How To Swing A Fly Like A Wizard

I don’t really know how a wizard likes to fish, but I do know that properly swinging a fly and catching a trout can seem like an act of pure magic when it’s done right. All the cool kids swing streamers, but many different fly patterns can be deadly on the swing. Wet flies may be my favorite on the swing, as they’ve been proven to work over centuries of swinging flies, but to each his own. Whatever you’re swinging, just remember to be patient and wait for that addicting tug.

A Fly Angler Swings A Fly On A Big Alaskan River
No matter where you are in the world, swinging a fly can be an effective tactic.

Start The Swing

Start the swing by casting downstream at around a 45º angle, upstream of your target zone where you think a fish may be lurking deep below. The current will pull your line out and away from you, eventually making the line hang straight downriver from where you’re standing. This is where the term swing comes from, as the fly is swinging out and away from you and through the hole where the fish is likely holding.

A Fly Angler Releases A Salmon In Alaska
Any river species can fall for a well-presented fly on the swing.

Controlling Depth

The trickiest part of swinging your fly effectively is controlling depth. This is where that little bit of magic from fly fishing like a wizard is going to come through. Casting at an angle downstream is the easy part, but then it’s time to mend. Mending your line is what lets you control your depth as it controls the amount of time that the fly has to sink.

After you complete your cast, throw an upstream mend to slow your line and make your fly go deeper. To make your fly stay higher in the water column then you would need a downstream mend. If you’re really good at casting you can mend in the air before your line even hits the water, but that makes things a little sloppy if you haven’t done this before.

Postfly's Brian Runnals Casts His Fly Downstream
Cast. Swing. Dangle. Repeat.

Let It Dangle

When your line is extending straight downstream from where you’re standing in the river and you leave your fly soaking there for a moment before starting the next cast, that’s called a dangle. While it may seem that your line is completely parallel to the bank when your line is, it actually takes a few extra moments for the fly to become straight.

There may be a fish directly downstream from your position and it won’t see your fly there until you’ve dangled it downstream a few extra moments to let the line completely straighten out first. Some anglers choose to let the fly sit there on the dangle even after it’s completely straightened out, giving the fly the appearance of swimming in place, like a small trout may do. “Letting it soak” as this is often called can be effective, and it also adds a little extra hope that something may come out of a fish-less day. It’s also a good time to take a swig out of your whiskey flask and still fish at the same time.

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2 thoughts on “How To Swing A Fly Like A Wizard

  1. chaiz July 14, 2019 / 2:29 pm

    Like your piece, except I have been taught not to mend, at least after the cast. The mend destroys the natural subsurface pull(swing) which is the attractant for wet fly technique. Enormous strikes come at the termination of the swing, trout having observed & followed this swimming nymph.
    Such technique works well on White River, Arkansas.

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