The graphite fly rod you hold in your hand is an amazing instrument. It is designed to shoot line, maneuver line, fight fish, and lift line off the water. If you’re planning a trip to the river, the following four fly rod hacks might be useful. Even if you’re a veteran fly fisher, it never hurts to review the basics.
So here we go:
Write the Letter “C”
Fly fishers learn early on to cast and then mend their line.
Mending is flipping the middle of the line upstream so that it doesn’t get ahead of the fly and drag it through the current. But it’s possible to put a mend in the line during your cast. Actually, this is something you do right at the end of your forward cast. As soon as you complete your forward cast, and the is shooting out to the target, draw a small “c” with your rod tip. A regular “c” puts a mend to the left. That is, you will create a “c”-shape bend in your line as it drops to the water.
A backwards “c” puts a mend to the right. Remember that you want your mend to go upstream.
You will want to try this a few times. But you’ll be surprised how quickly you can pick it up. Think small “c” rather than a capital “C.” In other words, this is a quick, small maneuver. Of course, if you want a larger loop, then, make your “c” larger. However, it’s easier to go smaller at first.
Lift before your back cast
If you get a nice long drift but no strike, you’ll want to try another cast. But rather than trying to pick up your line and make a back cast all in one motion, lift your rod tip to a 45 degree angle. This lifts your line off the surface.
Then make your back cast. Breaking this into two steps — lift then back cast – is especially important if you have a lot of line on the water.
The lift will break the surface tension. Then the back cast will go a lot easier.
Use a back cast when your forward cast needs to go to the right
Here’s the situation. The river bank along which you’re standing is lined with trees. You simply cannot make a back cast without hooking a branch or a bush. To make matters more complicated, the river is flowing from right to left. To cast upstream, you need to cast right.
Fortunately, the solution is easy.
Face downstream (assuming you’re right-handed), and make a forward cast parallel to the bank on which you are standing. Then, looking back, angle your back cast to the head of the run you want to fish. Let the rod do the work. Then, mend your line, and get ready for a strike!
Change the Rod Angle
Who doesn’t love the image of a fly fisher fighting a trout with rod tip pointed to the sky?! The photo looks even more impressive when fly fishers hold the reel above their heads. It’s a Norman Rockwell print waiting to happen.
But there are times to lower that rod tip. As you lower it, the flex point moves from the tip to the mid-section. This means that lowering the rod from a 90 degree angle (rod tip pointed up to the sky) to a 45-degree angle will force a trout to fight against a stiffer part of the rod. It’s helpful to know this after you’ve tired out a fish and you’re ready to bring it to your net.
Your rod is designed to do more than you think. So remember these fly rod hacks, and you’ll have a better experience — better casts, better mends, and better fights with those trout you hook.