It’s not just a factor on the flats – the ability to present a fly in windy conditions is a valuable skill in any fishing situation. At Andros South, dealing with wind is one of the most common topics of discussion among our guests, and for good reason…it can be tough! However, with a little practice and a good understanding of a few principles and techniques, it’s possible to land your fly in the zone under the worst of circumstances.
We decided to pool several of our past articles on the subject along with several other tips to help you battle the breeze like a champ. Check them out and show the wind who’s boss.
Tight Loops and High Line Speed
By far, the two most important principles when casting into the wind are tight loops and high line speed. We could write a book on the subject, but we’ll let our buddy Tim Rajeff demonstrate in video format.
Don’t Shoot Line Into the Wind
This may sound strange, but if you’re casting into a heavy headwind, attempting to shoot line into the wind is not the best idea. The instant you let go of your line to shoot, your rod unloads and is at the mercy of the wind. You may have noticed this as you make your final cast – your line lands in a pile as it is knocked down by the wind.
On the other hand, staying connected to the rod (not shooting line), allows the rod to remain loaded all the way through the casting stroke, thus allowing the fly to turn over. Don’t buy it? Let legendary Florida Keys guide Bruce Chard explain the concept (and a few other tips) here.
Do Shoot Line on Your Backcast
When casting directly upwind, it can be difficult to increase the length of your line needed to reach the fish. However, you can use the wind to your advantage by shooting line on your backcast instead. Shoot line on your back cast until you reach your desired amount of line and present the forward cast without shooting line. Check out a further explanation inspired by Andros South guide Jose Sands here.
Change Up Your Tackle
As anglers, we try not to blame our gear, but a few simple changes might actually help in the wind. In the case of bonefish, different leaders, fly lines, or flies may lead to greater success on those windy days. Find out how here.
Know Your Fly line
A simple tip that will aid in any casting situation, especially in the wind, is to understand the taper of your fly line. Most fly lines used today are of the weight-forward variety, but the taper itself differs greatly between different line series. Understanding how long the head (heavy forward section) of the fly line is it allows you to know how much line you can carry in the air with control. Luckily the head and running line of most fly lines nowadays are colored to indicate the separation between the two.
The Belgian Cast
What if the wind is not blowing directly at you? The Belgian Cast (or for you Andros South regulars, the Torrie Mellow Cast) is the best option for getting the fly in the zone and not in your head. Simply make your backcast from the side and low to the water and your forward cast over your head in traditional fashion. Changing planes between the backcast and the forward cast keep the fly away from you and is especially useful when the wind is blowing onto your casting side.
False casting over and over again is a recipe for disaster in high winds, especially in any wind that is not directly at or behind you. Instead of attempting to load the rod by false casting, use the water tension to load the rod. Cast out and let the line settle out straight on the water’s surface. Smoothly pick your line up off the water into your backcast. The water tension on the line will allow the rod to load on the backcast before any outside forces (wind) can act on it. Better yet, use the water load as the back cast for a Belgian style cast!
The Triple Haul
This one is for the advanced casters out there. If you are trying to punch a cast into the wind and are having trouble turning your fly over, try a triple haul. On the forward cast, after you have finished your haul, haul a third time at the end of the cast. Hauling a third time introduces more energy into the system allowing the fly to turn over or even dive straight into the water. Make sure on your double haul, your line hand returns to the rod before making the triple haul to execute properly.