Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #43 — Two Ways to Recover Slack

by | May 27, 2018 | 5 comments

Much of what we learn about fly fishing comes from instinct. Fishing, after all, is not that complicated. It does not take a special set of talents or years of study to figure most of this out for yourself. It just takes a tuned in, heads up approach out there on the water, and a good bit of want-to.

Being self-taught has its own rewards, namely a certain individual satisfaction about doing and discovering things your own way. I would argue, however, that no one is fully self taught. And the motivated anglers I know all seek out information from a variety of sources to improve their game.

I like to think that this Fifty Tips series and the Troutbitten site as a whole caters to the ambitious kind of angler — the one who takes pride in fishing hard and digging deep for new resources, mining information about the next small (or large) adjustment which hooks more trout to the line.

And many of these adjustment, these tips or discoveries, are downright obvious. They’re the kind of things that you certainly would figure out on your own if you thought about it long enough. They’re the things you already know, inherently, but perhaps haven’t thought about in much detail. And within these simple things are the keys to the greatest discoveries — your biggest steps forward.

So here’s a “Duh” tip that has big consequences:

There are two ways to recover slack after the cast: stripping in line or lifting/moving the rod tip.

I would never suggest using either method exclusively, of course. There are times to use both, because each method comes with its own caveats.

Here are two scenarios for consideration.

Nymphing

Say you’re tight line nymphing with the Mono Rig, directly upstream — and I do mean directly, in this case. You are casting thirty feet, perfectly upstream of your position, into a pocket behind a midstream boulder. You’re allowing a pair of nymphs to be carried downstream with the current, in one seam. To keep those nymphs in just one seam, on a tight line, you must keep the rod tip in that same vertical plane, above the water and guiding the flies back downstream.

You cast and then recover the slack returned to you by gradually lifting the rod tip straight in front of your position.

Now, after about five to ten feet of drift, your rod is vertical — the tip is pointed to the sky. You have nowhere to go to recover more slack, so you must cast again, right?

Not quite. Now’s the time to remember that the line hand can also recover slack. And if you use the line hand in conjunction with the lift of the rod tip from the beginning of the retrieve, you can obtain an extra five to ten feet of effective drift.

Dry Fly Fishing

Let’s say you’re fishing a slow flat, with a relatively even top current from bank to bank. You’re casting thirty feet of fly line and a nine foot leader, punching a Klinkhammer dry fly into a downstream breeze toward the sporadic rises shown by a pod of wild brown trout.

After the cast up and across the stream, your rod is parallel to the surface, and you begin recovering the slack by raising the rod tip.

That’ll work, until you encounter a problem. As you raise the rod tip, the weight of the fly line hanging from the rod tip is pulled down by gravity. That unavoidable pull of the hanging line tugs unnaturally on the fly line remaining on the water, which in turn pulls on the leader, straightening out the the slack you’ve so artfully given the dry fly with your George Harvey Dry Fly Leader. The stiff breeze blowing downstream pushes against your hanging fly line and only makes the problem worse. Your effective drift length is therefore shortened.

It takes a half dozen of these abbreviated drifts before your angler’s instinct kicks in. Then instead of raising the rod tip to recover slack, you keep the rod tip low, right next to the surface, allowing more fly line to remain on the calm water. In turn, you remove the elements of wind and gravity and are helped along by the even currents. Your effective drift is lengthened by more than ten feet and you start catching twice as many fish.

Nice.

Simple Thoughts

Again, so much of what we do out on the river comes back to the basics. It’s a simple, intuitive game where all advanced techniques have their kernel in simplicity.

Sounds like just about every other sport out there, doesn’t it? The grand gateway to advanced techniques is a simple step through a common door.

Fish hard, friends.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Flies and Weights

Flies and Weights

This is the direct advantage of knowing your weights. Fly changes become more deliberate and less experimental. Efficiency improves, as does your confidence to read water and the ability to fish it well.

Knowing your weights and measures is about understanding how to balance the elements of your fishing rig. It’s a give and take. But it’s up to you to first know what is being balanced. It’s the design of the leader, the weight of the flies, material resistance and distance. Put numbers to these things, and know your stats . . .

Trout Like To Do What Their Friends Are Doing

Trout Like To Do What Their Friends Are Doing

If you fish hard and pay attention to the details, you’ll often catch, miss or turn enough trout to learn something. At the heart of the puzzle is an eternal question: What do the trout want?

The best days start by learning what most trout in the river are doing. So, gather data toward those questions, and then branch off from there.

Euro Nymphing Fly Line vs The Mono Rig

Euro Nymphing Fly Line vs The Mono Rig

I’ve received countless questions about my thoughts regarding euro lines and mono rigs. And while this is also one of the most common questions I’ve fielded through the years, it has a complex answer that I’ve never tackled in an article. So let’s fix that.

Here are my thoughts on euro nymphing lines vs a Mono Rig. These views address all seasons, all distances and many variations . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

5 Comments

  1. Great tip.

    Reply
  2. Wow! Awesome blog post with great tips! In this article, you offer great tips for us about fly fishing. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  3. best blog I’ve found on fly fishing. thank you very much

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

Pin It on Pinterest