Q: “Not long ago, I was fishing for bonefish with a friend. He can throw a 90-foot cast with a nice loop on a calm day; however, a brisk side wind prevented him from presenting the fly properly. The wind blew the fly way off course. Do you have any tips for a scenario such as this?”
– via email
A: A principle of fly-casting is that the fly will go in the direction the rod tip stops (or straightens). Once the tip stops, you cannot change the direction of the fly, although you can affect the line behind, by making a mend, for instance.
To make an accurate cast in a side wind, you must direct the fly toward the surface in the target area. When it is windy, the water is a bit ruffled, so driving the fly to the surface usually won’t spook the fish. As soon as the rod tip stops in the target’s direction, the fly heads there. Im-mediately afterward, drop the rod tip to the water. This places all the fly line on the surface and will prevent it from being blown sideways.
The mistake many anglers make when attempting this is directing the fly above the surface and then dragging the rod tip downward. This causes the leader to fall in a near-vertical angle and blow off course. Once again, the cast must be aimed at the surface in the target area.