A basic mend involves moving the rod tip in a half-circle motion that positions fly line upstream of the leader, flies, or indicator. This removes the tension applied by the moving current and helps you improve the depth and control of your presentation. The downside of the basic mend is how long it takes to perform, and the water-disturbing and fish-disturbing movement it imparts to the fly.
When I was younger, I not only spent as much time on the water as I could, but I read every fly-fishing book on the shelf over and over again. I also watched instructional videos. Doug Swisher, who presented his Mastery Series of videos with Scientific Anglers, is one of my teaching idols. In his video on selective trout, he demonstrates the stack mend for use with sinking flies. It’s performed by throwing a mini-cast with a “micro-second wrist” toward the flies or indicator. This places slack line out near the fly where it is most beneficial. Several stack mends are made in quick succession, which allow the fly to sink quickly and drift naturally.
Years ago I started using the same method with a sideways approach to replace the standard mend. I call it “shoot mending.” I make the same micro-second-wrist cast with the tip of the rod moving forward only one foot. I then lift the rod up two to three feet to allow clearance for the line. Then, by quickly making one or two mends while the line is in the process of shooting, I get a mend that’s already in place when the line lands on the water. It’s also a very effective technique for shooting mends through wind and over chop in still waters without taking the indicator or dry fly away from the target.