Manipulating the fly line so that your fly behaves correctly in the current is one of the most important skills an angler can master. Its called mending, and its one of the many techniques perfected by that 10% of anglers that catch 90% of the fish. Most of us understand the importance of mending line when fishing moving water (if not, click here for a great introduction on mending line). However, only a small percentage of anglers mend during the most efficient moment possible, before the fly hits the water! Its called aerial mending, and its super effective.
Most anglers mend line in the following way.. Make a cast upstream of the target, lift line off of the water, and reposition either upstream or downstream to achieve a desirable drift. While mending this way is surely effective, its not the most efficient method. Its important to understand that while you are mending your line, you are pulling your fly in an unnatural manner, and therefore is not actively ‘fishing.’ The amount of time it takes to mend your line is time that your fly could be fishing. The more time your fly is fishing correctly, the more fish you’re going to catch.. Its that simple!
Mending line in the air allows your fly to fish correctly the second it hits the water. There are many aerial mends out there for different situations but the most versatile is the reach mend (or reach cast). It can be used to make a mend to both the right or left, can be used with a fixed amount or when shooting line, and it sets the groundwork to other aerial mends. Its also the easiest to perform. Check out the step by step below.
If you’ve done it right, the fly should land directly in front of you, with the line laying in approximately a straight line from the rod tip to the fly. The same mend can be made to the right or left in order to position slack to the appropriate side.
Master the reach mend, join the 10%.