Three Tips for Casting Into the Wind

I spent the past couple weeks in Chile with my good friend Chad Miller, owner of Wildcat Creek Outfitters in Zionsville, Indiana. The fishing was fantastic, but challenging, because of the wind. When facing such conditions, you must be able to punch through a stiff breeze to get your fly in front of fish. Here are three key casting tips that helped get my fly where it needed to go.

Take a look at the photo; note the leaves on the trees behind Chad. That's the result of a 20-mph wind. Yet Chad busted through it with that loop no problem. But now note where his thumb is—way at the top of the grip, almost touching the graphite. Tip one: choke up on the grip and really accentuate the power in your thumb.

Tip two: Use the headwind to your advantage by generating line speed to load the rod on your backcast. Back with authority, forward with grace. That may seem counterintuitive, because you want to punch into the wind, but the power move is really the backcast.

Tip three is more about gear, actually: Your line choice is 100 times more important than your rod's design when it comes to casting into the wind. You can never buy your way to an effective wind cast; only practice develops that. But the line is the key ingredient in all this, and lines are a lot less expensive than rods.

On this trip, I brought about a dozen different 5- and 6-weight fly lines to test in these challenging conditions, and believe me, all fly lines are not created equal. I'll talk more about that later, but suffice it to say that if you find the right "wind line" for your rod, you'll make certain days in breezy conditions a lot more enjoyable.