Stillwater Retrieves (10 of 12)
First of all, no matter the retrieve, rod position is key. We need straight contact between ourselves and the fly, rod tip at or in the water surface, line is up to the rod hand and either pinch the gates to the handle or using your thumb and forefinger to control, all of the retrieves are done behind the rod handle. To do the hand twist, I take the thumb and forefinger of my non-casting hand, that's my left hand in this case, and I just weave my hands like so. Depending on the number of fingers I use and the pace of the motion, I can use this busy retrieve to imitate a whole host of prey items.
Fly fishers, when they fish lakes, generally don't let their fly sink long enough and they don't move them slow enough. The hand twist retrieve allows those slow retrieves because it's busy. You think you're doing a lot and you're moving the fly, but really you're just darting and bobbing that fly along at a natural pace.
The other retrieve is the strip retrieve. As the name would imply, we simply strip or pull the line behind the rod hand. We can make long pulls to imitate leeches or minnows. We can make short, choppy pulls to imitate perhaps a damsel nymph or a scud or we can do ultra-slow pinches where we're imitating chironomid larvae or pupa. No matter what the retrieve we use, we can only affect three variables, the length of the pull, and the speed of the pull and the pace of the overall motions. By playing with those variables, we can imitate everything we need to imitate when it comes to fly fishing lakes.