Fly Line Management on Windy Days

Tan Those Toes and Other Ways to Deal with Wind on the Water.

By Capt. Barry Hoffman

One of the most common obstacles to overcome while flyfishing in saltwater is the wind. If you find yourself having trouble with line management on those windy days on the flats, try taking off those boat shoes. The longer casts needed on the flats commonly result in many coils of fly line at ones feet as they wait for the fish to arrive. Removing your shoes allows you to feel the line underfoot before you make your cast. 

Try swiping your spouse's laundry basket. I haven't found those stripping baskets that are worn around the waist to be very comfortable. They restrict my movement while casting and just feel so cumbersome.  If they work for you fine, but if not, try a large laundry basket left on the deck in front of you. Their large opening makes it easier to strip line into while trying to keep your eyes on the fish coming at you. 

The size of the basket can average from two foot by three foot, and are usually rectangular in shape. The round ones are tougher to get the line into. They usually have an open weave pattern on the sides so that the breeze can pass through them. The important thing is that you can get the fly line into them without taking your eyes off the fish. I know of a client that straps a smaller one to his poling platform while he's out alone. It holds the flyrod while he poles and keeps the line from tangling around the cables in the motor well when he's casting. 

The guide should have the boat positioned so that you've got a downwind cast. There are modifications that should be made to your cast to take advantage of the wind. First, keep your backcast low to the water. The water creates friction and can actually slow the velocity of the wind. I'll usually sweep the rodtip back low and parallel to the surface of the water. At the end of the cast be sure the rod tip travels upward with a flick of the wrist. The higher above the surface you get, the stronger the wind feels. Keeping this in mind, make your final cast high and overhead, while opening up your loop just a bit. This open loop will help to catch the wind and "sail" it downwind to your target. 

Last, step back a foot or two and strip the line into the cockpit behind you. Be sure the area is clear to prevent snags on any gear bag buckles, shoes or cooler handles. If it's really cranking, it might be helpful to stand in the cockpit until the guide spots the fish for you.  

Try these methods and don't forget to use sunscreen on those toes, or ya might end up looking like an old seasoned Islamorada guide! 

Visit Capt. Barry Hoffman's Web site: Florida Keys Shallow Water Sportfishing.  

Additionally, you can contact Capt. Barry Hoffman at: guide@flatsguide.com  

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