adding strike appeal to bait rig presentations when slower is better. Here's the skinny on why and how to use drift socks.
Setup - Breezy conditions stir the food chain like a spoon in a bowl of gumbo, settling plankton over shallow reefs and bars. That occurrence rings the dinner bell for baitfish. Next come predators like walleye, pike and bass.
Game Plan - Deploy the sea anchor off the bow, setting a slow drift over bottom structure. Drift a live bait rig using a minnow matching the size of the baitfish.
Fish On! - Predators will ignore nervous schools of minnows in favor of your slower moving bait. The sea anchor's braking action prevents the boat from passing too quickly over the target.