For mending line on drifts (smaller nymphs), which offers better mending capability - a conventional double taper, or the running line of a long weight forward? (I have some strong mid-currents to fight!)
The belly of the XLT and GrandSpey are 90 feet or more depending on line size. This means that you can fish our to 100 feet and have plenty of belly to be able to mend right to the line/leader connection. In other words, there is not difference in mending ability with a long belly spey line and a double taper because the double taper has 10 or more feet of taper at each end or the line; thus, you only have the ability to mend out to 100 feet with the double taper, and the tapers of the long belly speys are far more dynamic than a double taper.
I learned how to spey cast with a double taper, and I will not go back to one. I now use MidSpey lines on my 13 foot rod and the GrandSpey on my long rods.
IMHO one should keep in mind that the purpose of mending is fly presentation, and fly presentation is not entirely dependent on long bellies or lots of mending. If you ever get the chance to fish with Ed Ward and/or Mike Kinney, grab it and you'll see what I mean. These guys are masters of fishing one of the truly big winter-run rivers of the northwest, the Skagit (among other rivers) and yet don't rely on lots of mending to control the presentation with a level of precision that is far more effective than the excessive mending of a long belly casts placed for distance rather than presentation of the fly.
When I fished the Skagit style line in winter, hooked a ton of winter/spring steelhead, and never really had a presentation issue because of the line that I recall. You can cast virtually any sinktip you need to as well. That line was designed by Mike Kinney at Swallows Nest many years ago but talking to Mike lately at Creekside he has figured out many off-the-shelf configurations where you can get the same winter line set-up without making your own. Mike is a knowledgable resource to customers at the store counter but get some gravel and stones under your feet and the water pushing on your legs to see what kind of wizard Mike really is with the graphite wand. He is dialed in to the river like you can't imagine, it's a real education.
On a recent trip with Ed and Marlow Bumpus, Ed walks into a run, takes a few casts to focus on dissecting the structure of the water with the intruder and BANG! ~10# Chromer. Release that, start probing agan and WHAM! 14# mint buck. Then thankfully he reeled up which up'ed the odds for us mere mortals . As he offered guidance and advice through the day it became more than obvious that presentation is the key, not how many times you mend or how far you mend into a poorly placed cast - especially in winter fishing. Good presentation requires one mend in most well-placed casts. It's what the fly is doing that matters.
I think when the long belly lines and distance mending come into play is for summer run fishing in large rivers or where you are reaching to fish a far slot across uneven currents, by which time the water in front of you should have been probed thoroughly or you're probably losing out on a lot of opportunities.
Very well put. The only mend I ever make when winter fishing, is the intitial mend to place the line belly above the sink tip. After that, I make no mends and let the cast fish out until the line is below me. And it doesn't matter if you are casting a long belly line or a short belly line, as you said, the principles are the same.
Mending once brought me to this board, Dana and I had some epic battles a few years ago....
If you have complicated water between yourself and the lane where you want to fish I would say that a shooting head and a thin running line will serve you better than a full line in 9 cases out of 10.
After the initial mend (oh yeh, with right technique you mend efficiently 100' out with a head) the line will swim in the right water, whereas all the running line can be kept clear above the complicated water you want to avoid.
For sinktip situations I like a head where 20' of tip is looped onto 20-25 feet of floating line - that gives you enough "float" to redirect the drift whan needed.
Witha full line you have to mend like mad as the heavy belly willl sit in the bad water and has to be corrrected all the time. I think full lines or long belly versions are great for repetetive casting in relatively even flows, but give me a rocky or oddly turbulent pool and I am all for heads.
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