Quick Tip: Three tips for Backeddies

By Scott Richmond

Some of the best fly fishing is in backeddies, those swirling places where the river curls back on itself. Backeddies trap insects and other drifting food and provide an ideal resting/feeding place for trout. Smaller insects, such as blue-winged olives , are especially susceptible to being trapped in them.

But if you've spent much time fishing backeddies you know that it can be devilishly tricky to get a drag-free presentation of your fly. The currents are moving in many conflicting directions at once, so fly, line, and leader conspire against a natural presentation.

In a backeddy, the current turns back on itself and travels in a circular fashion. Trout will usually lie with their heads into the current, whichever direction the current is going.

Here are three short tips for overcoming that problem and having better backeddy fishing.

  1. Use a slack line cast, such as a wiggle cast. As you make your forward cast to deliver fly and line to the water, wiggle your rod back-and-forth. This puts curves into the fly line, and those curves will delay the onset of drag. The downside of wiggle casts is that they make accuracy difficult. Also, you have more slack line to deal with when you get a strike, so it can take longer to set the hook.
  2. Watch the foam. The same current that concentrates foam will concentrate insects. Backeddies often develop "pushes," where a surge of current will push a little foamy wave in front of it. Trout often are at the leading edge of this "push," so put your fly there. The "push" also has the advantage of concentrating the current, so it is less conflicted and you stand a better chance of getting a good drift. In addition, you will often see patches of foam that are "dead"--not going anywhere. These patches may only last a few short seconds, but they almost always hold trout. A good wiggle cast that puts your fly into the dead-spot should give you a few seconds of drag-free presentation--long enough for a trout to grab your fly.
  3. Position yourself. Some places on the bank are going to increase your chances of a good presentation, and other spots will make a drag-free drift impossible. Shift positions until you find a good place from which to cast.

Scott Richmond is Westfly's creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River (second edition).