BEST Nymph Fishing Tip Ever for Mending Line

October 30, 2015

This tip changed my nymph fishing. I'm not sure at what point I personally started mending my indicator setups overhand like this, but all I know is that I wish that I had done it many years ago. First, let me define the term "mend".

Mend - : to make (something broken or damaged) usable again : to repair (something broken or damaged)

The dictionary pretty much nails it. We are "repairing" the presentation. With this new style of mending we will "PREPARE" the presentation so it requires less mending along the way. I will add at this point, that mending is ANY strategic re-situating of the fly line designed to improve presentation. It is upstream mend most of the time, but it can be downstream, cross stream, neutral, or used to describe the act of feeding line. Furthermore, when mending a nymph setup this strategic re-situatings should result in slack being created between the indicator and the fly.

I have had the pleasure of watching many thousands of anglers attempt to catch fish over the past 16 guide seasons, and one big takeaway from that is the fact that 90% of you mend incorrectly with indicator rigs. This includes all anglers. Even the ones with expensive rods, ones that "use to guide", ones that currently work as pro guides, and of course my favorites... all of you students that simply want to learn and elevate your game to the next level. I prefer to help the latter and this is the best tip that I can give you.

Nearly all anglers mend with the rod parallel to the water at around chest level. This can work for dry fly fishing, however it is a fundamentally flawed motion because the physics of this action creates tension between the indicator and the fly. It draws the entire system tight which not only preserves the tension between the indicator and the fly (keep in mind our goal is to mend to the FLY not the float) it re-tightens this relationship every time you mend.

With this new method, you will generate a 100% slack line between indicator and fly which makes for a natural presentation. Also, a simple philosophy to keep in mind is that the water your nymphs are in is about half the speed of the water that your strike indicator is in. Surface currents are much faster, therefore the float gets way ahead of the flies. Be setting that indicator back upstream of your flies with an initial mend, and then setting some line upstream of the indicator you can actually slow your indicator down to a speed slightly slower than the surface currents, but exactly the speed of the flies. Happy catching.

  1. Joe - Great tip and visual presentation. I was taught this many years ago while fishing on the Big Horn by a guide. One of the struggles most people have is when they mend parallel to the water at chest level is the line has to break the tension on water before it can be mended - breaking this tension leads to very inefficient and ineffective mends and less fish caught. By lifting the tip as you demonstrated you break the tension between the line and water and can easily move the line, indicator and fly where it needs to be just like in your video (and gets the dead drift we all dream of). I hope my Queen watches the video and understands what I have been trying to teach her. Of course she never listens to me (or I am a lousy teacher) but I am sure she will listen to you. That's fine with me because not only is she beautiful but she loves to fish and can row the drift boat - what more could a guy ask for?
  2. Joe... Another great tip and video demonstrating the indicator mend technique! From my experience this takes some repeated practices to nail this down. Well, at least for me it took a few different days on the water to be successful at it. Rick in Spokane
  3. I forgot to ask... What leader and tippet size did you use with the size 20 fly? Thanks!
  4. Joe Another great tip. You have done this in your steelhead nymphing video when resetting the indicator upstream on the initial upstream cast. Keep the videos coming. Thanks
  5. Joe, this is a great tip. I also like that you explained the difference between sub-surface water speed and surface water speed. Most folks don't realize that their indicator is actually dragging the fly(s) downstream. Thus the reason we need to mend more often. Last. I discovered long ago that the initial cast upstream can "set up" the drift by using a reach cast. By doing so, my indicator is ALREADY upstream from my fly(s) when the drift begins. From there, your technique maximizes the dead drift time. Many thanks for a great tip.