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My thoughts on Proper Mending Techniques
From observing a lot of different fly fishers while I am out on the water fishing myself, one thing I’ve noticed is how most fly anglers really don’t understand what it means to mend their line. I know that everybody is taught how to throw a little line upstream to create slack in order to get a natural drift, but that is not really the most important aspect of mending. I want to touch on the “other side” of mending and why it’s so important to get it “RIGHT”.
A reason why proper mending is so crucial is because way the way the line is rides on the water can allow a fisherman to get a better angle on the hook set. If you’re standing in the water and you make a cast across the current and then throw a small mend in the line, you really didn’t accomplish all that you needed to unless you brought the whole fly line upstream past your indicator. Now, what I’m about to tell you is worth a million bucks – well, maybe not, but it is darn valuable. For the beginners reading this, what I am about to say will help you very much. All that many anglers know how to do with respect to the mend is to scoot or move their fly line upstream with the rod tip. You’ll notice that I used the word “move”. Moving the fly line is the wrong way to do it. What you want to do is raise your rod in a half circle and that action will lift the fly line instead of scooting it. When you scoot it, you actually move the fly closer to you. The main thing you will need to learn to improve this aspect of mending is how high to lift your rod. The higher you lift the rod, the more line you lift off the water. It’s kind of like doing a half circle with your rod. Also keep in mind: it’s ok to have some slack in your line. If you are too tight with the fly line to your indicator, any subtle move with the rod will move your fly and diminish your chances of fooling a big fish that may have been checking out your fly – one false move and it’s over it and the fish has moved on.
Example: If you make a 30-foot cast, it will take more lift to get the right amount of line off the water than it would on a 20-foot cast. Also, keep in mind that if you mend right after you cast, it’s easier to lift the line off the water because the water hasn’t affected the line very much at that point. The name for how water “wraps” around the fly line is called “water-load”. I also think a softer rod will mend line much better because of it is easier to control the tip with this action of rod.
Think about this for a second… if you don’t have all the fly line mended in a straight line and it lags behind the indicator at an angle, you will end up with a little swing right where fly line connects to the leader. You will still have slack, but if you go to set the hook, this tiny “swing” will pull the fly right out of the trout’s mouth. Because you got the mend wrong when drifting the fly downstream, when the trout goes to take the fly, causing your indicator to go down, you will actually pull the fly right out of the trout’s mouth as a result of the way the fly line is riding on the water.
There is a cast called a “reach mend” that will throw the mend in the line during the cast instead of mending after the line is on the water. This technique can come in handy in certain situations. Really, mending is only necessary when the fly line starts to get in front of you or below you. Casting up steam results in enough slack in the line so that you don’t have to mend right away. I’ve said this in my reports: I sometimes like to cast a little bit downstream and then feed line into my drift without ever worrying about a mend. It’s just a simple way to make sure you have a drag-free drift and it can be utilized in certain situations. You can also make the drift last longer because it’s possible to continue feeding the line out indefinitely. Try it and see next time you have fish feeding downstream of where you are wading and I think it will help you. I’m working on a video clip to demonstrate this and it should be posted soon.
Note: Always remember that if the fly line is upstream of your indicator, you will eventually have drag affect the indicator because the fly line has no slack - the current will swing the indicator around unless you properly mend the line. Good Luck!!!