Salmon Fishing Method: Manipulation of Greased-line Fly
Manipulating a g.l. fly calls for concentration and dexterity. Common sense is a good guide. Fast dragging and inert drifting are the two extremes to be avoided; the mean to aim at is the smooth even travel of the fly. Why salmon should prefer a fly near the surface to be fished round smoothly when they often take a sunk fly fished quite fast is problematical, but the reason has probably something to do with turbulence in the wake of the fly, which, at depth, perhaps goes unnoticed.
The speed the fly fishes is controlled by the line bag (or `mend’), which is simply a loop of line thrown either upstream or downstream as the case requires. An upstream bag relieves pressure on the fly and causes it to fish more slowly; a downstream bag draws the fly onwards, ever faster.
Mending ais a manual skill like shuffling a pack of cards. It is performed by flicking the rod point in a small half-circle. With practice this can be done without jerking the fly and without slapping the line on to the water. Mending should be used no more than is necessary, for even the neatest mend causes a slight disturbance, and a clumsy mend executed on a glassy pool will send every fish running for cover.
The angler will soon learn when mending is needed and when it is unnecessary. For a part of the drift the current itself, acting on the line, will move the fly at a suitable speed. When the fly starts to drag too fast the angler will mend upstream. When the fly fishes into slack water the angler mends downstream and thus encourages the fly to keep moving. There are endless variations and combinations of this pattern.