Use the wind to catch more fish!
article and photos by Bill Byrd

I was fishing on a favorite lake with beautiful fall conditions: Bluebird sky, wind blowing WNW at 6 to 12 mph, no clouds in the sky, and I was ALONE! These conditions reminded me to write this article about fly fishing in wind. When most fly fishers are confronted with wind, I believe that their immediate reaction is negative. Instead of negative thoughts, put that wind to use to HELP you catch fish! NO, I'm NOT crazy -- I do it on every windy trip. You can, too.

Here's how. In the frame (RIGHT) you see what might be normal lakeside surroundings on a pond or lake familiar to you. The bushes with overhanging branches represent cover for the fish. Especially in high sun periods, fish will gather under the bushes back in the dark.

Fish do this not because their eyes are hurt by the sun , rather they have the best protection from predators, and should an insect fall close by, they can dart out, smack it, and quickly return to hide. For full details on fish vision, click on my article called [FISH EYES].

Note the wind direction. Fish turn and feed into the wind. Why? The wind is an air current, and it moves food to the fish just like water current. In this case, the wind is causing a slight amount of water current that will push insects fallen on the surface or small minnows into the fish's feeding lane.

When you have the opportunity to fish this situation, tie on your choice of top water fly and probe the area. Don't cast immediately to the area closest to or under the bush. Cast well out front and to both sides of the bush, particularly upwind of the bush (to the right in this case) five to seven feet out front of the bush. If there are fish holding on the outside edge looking into the wind, you can catch them without disturbing the bigger number of fish actually holding close to the bush and under it in the shaded areas. Let your fly drift into the strike zone, and if you don't get a strike, strip it out in short 2 inch strips, then pick it up to cast. Don't rip your fly off the water out of the area. Then you are ready to cast the area again without having spooked the fish on your previous casts.

Cast back and forth across the front of the area, casting farther in toward the bush each pass. You'll systematically fish all of the water, and catch the outside fish without disturbing the inside fish, and you should catch many more of the available fish. Then cast closer and closer to the bush, and finally up under the overhang of the bush.

If the fish don't respond to your top water fly, tie on a slowly sinking fly and repeat the process. When you find out what the fish want to eat, you'll have the pattern, and you'll be prepared to use the wind to help you catch the fish.

Use stealth and the wind to catch many more fish in these sometimes trying circumstances, and you may be rewarded with a fish like you see left!