Coping with a Breeze

Written by: Paul Procter

Whether you’re venturing out on lake or river, chances are a some point a niggling wind will spring up to ruin your presentation. This is especially true on those early spring outings when we’re plagued with unpredictable conditions. Nothing is worse now than being on a favourite beat only to be faced with a grueling downstream breeze.

It pays then to develop certain casting skills, which enable us to shrug off whatever the weather Gods throw at us. A major fault when attempting to tackle a headwind is overpowering your final delivery. This action shocks our rod, causing it to dip below its ideal straight line path and ultimately throw a tailing loop.

Given this, aim to achieve a smooth, steady acceleration of the casting stroke, concluding with a positive stop.

This forms the desired tight loop to help penetrate blustery winds.

A single haul executed on the forward cast not only increases line speed, but maintains a tensioned line at all times, which is the key to effective casting. You can of course include a haul on the back cast too, that gives you a double haul, but remember, line unrolling behind you on a back cast will be helped along by the wind, so it isn’t a necessity!


Hauling through the forward stroke keeps the rod flexed for longer and ensures tension at all time.
Photo by Paul Procter

One major fault when casting is chronic wrist break, especially when combating breezy conditions. Generally speaking, this occurs on the back cast. With no definite stopping point now, not only are more open loops thrown, it’s likely your line will be directed towards the ground rather than straight back. Now, much of the forward casting stroke is wasted by simply drawing the line taught and straight again.

That said, controlled wrist break has benefits when driving a fly into a niggling breeze. By “controlled” we mean deliberate when the actual wrist break on a back cast occurs after we’ve stopped the rod tip. Now, as we wait for the line to unfurl behind us, we can tilt our wrist open that in turn moves the rod tip back as well. This powerless movement is similar to drift, which generally involves a re positioning of the hand and forearm.

As we complete the forward cast with our wrist still open, this can be snapped shut when our forearm has nearly stopped moving. This flipping motion should be carried out in one swift movement. As little force is required here, chances are the rod will not be subjected to unwanted shock and buckle unnecessarily. Instead the rod tip moves extremely quickly through a long arc, generating massive line speed so the line literally zips out.


Snapping the wrist shut on completion of the forward casts projects the fly line forward with a tight loop.
Photo by Paul Procter


About Paul: Life long Orvis supporter, AAPGAI Master Instructor, Orvis Endorsed Guide and Wild Trout Trust vice president, Paul Procter is a dedicated flyfisher with over 40 years experience under his belt. Aside from being a regular on the Orvis Blog, Paul is a leading contributor to Trout & Salmon, Trout Fishermen and the Fieldsports Magazine. Travelling extensively throughout the UK, Europe and Southern Hemisphere, Paul has gained extensive knowledge in both fresh and saltwater disciplines. His abiding love though is to target large wild brown trout using dry fly techniques.

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