Originally Posted by lake flyer
I think for the shorter distances that these are good goals especially when you add the reach cast and the aerial mend both left and right with the same accuracy and the same distance. For dry fly trout fishing your catch rate will improve dramatically over just straight casts. Out to eighty feet it becomes a lot harder to do the mends with any accuracy, not impossible but hard. From the majority of responses you can see most people stress distance AND accuracy.
The thing that newbies do NOT realize with aerial mends is that there is often the need to adjust the length of the cast cast to hit the target. When you perform an aerial mend, the mend repositions the fly line that is casted and the fly will not land on the target unless you compensate for the mend.
Think about a simple left reach mend. It can be thought of as a triangle.
The angler is at corner "C" and the target is at apex "A". So "b" is the length of the cast. When you perform a left reach mend to place the rod tip along the hypotenuse "c", the length of fly line and leader needed to land on the target will be different than a a cast along the original path "b".
The result then looks this:
For most mends that are not straight line casts like a reach mend, there will be a need to shoot line into the cast because the slack line introduced into the cast by the mend requires that more line be used for the fly to land on the target.
I believe it is more important to practice mends with a target area just as it is to practice with targets for regular casting. Otherwise you will always be off when you mend and you won't know why.