doing an effective line mend

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doing an effective line mend

Postby Tom Smithwick » Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:12 pm

A crisp line mend is an important skill for a wet fly fisherman. Some of you may be well ahead of me, others maybe not. Here's the method I use:

To actually make the mend - Point the rod directly at the line, and focus on the rod tip. Draw a circle of about 1 foot diameter very crisply, ending up with the rod tip back in it's original position at the bottom of the circle. You can draw the circle starting at the left or the right depending on the river flow direction. With practice, this becomes second nature.

Making the line mend where you want it to - Sometimes you will want to mend the line near you, and sometimes farther away, depending on the current tongue you are trying to defeat. If you want to mend near you, have only a few feet between you and the point where the line first touches the water. If you want to mend further away, lift the rod tip until the line contacts the water further away. In general, the first 10-15 feet of the line in the water will mend. A haul pickup is a great help in doing this.

A haul pickup is a way to lift a lot of line off the water without making a commotion on the surface. Basically, you smoothly draw the line toward you with your line hand, while lifting the rod with your casting hand. If lifting the line for a backcast, lift the rod tip to about 10:00, then flick the line behind you as you normally would. If making a mend, use the same procedure, but don't raise the rod tip much above horizontal. Do not hesitate between the pickup and the mend.

I hope this kind of post is OK. Up to our behinds in snow here in central PA
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Re: doing an effective line mend

Postby Smuggler » Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:47 pm

Very informative post. If you're fishing wet flies you better know how to effectively mend. Tom's method is a simple yet effective way of mending, one which I use quite a bit. Lately I've been trying to execute aerial mends which can be used for lots of applications while on the water. At the same time can be a pain in the ass to execute correctly too.

Good tips Tom. Thanks for posting this.
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Re: doing an effective line mend

Postby William Anderson » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:18 pm

Tom, I'm sorry to have been out of pocket and unable to respond to so many of the excellent posts in the past couple weeks. This one is tops. I believe I manage several of the techniques you have articulated here, but then some are pretty subtle and often done without thought so being able to articulate them is a problem.

Being able to mend in general is paramount, and doing it as part of the cast has long been a part of my forward stroke. Or should I say, complete the cast and then mend as the line is extended putting the fly on target before manipulating the body of the flyline. Your comments are very well stated.

Several years ago John Shaner taught me what Gary Borger describes as a C lift. It's a pull of the line hand while making a C or even an O while lifting the line off the water and like you say, the disturbance of the water is reduced to just a blip. Or at least when I see it done well. :D

I try to achieve this delicate little mend as you describe in the final forward stroke, but more often I think it's a larger reach cast in an effort to offset the current between my flies and myself. It's interesting that you bring this up as I've been lawn casting quite a bit this winter, trying to pair reels and lines with particular rods and leader constructions. Something I have never taken as seriously as I have this year. Time on the water just isn't enough. It's nice to tie up a leader and test it on the lawn without the distraction of reading water and aching for fish to participate. Just the casting practice. This technique of the minor air mend, as I've been thinking of it, has been on my mind and in the practice this past few months. I'll get there. It's something that I think will result in better contact with my flies and more accurate casts and better drifts. I'd love to see you execute this technique. If there is a chance to share some water this season I'd really like to make that happen.

A quick question. Obviously this mending will vary by the action of the rod, grass vs glass vs plastic, but do you find it easier to execute with bamboo or longer rods? Just curious.


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Re: doing an effective line mend

Postby daringduffer » Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:42 am

These are skills where I'm lacking terribly. I'm a slow learner. I try to practise when fishing is slow. That way, slow fishing can be a blessing.

http://www.garyborger.com/2010/02/03/the-c-pickup/ I like that he gives Skues credit. Just think about all the cool videos of Marryat that we could have been watching. He seems to have been a magician with his rod and he had a cool hat. I would love to see William wearing that.

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Re: doing an effective line mend

Postby tie2fish » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:18 am

daringduffer wrote: I would love to see William wearing that [hat].

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I don't know about William, but Ray for sure ;) :lol:
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Re: doing an effective line mend

Postby daringduffer » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:46 am

tie2fish wrote:
daringduffer wrote: I would love to see William wearing that [hat].

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I don't know about William, but Ray for sure ;) :lol:


Ray would say "I'd wear that in a heartbeat".

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Re: doing an effective line mend

Postby William Anderson » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:50 am

The UV protection of that hat is very tempting. Something I can't afford to ignore, but Bill's right, this like a style best suited for our very own Ray "Boom Boom" Tucker. :D

Having said that, I read the Borger article and put myself on the water. I do this C lift very often but I know I'm slower and more careful as I usually have a long leader and a dropper. With wet flies, depending on the presentation, you will want to be careful not to dry your flies with a sharp quick lift, same as a slower, more open loop.
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Re: doing an effective line mend

Postby Tom Smithwick » Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:24 am

William - What got me thinking about posting the information was being snowed in last weekend, and rereading the fishing chapter in Robert Smith's excellent book. He talks about using the reach cast and line mends very well, but there is no description of how to do them. No knock on him, that's not the purpose of the book. If you are going to be up this way, let me know. The techniques are actually simple, but can only be effectively practiced on the water. In terms of rod length and material, that gets very subjective, I personally have always liked more medium action rods, and therefore prefer bamboo or glass on rods of average lengths. Not only for their casting feel, but also because the softer tips can protect a light tippet on a downstream strike, and when playing a fish. No question on larger water a longer rod is a big help in making the casts, and way more importantly, line control.
I use a version of the C pickup, the difference being I prefer to just use the full circle technique I use for mends. At longer distances, the haul is very valuable too. However, I only use this pickup for dry flies, done very crisply to snap water out of the hackle. I can't see any earthly use for it when fishing wets or nymphs, where a smooth, slow haul pickup will do much better in keeping the flies wet. Can't wait for Spring.
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Re: doing an effective line mend

Postby Mataura mayfly » Tue Feb 02, 2016 1:19 pm

I'm a bit bias, he is a Kiwi and the guy responsible for "Once in a Blue Moon" and other DVD's as well as the Epic fibreglass fly rod range.
This series of videos https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... A2E6932540 whilst not showing perhaps the exact description of Tom's explanation and example, does help explain some of the terminology of line mends, both orally and visually.
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Re: doing an effective line mend

Postby Smuggler » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:00 pm

Carl's instructional videos are top notch. They're worth buying just to watch him cast. Good link Jeff.

daringduffer wrote: I would love to see William wearing that.

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I recall seeing this hat in your basement William.
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