Tips & Tricks

Fly fishing and wind: What to do when it blows

“Come Fairies, take me out of this uninteresting world, for I might trip with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” — William Butler Yeats

I don’t care the place you reside, or which fly rods you employ, or what species of fish you prefer to chase. There’s not a fly fisher alive who needs to get up within the morning and listen to these three phrases.

“Rattling, it’s blowing.”

Wind is a major problem for anglers. The extra it howls, the more durable it’s to forged. The more durable it’s to forged, the more durable it’s to fish successfully. That’s simply the way in which it really works.

In case you’re sufficiently old to have a full cabinet of fly fishing reminiscences, likelihood is fairly good that you’ve a few private, “Lord, that wind was powerful” tales. I nonetheless bear in mind the day I hit a mile lengthy stretch of flat water with two anglers in my drift boat and a critical gale blowing upstream. It took me nearly an hour and a half to row by these whitecaps to the take-out.

Then there was the time we put a three-man pontoon boat on Idaho’s Teton River and gave up on our float after getting pummeled by upstream gusts for the higher a part of an hour. After we lastly referred to as it quits, the wind blew us the 300 yards again upstream to the put-in. Absolutely the worst, although, was the day I floated the Field Canyon on the Henry’s Fork and, with no warning in any respect, a hurricane power storm got here rolling in. Not solely was it unimaginable to fish, however there have been so many limbs breaking off timber, and timber snapping in half, that it wasn’t secure to attempt to wait issues out on the financial institution. We anchored up and huddled within the boat whereas a microburst that resembled an atmospheric chainsaw did its greatest to show the encircling forest into kindling.

Happily, these varieties of days are uncommon. When you have a cell phone and an honest climate app, you shouldn’t have an excessive amount of bother maintaining a tally of the forecast and avoiding wind that places life and limb in danger.

The larger concern for many of us is that it’s simply not a lot enjoyable to fly fish in a stiff breeze. A gentle 10 mph wind can take the shine off an in any other case stellar day. Add an additional 5 to 10 miles per hour and most people battle with errant casts and critically diminished accuracy. I often draw the road at 25 mph — though there’s slightly wiggle room in there. If the forecast requires lighter winds with gusts to 25, then I’ll properly give it a shot. If it’s a straight 25 mph, although, or greater … properly, there are extra satisfying issues than combating an invisible enemy who exists solely to spoil your time on the water. Fly fishing is meant to be enjoyable. When it’s so rattling windy that your angling turns into an train in masochism, then it’s time to think about extra nice options.

Over time, there have been a good variety of ‘how-to’ tales devoted to the topic of fly fishing within the wind. Happily, it’s straightforward sufficient to sum up probably the most useful recommendation. First, when you have a full quiver of rods & reels, it is sensible to go a line measurement or two heavier. A heavier rod and line nearly at all times carry out slightly higher when it’s blowing onerous.

Second, if there’s a prevailing wind coming from a specific route, you possibly can search for areas that provide further safety. For instance, the lee facet of an island, or a stretch of river with numerous timber on the windward financial institution, could make the distinction between an honest day on the water and an entire waste of your time.

Third, it helps to maintain your casts low. The upper your again casts and ahead casts, the extra possible you’re going to finish up with critical issues. Anglers who’re adept at casting sidearm get pleasure from an actual benefit in windy circumstances.

I additionally agree with my buddy John Juracek, who, on the subject of wind, tells his casting college students to “discover the appropriate stroke size first, then pace up your stroke as obligatory.” It’s by no means a good suggestion to vary the essential form of an efficient casting stroke. Assuming that your mechanics are stable, you simply wish to be slightly faster along with your forged once you’re out in a brisk wind.

I also needs to level out that on the subject of gusty days, not all fly fishing types are created equal. It in all probability received’t make a lot distinction for those who’re fishing for bonefish, tarpon, bass or pike — with most nonetheless water or saltwater species, you’re making a fundamental straight-line forged — however trout anglers get pleasure from a greater variety of choices, a few of that are extra suited to windy days than others.

In case you completely must fish when it’s actually blowing, then nymphs in all probability take advantage of sense. You received’t must false forged and you may sling a weighted nymph in something wanting a hurricane-force gale.

Whereas smooth hackles and different moist flies aren’t almost as well-liked as they as soon as have been, take into account that they work moderately properly on breezy days. Your casts might be brief, your casting accuracy with smooth hackles isn’t completely paramount, and because you are likely to really feel, relatively than see, the strike, it doesn’t matter if there’s a ripple on the floor.

Streamers are one other potential possibility, though there’s a caveat I ought to point out. It may be harmful to throw a weighted streamer in excessive winds — and that’s doubly true if the wind is blowing sideways into your casting arm. I bear in mind working my means down a protracted, fishy stretch of Alaska’s Kvichak River as a heavy wind stored pushing the fly line, together with my lead-eyed streamer, again into my rod arm. I managed simply tremendous for a couple of hours, till a very heavy gust modified the trajectory of my ahead forged and that weighted streamer hit me at the back of the top. I didn’t knock myself out, however it positive damage like hell for the remainder of the day. Please be further cautious for those who resolve to throw streamers within the wind.

If there’s one explicit side of our sport that’s poorly suited to breezy circumstances, it’s dry fly fishing. Dry flies are troublesome to forged with pinpoint accuracy within the wind, and so they’re more durable to see within the floor chop on a breezy day. It’s additionally powerful to get drift when gusts play havoc along with your aerial and on-the-water mends. On the similar time, trout are likely to ignore dry flies when the wind is up. There are exceptions, in fact — the hopper fishing is often higher when terrestrials are getting blown into the water — however dry fly fishing within the wind is a poor selection as a rule.

Which might be why a few of us prefer to fish dries on windy days. There’s one thing to be stated for being cussed sufficient and silly sufficient to do issues the onerous means. It’s troublesome to throw an correct 60’ attain forged beneath an overhanging department whereas the wind howls. In truth, it’s a royal ache within the bottom. However that’s additionally what makes it difficult and fascinating. In spite of everything, if we really wished to make issues simpler on ourselves, we’d simply seize a spinning rod, a bobber, and a styrofoam cup filled with night-crawlers. The entire level to fly fishing is that we’re determining new and efficient methods to tempt our quarry on the similar time we proceed to problem ourselves. Fishing within the wind provides an entire new stage of complexity to the game, and that’s not at all times a foul factor.

After all, there are at all times going to be days when it blows too onerous for even probably the most ardent angler, and that’s the place that you must be ready for each eventuality. In case you suppose it’s going to howl, and also you completely must be on the water, make sure you deliver a kite.

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