Fly Fishing Article / Pay Attention to Tension

Reports From The Field - Flys

March 31, 2015


Pay Attention
to Tension

What is too much slack and what is too tight? That’s the question everyone asks when fishing an indicator setup. So hopefully this article will help shed some light on that. So many fly fishermen are used to a tight line, either from conventional fishing where they are always reeling something in, or in the fly fishing world they are afraid that too much slack with lead to poor hook ups with the fish. That can be true, but you have to ask yourself, how much slack you can have before it becomes a problem?

For example; If you are fishing with an indicator and your rod tip is somewhat pointed down towards the water (close to the water) and you go to set on the fish, how tall is it after you lift up to set the hook? Usually if you follow through the rod tip should be all the way up and pointed to sky.  Ok, so how tall is that? Ten to twelve feet give or take. So really, you need to have that much slack so you don’t get too tight to the fish to feel the tension on the line. I would agree that this is too much slack, but a little slack is going to be tightened up once you go to lift the rod tip up from the hook set. I always have slack in my line that way I ensure I have a slack free drift. If your line is always taught you have no room for error. Not only that, but just a little tension will throw that slack free drift completely off. I see it all the time, what some think is a great natural drift is only a drift with tension dragging back your fly. I like to have the “S” curves in my line.

Article & Tips - Tight

Casting and clearing the cast

For example; If you are wade fishing, you know the rule of thumb is to cast upstream, mend your line, let the fly sink and make the drift till you either run out of line or feed slack line into the drift before you run out of slack line.  When you cast straight out without casting upstream, your line is tight from clearing the cast, you now run into a dead drift with no slack line and you didn’t even have a long enough drift to really get the fly down and have running room to present the nymph. That is why casting upstream is so important when wading. You have to maximize that drift as long as you can. The more fish that see your fly go by, the better your chances of hooking a fish. That’s why boats have a huge advantage over wade fisherman. We can make longer drifts. We really don’t have to pick up the fly other than to set on a fish or recast it, but then you run into casting too much and that’s a whole other subject.

What I’m trying to make you understand is, that is okay to have slack in you line, you just have to know how much. Just remember that a little slack helps you understand that the dead drift is the most important part of the presentation when fishing nymphs under an indicator. The only thing you are going to get out of always being too tight with the fly line fishing nymphs is a bad day on the water. There is another article I wrote about walking with your drift to create a longer drift and I would recommend you reading it.

Note: If you are too tight and you notice it, either feed line into the drift without moving the indicator or pick up the rod tip and moving back towards you so that you can create the slack once you lower the rod tip back down. I hope this helps some of you pay attention to making a better presentation when fishing with an indicator. I’m sure you’ll catch a few more fish and that makes for a better day on the water.

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