Techy Thursday - Headwinds on trout water

Dealing with a head wind is something we will all encounter on a regular basis as fly anglers. The reality is, most of the places a fly rod takes us are remote, exposed and not always tailored to perfect conditions. Whether you’re on the Canterbury Plains in South Island NZ, or the Thredbo Valley in Australia you’ll need a few skills to manage wind.

So what’s one way we manage a head wind on trout waters?

There are lot of ways to manage it. We can simply adjust our gear and select a line size heavier, or a faster action rod. We can learn to cast with more line speed by single, or double hauling… or we could just head to the pub.

Although all those management strategies are great, I rarely see my clients utilise one of the easiest applied skills… and that’s ‘trajectory.’ Think about throwing a ball into a head wind to hit a target at 30 feet. We adjust our trajectory accordingly to allow the ball to follow the most direct path to the target, minimising the impact of the wind. Like throwing a ball, we throw a string in fly fishing. But we using a leaver and spring to generate energy whilst moving it forward and backwards under tension. But the mechanics are the same and can be easily translated from a ‘throwing a ball’ the ‘throwing a line.’

The reason why it works so well is because while you have an energized, aerodynamic loop in the system, it carries with it a lot of effective energy as it is turning over. If we can get it to roll out and make contact with the water immediately after it rolling out, we minimise the opportunity the wind can impact the line where there is minimal energy in the system.

The bi-product of lowering our trajectory can lead to heavier presentations, but typically a windy day will result in chop on the water, so heavier presentations aren’t such a big problem in my experience.

So stop that rod higher on the back cast, lower your trajectory and tighten those loops. Understanding trajectory will not only allow you to present a fly on a windy day, it’ll also become the foundation of casting with increased accuracy.

Matt Tripet

FFI – CCI & NSW Snowy Mountains Guide

Founder: The Fly Program