Master The Mend
Drag. It is the arch nemesis of the flyfisher. It’s an evil phenomenon the we need to eliminate in order to catch more fish. I would wager that 90% of the refusals we get are because our presentation is not drifting naturally in the water. The other 90% is because we are not using the right fly or life cycle. It’s also a fact that 120% of the population isn’t good at percentiles.
All kidding aside, many of the refusals we get are because we have drag in our presentation. The way to get around that is learning to master mending your line. Something happens to me when I see rising fish. I tense up. I get excited. I lose my mind and start swatting the water….not even to catch a cold.
The real trick is to slow down and observe, not only the hatch, but the flows of the river in particular. If you see fish rising 60 feet away and you have to cast over slow current, then fast, then a boulder or two, and then slow again, do you think you’re going to get a good drift. Very unlikely.
Try to position yourself so when you cast, you casting across faster, to medium, to slower. With a good upstream mend, you should be able to get a good drift. What is a mend? It’s basically throwing extra line upstream in the section of the water that is the swiftest. The faster water will take up the slack line as your fly drifts unencumbered downstream….a drag free drift. The goal of any flyfisher.
How to do it? You want extra line out in front of your rod and loop it in a circular motion upstream. You’re basically drawing an “O” in the air with the tip of your rod, flicking the line upstream. It’s important to be able to gage the extra line you have out and your mend up stream. If you have too little, you’ll disturb your fly, likely swamping it under if it’s a dry. To much and you’ve got stuff all over the place in the water, and likely won’t be able to set the hook.
If I can position myself upstream, I love using an S-Cast. I used to call it my helicopter cast before a guide buddy of mine set me straight. Regardless of the name, I like to position myself upstream so I can do a downstream cast. First and foremost, if you’re casting to risers, stealth is a premium here.
I’ll then false cast over the risers to gauge the distance. You basically want 6-12 feet more of false cast distance than to the risers. You then want to land your fly several feed upstream of the fish. To execute, I’ll stop my forward cast at the 12 o’clock position. So if the fish are 30 feet downstream, I’m false casting to about 40 feet of line, but dropping the fly at about 20’.
I’ll then put several “S”s into the drift moving my rod tip slowly from left to right, careful not to disturb the fly. The S’s in the water will account wonderfully for varying current speeds. Landing the fly 10 feet before the risers gives the trout plenty of time to key in on your wonderful drag free drift.
That’s it for now my fishy friends. Please remember, we only have one earth, let’s take care of her. Pack it in, pack it out.
Tight Lines and Screaming Drags