If you've been fishing a while, there are
probably things you do which don't have names.
Just methods of getting something done which you
discover out of necessity. Unless you fish with
someone who has more experience, or is an avid
reader, putting names on actions isn't one of
I'm talking specifically about how you move your
line or fly once the cast has been made. You
probably do it, well, at least if you are catching
As I've mentioned before, the most important part
of fly fishing is line control. Yes, that includes
casting, but what happens AFTER the cast?
The action/method of re-positioning your line and
or fly is called "mending." There are a ton of names
for various fancy moves to mend line, but the essence
of mending is to either put your floating fly in a
better position where there is less drag - and
hopefully fish, or to move your wet fly (nymph too)
lower in the water column.
Back in March of 2003 I wrote another column on line
mending, Controlled Slack
(Line Mending) but the email indicates the article
didn't quite get the job done.
Mending is done with nymphs and streamers too!
It is very important for several reasons. If you
accept the premise that drag on a floating fly makes
it look phony, so doing something to keep drag from
happening is logical, doesn't it also compute that a
nymph or streamer moving at a speed different from
the speed at which the water and other flotsam is
moving might also look phony? Mending line to get
the fly to the depth you want - and having it move
at the same speed as the current is crucial.
Go back and read the article I just mentioned for the
way to do that - with this addition. You can shake
some squiggles of line out the tip of your rod to
allow the nymph or streamer to continue on past
you without slowing it down. The half-roll cast
is super for this too. You now introduce another
problem however, which is how well a downstream fish
Simply, mending is a method of re-positioning your
fly line (or fly) once the cast has been made. The
moves are made with the fly line on the water.
You do need to practice this stuff when you don't
have a fish rising in front of you. Some time spent
working on this may save you great frustration when
you just can't get a cast exactly where you need it
when the fish are there!
Not all fly rods are great for line mending. It does
take a fairly fast - stiff rod to mend line efficiently,
and while I personally prefer a 9 foot rod, there are
those who insist a 9 ½ or 10 foot rod are best. Trying
to do a half-roll cast with line on the water with a
slow rod does not work very well.
Like everything else, there is an exception to the
information on streamers above. If you are fishing
a large fly and casting it to suspected holding water
for big fish, once the fly has sunk, you should strip
retrieve the fly in a manner to suggest it really wants
to get out of there. (Think small fish who just
discovered it was in the wrong place.) Move the fly
upstream, cross-stream, anything! Be prepared for
With winter staring at us, it's a good time to take an
inventory of our fishing skills and maybe make a list
of what we need to work on next spring. It could really
improve your catching! ~ The LadyFisher
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