In this excellent clip from his video Casts that Catch Fish, New Zealand fly-casting instructor Carl McNeil discusses several ways to deal with wind. At about the 2:20 mark, he discusses the problem with a crosswind, something many casters struggle with.
Wind is a constant nemesis for fly casters, but this is especially true when it’s blowing directly into your casting arm. Every time you lay the line out in front of or behind you, the wind blows it toward you, putting your fly on a collision course with your skull or any projecting features, such as an ear or nose. The best way to deal with this problem is to simply cast with your other hand. No problem, right? Oh, right. You mean you’re not ambidextrous with a fly rod? Yeah, me, neither.
That said, if you’re making short casts—dapping with dries or roll-casting light nymphs—you may surprise yourself by how well you can accomplish this with your off-hand. Give it a try next time you’re on the water.
But for most occasions, there are two main ways to solve the wind dilemma. In the video, Carl demonstrates both, albeit very quickly.
1. Turn around and face the other way. By turning around, you put your casting arm on the other side of your body, so the wind blows the line away from you. The trick is casting normally, but laying out the presentation on the backcast. You’ll need a little discipline to make sure you fully stop the rod tip on that final backcast, to get the line to unroll correctly. This is your best option only when you need to make long casts and accuracy is not required—throwing streamers, surf casting for stripers, and the like.
2. Angle your rod, so that the tip is on the downwind side of your body. Your 8- or 9-foot rod is plenty long enough to allow you to hold the rod in your normal casting hand while moving the line on your downwind side. Don’t bring the rod across your chest, though; this actually robs you of both range of motion and power. Instead, raise your elbow and angle the rod over your head. Then you can simply cast normally, but moving the rod tip along a plane on the other side of your body. With a little practice, you can cast plenty far and accurately in this posture. Except for those times when solution #1 will work, this is your best bet.