The W-Word: Wind Casting
March 21, 2010
Believe it or not, in the salt, wind casting is your friend. Before you start thumping your fist, let me explain. As long as the fish are settled into the weather pattern and the barometer remains relatively stable, the wind is advantageous. Fish are much less wary when the water has a little chop on the surface, so casts need not be long and presentations may be sub par. Catching a tailing permit on a slick, calm morning is challenging and often the fish "spooks" from the crunch of a push pole digging into the bottom or the shadow of a fly rod waving in the distance. Sometimes it even seems as though cautious fish can sense your gaze and take off accordingly. Add a little wind-created surface disturbance and your catch-to-farm ratio will increase.
The wind also presents a "fun" challenge for those that embrace it. The key is to become very familiar and comfortable with your fly rod. Practice casting with the wind blowing against and with you in every direction. Learn the basics for coping with high winds, but be creative. The fish don't know how the fly landed in their world; so the more relaxed you are with winging it, the more fish you will catch. Below are a few tips and techniques that will help you be at peace with the wind.
1). Minimize the number of false casts. "Just one more" will usually get you into trouble and not improve your distance.
2). Tight loops. Be certain that your rod tip is traveling in a straight line to ensure that your loops are tight. In addition, stop the rod hard at the finish and drive the tip. Big, lazy loops do not penetrate the wind.
3). Wet loading. Bulky or heavy flies are more difficult to cast in the wind, especially when using the saltwater quick cast. Flick your line and fly behind you or a safe distance from your target. When you begin your stroke, the water's tension will assist in loading the rod.
4). Oval cast (a.k.a. Belgium cast). When the wind is blowing directly into your casting arm, this cast will help keep the fly away from your body. Casting with your opposite arm (non-dominate) will also achieve this.
5). Back cast. When it is not possible to position yourself for the shot, presenting the fly with your back cast is a game changer. In addition, the oval cast does not work when casting through the boat with the wind blowing against your casting arm. You'll end up piercing your guide or wrapping your fly around the poling platform or center console. Use the back cast to keep the fly away from your guide's and your bodies.
6). Roll cast. When casting with the wind, do not fight it. No need to struggle with a back cast. The roll cast will put the fly where it needs to go. You'll be amazed by the distance and accuracy of this cast in windy conditions.
Roll with it and learn to love the wind.