Quick Tips Tips/Tactics

Quick Tips — The Fly Rod Quick-Dip

September 23, 2018

Some things in fly fishing are obvious right away. The concepts of casting and drifting a fly are intuitive for most anglers after just a bit of instruction and a few trips of experience. Advanced techniques are later pored over in conversations, books, articles and videos. We want to learn. But helpful friends and fly fishing authors probably make too many assumptions (myself included). And a lot of what we take for granted or think is obvious has become second nature only after fishing for a long, long time.

So in this new Quick Tips series on Troutbitten, I’ll focus on the small things that make a big difference — the type of things that some new anglers figure out for themselves but that many veteran anglers may very well have missed.

Backbone of the fishery.

Dip it

Standing in the water, ready for the next cast, the line behind our rod-hand is either tight to the reel or there is some slack. Maybe there’s five feet of line hanging in a loop between the spool and the trigger finger on the rod. Or perhaps there’s just twelve inches of slack line, like this . . .

Dear Sage: Please bring back the 3850 — Signed: all long-liners everywhere.

Now let’s say we want that slack line gone — we want it out through the guides and beyond the rod tip. Sure, we can shoot it on the next cast, but let’s eliminate the extra step.

If we’d rather have that twelve inches of line out past the rod tip, let’s do this:

Dip the rod tip in the water. Do it swiftly. Drag the tip through the current and let go of the line with the trigger finger. The extra line is sucked through the guides and into the water. The slack is taken by the force of the current and by a tension created with the swishing rod tip and the line in the water.

I do this all the time.

Fishing with my young sons is wonderful, because it gives me a fresh perspective. When Aiden asked me the other day why I draw lines in the water with my rod, my answer was simple at first, but it became more complicated. Soon enough, I realized I’d lost his attention but was still answering the question out loud for myself, because I’d never much considered it before.

Standing bank-side or belt-deep in the flow, I guess I draw my rod tip through the water for other reasons too.

Here’s the rest of my answer to Aiden . . .


When the line tangles around the end of the rod, when there are a few loops of line over the first few feet of the rod, a quick flip-and-dip usually solves the problem.

This trouble happens often with long leader mono rigs, and it happens with fly line too. Many times we elevate the rod tip while tying on a new fly or changing rigs. The slack line tends to loop around the tip, and we notice it before we cast. Flip, dip, swoosh, and the loops are out.

Now that I’m aware of the rod tip dip, I can’t help noticing that I do it dozens of times on every trip. It’s a good habit that I never gave much thought. I now notice other fishermen doing the same, but I also see many anglers struggling with other ways to undo the loops around their rod tip. And I see them false casting more times than needed to throw some extra slack.

The water is there, just waiting to be a line-grabber and help you out with a little drag (for a change). Let it help.

Fish hard, friends.


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Wow if only I knew that sooner. Tried “Euro Nymphing” for the first time this weekend and found the braid often got twisted around the rod tip. I did notice once that it untangled in the flow. Now I know that is something to do. I will be keeping that in my box of top tips. Thanks


I’ll try it. I’m new to the long leader game. It catches fish, but the leader tangle on the end of the rod is an unanticipated nuisance. I’ll try it – but it’s hard to tell which direction the line is on the rod.

Bill Ferguson

Point the rod downstream and shake the tip a little bit. What you describe happens all the time with the mono rig. The above usually works to unwrap line from the tip.


Having trouble following what you are trying to describe. A video would better demonstrate this “Quick Tip.” Thank you, and keep up the great work!.


wow, that’s a fantastic tip…will definitely try that next time I’m tight-lining (which will be next time I’m fishing)…

Alex Argyros

Tried it today. Worked like a charm. Thanks for the great tip.

Domenick Swentosky

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.

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