Classic Pro Tip: How to Mend Your Line For a Better Drift

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In today’s video tip from the Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center, Tom and guide Molly Semenik discuss basic mending. As Tom notes, many anglers seem confused by mending because it seems so obvious and intuitive. The only way to get good at it is to practice on the water, dealing with currents of different speeds. Your fly will tell you if you’re doing it right: a long dead-drift is a sure sign of successful mending, while a “motorboating” indicator or fly dragging across the surface points to some problems. Here are 5 tips to help you achieve good mends:

1. Mend as soon as the fly line touches down. Once the line settles on the water, it bonds to the water’s surface. If you try to move the line after it has bonded, you will create tension on the line that might drag your fly underwater.

2. Begin the mend with your rod tip close to the surface of the water. If you have a bunch of slack hanging from your rod tip, all you’ll end up moving is the slack, not the line on the water. You may have to make a couple of quick strips to pick up this slack before you mend.

3. The hinging point, where the mended line meets the unmended line, should occur at the seam between the different speed currents. If you don’t mend enough line, the current will cause the line to drag the fly; if you mend too much line, you can accidentally pull your fly out of the trout’s feeding lane.

4. Lift your rod tip high, even over your head, during the mend. This will allow you to pick up more line and to avoid dragging the line across the water.

5. Mend with authority. A half-hearted mend rarely moves enough line. You’ll probably over-mend the first few times—accidentally throwing your fly upstream with the line—but with some practice, you’ll learn just how much power is needed to move the line you want to move without disturbing the fly.

As Molly says, the only way to figure it all out is to simply do it, and you’ll get a feel for how the water tension affects the line, how much power you need to use to reposition the line, etc.

Tom explains why a fly-line belly on the water is bad.
Photo via the Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center

9 thoughts on “Classic Pro Tip: How to Mend Your Line For a Better Drift”

  1. Next to being able to cast your fly with accuracy, line control is probably the most important skill to master. Good basic points here.

  2. Great Tip! You need to get the feel so don’t worry about mistakes learning how to mend.. Perfect!

  3. Pingback: Tippets: Mending Line, Bristol Bay Update, Currier’s World Travels | MidCurrent
  4. On key thing to remember is the goal is NOT to move the bobber when mending, then it’s too much. You have pulled the fly out of it’s natural drift.

    1. I agree with Roger – following Molly’s advice – play with it. Don’t be intimidated. And as you play with it, see if you can mend with minimal movement of the fly or indicator. You made that cast to the right area. If your mend moves the fly a couple feet, you’ve pulled it out of the current line you intended to fish. Point #4 above is helpful when trying to mend without moving the fly. Point #5 (with authority) can move the fly. But as Molly says, play with it. Try lots of things and see what works.

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