How to Overhand, or Roll (Stack), Mend

Producer: Red's Fly Shop

“I’m going to give you what I think is the most important nymph fishing tips about mending that I have ever learned. I wish I’d learned this 10 years ago—my gosh I woulda got my clients into way more fish and I would have got a lot more fish myself.

Today’s tip is going to be titled ‘overhand mending.’ One of the problems with mending—and I do a lot of guiding and I see a lot of anglers of all skill levels—is most people mend with their rods horizontally. They reach out like this and they mend horizontally like so. Now that can work for dry fly fishing, but fundamentally it doesn’t work for nymph fishing because when you mend horizontally, you bring tension to the line and the indicator in the process. All is all it does is tighten the line between the indicator and the fly and the only thing that matters is slack line to that fly to make your nymph drift naturally.

So I’m going to explain to you a technique I call overhand mending, and I’m going to turn around and throw a couple of mends, and I want you to watch the position my rod tip is in. It’s a lot like a roll cast, and that’s one of the reasons we buy good rods too, so that we can use the tip of the rod.  I can finesse that line all around the river. It’s amazing what you can do with this mend. I can literally drive the indicator around anywhere I want to go and I can make great slack between my indicator in my nymph. I can fish lighter nymph setups, snag bottom less, tangle less, catch more fish, because on a lighter setup I can mend that indicator up over the top of the nymph. The nymph falls underneath the indicator. I get maximum depth immediately with no weight and I get more fishing time.

I’m going to throw one or two more mends full speed, and then I’m going to show you in slow-motion what it looks like with both the rod and the line, and then what the effect needs to be on the indicator. The real key here is getting my rod back in a position to where I can actually throw the line not only upstream, but I can promote slack line out to the indicator in the same speed of water that the indicator is in.

So I’m fishing this really heavy riffle back here and whoa easy easy big boy get back here. I’m fishing this really heavy riffle back here and I’m using really light flies. With that overhand mending technique in a heavy riffle like that—you can see that rolling chop out there behind me—there’s a lot of fish to live in that but a lot of anglers struggling without that overhand mending technique, specifically because they can’t get a light fly down and when we’re fishing small flies…. I’m going to go ahead and net this fish here… my camera lady is too busy filming but it’s a fabulous trout….

In the setup I’ve got, mending is so critical because when I’m fishing a number 20 zebra midge or any little midge…  I’m not using a bunch of split shot a bunch of stuff like that that snags bottom. It’s hard to cast it, tangles and is frankly not that fun to fish. But I can get a light set up like this with a little indicator and with that overhand mending technique I can get even the lightest set of flies to sync properly in a big ripple like that.