The Figure 8 Retrieve
By Leon Chandler
Illustrations by Dick Leyden*
One of the most perplexing problems that
confronts the beginning fly rod fisherman
is gathering the line during the retrieve.
To be effective, the line must be under
control at all times - to allow setting the
hook at the time of the strike and to have
it in an orderly position for the next cast.
When fishing from a boat or from shore the
problem is minimized, as the line can be
stripped beneath a finger on the rod hand and
merely dropped at the feet. When wading in
moving water, however, one must hold the line
in some manner to keep the loose line from
moving downstream with the current. Various
methods are used. Some will store the line
in loose coils on the fingers of the stripping
hand; others will use a "hand twist" to gather
the line and retain it in the palm of the hand.
Frequently, tangles will occur when attempting
to "shoot" the line on the next cast.
Many years ago, someone showed me the "Figure 8"
Retrieve which I find easy and efficient to
use - particularly in those situations where a
relatively slow retrieve is desirable. It allows
me to store the line on the fingers of my left hand,
always under control, and to spiral it off the end
of the fingers on the next cast without tangling
and bunching up on the stripping guide.
At clinics and demonstrations over the past 30
years I have taught thousands of anglers around
the world that, with a little practice, the Figure
8 Retrieve can do much to help resolve the problem
of fly line control.
Let's take it in four easy steps:
1. Reach forward and drape line OVER forefinger - then
UNDER the remaining three fingers.
Repeat these four easy steps while wiggling the
fingers to work the line back toward the palm to
accommodate more line.
2. Tilt hand downward and route line back
BETWEEN second and third fingers.
3. Wiggle fingers to work stored line back
toward palm. Line is now in the form of a
4. To shoot line merely straighten fingers.
Line will spiral off without tangling.
When a fish hits, snub the line beneath a finger
on the rod hand, shake the spirals off the
retrieving hand, and wind in to get the fish on
the reel. The drag can then be used to control
the running fish. ~ Leon Chandler
* This article originally appeared in the Winter
1983 issue of Trout and was sent to us by
Leon Chandler for use here.
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