Wind is often unavoidable.
Wind from any direction is rarely an ally when fly casting. We would all rather do without it. Some arenas are notorious for wind. Big lakes and oceans of all depths are nearly always windy during the afternoons. Large desert steelhead rivers such as the Deschutes and Snake are famous for wind.
Wind can make most Spey casters miserable. Wind blowing against long rods can create friction and inhibit tip speed and accuracy during many casts. Wind blowing from certain directions can collapse D-loops and kill line speed. Most of all, wind gets inside our heads and demands distraction from our real goal of catching fish. And wind can turn us into such bad casters that we become dangerous to ourselves and other people around us.
There are however, ways to neutralize most winds, and in some cases there are ways to use wind to enhance fly line speed. Here are considerations when dealing with wind.
Don’t let wind get into your head.
Most casters tend to overreact. Many start to push harder on their rod and try to power through wind. This often pulls their anchor loose too soon destroying the cast, and/or opens their front loop, which lessens line speed. Instead, concentrate on your stop at the end of a normal acceleration. A perfect stop always results in a tighter loop and higher line speed. Don’t fight wind.
If possible, always cast off of your downwind side.
The downwind side is always safer, as a blown cast tends to go away from you. Casting off your downwind side also results in more tension in your D-loop, which means that it requires less pressure from you. Slow down, and don’t stop your rod tip until the end of your forward delivery.
Wind makes many people tense, making their coordination less predictable. In many cases, the best way to cope with wind is to ignore it. On windless days, concentrate on perfecting your casting skills. Then when the wind comes up, use these superior skills to beat it.
Concentrate line weight in a shorter length.
It will make your casting stroke more compact. Shorter heads, such as the Airflo Rage Compact work well when fishing surface flies. As a matter of fact, many anglers are using a Rage where Scandi lines were formerly popular. During extremely windy conditions, a short Skagit head, such as the RIO Skagit Max Short or Airflo Skagit Scout coupled with an Intermediate iMOW Tip will beat any other kind of fly line. If this line doesn't overpower the wind, it is time to head for the lodge. A head, which incorporates intermediate coating, is denser than one made entirely from floating line. Heads such as the Airflo F.I.S.T. or RIO GameChanger are best for slicing through winds while using larger flies. If you are wanting to fish near the surface, use an intermediate slow sinking tip, which will grip the water more solidly than a floating tip, helping to sustain your anchor for a deeper rod load.
Mark’s three favorite steelhead rod/line combos for combatting wind:
Sage 7130-4 X rod with RIO Scandi or Airflo Rage 450-grain head for general summer steelhead fishing & light wind. Use RIO Skagit Max Short 525 & any 10’ M.O.W tip or iMOW tip if the wind is heavy. My favorite all around steelhead outfit.
Sage 7120-4 X rod with RIO Scandi or Airflo Rage 450-grain head for general summer steelhead fishing & light wind. Use RIO Skagit Max Short 525 & any 10’ M.O.W tip or iMOW tip if the wind is heavy. Loads easy and smooth with an easy to feel stroke.
Beulah G2 Platinum 7132 rod with RIO Scandi or Airflo Rage 450-grain head for general summer steelhead fishing & light wind. Use RIO Skagit Max Short 525 & any 10’ M.O.W tip or iMOW tip if the wind is heavy. This medium-fast rod needs only a short stroke to eat any wind that a person would want to fish in.