Right Hand Reach Mend
While many anglers are quite content to fish the same fly patterns on the same river year after year, some fly fishers are constantly pushing new boundaries. They are exploring new waters, experimenting with new techniques, striving to get a better understanding of the insects that call their local stream home. The inquisitiveness the pastime can arouse is one of its great attractions. Indeed, some anglers I know would say that the day they stop learning new things on the water is the day they’ll cease fly fishing.
A good angler is always ready to expand his or her horizons. Doing so can sometimes lead to immediate gratification, as
“I once had a client named Stewart Merrill, an attorney from
“The helicopter set us down near a spot I like called the Rock Pool on this particular river, and he took off, planning to pick us up around 5:30. The river I chose that day flows gin clear, and is very isolated, though just a short flight from town. It’s always very special to be there. I have a routine when I’m guiding. At the start of each day, I rig the client’s gear, and set them down on a piece of water where I’m reasonably sure there aren’t any fish, so they can get into a rhythm of casting. It’s the same routine for seasoned anglers and beginners alike. On this day, the routine was no different. After getting Stew set up, I had him start making some casts while I searched the river for signs of any insects hatching. There still wasn’t enough light to really scan the pool for fish. As my eyes were wandering over the water, I did a double-take. In front of a large rock on the other side of the pool, I saw a nose break the surface. I thought that perhaps it was just a single rise, but the nose came up again, and it was evident that it was a large fish. I said, ‘Stew, there’s a fish over there.’ ‘That’s going to be a hard cast,’ Stew observed, and he was spot on. He would have to negate the irregular current flow created by a large rock across the river. The presentation was further exacerbated by a rock that rested between us and the fish. There was no place where we could cross the river and effectively cast upstream to the fish; the only way he might be able to get the proper drift would be with a right hand reach mend, plus another mend on top of that. I suggested this, and he said, ‘I don’t know the right hand reach mend.’ So I led him downstream to show him.
“As I mentioned before, Stew is an excellent angler. Despite this, he had no compunctions about admitting he didn’t know something, and was quite willing to learn a new technique. This is a quality I’ve seen again and again in anglers who visit
“We walked 100 yards or so downstream and rehearsed the cast a few times. It didn’t take long for Stew to get the hang of it. Then we returned to the Rock Pool. I tied on a small black caddis pattern, and Stew began. It was a reasonably long cast—50 to 55 feet—that he had to make, plus the series of mends. It took quite a while to get it just right. Much to Stew’s credit, he didn’t spook the fish, despite the many attempts he made. After 45 minutes, he got the right cast and the right mend in there. I saw the nose come up and and whispered ‘Go Stewie!’ The fish was on. Coming from