Casting in wind

Casting in wind

Viking Lars | Saturday, 13 February 2021

I took the lead from Tim’s excellent page from Tuesday and decided to add a few thoughts of my own. I come from a different part of the world and don’t fish Kiribati on a regular basis :-). I do however fish the Scandinavian shorelines on a regular basis, and in many ways, we face the same conditions (except other fish and less heat). Wind is a near-constant factor to be able to handle.

I can only agree with Tim’s page - and I was happy to read one thing in particular Tim mentioned. In 15 years of examining IFF casting instructors at both Instructor- and Master Instructor-level - and in 20+ years as a casting instructor, there’s one thing almost *everyone* has failed to mention when the exam/instruction fell on casting in the wind:

Use heavier gear! An 8-wt won’t give twice the distance that you get when fishing your 6-t, in fact maybe only 10% more. But it’ll get the the job done *so* much easier. And if you can, use an intermediate line as Paul suggested in a WhatsApp exchange. Even on shallows, because you can treat it with floatant and keep it in the surface most of the time. Personally I prefer a “hover” (slow intermediate) and this also cuts below the waves that wind usually brings along with it. I also shorten my leader and often use a heavier one too.

I like wind - sea trout like wind and waves as well. Slightly murky water, with waves and movement seems to attract them quite well. And they’re less shy and seem to feed quite aggressively (probably because it’s easier for them to find prey). But I rarely fish *straight* into a wind. Into a wind at a diagonal is perfect, because you can simply angle your casts instead of casting at 90 degrees from the shoreline. And then a head wind suddenly becomes a side wind, which is much easier to cope with.

Line speed and tight loops are still essential, but there are two more aspects that are equally important. Line control! Not in the cast, but on the water. As you retrieve the line, you need to control it; otherwise wind and waves with play havoc with and seriously impede your fishing. For me a line tray is the perfect solution. It keeps the wind from blowing the line around and it keeps the waves from sinking the line. Keeping the line in bog coils in your hand sucks, because they often catch the reel or the down lock part of the reel seat (fight butt if you use rod with one) when you double haul. And you definitely need double hauls. Line trays take some getting used to, but once you have, they’re hard to dispense with.

Sidewind requires another element in line control. one that I very often teach and one that helps is a great advantage, and very simple actually. When you’re fishing in a sidewind and you release the line, the wind will blow a big curve into it as it shoots. That results in a dramatic decrease in the contact you have with the fly. The stronger the wind, the bigger the problem of course. A WF-line helps, because of the greater resistance in the running line than a thinner shooting line behind a shooting head.

I counteract this problem with a simple reach mind into the wind, gradually increasing the reach as the line shoots and preferably reaching the end of my reach as the line lands. With practice, you can get a near-straight line to the fly, even in quite strong winds.

And finally, once again, safety is King. Wind just does increase the risk of accidents. Use a wading staff is wading is difficult. And use those glasses!!! And as Tim pointed out - keep the line downwind of you and learn the casts necessary to do this: Off-shoulder, non-dominant hand, back cast delivery.

Have a great weekend!


PoD: Landing a pike in the waves on Rügen (Bernd’s territory). Pike have app. 700 razor sharp teeth and that’s challenge enough in itself. Having the line under control in the basket helps a lot too. It was close to freezing just underline it :-).