Mending in Fly Fishing 101: Why, How, When and Where

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Have you ever experienced the frustration of watching your perfectly cast fly begin to drift unnaturally, immediately alerting fish to its artificial nature? This common scenario underscores the critical, yet often overlooked, skill in fly fishing: mending your line. Mending is not just a technique but an art that significantly enhances your ability to present flies – be they dry flies, nymphs, or streamers – in a manner that entices fish, transforming luck into skill. One person who knows a thing or two about this topic is Mickey Finn. He’s a seasoned expert in fly fishing, and today, we’re going to discuss his technique for mending. 

Why Mend?

Mending allows you to adjust the speed and direction of your fly’s drift. By lifting and moving the line after the cast, you can prevent or correct the unnatural movement caused by currents. This is crucial for presenting the fly in a way that mimics the natural behavior of the fish’s prey, whether it’s a dry fly delicately resting on the water’s surface or a nymph subtly navigating the underwater currents.

The Technique of Mending

Effective mending involves a controlled lift and relocation of the fly line on the water. This can be an upstream or downstream mend, depending on the current and the desired movement of your fly. Either way, the goal is to reposition the line so that the fly drifts at the pace of the natural current, without the line pulling it unnaturally. It’s a skill that demands finesse and timing, as improper mending can disturb the water and spook fish.

Upstream and Downstream Mends

Both upstream and downstream mends have their place in fly fishing. An upstream mend is used to slow down the fly’s drift, allowing it to sink or to match the speed of the slower current on the surface. Alternatively, a downstream mend can speed up the fly’s drift or help it dive deeper into faster water. Knowing when and how to use each type of mend allows the angler to keep the fly in the strike zone longer and to present it in the most natural way possible.

Mastering Mending with Mickey Finn Shanahan

According to Mickey Finn Shanahan, mastering mending is about understanding the water – its flow, its currents, and how these elements interact with your line and fly. Moreover, it’s about observing and reacting in real-time, making adjustments that can turn a good fishing spot into a great one. Whether you’re dealing with a complex river system or a calm lake, the principles of mending remain the same: adjust your line to present your fly in the most natural and enticing way possible.

Conclusion: The Art of the Mend

Ultimately, mending is a critical skill in the arsenal of any successful fly fisher. It’s not just about correcting the line after the cast; it’s about continuously interacting with your line to maintain the perfect drift. So, the next time you’re out on the water, remember the importance of mending. With practice and patience, this subtle technique can lead to more rewarding fishing experiences, turning moments of frustration into triumphs of skill.

Want to learn more about the art of mending in fly fishing? Check out our Trout techniques and Tactics Masterclass with Out Fly Fishing!

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Anchored Outdoors

Anchored Outdoors is an ever-growing network of fly fishing experts who’ve been brought together by podcaster and fellow outdoorswoman, April Vokey.

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