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ORVIS – How to get the right position while fly fishing

ORVIS presents a comprehensive guide on how to achieve the correct position while fly fishing. In this video by The Orvis Company, the key to success in fly fishing is demonstrated through the concept of simplifying the process. Successful anglers consistently repeat what has proven to be successful, particularly when it comes to selecting the ideal position for casting to a rising trout. Effective line control and the ability to achieve a smooth drift with minimal mending are crucial for a solid hook set. The rule of dry fly fishing is to minimize the number of current seams crossed during casting, and if the opportunity presents itself, it is essential to eliminate any seams or varying currents between the angler and the rising trout. While reach casts and mending techniques can be employed, relying solely on these methods without fishing from the best position might lead to missing the point. By minimizing the number of actions required once the fly is laid out to the riser, anglers significantly increase their chances of achieving a firm hook set and ultimately experiencing greater success in their fly fishing endeavors.

Choosing the Right Position

Importance of Positioning

Choosing the right position when fly fishing is crucial for success. By positioning yourself correctly, you can maximize your chances of presenting the fly in an enticing manner to the fish. Proper positioning allows you to minimize current seams and eliminate the need for mending, ultimately leading to better fly presentation and increased chances of hooking a trout. Taking the time to understand the importance of positioning will greatly enhance your overall fly fishing experience.

Minimizing Current Seams

One of the key reasons why positioning is important in fly fishing is to minimize current seams. Current seams occur where fast-moving water meets slow-moving water, creating a visible line of disturbance. Trout often use these seams as feeding lanes, as they provide an abundance of food and require less energy to hold their position. By positioning yourself in such a way that you can cast into the seam without spooking the fish, you increase your chances of a successful presentation.

Eliminating the Need to Mend

Mending is a technique used to reposition the fly line on the water’s surface to ensure a drag-free drift. However, excessive mending can disrupt the natural drift of the fly and alert the fish to your presence. By choosing the right position, you can eliminate the need for frequent mending altogether. This allows for a more natural presentation and greatly increases the likelihood of attracting trout to your fly.

Benefits of the Right Position

Choosing the right position has numerous benefits in fly fishing. Firstly, it allows you to present the fly more effectively, making it appear natural and enticing to the fish. This increases the chance of the trout taking the fly and improves hook setting success. Secondly, by minimizing current seams and eliminating the need to mend, you create a drag-free drift that closely resembles the natural movement of insects on the water. Finally, the right position enables you to maintain control, poise, and proper posture, resulting in more accurate and controlled casting.

Identifying the Best Position

Observing Rising Trout

To identify the best position, it is essential to observe rising trout before you even cast a line. Watch for subtle rises and the areas where trout are most active. This will give you a good indication of where the fish are concentrated and where you should position yourself. Assess the direction of the trout’s feeding movements and look for patterns in their behavior to determine the optimal casting position.

Analyzing Current Seams

Current seams are areas where fish are commonly found, as they provide an ideal feeding location. Take the time to analyze the water’s surface and identify any visible seams. These seams may appear as lines of calm water between faster-moving currents. By positioning yourself in proximity to these seams, you can increase your chances of hooking a trout. Analyzing current seams is a valuable skill that will improve with time and practice.

Considering Laziness vs. Optimal Position

Trout are known for their laziness – they seek areas where they can feed with minimal effort. When identifying the best position, consider both the laziness of the trout and the optimal casting position. Sometimes, the optimal position may require a bit more effort to reach or maintain. By balancing both factors, you can find the best compromise that maximizes your chances of success.

Determining the Right Side

Choosing the correct side to position yourself on is another crucial aspect when identifying the best position. As a right-handed caster, positioning yourself on the left side of the river allows for freer movement and better line control. Conversely, left-handed casters may find it more advantageous to position themselves on the right side. Determining the right side to position yourself on depends on various factors, including your casting hand and the river’s layout. Experiment with different positions to find what works best for you.

Adjusting Position

Moving Downstream

Sometimes, the initial position you choose may not yield the desired results. In such cases, it is essential to know how to adjust your position effectively. Moving downstream can be a useful technique, especially when you notice fish rising just out of reach. By carefully wading downstream while maintaining a low profile, you can cover more water and increase your chances of casting within range of the rising fish.

Crossing Obstacles

When fishing a river, it is common to encounter obstacles such as fallen logs, boulders, or deep pools. These obstacles can impede your ability to reach the best fishing spots. However, with skillful positioning and careful maneuvering, these obstacles can be crossed to gain access to better fishing locations. It is important to assess the risk and exercise caution when crossing obstacles, ensuring your safety is a priority.

Moving Upstream

While moving downstream can be advantageous in certain circumstances, moving upstream also has its benefits. By carefully wading upstream, you can approach fish from behind, reducing the risk of spooking them. Additionally, moving upstream allows for better control and line management, as casting and mending in an upstream direction is often easier. Consider the river’s flow and the behavior of the fish to determine if moving upstream is the right adjustment for the current fishing conditions.

Maintaining Posture

Regardless of the direction you move or adjust your position, maintaining proper posture is crucial. Good posture allows for better casting accuracy, control, and overall fly presentation. Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and weight distributed evenly to maintain a stable foundation. By focusing on your posture, you can make more precise movements and adjust your position seamlessly.

ORVIS - How to get the right position while fly fishing

Techniques for Line Control

Stripping In Fly Line

Line control is a fundamental skill in fly fishing, and one technique used to maintain control is stripping in fly line. Stripping refers to pulling fly line in with your non-casting hand while keeping tension on the line. This technique allows you to manipulate the speed at which the fly moves in the water, imitating the actions of a struggling insect. By mastering the art of stripping in fly line, you can better control how your fly behaves and increase your chances of enticing a trout to strike.

Matching Current Speed

In order to maintain a drag-free drift, it is important to match the speed of the current with your fly line. This means adjusting the speed at which you strip in or mend your line to reflect the pace of the water. By effectively matching the current speed, you can create a more natural presentation that closely resembles the movement of insects on the water. This technique requires practice and careful observation of the river’s flow.

Significance of Maintaining Posture

As mentioned earlier, maintaining proper posture plays a vital role in line control. Good posture ensures that your rod and line are positioned correctly, allowing for more accurate and controlled casting. It also helps in maintaining the right tension, preventing slack in the line that can result in missed strikes or a less lifelike presentation. By focusing on maintaining posture, you improve your line control and increase the likelihood of a successful catch.

Benefits of Proper Line Control

Mastering line control offers numerous benefits in fly fishing. Proper line control allows you to present the fly more naturally, imitating the movement of insects on the water’s surface. This increases the chances of enticing a trout to strike. Additionally, line control enables you to manage the drift of your fly, keeping it in the target zone for a longer period of time. This improves the overall quality of the drift and increases the likelihood of a successful hookup.

Casting Approaches

Understanding Reach Casts

Reach casts are a casting technique used to improve presentation when dealing with challenging current seams. By using a reach cast, you can position the fly and leader partially across the current, allowing for a drag-free drift. This technique mimics the natural movement of insects as they are carried downstream. Understanding how and when to execute a reach cast can greatly improve your chances of success, especially when dealing with tricky fishing conditions.

Mastering Upstream Mends

Upstream mends are another casting approach that can enhance your fly fishing skills. Mending refers to repositioning the fly line on the water’s surface to eliminate drag and achieve a natural drift. When fishing in an upstream direction, mending becomes even more crucial. By mastering the art of upstream mends, you can manipulate the drift of your fly, keeping it in the striking zone for longer. This increases the chances of attracting a trout and getting a solid hook set.

Utilizing Reach Casts and Mends Together

While reach casts and mends can be effective individually, utilizing them together can yield even better results. By combining the two casting approaches, you can position the fly across the current and make necessary line adjustments to ensure a drag-free drift throughout the presentation. This dynamic combination allows for better control, improved fly presentation, and increased chances of enticing a trout to strike.

Drawbacks of Over-reliance on Reach Casts and Mends

Although reach casts and mends are valuable casting approaches, it is important to avoid over-reliance on these techniques. Relying too heavily on reach casts and mends can create a predictable presentation that may deter trout from striking. It is essential to vary your casting approaches, adapt to the fishing conditions, and make adjustments as necessary. The ability to adapt your casting style will help keep the trout guessing and increase your chances of a successful catch.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Standing on the Wrong Side

One common mistake in fly fishing is standing on the wrong side of the river. As mentioned earlier, positioning yourself on the correct side based on your casting hand is crucial. Standing on the wrong side can limit your casting range, affect line control, and make it difficult to reach prime fishing spots. It is important to take the time to assess the river and position yourself accordingly, ensuring you have the best possible advantage.

Unnecessary Casting and Body Movements

Excessive casting and unnecessary body movements can have a detrimental effect on your success as a fly angler. Casting too frequently or making abrupt movements can startle fish and alert them to your presence. It is important to be patient, observe, and only cast when necessary. Minimizing unnecessary movements and keeping a low profile will increase your chances of remaining undetected and increase your chances of enticing a trout to strike.

Micro Drag and Small Flies

Micro drag refers to the slight unnatural movement of the fly caused by the current pulling on the line. This can be a challenge, especially when fishing with small flies that are easily affected by even the slightest amount of drag. It is crucial to be aware of micro drag and take steps to minimize it. Proper line control, mending, and careful observation of the fly’s movement are essential to reduce micro drag and increase your chances of success.

Failure to Adjust Position Based on Observations

Observation is a key skill in fly fishing, and failure to adjust your position based on these observations can lead to missed opportunities. It is important to constantly assess the behavior of the fish, the flow of the river, and any changes in feeding patterns. By adjusting your position accordingly, you can increase the chances of presenting your fly in the most enticing manner and improve your chances of success.

Positioning for Success

Walking to the Optimal Spot

Walking to the optimal spot is an essential component of successful fly fishing. Once you have identified the best position, it is important to navigate the river carefully and strategically to reach that spot. Take your time to assess the river’s flow, consider the obstacles, and plan your route accordingly. By carefully walking to the optimal spot, you minimize the risk of spooking fish and increase your chances of making a successful cast.

Crossing Obstacles for Better Position

As mentioned earlier, crossing obstacles is sometimes necessary to gain access to better fishing locations. When encountering obstacles such as fallen logs or deep pools, it is important to assess the situation and exercise caution. Look for safe crossing points, use appropriate wading techniques, and be mindful of your surroundings. Crossing obstacles can be challenging, but it is often worth the effort to reach a position that offers better access to fish.

Maintaining Poise and Proper Posture

Maintaining poise and proper posture throughout your time on the water is essential for successful positioning. Good posture allows for better casting accuracy, improved line control, and better overall fly fishing performance. It is important to prioritize your body positioning and always strive for proper posture. This will allow you to make more accurate casts, keep a low profile, and maintain control over your line and fly.

Significance of Eliminating Reach Casts and Mending

As you become more experienced in fly fishing and gain confidence in your positioning skills, you will notice that reaching casts and excessive mending become less necessary. By eliminating these techniques, you can achieve a more natural presentation and decrease the risk of spooking the fish. Adapting your casting approach and relying more on careful positioning will lead to increased success and a more enjoyable fly fishing experience.

The Impact of Fewer Seams

Improved Line Control

Choosing the right position and minimizing current seams has a significant impact on line control. With fewer seams to contend with, you can maintain a more consistent drift and present the fly in a manner that closely imitates the natural movement of insects. Improved line control results in more accurate casting, better fly presentation, and increased chances of enticing a trout to strike.

Enhanced Drift Quality

By eliminating current seams and choosing the right position, you can greatly enhance the quality of your drift. A drag-free drift is crucial for success in fly fishing, as it closely imitates the natural movement of insects on the water’s surface. By carefully positioning yourself and minimizing disturbances, you can achieve a drift that is more enticing to the fish, increasing your chances of a successful hookup.

Increased Hook Setting Success

Proper positioning not only improves line control and drift quality but also significantly increases hook setting success. By choosing the right position, you can cast directly into the feeding lanes of the trout, increasing your chances of a strike. With a well-positioned cast and a natural presentation, the fish are more likely to take the fly and result in a solid hook set. Increased hook setting success leads to more landed fish and a greater sense of accomplishment on the water.

Achieving Control, Poise, and Proper Posture

The impact of choosing the right position extends beyond the immediate fishing success. By achieving control, poise, and proper posture, you become a more skilled angler overall. These attributes enhance your fly fishing experience by improving your casting accuracy, line control, and ability to read the water. By consistently prioritizing positioning, you develop a greater understanding of the river and the behaviors of the trout, leading to an increased level of mastery in the sport.


Choosing the right position is essential for success in fly fishing. By minimizing current seams and eliminating the need for excessive mending, you can achieve a natural and enticing fly presentation. Identifying the best position requires careful observation of rising trout and current seams, as well as considering laziness versus optimal position and determining the correct side for your casting hand. Adjusting your position is crucial when necessary, whether it involves moving downstream, crossing obstacles, or moving upstream. Techniques for line control, such as stripping in fly line and matching current speed, play a vital role in achieving a drag-free drift. Understanding casting approaches, such as reach casts and upstream mends, can greatly enhance your fly fishing skills, while avoiding common mistakes and maintaining proper posture will further increase your chances of success. By positioning yourself for success, you can enjoy the benefits of improved line control, enhanced drift quality, and increased hook setting success. Ultimately, choosing the right position in fly fishing is the key to achieving control, poise, and proper posture, leading to a more rewarding and fulfilling experience on the water.

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