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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm taking the liberty to do a 'cut and paste' from another board. Running topic was line mending, why, how, etc. This was a 'Nailed It' post from 'SweetandSalt.'

"There are two differing presentation scenarios at play in mending. One is adjusting the swimming attitude of a wet fly for trout or a salmon-steelhead fly. In these instances, a rod with extra length and a deeper flex holds line off the water and transmits rolls of line to slow, speed or, in general ,adjust the swim of the swung fly.

Then there is the somewhat more complex combination of the aerial and on water mends contributing to the length and precision of the downstream dead drift of a dry fly. In this instance, as proposed by Silver Creek above, the same rod that is most accurate in casting is also the most articulate in mending. Here high line speed, tight loops facilitate an angler manipulating horizontal amplitudes into the cast while in the air, the high line speed countering gravity. One strives to read the currents between one's casting position and the rising trout so as to adjust for them them with a snake-like pattern of line-leader in as controlled a manor as one's practiced skill permits. This often includes a reach cast as well, all before the fly alights upon the water. Once there, as the OP inquired about, a second segment of presentation ensues. Here, rather than utilizing the line on the water to roll mends into, one feeds extra slack line into the drift again with the aim of having the fly arrive accurately, with no drag and no curl of tippet below it. The fish sees only what appears to be a natural dun unaffected by the string behind it and sips it in.

A different type of rod design is optimal for such technical presentations and a faster action with a very quick recovering tip, like a sharp pencil, permits drawing the varied undulations into the line. Any extra recovery motions of the tip will add unwanted shapes so this rate of recovery is critical. I like a rod with low mass which further inhibits unintended oscillations and adds to the communicativeness of the rod/line combination...I want to feel the line's motions more than the rod's mass loading. I don't want the snake guides to be too small either as they can inhibit freedom of line feed; not so much during the cast as when slack is feed into the drift. Some are concerned that rods like this lack compliancy in their tips and can pop off flies on fine tippets...this has not been my experience, if anything crisp tipped rods increase the precision of the "slip-strike" making the hook up more adroit. Even non-stretch line cores are being developed to expand this control equation. Compound mended presentations like this are best executed with line of some mass, #5 or 6-weight, #4 at the absolute lightest, with long heads and extended rear tapers to preclude hinging during the line manipulation scenarios. I use long leaders too, 12 to 17' with never less than 5' of tippet. This is far and away my preferred style of trout angling and why I gravitate to the larger, more spring creek like currents I do and fish rods like Sage ONE that was designed with such techniques as it specialty.

Many seasons ago I was floating the Channels of the Madison above the town of Ennis with my old pal and famous guide, Bob Jacklin. We had pulled off on a mid river gravel bar and Bob waded out a ways and casting about 45 degrees down and across to the far bank with a big upstream L of a reach cast, landed his bullet head Jacklins' Dry Salmonfly tight to the bankside rocks. He then feed slack, big rolls of line into his drift and that fly drifted, and drifted and drifted, it seemed to me an impossibly long distance...60 feet or so. Kabam! A brown with spot line dimes hammered that 3" long fly sending spray into the crisp Montana air. After slipping it out of the boat net, I complemented Bob on his exceptional technique. He smiled his easy smile and told me I could do it just as well. It took a while and very few fly fishers can fish like Bob but I am fairly good at it now."

fae
 

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Good bit on mending there. Most of my mending, and I suspect for the majority of us here on speypages, is geared towards that initial positioning of the line to avoid belly and then to the swing where tension is a friend - not the enemy.

I'm not 100% up on the finer points of the drag free drift. Seems to me that one has to "see" the tension coming-on ahead of time and manipulate the line in order to kill tension before it happens...

Does that sound about right?
 

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At the risk of re-plowing old ground,

Much about the art and purpose of mending a line in moving water has been well documented--witness the relevant chapters in books such as "Fine and Far Off" by Jock Scott, and more recently by authors such as John Shewey. (And thanks Fred, for adding this perspective on dead-drifting).

A word picture that might help someone improve their mending would be to think of the fly as a vessel--at times a boat on the surface, at times a submarine.

How you choose to navigate this tasty morsel through the currents, the speed and position of it relative to the river's terrain, the fish and you--this is the active part of proper mending. Adding tension, releasing it, manipulating the fly (via rod, line, and body) in all sorts of ways that improve your odds of a hookup are a large part of what makes swinging a fly a concentrated effort, a meditation if you will. In all but a very few situations, an initial mend is just the beginning of a successful swing.

When I am fully engrossed in this process, it becomes it's own reward and the occasional interruption by a fish is almost shocking but welcome.

My son asked me once after I reported a fishless outing by saying, "But did you fish well?" I had to admit that he touched on the essence of the whole business...
 

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JD
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Yes

What? You mean to say there's more to this than just lobbing it out there (and watching it come back down the edge of a seam, under an indicator)? :eek: Heavens to Betsy, who'da thunk. :razz::chuckle:

All kidding aside, excellent topic of discussion. I've included a link to Swinging Winter Steel. Fishing a fly on the swing is an art form in itself. Effectively fishing a waking fly across the surface, a visible two dimensional plane, is one thing, sink the fly, adding the third dimension, takes it to another level altogether. Let the discussion begin. :lildevl:
 

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Totally agreed about all that's being said so far regarding fly manipulation through mending (or not mending, pulling, releasing, stripping, stepping, lifting, dropping, etc etc). The idea of just hucking it out and then hanging on waiting for a fish just doesn't do it for me; effective or not I'd far rather be an active participant in attempting to control the way my fly is presented to the fish I hope are there.

It makes those hours (or days, or weeks) spent searching satisfying, and it makes that moment of contact just so much sweeter because it happened do to circumstances lining up the way that I visualized it and that I succeeded in addressing all the challenges and variables the way I intended. Lani Waller had a nice passage in his "Steelheaders Way" about how his imagination would visualize the path of his fly while swinging through the depths. I don't remember the words well enough to quote them, but I do remember the sentiment really hit home for me.

JB
 

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I gave it some honest thinking time,

and came to the conclusion that while mending and rod and line manipulation is something that can definitely be learned, it is one of those skills that is not easily taught, for several reasons:

1) There are just too darn many variables (of tactic and circumstance) involved, and the choice of, sequencing and timing of those is often instinctive.

2) There is a difference between theoretical knowledge and learned behavior--just because you read a book on how to swim doesn't mean you can do it the first time you try!

3) Even when done perfectly (as Jason mentioned above) there is no guarantee of satisfactory results. It takes countless repetitions to get any feedback sufficient to draw personal conclusions.

The best advice I could offer is this: if you've already read and studied the best tutorials (including closely observing your superiors) and want to expand your skill set, choose a single proven tactic and practice it until it becomes part of your personal style rather than attempting to work with the entire toolbox at the outset. You need the positive feedback of success to gain confidence for the future. Any craft worth learning takes time and persistence. Be one of those people who are always wondering "what if"?
 

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The original post is all about the drag free drift....
Yes, the detailed description is about the drag-free drift, no disagreement there.

"...setting up a swing is cake in comparison".

If that is how you see it, that is all you will ever get out of it.
 

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JD
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All about the drag free drift?

The original post is all about the drag free drift. In my experience - setting up a swing is cake in caparison...
fredaevans said:
There are two differing presentation scenarios at play in mending. One is adjusting the swimming attitude of a wet fly for trout or a salmon-steelhead fly, to slow, speed or, in general, adjust the swim of the swung fly.

Then there is the somewhat more complex combination of the aerial and on water mends contributing to the length and precision of the downstream dead drift of a dry fly.
I beg to differ with the first quote. As the drag free drift of a dry fly, being a visual thing, requires neither the analytical mind of a rocket scientist, nor the skill set of an artist to accomplish the desired results.

As to the somewhat more complex combination of the aerial and on water mends, those and more, may also be utilized in the setting up of the sunk fly before being brought under tension. And speaking of tension, just how much, when, and how to achieve the perceived "correct" amount of tension for that one swing is a black art. Was it correct, even though it failed to illicit a take? Will the same swing produce a take three steps down, or will I lose the fly to a snag? Is a fish even there?
 

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Yes, the detailed description is about the drag-free drift, no disagreement there.

"...setting up a swing is cake in comparison".

If that is how you see it, that is all you will ever get out of it.
OK...Not sure where that is coming from. What Im getting at is there is much more involved in keeping a dry fly, or nymph for that matter, in a dead-drift and in a natural manner. What I get out or don't get out of the swing is irrelevant when the topic is the dead drift. Has hardly been covered and BTW - backs-up my 1st reply that majority of us (on this thread at least) apply our mending towards the swing.

Maybe you don't see it as a worthy topic here - the moderator can shut it down if they choose to...

I for one would rather remain a more well-rounded angler as there are some storied trout-waters not too far from here.
 

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I beg to differ with the first quote. As the drag free drift of a dry fly, being a visual thing, requires neither the analytical mind of a rocket scientist, nor the skill set of an artist to accomplish the desired results.

As to the somewhat more complex combination of the aerial and on water mends, those and more, may also be utilized in the setting up of the sunk fly before being brought under tension. And speaking of tension, just how much, when, and how to achieve the perceived "correct" amount of tension for that one swing is a black art. Was it correct, even though it failed to illicit a take? Will the same swing produce a take three steps down, or will I lose the fly to a snag? Is a fish even there?
- "There are two differing presentation scenarios at play in mending. One is adjusting the swimming attitude of a wet fly for trout or a salmon-steelhead fly. " - clearly only a leading sentence.

JDJ - anyone who has ever waked or skated a fly on the surface is well aware of just how much mending will move a fly - never mind while using a two-handed rod. Fact is that a drag free drift requires the angler to interpret currents and to perceive the effects of currents acting on fly-line in order to formulate a plan that will negate those effects well ahead of time. Sure sounds like analytical thinking to me. And if you consider swinging a fly a form of creative expression then you have no choice but to accept all forms or angling as such.
 

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It's almost ironic to have a debate on which is more or less complicated, when the OP was addressing that there are two completely different skill sets of mending techniques . I find both interesting, and both quite challenging in certain types of water.

@Yoda-
I would completely agree about difficulty of teaching someone the mending/line control on a more involved swing. To me the hardest part of that would actually be finding the correct language to describe all of the variables and how they may effect the fly. One of the best things I ever got as a beginner in that end was the "simple" concept of always trying to be the fly, and visualize what the fly was doing. To that end, some of the more subtle and some of the more alternative movements came a bit more intuitively. Fishing a skater that is big/bright enough to see was also extremely helpful; despite the fact that I never had a grab on one for almost 2 years, I am very glad that I spent time fishing a skater right from the get go.
 

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JD
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Skaters

When I was very new to this game, & asking about mending line, I was advised to fish skaters. Go for that V-wake, the classic little motor boat, speed it up, slow it down, try this, try that, until you have it down. Once you have that technique down, you have a fairly good idea of the correct speed to work a sunk fly, and the mending technique required to obtain it.

Some of the more common cliches were somewhat of a mystery to me. Like, bring the fly across at the same speed as the water. :Eyecrazy: Huh, what?? Or, how the hell do you maintain depth while bringing the fly under tension?

Riffle hitch, Portland hitch? Which is it? Who started it? Which side do you hitch the fly? How will it effect that enticing "little motor boat" swim? All of these being visible, the results of our actions are immediately evident and hopefully, logged into the memory bank.

A long rod coupled to a long belly line is a valuable asset in this regard. As well as "no flippy mends" :tsk_tsk: Just pick it up & lay it over type mends, without moving the fly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
From Jim's last post.

"A long rod coupled to a long belly line is a valuable asset in this regard. As well as "no flippy mends" Just pick it up & lay it over type mends, without moving the fly."

100% agreement with Jim's comment. I've seen people 'mend' with the power that would ripe a 'bolder' off the bottom of the river and just scratch my head. Amount of 'mending' needed is a function of where you place your cast.

Most casters I watch do a 'down and across' which will require little in the way of mending in most situations. If you do (as I do) a slightly up stream/straight across there will be a lot of mending until the line comes under tension. Fun mental part of the game for me.:smokin:

fae
 

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I don't practice the dead-drift enough. I honestly believe there is much more skill involved in over-comming tension which will drown a dry-fly and in keeping it afloat than to simply sink a fly and swim it under tension...

"Pick it up and lay it over" is something that I can agree with, but there should always be a reason for mending. Casting across doesn't always require mending. Ever heard of spots referred to as "self menders?" Yes - Im sure it has come up somewhere. Casts quartered further up-stream that require plenty of mending are due to current that is flowing too fast forming belly on the line and sweeping away all control over the speed of the swing. So - although many do it and almost as if by habit - not every cast across requires mending. What about leading the fly through the swing? Or, mends can be down stream as well.

Very early on, my thing was to mending, and lots of it, even numerous times throughout a single swing. Then someone asked "Why all the mending?" Fact is I couldn't answer - I couldn't even say for sure where in the swing the fly was for that matter. because with every mend I would introduce more slack. The flies that I took so much care in dressing were definitely not swimming under slack and If a fish had picked it up I never knew. The best piece of advice I've ever received was no to mend if there is no reason for it and when I did - to know exactly why I was mending. Dropped the automatic-mend like a bad habit.

Ever since receiving that little bit of guidance I get the fly swimming as soon as it hits the water and keep it swimming clear through to the hang-down. Sure - slip line, take a few steps down, lead the fly or follow, jig it, whatever - just keep the fly swimming. The classic down and across wet-fly swing doesn't need to become anymore complicated than that.
 

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JD
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Self menders do indeed exist. The trick, like said, is to recognize them, and know how to take advantage of them.

Another take on that, so to speak, are the numerous documented cases of unnecessary mending, even to the point of being detrimental. One such case comes to mind where guide instructs angler to put the (well dressed dry) fly "over there" Over there being a small back eddy on the not so far side of the river. Client does so & out of habit, immediately throws and upstream mend jerking the fly in an unnatural motion. Guide curses under his breath & instructs repeat but do not mend. Client does so, but again out of habit jerks the fly as before. Finally, out of desperation, the guide takes the client's rod, executes the cast, dropping the fly in the eddy with enough slack in the leader that the fly rests motionless for a few seconds before the current consumes all of the slack & drags the fly out of the bucket. Those few seconds were all it took. The fish nailed it!

When it comes to fishing the sunk fly, two things I picked up somewhere struck home with me. The fly will not sink under tension. Therefore, it must be allowed to dead drift, if you want to call it that, long enough (you decide what is long enough) to attain the desired depth before being brought under tension. Stepping down just prior to the next cast is wasted effort. I'll leave it at that. :)
 

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Its all a tension thing for me, get the right tension get the fish, mend to create that tension where the fish are. Adjust lines and tips, to create the right depth under that tension. This seems to be the easiest way for me to teach it. Just my 2 cents.

Yep, tension is a huge factor with a sunk fly because it predicts fly swimming action, position change in the water column and speed of travel (in all but hang-down positions). However...

The tension the fly should be under is based on its design and intended action but the tension the fly is actually under at any point in the procedure is almost always different than that, and is different than the tension the sink tip is under (total immersion vs. floating head), which is different than the tension the remaining line is under (current conflictions and velocity differences), which is different than the tension the rod tip is under (think angles here), which is different than the tension you feel in your hands (a subtle blend of the tensions above combined). This analysis also fails to account for the tension in your mind, or your guide's mind as you cast the last copy of the secret pattern into the boulder infested home of the quarry.:chuckle:

As JD said it is a black art since the final output at any moment remains unseen. Since the tension cannot be seen, smelled or heard, it must be felt (hands) and interpreted correctly (head and gut), and that is one part of what is so hard to teach.

Some have opined (or implied) that as long as the fly is swimming under tension, not much else matters. That may be fine for them but not for me, since a lot can be done to enhance a presentation and details do matter. Fish can be lulled into a stupor by repetitive and mundane presentations as easily as fishermen and even though I'll still cast to a suspected dull fish, I prefer interacting with the more interesting ones, or at least presenting the fly in a more interesting way.

Since we're all about generalizations here, I'll offer one too:
The degree of complexity of the mending maneuvers required is in direct proportion to the complexities of the visualized path of the sunk fly in the depths and currents you hope to swim it through.

As an example:
There is a broad, flat uniform arc of a run on the Clearwater where you can "set it and forget it", but those are rare. At the other extreme is one on the Kispiox where a 100 foot cast must land with a precise unrolling and perfect angle followed by an exact amount of line slip from a low rod (no need or possibility of a mend in the heavy straight-away flow), then two belly mends across intervening currents to keep the now fully sunk fly from rising above the bottom of a bucket the size of your kitchen table as a shallow rapid tumbles into a converging funnel above a deep and turbulent (unfishable) pool. When all of the above maneuvers are performed correctly in the space of less than 5 seconds and a player is present, it is game on. Fail to properly execute any single aspect and the cast is unrewarded.

You learn this (and most other important things) by doing them correctly just often enough by accident to realize you've been doing them wrong up until then.

There may eventually appear a thread on greased lining, both damp and deeply sunk patterns for those interested. The initial focus will be on trying to ascertain just exactly what that little bug is doing down there out of sight vs. what you wanted it to do when you casted it. Perhaps it can be made to do what we want it to...
 
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