Baitfish From “L”
Realized this was missing from the blog after I did the big revamp in late 2008, so here it is (once again):
Streamers can be a first-class ticket to big-trout central. Streamers are usually fished with drag (they are swung and/or retrieved), but that does not mean that they always get fished with the best kind of drag. Simply casting across a current and retrieving a streamer with straight, quick strips can catch a large number of trout, but it may not always be the most effective tactic. By using a specific type of mend, a streamer can be presented at an angle that may be more to a fish’s liking.
The “Baitfish from ‘L’” (a name my father humorously uses) is based around an in-the-air Curve Mend—a technique most-often employed when it comes time to reduce drag. In the “L,” however, the curve mend is used to increase drag in a specific fashion. A Curve Mend is not hard to make. Here is an example of a Curve Mend to the right: Make a standard Overhead Cast. After you stop the rod on the forward cast (and before the line falls to the water’s surface), reach your rod arm (and the rod) over to the right, then immediately bring it back (think: over-and-back). It can help to follow the falling line with the rod as you do this, so you may want to think about an over-and-down-and-back-and-down movement (“>”), versus a straight over and straight back movement (“=”). Such movement will form a curve in the line with the belly of the curve aiming to the right. Make sure that you get the curve formed before the line falls to the water’s surface.
The size and position of a Curve Mend is determined by how soon you move your arm after making the forward cast, how much you move your arm and how quickly you move your arm, respectively.
Now it is time to deliver the baitfish (streamer). This example is set-up for a right-handed caster and with the river flowing left to right. Face down-and-across and then cast down-and-across. While the fly is still traveling to the target, make an in-the-air Curve Mend as outlined above. Do not wait for the fly to touch down (you can add an on-the-water mend later, if necessary). When you make the mend, make it down-current of your position and away from the fly. That is, the belly of the mend will be pointing away from you in a down-current position. You will likely find it best to shoot line as you make the curve in order to prevent moving the fly away from its intended target.
If done right, the section of line between the belly of the curve and the fly will fall straight across the current, thus creating the horizontal leg of the “L.” The section of line between the belly of the curve and the rod tip will fall down-current, creating the vertical leg of the “L.” As the line comes tight, the fly will swim broadside (cross current), before turning at the apex of the belly. The rod tip can be dropped or additional slack introduced to make the fly stop swimming and begin drifting.
Not only does the Baitfish from “L” technique present the fly with a strong profile, but the fly can dead-drifted into a likely looking lie. This is like the late Joe Brooks’ “broadside float” tactic. It is a good for vertically tall, but laterally narrow patterns because it shows the fly in a way that gives the perception of bulk. A marabou pattern can also benefit form such a float because it can allow the marabou fibers to expand and “breathe” in the water. A fly that acts distressed, injured or behaves in a way that incites a fish’s “chase instinct,” can be a great attractor. The Baitfish From “L” is a slick way to make that happen.
The Baitfish from “L” is not a complicated technique to use, but it can add a very effective presentation possibility to your overall streamer strategy.