Bruce Ajari: Helpful tips for windy fly fishing
May 5, 2010
This past weekend on an annual outing with a group of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers club members to Frenchman Reservoir, the group found tough early-season fishing conditions. The weather was clear and reasonably warm. This was in stark contrast to the year before when many of the same anglers found themselves being rained upon.
While the weather was better, the fishing was really slow. It seemed that the early-April storms had left water conditions much less than optimum. The water temperature was about 47 degrees, unusually cool for this time of year. Fish are pretty sluggish at this water temperature.
The wind, which is a fly fisherand#8217;s most difficult opponent, gave the group fits during the day. Gusts to around 25 mph were projected, and it seemed to be pretty accurate.
While wind can make conditions difficult, it can also be a great friend as well. A small amount of wind breaks up the surface of the water and makes it difficult for the fish to detect your presence.
The majority of us were fishing with floating lines and bead-head nymphs fished under a strike indicator. Casting such a set-up in the wind, particularly with two flies, proved to be challenging for even the most experienced anglers in the group.
The wind also creates a belly in the floating line, making setting the hook difficult when an angler gets a strike. There is too much slack line on the water to pick up while setting the hook in a conventional manner. After watching several anglers miss strikes because of this problem, I went ahead and offered the following tip to them that works for me to improve their chances.
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First, make a straight-line cast into the wind. Second, throw a couple of downwind mends and then pull the rod back in the upwind direction. This will create a and#8220;Uand#8221; shape on the water. When you detect a strike, pull immediately toward the top of the and#8220;U,and#8221; or upwind. This immediately gives you a good hookset on the fish.
Fortunately, I had a few fish take the fly so I could demonstrate. I managed to land the first couple with no problem. The next fish was lost due to the fact that I could not pick up the slack line quick enough, and because the fish jumped with all of the slack line. If the fish had not jumped, I am sure that I could have landed that fish.
One other thing that helps to pick up the slack line and get tight to the fish is to thrust the rod tip into the water. This allows the fish to pull against the resistance created by the bow in the line and allows you to pick up the line before the fish gets off. It really works!
This is a similar technique that many anglers use in the river while fishing streamers with floating or sinking lines. It is a great one for fishing along undercut banks that can hold some terrific fish.
Try this technique the next time you are fishing in windy conditions on a lake. I think that you will be surprised at the results you can achieve.
and#8212; Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident who writes regular fishing columns for the Sierra Sun and other area publications.