Bends Are Like Best Friends

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A pretty bend and a rod bent on the Gros Ventre River. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Bends in rivers and streams are like my best friends.

They possess all the qualities that I value and they always provide me consistent support in my endeavors. I don’t know about you, but when I find myself staring at a section of river or stream and I see a nice bend, I quite often head straight for it. I do this because I know it will usually produce a quality fish or two on the end of my line, and it’s generally very obvious to me where I should present my flies.

Just about every bend you encounter on the water will hold these three qualities.

1. One Well Defined Current

There usually will be one well defined current, collecting and moving food through the bend. This clearly indicates to anglers where the most food is drifting and where the fish should be positioned to intercept it.

2. Clear Channel or Trough

That well defined current usually has cut out a deep channel or trough in the bend. This reinforces further why fish will be located here. The deeper that fish can get below the surface and current, the less energy they’ll have to exert to maintain position and feed. The deeper water also provides fish with added safety and camouflage from predators.

3. Undercut Banks

Often a significant section of a bend will have an undercut bank from the current digging into the bank over long periods of time. Undercut banks provide the same function to fish as roofs do to us on our houses. It protects us from the elements and it allows us to live comfortably. Furthermore, the current funnels food directly into the undercut bank.That’s like us calling in a large pizza for delivery and having it come right to our front door. Big educated fish understand this value and that’s why they’re so often found here.

Next time you find yourself on the water with the choice to fish a straight section of water close to you or a nice bend farther away, opt for fishing the bend and I bet you’ll find yourself rewarded for your efforts.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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7 thoughts on “Bends Are Like Best Friends

  1. Truth! Always an internal struggle with myself to slow down and effectively fish potentially productive water between me and any favorite bend that I spot ahead. As one of my guide buddies here likes to say…the bends pay the bills!

  2. I love it when I walk up on a bend in a river or stream. I know there’s gonna be fish, and plenty of them. That defined current you mentioned is like a food conveyor belt, and the undercut banks it creates can make for some exciting fishing. Every time I find one I think to myself, “there’s a badass in there fo sure”. Even in the smaller streams I fish, I find a lot of the bigger fish hanging out in bends and undercuts. Bends are treats for sure!

  3. The undercut banks are always a great target, but are often on the other side of the main current you mention. Any tips for fishing the far side effectively or is it just a matter of mending like hell?

    • Hi

      Water mends are very useful under these circumstances, but learning to cast aerial mends in conjunction with small water (and therefore more controllable) mends is even more useful. The problem with water mends not done properly are that they can move the fly when you don’t want it to. Trust this helps.

  4. Before diving directly into the best “smorgasbord” parts of the bend, sometimes a good idea to work what might appear to be the less productive riffle parts below the main course. This placates the need to rush in and starts to get you attuned to the coming main event, allows observation to be done and accurate casting distance to be fine tuned, this all serves to maximise the return on investment.

    It’s a bit like not eating all the steak first, I suppose :-)!

  5. 4. Soft Inside Seams

    Out here in WA where even a “small” river can be an easy hundred feet across and flowing hard year-round, trout, bull trout, salmon and steelhead all find a respite from the current and a conveyor belt of food by chilling just inside the slow water on the inside of bends.

    The first step to fishing a big river is breaking it down and concentrating your efforts on the places that can be fished effectively with a fly, and inside seams where soft water meets the main current in a river bend are one of my favorite places to start.

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