This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

January 5th, 2004

Putting Names On...

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 your priorities.

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 fish.

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 is hooked.

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 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 a strike.

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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