The wind at your back?

The wind at your back?

Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 10 April 2018

I enjoy the beginner’s classes I give each week. It is fun to see the enthusiasm and the frustration. And it is even better when I am able to guide them to some feeling of improvement. Most students I see are coming from a background of spin fishing, so I explain some of the similarities and more importantly the differences. I then demo a simple cast, and once the questions wane I put a rod into their hands. It is almost unfair to make casting look easy, as we all know it is not, at first. And that is the first thing I see when they start trying to cast: the fact that it is much harder than I make it look.

Probably 90% of these students I will never see again. Some will return to take advantage of the free class and ask for more help. A much smaller percentage will ask for private lessons. Since I am nearing the end of a technical career far outside of the fishing industry, which pays my bills, I don’t sweat that part. This is more a labor of love for me, and I try my damnedest to make every minute count for these potential future flyfishing addicts. But I like to have my fun too.

Due to the lack of cost and store advertisement, I get students of all stripes: from the simply curious to the determinedly dedicated. In either case, I find that most of the uninitiated have similar preconceived ideas and common faulty mechanics. There is no need to dust off the misbehaving wrist topic again: I’m sure you all understand.


One of my favorite counter-intuitive discussions I love to expound upon is when the inevitable concern about flycasting in the wind comes up. I agree with them that wind is a variable to be considered, but I disagree that it is much more of a problem than for other types of casting. I always ask which direction they think would be the easiest to cast. Invariably, almost everyone will say downwind should be the easiest. And that is where I give them something to think about.


“Which direction do aircraft take off and land”, I ask? Can a good delivery cast be made without a preceding decent back cast? How many sporting activities can you name where projecting something behind you is included in the fundamentals? Would you rather that the wind assist you with your weaker cast, or impede it?


Now, we all know that when distance casting we want the wind to help inflate our egos, but these are beginners and their backcasts are poor to nonexistent. To conquer the timing of their backcasts I implore them to look back and watch, but few remember to do so when a rod is in their hand. Most folks are so enamored with what is going on in front of them that they forget to pay attention to what goes on behind ‘em.


My involvement with so many beginners and my harping on the fundamentals comes back to haunt me every once in a while when casting myself. How often do I practice what I preach? As the recent weather conditions have reminded me, casting large wind-resistant flies is challenging enough, but throwing them toward shorelines is a real test – especially when casting with the wind! The back cast is often misaligned by the wind, or my lack of ability to deal with it, and therefore accuracy suffers. Also, I am constantly overshooting on distance, which means a trip into the trees to rescue the fly and feed the mosquitoes. Consequently, I often panic and snub the cast, which results in a too short delivery, which usually means no fish will see the fly.

I would much prefer to have the wind in my face, but where on a tree-lined shoreline do you find that? 

Like everything else in my never-ending endeavor to get good at flycasting, this shoreline casting in the wind is still a work in progress!