Here’s a common scenario we all run into now and then: You see a trout rising on the other side of the river. Between you and the fish, the current is strong and deep (you cannot cross the river). Interestingly, the fish seems to have its nose practically glued to a point of land that’s sticking into the river.
What happens when you drop your fly in the current upstream from the fish? Often times, even if you make a reach cast (in effect, mending your line in the air), or immediately mend your line after the fly hits the water, the current is still going to grab your fly line, create serious drag, and rip your fly out of the strike zone. Do that a couple times, and after the fish sees the fly behaving strangely, it’s not going to take long for the trout to swim off. Game over.
So what do you do?
You use the shoreline to your advantage. Look carefully, and you’ll notice the vegetation on this bank is short grass and moss. Nothing that’s really going to snag a fly for long.
In this case, I intentionally shot a cast that stuck my fly on the grass on the point. I aimed at the grass, and hung it up on purpose. With the fly in place, I made a huge mend of the line. And just as I finished the mend, I gave the line a quick jerk. The fly popped free, and I got about a one-second drag-free drift. That proved to be enough, as the fish indeed ate the fly.
Now, there are a couple things to consider. Naturally, if the bank is filled with sticker bushes and heavy brush, you don’t want to be intentionally sticking your fly on the shoreline. Second, this move works better when the sun is on the side of the fish. If the sun is behind you, the shadows you create will usually ruin the approach. Also, understand that there’s a reason this fish is rising so tight to the bank… it’s probably eating terrestrials. So this trick works best with ants, beetles and hoppers.
In any case, it’s a longshot. A last resort. But heck, if you’re like me and you snag the opposite bank often anyway, why not use that to your advantage? If you start catching fish, your friends will at least assume you’re trying to do that and not just making poor casts.
In all seriousness, when you see this situation, remember that you are better off to cast a few inches too long than you are to cast short. And sometimes, the perfect shot that lands in the water is actually too short.