Yesterday the wind just about blew us off of the river. A strategy I use to help to minimize wind is to pay attention to wind direction and then pick a spot to fish. Most anglers have already chosen a spot to fish even before they think about wind, which can lead to a frustrating outing. The key is to find a protected spot. The Upper Kinni or any other pasture/flat land stream will be difficult to fish in the wind, but the diversity that exists within our landscape enables anglers a variety of choices to look for that protection. Search for a bluff or stand of evergreens on the windward side. Look at a map and find out which direction your favorite stream runs. Will the wind be tunneling through the valley or will the wind be blocked by cliffs?  Usually you can pick a spot to gain enough protection from the wind to cast effectively. No matter what, you can go about your business of fishing, but ultimately the problem of casting and presentation becomes the issue. Wind will take control of your line and drag your fly all over the stream. Depending upon your positioning while casting, wind can push your casted fly into the back of your head or ruin every roll cast you attempt. Besides the location you choose to fish, here are a few other tips to help you through a windy day.

Fishing short. Find broken water, move in close, and learn to “High Stick”. This method of fishing enables you to drift and cast more effectively in the wind. Most times, when high sticking, there is very little line out of the tip-top of the rod. The wind plays no where near as much havoc with a thin diameter mono leader as it does the large diameter fly line. You must REACH with your rod, locating the tip of the rod directly over the leader and the fly that is tumbling below the surface of the water. The tip-top and the leader should be as close to 90 degrees to each other as possible. Longer rods will give you an advantage in this type of fishing.

Tip position. Where is the tip of  your rod after the cast?  Rod tip position is important. If you have to make longer casts to fish productive water get your tip down into the water after the cast. The closer you keep the rod tip to the water after making a cast, the less surface area of the line will be available for the wind to disrupt your drift. Many anglers, after they cast, will hold their rod tip at shoulder height or higher. The wind will most certainly push on this un-managed line and drag your fly throughout the drift.  Raising your tip to mend the line(which will allow your line to be affected by the wind), can also affect your drift, but in the worst case scenario you will at least achieve part of your drift without the wind spoiling your presentation.

Slack line and line management. Slack line as I define it, is extra line. This extra line is not always the enemy as you have been lead to believe! On a day like yesterday where the winds were gusting to 25 miles an hour, you can sometimes use slack line to your advantage. This tactic is common in non-wind situations as but can be a life saver if you understand it on windy days. Casting across waters containing current tongues of different speeds presents the greatest challenge to fly anglers as it relates to drag, drift and line management. When casting your line up and across or directly across and drifting down stream, it is wise to fish each current tongue separately. Slack line should be added to the tongue that you have chosen immediately after casting. This slack line can facilitate an even speed down stream drift for the individual current tongue you have chosen. By managing the line like this, the rod tip position can be kept low, and the extra line can substitute for the mend that may have been affected by the wind gusts. Sometimes slack line can be placed across two different speed tongues in order to fish a third, but the combinations of line managements and manipulations can become mind boggling in a hurry.

Wind can be a bitch bear. Hands down, understanding the variables involved in flowing water  and the conditions that exist around you is the foundation of presentation in any situation. The more you fish, the more you will understand, the more you read, the more you will understand, the more you observe, the more you will understand. That being said, it is up to you to control your line in whatever conditions you fish in. Line management it is the only control you have over your fly as it travels through the liquid domain. Slack line must be given or taken away depending on what the conditions dictate. Watching your strike indicator or dry fly closely will give you the clues necessary to adjust your line management. Following these clues, and adjusting to the conditions you are faced with will lead to better presentation.

Any more tips on fishing in the wind are welcomed!