Just wrapped up a pretty good practice session with one of my favorite casting exercises - wind casting. Casting against the wind is like resistance training with a fly rod. The resistance of a good breeze strengthens your casting muscles and makes you a much stronger caster when done regularly. Don’t believe me? Spend 15 minutes or so casting against the wind and you’ll find your casting arm fatigues quickly. It’s tough, but a little practice in these conditions will tone those casting muscles right up.
Tonight I wanted to work on my backcast, so I aligned myself so that the wind was directly to my back. It was coming in at a fairly good clip, so I really had to work to get the backcast to straighten. Even when it straightened, my timing had to be perfect or the loop would tail. In other words, I had reach near perfection in every aspect of the cast to get a good backcast loop to roll out into the teeth of that wind. The wind forced me to delay the rotation of the rod until the very last part of the backcast, which condensed most of the acceleration and power into last bit of the cast, where it should be. You can get away with some early acceleration and rotation in normal casting conditions, but a good stiff breeze won’t let you do that. Not if you want to make a decent cast anyway. My hauls also had to be sharp and crisp to generate the line speed needed to overcome the gusts. The wind would not allow me to be lazy. Every backcast had to be perfect to overcome it.
Another benefit of practicing in the wind is that you become accustomed to, well, casting in the wind. Spend time practicing in these conditions and you’ll handle the wind easily when out on the water. You’ll keep right on fishing when everyone else is giving up and heading to the nearest bar.
A couple of tips about wind casting:
1. Keep practice sessions short. Your casting arm will tire quickly, especially if you’re not used to casting in these conditions. When your arm gets tired, you’ll get sloppy with your casting. Sloppy casting is worthless and you might develop some bad casting habits if you keep going. I practice in the wind regularly and still keep most of my practice sessions in the wind to around 20 minutes.
2. Pick one aspect of your casting and work on that one thing throughout the session. Tonight, I did nothing but backcasts into the wind. Next time I might only do frontcasts into the wind. On my next session, I might put the wind on my casting shoulder and work on off-shoulder casting. Focus.
3. Avoid the temptation to overcome the wind with brute force. Try to keep your technique perfect on every cast. Accelerate smoooooothly, rotate late, haul fast and hard and late. The hauling hand defeats the wind, not the rod hand.
Shoot me an email if you have questions about this or any other casting exercise.