When swinging flies for salmon and steelhead, we talk a lot about the importance of ‘fly profile,’ the broadside silhouette the fly takes on while in the water. Many fly tyers go to great lengths trying to achieve the desired profile, and it is this idea that has stemmed many modern steelhead and salmon patterns.
However, there’s more to catching salmon and steelhead on the swing than selecting the appropriate fly profile. Proper mending must be used to fully take advantage of the fly’s profile. But how do you know whether you are mending correctly?
Luckily our buddy George Cook let us in on another great tip when swinging flies for sea-going critters… Thanks, George!
Watch How Your Fly Lands!
The beautiful intruder pattern that took 90 minutes to tie is only of real value IF you can capitalize on its broad profile. This is where the “thinker” needs to stand behind the rod. Once you’ve selected the best engagement angle for your targeted species (generally somewhere in the 70-90 degree downstream and across angle in front of you), it is super critical to pay attention to just how the fly lands.
Is it landing as straight as an arrow (fabulous) or does it have a little upstream curve to it (not what we want)? If the latter has occurred, your mend is now twice as important as you’ll need to both “Straighten” and “Drop”. Confused? Not to worry!
As you lift to mend in the classic upstream position, get yourself a solid visual on the fly as to draw it back into a straight line as the mend occurs. As Ed Ward once famously stated, “The Straight Cast Fishes Best!” Amen brother, these are words to fish by! I spend a good chunk of my time during a swing mentally mapping just what I think the “swing track” is doing. Make slight adjustments based on this mapping and it will pay off in spades as the key ingredients of speed/depth and profile come together.