When picky trout make extended drifts a requirement for hooking up, I look for every advantage I can to give the fish a good, long look at my fly. Almost more than anything else I have found that if I can present the fly in a natural way, my odds of hooking up increase. Working for longer drifts means lengthening that natural presentation as well. The basic pattern of presentation is familiar. Cast. Mend as required. Maybe feed some line at the end of the drift. All require skill gained through experience and possibly instruction. But there is another rudimentary tactic that can give us a little extra if we need it. A simple method that any fly fisher, regardless of skill level or experience, can use to extend their drift. Move.
Move Your Arm.
The goal is reach. You have the entire length of your arm plus your rod to extend the length of your drift. Combine that with a slight bend at the waste and you can add several feet to your drift. It may not seem like much, but sometimes it is all you need. You can also use this technique to help give your flies extra time sitting in slower water before faster currents pull your fly line and the fly away. I tend to give a good reach when fishing my flies close to the bank along undercuts or around roots and branches.
Move Your Feet.
Another way to extend your reach is to wade or walk downstream with your flies. Again, it does not take much to make a difference.
I typically work upstream when I fish but there are times when I will wade downstream to methodically cover water. An efficient way to cover large riffles coming off a ledge or wide buckets on the inside of fast water is to start at the top and cast to different distances and then take three to four steps downstream. If you wait to make those steps at the end of your drift you can extend your presentation.
Sections of river that runs against a walkable bank provide another simple way to extend your drift. After the initial cast and mend, you can walk down the bank with your fly. Although not the most efficient technique, just taking five or six steps downstream along the bank can give you the reach you may need. It’s not fancy, but it works.
Technique and solid mechanics are important, but the ability to move your body and extend your reach works at the most basic level. Physically moving is a technique that anyone can execute, and it may be enough to fool a picky trout the next time you Wadeoutthere.