When it comes high winds and casting, many chaps get scared off. The first statement made by so many fly fishers when told I was out on a blustery day is: “In this wind? followed by a slightly incredulous look.
Damn right in this wind. I’ve found that fishing in the wind provides several benefits that are often overlooked and not even thought off.
Firstly wind can provide good cover for you; the broken surface makes it as hard, if not harder, for the fish to see you as it is for you to see the fish. The broken surface refracts light and you become a broken up image and blend into the sky/background far more effectively. Try it with a mask sometime. Granted, it does the same to a fisherman’s vision but if you have an idea of the channels are, what feeding patterns your quarry is following and you know what you are looking for, it’s sudden no longer total guess work and you’ll find you have the advantage.
A broken surface disguises line and fly slap. Not that we should be slapping them down ever, but sometimes a heavy fly is needed and the plop is a whole lot less obvious when the water surface is broken and blown to pieces.
I find fish are often more brazen during the strong winds. I’ve caught more Bonefish in proper skinny water (6 – 10 inches) than in any other conditions. I think it has to do with fact that the broken water kicks up more sand and therefore food in the shallows and that they’re less aware than when the water is perfectly still.
I must admit though that for all the above I’ve had sunlight. Sight fishing with the combination of heavy clouds and wind is rather like
And then there’s the age old problem of casting into or having the wind across your body. Having a heavy saltwater fly sneaking up behind you ambush past your ear is not a fun way to spend a pushing tide. But there are a couple of things to ease the casting blues on windy days.
A few blogs (it’ll be in the archives soon) back I posted a video of Bruce Chard explaining the Belgium Cast. It’s used when the wind is blowing into your casting shoulder and really does work. The way I’ve come to understand and use it is something like this…
- Your backcast must be out to the side. I think I tilt mine out at about 45degrees. This keeps the line fairly flat and parallel to water. Also, keep the line close to water.
- This point is the crux of the cast: Keep the line moving. When one casts normally, you tend pause at the and of your backcast, it allows your rod to straighten and then needs to be reloaded for your forward cast. By keeping your line moving, you keep your rod loaded until you finally present your fly.
- Keep the cast fluid, smooth and fast. Sudden changes in the line speed seems to cause the line belly out and collapse.
- Next is important step is to raise your elbow in your forward cast. This creates a new flight plane for your line prevents the wind blowing it back into. Keep your rod at the same angle and don’t lift the tip above above your – that heavily weighted sneaky fly of yours will pounce onto the back of your head way too quickly. Get low and duck too – this also helps foil your fly’s plan to brain you.
- Don’t over exagerate the change in planes. Chnage the height of your rod tip by no more than a foot and a half!
- Shooting line occurs on your front cast only.
It isn’t the easiest cast to master but its really worth having in the artillery.
And of course there’s the debate of what to do when casting into the wind. Some guys say you have cast ‘under’ the wind. Others say power it as hard possible or even employ a ‘triple haul’ ( you know, when you give a final haul to help turn the fly over). To be honest I’ve found that while this is advice can be applied it some situations it’s also all a little wishy washy. Where is ‘under’ the wind anyway? I’ve never really encountered a blanket or layer of wind; it tends to blow from water surface to well above the tip of my fly rod. Over powering, as does triple hauling, loses accuracy and punching too hard gets the fly blown back at you.
Anyway, we all have our wind beating techniques; some include a whisky and the fly tying materials, while others do require you to wet your feet.
I’ve come to to the realisation that fighting the wind is not the answer. It leads to tangled leaders and frustrating fishing. I’ve found punching the wind is a big like trying to punch a Weskus farmer in order to get your own way. It doesn’t work well and rarely sees you on the winning end. Rather buy him a brandy and sooth him over. Do the same to the wind.
The wind accepts tight, neat loops as readily as that Weskus farmer. Tight loops are created through a ‘soft’ or ‘easy’ front cast.
Soft? I hear you poohooing this statement already. But bear with me…
By taking slowing your front cast down you will tighten up your loop. This loop cuts through the wind and allows more energy transfer into the leader. Keep it lower and you’ll find yourself making good, accurate casts in strong headwinds. Remember that wind is a friend. Don’t fight it, go with a bit. Don’t try to shoot line on your front cast – the wind will hold up your line for longer in the backcast and therefore allow you shoot more line. Don’t shoot line on your forward cast as the wind simply crumples your leader and drops it in tangles at your feet.
So, to sum it up; hard back, soft forward. And, of course, keep it low!