Generally, windy weather tends to make fly fishing quite hard, especially for beginners. Casting your line when the wind is too strong can cause all sorts of problems. A wind knot is caused by trying to overcome windy conditions by applying the incorrect casting power at the wrong time.
On the other hand, windy conditions can be one of the best times to fish. Those ripples on the water help hide the fly fisher which improves your chances of hooking up.
Yes, with the proper technique, you can fly fish in windy conditions and catch a fish. One critical thing that can help is selecting the right equipment and flies for the conditions. A heavier setup with smaller flies is the first step, but with some more tips, you’ll be shooting a line in the windiest conditions.
Fly fishing in windy conditions may be challenging for most anglers. However, when done correctly, it can be the best time to fish; after all, food tends to concentrate in one place, attracting fish. So, in this article, we’ll show you how to fly fish in windy conditions. We’ll also show you why fly fishing in windy conditions can be very productive.
Can You Fly Fish in Windy Conditions?
Have you ever heard the phrase, “when it starts blowing, let’s find a spot to fish out in this wind?” Well, if you’re fly fishing for the first time while fishing and it gets windy, you will hear experienced anglers say it to each other, and you may even say it to yourself. But that will be a mistake, especially if you’re a beginner; after all, the wind can be your enemy if you’re not an experienced fly angler.
As a beginner, casting when there is a strong breeze can be very disappointing. Mainly, it is because it can make casting difficult; without a proper technique, you may not deliver the fly to the right spot. But with experience, you can fish in any weather, even under a strong breeze. So before trying it, you should perfect your casting skills. After all, being able to fish under windy conditions is about tweaking your casting techniques and positioning your body.
But if you know how to cast against the wind and position your body correctly to avoid being hit by the line, you will be surprised by how many fishes you can catch. Proper planning allows you to have one of your best fishing experiences on a windy day.
Why is Windy Weather Ideal for Fly Fishing?
Depending on your experience level, when the wind blows, it can either have positive or negative effects on your casting skills and even endanger your life. In some cases, it can positively impact the water when you’re fishing. But it would be best if you avoided too strong winds that can make it hard for you to fish effectively and safely. Remember, even experienced anglers avoid strong winds.
But under the least moderate breezy condition, you can have a fan; remember, not every day will be peaceful and calm. Therefore, you must prepare for the worst-case scenario every time you hit the waters, which means learning all the techniques for casting against the wind. So here are a few ways wind can improve your fishing experience:
When fishing, covertness is critical; after all, any sudden movement can spook the fish and prevent them from biting your bait. Therefore, after spotting a school of fish, you need to sneak up on them and cast your line near their location. It includes walking quietly or even wearing subtle-colored clothes. Unfortunately, going unnoticed by fish every time you target them is almost impossible. Still, when you throw wind into the equation, you can change everything.
When there’s a strong wind, it can disturb the water surface, making it hard for the fishes to notice you. Remember, the more complex the wind blows, the choppier the water will get. Spotting and casting may be challenging, but the fish will also have difficulty spotting you. With the strong wind, you won’t have to do too much to avoid causing a commotion in the water.
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Wind can oxygenate the water and make bait fish and targeted species more active. On top of that, the windy zone also features lots of food. Therefore, when the wind is blowing in a particular region, it will help concentrate food like insects and plankton. With the food concentrated in a specific part, baitfish will move to that position, and in the process, they will attract the bigger fish.
That is one of the benefits of fishing on a shoreline with the wind blowing into it; instead of fishing in a calm lake. A strong drift can also blow some insects like ants, grasshoppers, and crickets into the water. It creates a massive feast for the fish, giving you an exceptional fly fishing experience. (source)
The turbulence and chop on the water mean anglers’ splashes while fishing goes unnoticed. Therefore, the fishes will be harder to spook. Plus, they will be preoccupied with the fresh pickings available in the lake, and the fact that they are easy to catch is a bonus.
3. Water Color Transitions
Mud lines are some of my favorite fishing spots, especially when it’s windy. They’re a band of dirty water that extends for a few feet or a short distance from the shorelines. Silt flowing into the lake from runoff/rain, boat wake, and wind wave that laps the shorelines usually create these mud lines.
The line of brownish water hugging the lake’s shorelines may seem like something you want to avoid, but that may be a huge mistake. After all, a well-established and excellent mud line is an exceptional fish magnet.
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On some lakes like the ones in California, mud lines always appear in the early afternoon. The shorelines may seem clear in the morning, but they can develop some distinct brown bands near the banks as soon as the ski boats hit the water, creating an excellent fish magnet. Even though fishing can slow down in the afternoon, the presence of mud lines will still guarantee you an exceptional fishing experience.
After all, fishes use dirty water to hide and ambush passing prey. The water splashing on the banks will also create a great experience, attracting the baitfish and the trophy fish you’re looking for. Stripers and largemouth bass can get aggressive in the mud lines where they patrol the boundaries, waiting for something to bite.
Generally, it takes time for the mud line to develop, but once it does, it will take a short time for the fish to start using it. And when this happens, then you will be in for an exceptional fishing experience; in fact, fishing along the edges of mud lines always works. (source)
How Far Do I Have to Cast When It’s Windy?
Generally, you will be surprised at how close fishes can come to the water’s surface to feed when it’s windy. On still waters, some anglers have even caught trout without even having to cast their lines; after all, when it’s windy, they could be within the length of your rod, which is not always the case.
Therefore, in most cases, you won’t need to cast your line that far; a simple flick or roll cast is all you will need to get the job done. Remember, if you put a long line when it’s windy, you stand a chance of catching something; after all, you will pull the flies through more water and near more fish.
7 Tips to Cast in Wind
Generally, no one loves a gusty day, leave alone fly fishing on pristine waters in these places. Trying to cast a line with a sharp hook over your head on a windy day can be a recipe for disaster. But with the right tweaks, you can safely cast your fly line and catch something in no time. So here are a few tips for casting in the wind:
1. Get a Heavier Fly Rod (with a heavier line)
A considerable percentage of fly anglers in the country agree that a 5wt fly rod is one of the best all-around fly rods for trout. The 5wt works perfectly in a less windy place, but when fishing in a gusty place, we recommend you go a bit higher. We recommend that you go for a 6wt fly rod as your all-around fly rod if you plan on fishing in a windy place.
The extra power the powerful 6wt rod provides will make it possible for you to cast through the wind more perfectly than with a smaller rod.
2. Get a Fast-Action Rod
Since you will be casting a huge dry fly that the wind can’t easily disperse, I recommend you go for fast-action rods. Besides helping you deal with larger fish species, they can also help you cast in windy conditions. (source)
3. Use Weighted Fly Lines
Fly lines are light lines, making casting easy, but did you know that casting them in a gusty condition can be quite challenging? Therefore, we recommend using a weighted line when fishing against the wind. A weighted line can allow you to cast your line further and more efficiently, even with the wind. (source)
Luckily, some weighted lines are designed to be half-weight heavier, but if you can’t find one, we recommend that you go a size heavier than your current fly rod. A weighted line will lead its load to the butt section of your rod, making it possible for you to use more power and deliver the fly accurately. Reducing the leaders from 9ft to about 7.5ft can also help you cast in breezy conditions.
4. Perfect Your Double Haul Cast
Even with the right gear, casting in the heavy wind is very frustrating, especially when using big flies and your usual casting technique. Therefore, I recommend you learn and perfect double-haul casts before trying to fish in windy conditions. Spend more time in the local ponds perfecting your casting technique, as it’s the most effective when fishing in a gusty region.
When casting, you will be using the law of energy conservation, which stipulates that the energy of an isolated system is always constant. But since it can never be destroyed, it can only be transferred. Now fly lines are typically weighted; therefore, when the top tip moves in one direction, the line moves in the opposite direction, demonstrating Newton’s third law.
When the rod is bent thanks to flexibility, then the energy is stored as potential energy that can be transferred later as kinetic energy. The more your rod bends, the more energy it holds, and the more potential energy it has, the further the line will cast. You can achieve this further bending by perfecting your double haul.
With double haul, you must pull your line sharply using your second line while moving the rod back or forward using the casting hand. The additional bending increases your fly rod’s potential energy making it possible to power through the strong wind. (source)
5. Use a Simple Roll Cast When Casting Near the Boat or Shoreline
Very few techniques can work when windy, but the simple roll cast is the simplest and safest casting technique. A roll cast won’t give you distance, but it will reach the fish near your vessel or the shores. Plus, the tailwind can help you cast a bit further.
The roll cast is a simple technique featuring one cast; it features only the forward cast. And if any casting technique, any angler must know is the roll cast. After all, it can do more than help you overcome obstacles since you won’t be dealing with unwanted slack. It is considered one of the most straightforward and fun casting techniques to learn and perfect. (source)
6. Where Should I Stand When Casting Against the Wind?
When it comes to casting in windy conditions, positioning is everything; after all, no one wants the sharp hook piercing their head from behind. Therefore, the first thing you should consider is your safety. It means you need the wind to blow the hook away from your body when casting; otherwise, it will crash on your body and end up causing more damage than good.
Guide Pro Tip: Make the first cast count. Quietly analyze the conditions and move to the best spot. There’s an art to finding the right spot to for the perfect presentation. Let me help with this article 👉 Fly Fishing Tactics – Learning Presentation
Therefore, when casting using your right hand, you need the wind blowing to your left shoulder, which means the wind will blow the fly away from your body. When casting using your left hand, then you should do the reverse. But the best technique is casting across the wind when possible. Doing this can be safer, and you may get a bit of tailwind to help propel your fly further.
Next, try and cast where the fishes are feeding; this means casting to places where the wind is being blown. After all, that is where a vast amount of the food is situated and where you can find your trophy fish. To achieve this, you will have to fish into the wind or across it, which can be a bit tricky. After all, fishing across will let your flies drift to the shores.
7. How Do I Reduce Tangles When Fishing in Gusty Conditions?
Most experienced anglers agree that this can be easier than you think; you only need to use a heavier and longer leader and tippet than you usually would. A lighter and longer leader made from a finer line will have a higher likelihood of tangling than a sturdier and shorter line.
When fishing in still waters, you should go for a stiffer 10lbs. tippet and a 30 lbs. butt section. These items can help reduce the likelihood of tangles and easily turn over the dry fly. A 15 pounds leader can help you fish in windy conditions without impacting your catching rate.
What Wind Directions Should You Avoid When Fishing in Windy Conditions?
Wind can pose more threats when fishing, mainly when you don’t position your body correctly. Remember, the wind can easily blow the hook towards your body and end up hurting you. Therefore, when positioning your body, you should avoid it until you perfect your skills, including:
- Headwinds: Dreaded by most anglers, but some experienced anglers prefer this wind direction. They believe that if done correctly, you can more likely deliver your bait accurately. For overhead casts, you should begin low and halt your rod when it’s in a vertical position which will send the backcast upwards. Let the line unroll before driving it downwards with a stopping halt.
- Tailwind: tailwind poses a massive threat of physical harm by adding an unwanted speed to your forward cast, mainly when working with a weighted line and heavy fly. But if done correctly, a tailwind can help you cast your line further, especially when doing an elliptical cast.
- Sidewind: Casting can be challenging when the wind blows to your casting side. In this scenario, the best solution is to keep the line path away from your body. But if it’s blowing on the opposite side, then all you have to do is lower the tip of your rod towards the downwind to make a relaxed cast.
Last Cast (into the Wind)
Generally, the weather can be very unpredictable; before fishing, you should ensure that you’re prepared for every occurrence, including casting in windy conditions. Casting against the wind requires you to tweak your casting techniques without proper preparation. And with proper body positioning and the correct technique, you can use the wind to your advantage; after all, it does bring colossal fish to the upper water column.
Looking to Improve Your Casting – Let Me Help
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Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How 2 Fly Fish
- Carla Helfferich, Fish, Fish Food and Lake Temperature, https://www.gi.alaska.edu/alaska-science-forum/fish-fish-food-and-lake-temperature/ Accessed June 26, 2022
- YouTube contributor, mudline fishing, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_29ZbwIhRjc&t=29s/ Accessed June 26, 2022
- Mark Shelton, Introduction to Fly Fishing, https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1023&context=cafes_dean/ Accessed June 26, 2022
- Casting, http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/211_fall2013.web.dir/Alex_Hansen/Casting.htm/ Accessed June 26, 2022
- YouTube contributor, Fishing rod power vs. action, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYwG3y8_jSc/ Accessed June 26, 2022
- YouTube contributor, The roll cast – how to master the roll cast – fly fishing fly casting, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRaCV5c63mY/ Accessed June 26, 2022