Fly Fishing’s Most Important Letter in the Alphabet

The most important letter in the alphabet for fly fishers is the letter “C.” If you can draw the letter “C” with the tip of your fly rod, you can manipulate your line in some important ways.

C is for Mending

Once you have cast your fly upon the water, you’ll want to mend it to get the middle part of your line upstream—behind your fly. If the middle section of line is in the lead, it can drag your fly through the current. No trout with any sense will give your fly another look.

Mending essentially puts your line in the shape of a “C.” Picture your fly at the top tip of the letter and the point where your fly line first touches the water at the bottom tip of the letter. If the current is moving from left to right, you will want to create a normal “C” shape. If the current is moving from right to left, you will want to create a backwards “C” shape.

The way to perform the mend is to draw the letter “C” with your rod tip shortly after your line lands on the river or stream. Draw this letter quickly. You’ll figure out with some practice how to do this without disturbing the fly on the surface.

C is for Looping

Another option is to create a “C” loop which your fly line is still in the air. At the end of your forward cast, quickly write the letter “C.” This will put a loop in your line so it falls in the surface in a “C” shape, requiring little or no mend.

Remember to use a backwards “C” if the current is moving from right to left.

C is for Feeding Line

Once your line is floating downstream, you want to get the longest drift possible. This is true whether you are nymphing or dry fly fishing. You will need to feed more line. The best way to do this is to keep writing the letter “C” to feed the extra line you have available. You could actually close the loop and make the letter “O.”

Again, you can learn to do this motion in a way that does not disrupt the line that is already on the surface.

C is for Line Pickup

Finally, you can pick up your line by writing the letter “C” with your rod tip. Gary Borger has perfected this technique. He says it needs to be a quick flip of the rod tip. According to Borger, “The curl introduced by the ‘C’ movement will flow down the line and snap it up off the water.” But it doesn’t stop there. Immediately after writing the “C,” continue right into your backcast.

Borger says not to hesitate between the two movements.

Who knew that learning to write the letter “C” in your first grade classroom could make you a better fly fisher!

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