This short article originally appeared in Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine as part of the " Get out of Jail" series. Charles Jardine and I were in Jail together for about 15 years before we escaped.
In a last minute change from the advertised schedule, in this issue we won't be performing the 25-metre puddle-curve Switch Special, instead we will be dealing with a crosswind. This is because (apparently) no one has understood what the hell we've been talking about recently – is it still flycasting? – that and because sometimes the wind does blow the wrong way (ie right to left, if you are right-handed).
So here's the problem: there's a wind and it's blowing the wrong way.
A low bumcast would be an unfortunate event since you'd end up hooking or whipping yourself and not many people like that. So what we need to do is send the flyline over the opposite shoulder.
Assuming you've ever had a flycasting lesson from an AAPGAI instructor you would have learned how to do this and because this is a relatively simple lesson the fish is on the small side, and a bit stupid.
The first thing you can do when confronted with a “wind that is blowing the wrong way” is to turn around. This technique is very popular on some lakes and actually surprisingly effective. However it does involve crossing to the other side of the water and sometimes this is neither possible nor convenient.
Another solution, and in fact the best one, is to cast with your left hand. If you are left-handed this is easy, but many people struggle with this. Incidentally if you are interested in learning how to do this, the best way to learn is to cast with two rods at once, the right hand teaches the left. Indeed you only need one rod and just put the right hand through the motions, in fact, come to think about it, you don't even need a rod to practice this: try it now. Oh and if you are a follower of this series, the palm-forwards grip as talked about in “the slip” is of a real help too.
The simplest way for many people to deal with a crosswind is to make what is known as a backhand cast. Instead of bringing your casting hand up to your right ear, or wherever you normally take it to, bring it up to your left cheek.
This cunning manoeuvre will send the rod tip and the line over the left hand side keeping it from whipping and hooking you.
There are a number of faults. The first and most common amongst beginners is to forget the lift - lesson 1. The second problem is a failure to take the rod tip forward in a straight line. If you sweep the rod like it was a tennis racket you will track a circular path with the tip and this is a mechanical flycasting disaster. It is important to emphasise the straight line path. Always. Putting the back of the hand on top of the handle can help here.
An alternative style, as sometimes taught in the US of A, is to simply twist the wrist so that the tip of the rod clears the left shoulder and then make the cast as normal. With light tackle this is actually quite a fun thing to do.
For out and out distance however this closed style is not very effective – feels cramped – and double hauling can become awkward to say the least. Here it comes: technical flycasting stuff that no one understands, but we don't care; there is always something else.
Firstly I don't object to the open stance for distance, and if you use the open stance from the right then it follows that you should use the open from the left. By casting backwards, and by this I mean turning around and making your forward cast away from the fish and the backcast towards the fish (it's getting bigger now by the way) you can cast a very long way indeed. Some people (conservative instructors mainly) don't like this technique, and would like to see the forward cast delivered with the thumb from behind the spine. For these guys we have the Galway Cast, the double forward cast, as dealt with earlier in this series.
And then there is Günter Feuerstein's Backhand Powerhaul whereby instead of hauling downwards on the forward cast, you make a horizontal haul so that your arms are fully extended like a Japanese archer. This technique is very effective, probably demands a get-out-of-jail article in it's own right and allows the closed stance. Oh and for a 25-metre backhand Switch Cast this is the baby for you.
Something for everyone in here I think :-)