The Extended Drift Presentation: A new twist on an old technique
This new presentation will change the way that you think about how you drift a fly. For some of you, this will sound strange, but techniques evolve as new generations of anglers move forward in the sport of fly fishing, and they will inevitably discover different ways to catch trout.
What I’m about to tell you might sound strange because fly fishermen are taught to cast across the current and to mend upstream in order to put slack in the line for a natural, dead-drift presentation. That technique is tried and proven, and it usually is the only really effective way to fish when using some type of strike indicator. The only real flaw with standard indicator-nymphing is with respect to how much line you must actually cast in order to present your fly in front of fish. Let’s say that you can cast thirty feet. That means you are only going to cover thirty feet of holding water, at most. How many fish do you think such a short cast will present to?
Not many, especially when considering that your fly still must sink in order to get down to where trout typically feed. By the time your fly gets into position, how long is your actual drift going to be? I would say significantly less than thirty feet. If we are on the same page, that’s really not enough distance for a productive drift, in my book. With the described strategy, a fly fisherman is casting more than they are fishing. The odds of success definitely increase in relation to how much time the fly actually spends in good water.
Let’s talk about this in more detail. We are blessed with a ton of fish in our Ozark trout rivers, so if you fish other areas that hold high concentrations of trout, what I am about to talk about would apply to those waters, as well. The nice thing about my “new” technique is that you don’t have to worry about casting a lot of line to be effective. Really, the only thing that will be done differently relates to line control. What I mean by this is: I have learned how to feed just enough line into my drift in a way that does not result in too much slack in the fly line and allows for an extended, drag-free drift.
Hopefully you are catching on to what I am saying and I would think that some of you probably are already fishing this way. But for a few, this will take your fly fishing to a whole new level. Instead of recasting all the time, I want you to try this the next time you are out on the river. Cast downstream at an angle, and before your drift is over, try feeding line into your drift be moving your rod tip to the left and right. I have fed the whole ninety-foot fly line into a drift; it amazes me regarding how many fish I catch at the tail end of the drift. It’s pretty exciting to hook up way out there and it sure makes for a long fight.
I will usually only utilize an extended, downstream drift when I’m fishing midge patterns in the film. If you fish with weighted scuds or any pattern that uses a split shot, you will likely hang bottom before you get a really long drift. Also, make sure you have a little slack before you start feeding line into the drift.
This will help to keep you from moving the indicator, which is something you definitely do not want to do, if you can avoid it. The reason for this is that you could have a fish looking at your fly, but because your line was tight, an inadvertent movement caused the fly to look unnatural – this will spook a fish the majority of the time because it tells the trout that your fly is not the real thing. So, be sure you pay attention to line-control when implementing the extended-drift technique.