Reading the current between you and the fly is the first step of a proper drift. When wading, it is a good idea to step out of the water and observe the different current seams in order to make a mental note of how to fish a particular section of a stream or river. When wading small mountain streams and spring creeks, plan each step and take a look at the different currents within a couple of rod lengths of you. Plan your strategy for several hundred yards before getting back into the water. When fishing the tailwaters, observe the water within casting range and prepare the best plan to cover that water effectively. Ask yourself, “Where will the first mend be and where will the fly need to swing when the drift is over?” Always fish a section of the water knowing what the next move will be.
The Double Mend. A double mend is used for longer presentations. We use these more on the tailwaters, but they also work well in the larger mountain pools. After locating the current seams, make the cast either upstream (this will be tough but can be done), downstream or across current. Ideally, the leader and part of the fly line should be upstream of the indicator. This reduces drag. As the fly line begins to make the turn back toward where the angler is positioned another mend should be placed in the line in the opposite direction. Then one more upstream mend should be placed in the line to complete an “S”. The direction of the curves in the S depends on the speed of the current.
A Seam. A simple explanation for a seam is:where two different currents run parallel and meet. In short … locate seams and fish them. (Those may have been the most important five words in fly fishing and I am not the first one to write them.)
Drag. One of the biggest factors of not getting a good drift is usually drag. How can an angler determine if they are getting a good drift? This is very simple when fishing a nymph or dry fly. After reading the water and making the plan, get the fly in the water. Then look on the top of the water around the fly or indicator for a leaf, foam or any other debris. Then, mend the line to make the fly or indicator/ line (if using a nymph) drift at the same speed as the debris. The speed of your presentation should be the same speed as the debris.
The presentation of the fly is critical to a successful day on the river. Reading articles, watching videos and talking about presentations is a good place to start. But, to excel at mending and to properly present the fly my suggestion is before getting into the water, spend some time sitting on a rock, watching the currents and making a plan. Then, once you get in the water, adjust the speed of your presentation to that of the flow the current.
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