By Ed Hudon - April 14, 2017
"The Angler" magazine

Published in the January 2017 issue of Western North Carolina Edition of The ANGLER magazine

It’s January, Happy New Year! I hope the holidays were good to you. The beginning of the year gives most of us a chance to organize the fly box, add some new equipment to the arsenal, and get excited for the new year to come. All this preparation is great, but one of the most important things you need to do when either dry fly fishing or nymphing, is to be sure you have a good mend and are drag free. What is the MEND: “The act of moving your fly line during the drift, to create a specific presentation on the fly.”

While there are many different types of mending, I would like to discuss implementing a good drift, to my first time fly fishing clients.

Most of the people I talk to that have never fly fished before, always say to me, “Isn’t that hard to do? I think I would wrap the line around my body while trying to cast the line.” While they are telling me how hard they think it is, they always bring their arm back and forth in a motion that looks like 3-4 false casts. When I explain that there is an application for that type of casting, however, what we would do is a more simple approach. For all my first time fly fishing clients, I like to introduce them to nymph fishing.

I begin by explaining what we are trying to achieve, when casting the line a little up stream, letting the current take the line and indicator down stream. Once the line is in front of them, I explain that the flies we are using are just about to reach the bottom, and we don’t want to disturb the indicator or flies. This is where we need to mend the line up stream and get a good drift. Without it, chances of catching a fish are minimal. At first, they cast and try mending, most time to soon, or they move the flies and indicator. After a few failed attempts, they always say, “Here, show me.” So I proceed to explain what I am doing while I go through the motions. About 75% of the time, I catch a fish. Now they are believers. Because they are new to the sport, they never follow a routine. Here is what I have been successful doing:

I tell them to just keep it simple and repeat a drag free drift. CAST, follow your line, throw a MEND, another mend, Kick out some line, and a final MEND. Somewhere in that routine, we end up hooking into a fish (providing I have the right fly, correct depth, and the perfect weight) Once they repeat and have success, their confidence grows. I mean, step back and let them go, especially on the set. Oh my goodness, in the beginning they usually just pull the line up stream. After we have been together for an hour, they are setting down stream like a pro. It’s so much fun when it all comes together. (By the way ~ the women are easier to teach because they listen. The guys, well, are guys.)

This is just one of many different types of mending. Here are a few others:

  • Cross Stream Mending * Quarter Downstream Mending * Downstream Mending
  • Reach Cast * Slack Line Cast * Parachute Cast * High Sticking

I believe 2017 will be another great year for fishing in Western North Carolina. I hope to see you on the river. I know you will be catching more fish, MEND away.

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