What is a “Mend” and how important is it to your fishing game?
In fly fishing, “mending” is the act of repositioning fly line on moving water, followed by a line feeding technique. This allows your fly to reach its destination, without drag. Mending line allows for a natural drift or presentation.
Or mending can be used to allow a sinking line to drop faster, without resistance, achieving maximum depth. Mending in most fly-fishing scenarios where trout is the target species, is a must. A fundamental task in effective fly fishing technique. Now occasionally there are times when mending is not needed, but for the most part it is an essential part of what we do when fly fishing. It is so important that it could be compared to a runaway train without an engineer. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen.
Every lake, stream, river and creek will require some sort of Mending. Every run, riffle, pocket, tail out, and flat water will require a mend of the fly line that is tailored to that piece of water. So, to generalize this and keep it simple, the determining factors as to how you mend your line, and when you mend it are, water speed, depth, weight, distance you are trying to cover, and whether you are using a dry fly or indicator.
Waters like the Pit River, McCloud River and the Upper Sacramento have similar characteristics. The structure in these rivers make reading the water, and judging water speed easier than say, Fall River or Hat Creek where determining surface water speed is not so easy. The slow, smooth surface characteristics of Fall River and Hat Creek contain “micro currents” that pull your drift, or fly, off course resulting in a less than ideal presentation.
How to find micro-currents on slow flat streams
The way to find the micro currents is to cast straight across the water as the line starts downstream the first part of the line to belly is where your faster currents will be. This should be your first sign of how to start your mend and feed. A mend is not a cast, but it is often confused with a roll cast. The size of the mend is determined by the speed of the water. The object is to get loops of line up stream of the fly/indicator. This will allow for a drag free drift. It may be that multiple mends are required to set up the drift you are trying to achieve. Most problems with a bad presentation can be tracked back to a bad mend, lack thereof, and not setting up the mend and feed fast enough.
Common mistakes that I often experience can be related to a mend that is not big enough. This can cause the fly or indicator to drift to the right or left. Also, over mending is another mistake, trying to throw too many mends into the drift. This is more of a feeding issue, but they both go hand in hand. Over mending together with over feeding will cause a missed strike. There is a fine line between too much mending and feeding and not enough. Too much and you over strike and miss fish. Not enough and you drag your fly and spook fish. Mending may sound complicated, but it is not. Mending and feeding need to become second nature. It’s one of those things that takes a little practice, once you see it done correctly it makes sense. Once you master it, it will open a whole lot of fishing that you may have been missing. Mending from a boat is much easier than mending while wading.
Want to improve your fly fishing game, step up your mend? Book a day with me. Book early spring for a primer that can elevate your success rate through the coming season.
Below is a good visual example on mending. Unless you are interested in RIO products, fast forward to the 2:00 minute mark to get to the mending demo: