Tim Kempton | Tuesday, 9 February 2021

I was inspired to write this series of articles about fly fishing by friends who can cast reasonably proficiently in the park, but who become frustrated under real life fishing conditions because they can’t make the cast to catch fish. Wind amplifies the problems, and there are a lot of fly fishermen (and women) who become disillusioned if they wake up to or arrive at a windy day.

It is assumed that most Sexyloops readers are proficient at casting in the wind, and so this post may seem like teaching grandmother to suck eggs.  For those who are instructors, this is an important part of our teaching syllabus for fly fishing.


There are a number of casts that can be used effectively to cast in the wind. Whichever cast you use, the primary objective is safety to avoid hooking yourself, your mate or the guide. The aim is to keep the fly on the downwind side, away from your body.  


Make the wind your friend, and learn a repertoire of casts you can use in a headwind, tailwind or sidewind.  If the wind is from the side, it will blow the flyline away from the target.  Some practical tips before you cast are move closer, minimise false casting, keep rod tip close to the water. You can also upline, use a heavier WF line (eg OutBound Short), heavier leader, and select smaller less wind resistant flies and indicators.  Check often for wind knots!


Casting in the wind


We teach low forward cast, high backcast, tight loops in a headwind, and high forward casts, open loops, low backcast in the tailwind. This is useful to know, but there is a lot more to presentation casts in the wind that to be taught/learnt.


A great presentation is the review of  Taming the Wind by Prescott Smith.  https://youtu.be/obOQxpzYqEs


The key message from Prescott Smith is constant tension, ie no slack and keeping the flyline moving by using an oval or Belgian cast so the flyline never stops.  This cast is useful in a headwind.

He also talks about hauling and reducing friction through the guides, which applies to all casts.  This is achieved either by tilting the rod/reel plane, or twisting the top three sections of the rod. This gives an amazing difference, particularly if people don’t haul in line with the guides. Such small details make a big difference.


Useful wind casts include the Mulsonwind cast, Belgian/oval cast, off shoulder cast, cast with the non dominant hand, backhand cast, and sidearm cast. There are plenty of teaching videos on these and other casts.


Application of power


I have fished at Kiritimati (Christmas Island) for bonefish for many years where the wind blows continually at 10-15 + knots.   I was under the impression that you must have tight loops and drive the flyline into the wind, ie apply more power. The head guide Eketi Tekaibo for The Villages can cast a full flyline into the wind with either hand. He was the Team Captain for the Republic of Kiribati at the World Fly Fishing Championships in Tasmania in 2019. I have enjoyed fishing with him over the years and we have spent more time casting and me learning than fishing. His mantra is “less power” and “float the line into the wind”.  The casting physicists will be able to explain why...I just know it works.


Practice when its windy!