Mend: /mend/ verb. To repair (something that is broken or damaged). Synonyms: repair, fix.
When fishing moving water, whether swinging flies for steelhead and salmon or dead drifting nymphs and/or dries for trout, great mends catch more fish than great casts. After all, a proper mend can create a effective presentation, and effective presentations (not casts) are what ultimately fools fish.
That being said, mends are not always required for an effective presentation. In fact, a common mistake we see anglers make when swinging flies for king salmon at Alaska West is mending in the same fashion after every cast, regardless of the situation.
We’re lucky in that the majority of our runs during average water levels fish really well by casting straight across the river (or slightly downstream), making a big upstream mend, and simply letting ‘er swing on through. Therefore, its really easy to fall into the habit of making the same mend after every cast when a bigger, smaller, upstream/downstream, or even no mend at all might actually set the fly up for a more effective swing.
When swinging flies, mending your line can be used to accomplish a number of things such as:
- To place slack into the line to allow your tip and fly to sink.
- To place a belly into the line to keep your fly from sinking too deep.
- To slow down your swing.
- To speed up your swing.
- To adjust/setup the angle of your swing.
- To adjust the action/profile of your fly.
Therefore, if you’re not mending to accomplish one (or more) of the above, odds are you’re mending for the sake of mending, not to manipulate your cast into a more effective presentation.
The morale? Always mend with intent, or as our pal and long-time Deneki guest, Tom Terry, says; ‘mend to fix.’ That will result in more effective presentations and keep you fishing, not just casting.