Saltwater Fly Fishing In The United Kingdom

Destination Reviews
Courtesy of Carl HutchinsonBass caught by ColinSteve searching for salty Sea TroutBass caught by CarlFin Fly WalletSplash of a sea troutPerfect SunsetPerfect Sunset


  It's a Breeze! Casting in the wind.

For those who live in the UK finding a flat calm sea as you crest the final sand dune onto the beach with a rod in your hand is an occurrence as common as the proverbial Blue moon. In fact, I think at the last count, the Blue moon was winning by three appearances to one.

Casting in the wind is something we have to live with in the UK if we venture anywhere near the coast. Chicago has nothing on your average Beach just about anywhere in the UK. So what do we do about it?

Firstly, relax, it's a breeze! Unless you live in an area where it is mile after mile of sandy flat beach, there will be somewhere to cast that is in a favourable direction to the wind. Promontories, spits, points and estuaries all offer water that can be attacked from different angles making casting easier. But then casting in the wind is easy anyway... if you know how to do it!

Firstly, we need to consider "quarters". The quarter that the wind is coming from will help you decide which technique is best for you. The quarters are Front right, Front left, Rear right and Rear left. For the right hand caster the right hand quarters are going to pose the greatest challenge as wind from this direction will be blowing the fly back onto the caster during the cast - Not good. Vise versa for left hand casters of course.

Now that everyone casts with a point on their loops (from the first article), casting in the wind is a piece of cake. (and if you have not got that point yet, it's very important that you get out and find it as soon a possible). Having a pointy loop is what it is all about. So lets go through the various options for each quarter and look at how we should cast when faced with this.

The following if for right handed casters. Please reverse it if you are left handed:

Right front quarter.

There you are standing in the teeth of a gale hitting you perfectly in the right cheek. First thing to remember when casting in any wind is DON'T USE MORE POWER! This is the most common fault of ALL casters when faced with a windy situation. It is subconscious that we need to put more power in to compensate for the wind. WE DON'T! All you need is a well formed loop. A well formed loop with a point will travel into, across or through just about any wind. What we need to look at is keeping the fly safely away from us. For lighter breezes the rod can still be cast normally on the right hand side of the body but tilted over to 45 degrees away from the body. This will keep the fly safely at least 1 meter out from you. For stronger breezes where the fly would still be hitting you with this method, we need to get that fly downwind. This can be done in several ways. For shorter cast the arm can be taken across the body and the cast made "off the shoulder". This is limited for distance as the longer the line we have out of the tip the longer the stroke we need to make. The left shoulder is a natural block to opening up that stroke. So the next thing to do is to raise the rod up and cast with it above your head but tilted to the left side. This still allows a long stroke and a good distance cast to be made.

Its a breeze

Finally if we are in the teeth of a gale, just turn around. Cast your front cast up the beach and shoot your back cast out into the sea. DON'T' try too hard. Over powering the back cast will see the line land in a heap. For all casts that are into the wind we need to cast a bit lower on the forward cast so that the line has no "Hover time" between the loop fully unfurling in the air and hitting the water. The loop should open up as close to the surface as possible so it does not have a chance to blow back towards you. Remember that the casting plane should be 180 degrees from each other in 3 dimensions so a low front cast will require a high back cast to keep things efficient.

Front Left quarter.

Casting with the wind from this angle requires no changes other than the low front cast and high back cast. Try and get that loop to unfurl inches above the water so it has no chance to blow back.

Rear right Quarter.

The same rules apply as for the front right quarter. Keep that fly safely downwind and if necessary, turn around and use your back cast to deliver the fly. This time however, the wind is on your side and you can turn that low front cast into a high front cast (and low back cast) so that the wind caries the line out for you.

Rear left quarter.

This is the easiest of all. A low back cast and a high front cast is required.

Low, Standard and High cast

Wind directly from the front.

Now this can be a pain. If you are faced with a strong wind front directly in front of you the only thing to do is to cast a low front cast and high back cast. DON'T over power the cast. Just make a nice shaped loop Accepted fly casting Dogma states in this situation you should throw a "Tigher, faster loop". But you might as well say "wibble booble twidle" becasue that makes about as much sense. Who can hold their hand up and tell me how you throw a "faster tighter loop"? Not many! Unless you've read this.
You see, as a complete by-product of trying to "cast a faster, tighter loop" you also usually make a harder stop and it is this
that makes casting into thre wind easier. Its actually the by-product you are looking for. When you are next casting in a wind that sees seagulls bouncing off your forehead, just stop harder. Flick that rod stright harder and this will get those loops sailing off into the gale.

Wind directly from behind.

This is a Shooting head users dream. A low back cast and a high front cast will see that head sailing off towards the horizon. same goes for a full fly line. Let the wind do the work for you.

Advanced techniques.

For those a little more advanced in their casting and who have mastered the dreaded Double Haul, here are a few extras that you can try. Delay the final haul so that if is still going after the loop starts to form. This will pull back slightly on the bottom leg of the loop and tighten the loop and accelerate the loop top leg. This will give more positive turnover into the wind. Pinching the running line as the loop is about to turn over is another technique that will aid turnover into the wind. Finally, casting so the line is tight against the reel at the end of the shoot is another method of doing this.

You may notice that I haven't mentioned casting "Under" the wind as is so commonly advised in the books. As an engineer I understand boundary layers and other complex stuff like that and it is safe to say that it isn't possible to cast under the wind. The boundary layer is so thin at the surface you'd have to be Superman to get a fly line into it. The very fact that the surface is rippled by the wind tells you that the boundary layer isn't there and we are looking at chaos theory at its finest. unless of course you happen to be standing in the lee of a huge rock!

Happy casting and tight lines.

                  See you in the Forum

Tight loops.


Carl Hutchinson

Carl Hutchinson is a qualified instructor with the FFFE and FFFUSA and runs saltwater fly fishing Mullet with He is a member of the board of the British fly Casting Club and has fished extensively in many saltwater locations and specialises in saltwater fly fishing for Salmon in Canada.





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