Articles & Tips

Unlocking the Secrets of Proper Fly Line Mending

As I observe fellow fly fishers during my time on the water, a prevalent trend catches my attention – many anglers seem to grapple with the concept of mending their line effectively. While the traditional upstream toss to introduce slack for a natural drift is a familiar practice, it’s merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the nuances of mending. In this exploration, I want to delve into the often-overlooked “other side” of mending, shedding light on why getting it “RIGHT” is paramount.

The Essence of Mending

Understanding the significance of proper mending extends beyond creating a slack line for a natural drift. It plays a crucial role in optimizing the hook set angle, enhancing the overall fishing experience. If you’ve cast across the current, thrown a modest mend, and assumed you’ve accomplished the necessary adjustments, there’s more to be done. The key lies in bringing the entire fly line upstream past your indicator.

mending in action 800x463

Now, here’s a nugget of wisdom, especially beneficial for beginners – lifting your rod in a half-circle is the game-changer. Unlike the common practice of scooting or moving the fly line upstream with the rod tip, lifting the rod in a half-circle elevates the fly line, offering a more effective mend. Avoid merely moving the line, as this brings the fly closer to you, undermining the intended purpose of the mend. The crucial aspect to refine is the height at which you lift your rod – a higher lift extracts more line off the water, akin to performing a half-circle with your rod.

Remember, a bit of slack in your line is acceptable. Maintaining a tight connection between the fly line and the indicator leaves no margin for error. The slightest rod movement can spook a potential catch, rendering your efforts fruitless. Striking a balance between slack and control is essential for fooling a discerning fish.

The lift required for the right amount of line off the water varies with the cast length. A 30-foot cast demands more lift compared to a 20-foot cast. Additionally, mending immediately after casting is advantageous, as the water hasn’t significantly affected the line yet. The term “water-load” refers to how water wraps around the fly line, impacting its behavior. A softer rod, owing to its better tip control, is often more effective in mending line.

The Impact of a Misaligned Mend

Consider this scenario: if the fly line isn’t mended in a straight line and lags at an angle behind the indicator, a small swing occurs at the connection point between the fly line and the leader. Despite having slack, this swing, when setting the hook, can pull the fly out of the trout’s mouth. Flawed mending during downstream drifting can cause the indicator to go down as the trout takes the fly, unintentionally yanking the fly out of the trout’s mouth due to the fly line’s water-riding behavior.


Introducing the “reach mend” cast, a technique seamlessly incorporating the mend during casting rather than afterward. While mending becomes imperative when the fly line gets in front of or below you, casting upstream inherently provides enough slack to delay immediate mending. Experimenting with casting slightly downstream and feeding line into the drift without mending can ensure a drag-free drift, extending the drift duration.

As a testament to this technique’s efficacy, I’m developing a video clip for a visual demonstration, which will be available soon.

Always bear in mind that if the fly line is upstream of your indicator, drag will inevitably affect the indicator due to the lack of slack. Properly mending the line becomes indispensable to prevent the current from swinging the indicator around. Best of luck on your angling endeavors!


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