Guest blog: five tips for fly fishing on a windy day
Jon Clark of No See Um Lodge in Alaska offers his advice on how to save your fly fishing sanity on a windy day.
If you're as crazy about chasing fish as we are, you've probably thrown line while pretending to ignore stormy skies or falling temperatures. Granted, we see more snow up here in Alaska than folks in the Lower 48, but there's one thing that drives every angler around the bend no matter where he or she goes fishing: the wind.
We all know that old saying about the wind at your back, but we prefer a light breeze. Once it turns into gusts and gales, most fly fishermen figure it's time to quit cursing wind knots and start heading back home. If you're fighting that in-between wind speed that's almost too much but not quite hurricane-force, consider some of these sanity-saving tricks before you pack up.
1. Try to avoid loose loops
A good way to beat the wind at its own game is to think in terms of aerodynamics. Larger loops just can't cut through a stiff breeze and deliver the straight line you need for that perfect cast. Try to keep your loops narrow and small. One size doesn't suit every fly fishing scenario, but we shoot for 12 inches or less.
2. Go farther with a double haul
If you haven't come up with a good reason for mastering this fly fishing technique, we understand. If you've never seen it add length and speed to a cast, you're really missing something; it's a reliable windy-day tactic. The trick is to match up the action in your line hand with your rod hand. The combined power puts extra distance in your throw every time.
3. Swing an oval cast
This technique comes in handy when the wind blows against your casting side. It takes a little practice to backcast from the side while keeping it low across the water and then following through with a forward overhead cast. It works because the change in planes keeps the fly away from you, but always make sure you have plenty of safe space before swinging this one.
4. Cast hard back, easy forward
It's tough to get out there more than 10 or 15 feet when the wind is blowing hard. It might seem just as challenging to get the feel for this tip, but trust us. Swing your backcast harder than normal, and then take it easier than normal on your forward cast. We know it seems strange, but you want to reduce power about 30 per cent from back to forward. We also know the technique puts real forward steering power into your line.
5. Fight the wind with water
High winds and false casts don't mix, so don't bother. Instead use a little water tension to load the rod. Throw out your line and let it settle out straight on the water surface. Using your smoothest moves, pick the line up and off the water and into your backcast. The action takes care of loading the rod, and it plays well with oval casts, too.
You probably have a few tricks you can show us, so make plans to visit No See Um Lodge soon. We'll be waiting for you right here on the banks of the Kvichak River...