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.
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.
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.
Wind directly from the front.
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.
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.
Carl Hutchinson is a qualified instructor
with the FFFE and FFFUSA and runs saltwater fly fishing Mullet with www.corporateflyfishing.com
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