Tactics and Techniques

Trouble Mending? Wadeoutthere.

Across the river a trout is happily filling his belly with bugs.  You cast your fly upstream, make a solid mend, and watch it drift naturally towards the fish.  But your mend is not enough!  The current grabs your fly and drags it away.  You cast again with a bigger mend.  The same result.  No matter how beautiful the cast or how big the mend, you keep coming up short.  You have a choice.  Give up and move on, or wade out there and try again.  I recommend you Wadeoutthere. 

You do not have to pass on a trout you know is feeding or a spot you know holds a fish when your mend is not enough to present a natural drift. Precise casting and technical mends can go a long way to solving the problem, but not always. Often these are not tools a beginner fly fisherman has developed. Luckily, there is another option.

When fish hole up in pockets and eddies that are difficult to cast to, try solving the problem by moving someplace on the river where you have angles that will allow you to cast and reduce the drag and big mend requirements.

Here’s how:

Move in. 

If the cast is not working, try wading further out into the river.  If you have a lot of river that you must account for in your mend, simply decrease the amount of water between you and the spot you want to fish.  As you close the gap you decrease the amount of river that is going to grab your line and your mend will be effective longer.

Move up or downstream. 

If you try another angle, it may be enough to make your drift look natural enough for long enough.  Think about casting perpendicular to the currents of the river.  That is the spot that requires the most drag to deal with in your mend.  The opposite extreme would be casting directly parallel to the river, either directly upstream or downstream from the fish.  In this case you have virtually no cross current to deal with.  If you are downstream, you will have to strip faster.   If you are upstream you will have to feed line.  Someplace in the middle might be enough to do the trick, but I have gone all the way up or downstream too with good results as well. 

Cross the river. 

How would you fish that hole if you were on the other side of the river?  Cross it and find out.  You don’t have to do it right away either.  Make a mental note of the spot and fish on upstream or downstream.  Cross the river and then fish back to your hard to reach spot. 

READ: WADEOUTTHERE | I Bet There’s a Trout in There.

READ: WADEOUTTHERE | All the Trout are Bigger Across the River.

READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Leveraging Angles in Fly Presentation.

Think creatively about how to catch a hard to reach fish. The next time you have too much river to mend try casting from a different location. Moving around on the river is part of the fun.  Wadeoutthere.


Jason Shemchuk

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  • Reply
    Matt Kaercher
    September 28, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Great advice! One other technique to to manage a drift and remove varying current speeds on the far side of water that is too deep to wade is to “fish from the top rope” … or what I call “high sticking.” Cast up stream and instead of mending lift your rod as high as you can to raise your line off the water (you might also have to take line back with your left hand) and reduce the amount making contact with the melody of fast and slow currents that pull on the line and disrupt the fly drift. Start with the tip of the rod lower up stream to increase the length of the line you have out. Then, raise the rod and reach out towards the fly and strike indicator as required to keep as much of the line off the water as they come down stream between you and the fishs’ feeding zone to support an uninterrupted drift. As the indicator passes you and goes down stream, lower the rod to make more line available. You might also notice that fish strikes are easier to detect with less line in the water, creating drag, that counters a strike indication. Give it a try. Hope it helps!

    • Reply
      Jason Shemchuk
      September 29, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      Yes, high sticking is a great way to reduce line management and hook up more. So true. Great comment. Thanks for reading.

  • Reply
    Gary Foster
    October 17, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Good advice. I should do that more than I do. I also got fed up with my Cortland 444 line that does not mend well at all. Not a good floater at all. I’m buying the Royal Wulff TT today for the next trip next week. No more cheaper lines for me!

    • Reply
      Jason Shemchuk
      October 17, 2020 at 10:10 am

      Good point. There’s something to be said for quality gear. Good luck! Thanks for reading Gary.

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