March 14th, 2005

What the Hell is Mending?
By James Castwell

For those of you just getting started, here is a secret. You will have a great time, perhaps catch a few fish and as time passes, learn a few things. Most of these you will discover by yourself. Some may come from books, classes, watching others fish, but, like I said, mostly you will be 'self-taught.'

Nothing sticks in a guys head like the realization that, "Duh, so that's it!" Probably one of the wonderful things about fly fishing is the nearly constant learning. It doesn't matter how long you have been at it, who you are or who you have become, it never stops. There are none of us who know it all. One reason for that is, it's always changing.

New stuff all the time. Old ideas dusted off and brought to the forefront. Sometimes old methods are given new names by some of the pro's, guru's or writers. Makes life interesting at the least. There are still times when I read or learn about some new little finesse in the game, always humbling (like, "damn, I did not know that!")

But, here is where I want to take you now. You are fishing a stream and have made a cast somewhat upstream. Maybe you are fishing a dry, perhaps a nymph, doesn't matter. Here is what you do. You plant your feet solidly underneath you, look hard at the water and where you think your fly should be to catch a fish.

You make the cast and the line runs out, let's say it is upstream to your left, the fly drops and the current starts to take your fly and line sideways to your right. You follow the line with your rod tip but soon notice that there is a loop of line on the water going to your right and the tail of the loop is where your fly is, either floating or under the surface.

What has happened here is that the fast water has grabbed your line and is dragging it downstream. Your fly, wet or dry, is dragging along behind it. The problem is this, your fly is going faster than the water now. Actually, you may have had a good drift of only a few inches before drag started. Now sometimes this can work to your advantage, but you really need to learn to recognize it and how to control it. And it is so simple once you know what is happening. And it will always happen.

First, right after the fly has landed, try to keep your rod low, and do not be afraid to actually strip in a bit of line. Try to keep as short and direct line to your fly as convenient. Then, using mostly the tip of your rod, throw a little loop of slack upstream as the fly starts to drift toward you. The amount will differ if you are going wet or dry. Not too much if dry, more if you want your fly to drop without drag. Mending it's called and as you start using it you will be surprised how much more you can accomplish. Practice on this will come naturally. Just watch your fly and if a dry is leaving a wake, you need to do some mending. If it's a wet or a nymph, the little mend or loop of line will get your fly down.

Once it passes you, start to let some slack into the rod guides and now flip a few little mends out onto the surface and you can extend the drift even farther downstream. Time on the water will bring you up to speed on this, just knowing what is happening and how to fix it is all it will take.

"Duh, now why didn't I think of that!" ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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