Is It Hard to Fish in the Wind? 15 Important Tips


Dealing with wind is an inevitability of fishing. Even if you’re not quite sure how to fish in windy conditions yet, you need to stop thinking about wind as a hindrance and start thinking about it as an asset instead. Here are some tips that you should heed when fishing in the wind so that you can make fishing a lot easier and increase the number of fish that you catch. 

It is not hard to fish in the wind. However, in order to safely catch fish, you need to position your boat appropriately, cast properly, use the correct lures, and get the necessary fishing equipment for windy days.

Keep reading this article to get 15 important tips on how you should fish in the wind. You will also learn more about how the wind impacts fishing and what you can do to catch the same amount of fish, if not more than you would on a regular clear day. 

How to Catch More Fish in the Wind?

Fishing in windy conditions is a tricky thing and usually scares off a lot of amateur and more experienced fishermen. However, believe it or not, the wind actually acts as an asset when it comes to fishing. It only gets a bad reputation because it is more cumbersome to control your boat and visit all the locations that you want to in windy conditions. 

However, once you get past that hurdle and know the number and types of presentations that you can use in the presence of the wind, you will not only likely catch more fish, but you will also catch bigger fish.

Here’s how wind can help you:

  • It reduces the visibility of bait underwater. Wind creates choppy waves and stirs up sediment, decreasing the clarity of the water. As a result, fish will not be able to see the flaws in your bait and distinguish between a lure and actual baitfish, resulting in an increasing number of bites. 
  • It increases the number of fish in a column. The wind stirs up microorganisms at the very bottom of the food chain, concentrating plankton and consequently baitfish higher up in the water column, causing bigger fish to come closer to the surface. 
  • It spooks the fish less. The sound created by waves and tides caused by a strong wind results in fish assuming that other man-made sounds, like that of a boat motor, are part of the natural sound. This means that fish won’t scatter the minute you turn on your motor, unlike on clear, sunny days, and you can bag more fish. 

However, if you have very strong wind spanning across a region for multiple days or even weeks, that isn’t good for fishing. The currents created by the wind mean that the fish cannot find their food sources very easily because they’re moving too much. In these situations, you won’t be able to catch a lot of fish, and you will need to find louder and brighter lures.

The rest of the time, the wind makes fishing better. But now that you’re all up-to-date on how wind affects fishing and are perhaps more eager than you have ever been to go fishing in the wind, check out these tips you can use to make fishing easier and get more fish. 

Check Wind Direction

Depending on the wind direction, it can be easier to catch more fish. If you have an east or north wind, you likely won’t be able to catch a great deal of fish because this type of wind usually only blows after a big cold front. The sudden cold temperatures associated with a cold front are a shock to the entire aquatic ecosystem, so not a lot of fish will be biting. 

On the other hand, a west wind is associated with weather conditions right before the storm hits. Fish can sense this, and as a result, go in shallower waters for a binge before the storm hits. If you’re facing winds from the south, these blow at any time but are normally found during warming weather in spring or fall or stable weather in the summer, which is good for both the fisherman and the fish. 

Depending on the wind direction, you can decide whether it’s worth it for you on that day to go fishing or not. 

Use Wind to Drift

If you’re a beginner and have no precise locations narrowed down to catch fish, you can use the wind to drift. For this, you will need to check the wind direction in the area where you want to go fishing.

To drift, you start at the opposite uppermost point that the wind is blowing in, and then you follow the direction of the wind. For example, if you have a north wind, your boat should be at the very south end of the general area that you plan to fish, and then you can use the drift from the wind to work your way down north to the spots that you want to go to. 

As you drift, turn your vessel sideways so that it is perpendicular to the wind. This creates some resistance so that you won’t drift as fast and potentially miss catching the school of fish you’re aiming for. However, you shouldn’t just be drifting the entire way idly down – use your motor at times to direct your boat in the direction of small coves where fish are bound to lurk. 

Try looking for slack water at the leeward side of obstructions where fish might choose to suspend because they don’t like being pushed and pulled in turbulent waters. 

While drifting, if the resistance created by turning your vessel sideways is insufficient to slow your boat down to the speed that you want it to be at, or if the wind is much stronger than forecast, you can invest in additional equipment to slow your boat down. For example, a ‘drift sock’ to give you drag so that you can keep the boat speed controlled. 

Here’s a handy chart showing you drift sock size according to boat length:

Wind Conditions14-foot(4.3m)(canoe, kayak)16 – 18 foot(4.87m – 5.48m)20+ foot(9.14+m)
Light/Breezy18-24” (20.32 – 70cm)25-30” (63.5 – 76.2cm)36-42” ( 91.45 – 106.7cm)
Moderate25-30” (63.5 – 76.2cm)36-42” ( 91.45 – 106.7cm)48-50” (123 – 127cm)
Strong36-42” ( 91.45 – 106.7cm)48-50” (123 – 127cm)54-60” (137.2 – 152.4cm) 

Use an Appropriate Line

In windier conditions, you should try to use a line that has a smaller diameter. This is because smaller lines can cut into and through the wind and the resultant current much more easily than bulkier lines. This makes casting a faster and easier process. 

Depending on which type of fish species you’re fishing for and where they’re located in the water column, you should be using different kinds of lines. For example, if you want to keep your bait at the bottom, you should use a fluorocarbon line because it sinks even when the boat is moving. 

On the other hand, you can use braid if you’re fishing horizontal baits in the upper to medium columns because braid has a tendency to float. 

Position the Rod Tip Close to Water

When it’s not windy, your rod tip should be far away from the water. This is because it is very sensitive and will let you detect fish bites quickly. However, in windy conditions, It could just put a big bow in your line and reduce the amount of contact that you have with the bait. 

As a result, if you face really heavy winds, you should position the rod tip close to the water. 

Fish Based on the Species You Want to Catch

Although wind forces fish to find more stable and sheltered waters due to their bodies’ aerodynamic shape, the location of ‘stable waters’ differs based on fish species. In heavy winds, fish angle themselves from the bank so they can feed on oncoming bait like they do in rivers. 

Learning where fish suspend in different water columns means you will be able to catch your target species with more ease. Bass like to suspend in cover, while Smallmouth prefers hugging rocks, and Perch or Walleye can be found at the bottom. Find out more about where your target fish is suspended so you can position your boat appropriately and select the correct types of lures. 

Go Shallow

Because the wind has stirred up all the plankton and brought it closer to the surface, you’ll find your fish closer to the surface too. As a result, bottom-hugging presentations are rarely necessary, even if it is the tried-and-tested norm on a clear day. 

For example, if you’re using drop shots at 15 to 20 feet (4.57 to 6.09 meters) at a point on a normal day, you can try going 5 to 10 feet (1.52 to 3.05 meters) on a windy day instead. 

Add Weight

When you’ve tried going shallow and think that fish in your area will only respond to bottom baits despite the windy condition, you should go heavier. Upsize your weight by at least one size or add a ton of weights to ensure that your line sinks all the way. 

This could mean that you might get fewer strikes, but at least this way, you will be able to get some action and feel your bait. 

Use Appropriate Lures and Baits

On a windy day, fish will be amped up to go on a feeding frenzy and go after any baitfish they find. This means that you want your lures to be fast action with plenty of movement, vibration, or other characteristics mimicking those associated with baitfish. It would help if you also looked for baits or lures with more horizontal presentations so that you will be able to feel the bait. 

Spinnerbait

A spinnerbait is the most effective lure to use in windy conditions because it resembles baitfish very well. The flash of spinning blades is seen from a distance and mimics the flash of a school of fish. The vibration produced by these blades is also felt by the sensitive nerve endings in the lateral lines of specific fish, like bass. 

Fish strike viciously at spinnerbaits, letting the impact be felt immediately even if your rod isn’t fast action. Due to this bait’s effectiveness, it is great for fishing if you’re going in blind on a windy day because it lets you know quickly where all the fish are located. 

These baits can also be retrieved very quickly with no snagging due to the single upturned hook directly in-line with the wire arm. 

A spinnerbait is effective in deep and shallow waters, although the type of spinnerbait you use might deviate. 

Lipless Crankbait

A lipless crankbait is a flat-sided crankbait that has a wobbling action. It is easy to cast into the wind and can be fished at any depth that you want. They come in a wide variety of colors and shapes to mimic the baitfish for a number of fish species. 

If you want to challenge yourself, you can try throwing the same types of finesse baits or Texas rigs on a windy day and see how you need to adjust your casting technique differently in the wind. However, if you’re not cut out for that just yet, stick to throwing crankbaits, chatter baits, and spinnerbaits. 

Fish in the Proper Direction

If you’re using a baitcaster, the wind can also mess up your casting, resulting in more bird nests and your casts going in strange directions. To counter this, cast with the wind instead of against it – this will also give you greater distance for your casts and help you get your lures greater down in the water column. It also means that you have direct line contact with minimum slack.

If you must cast against it, try tightening the cast control knob. This slows down the reel of your spool and gives you more control over your reel. 

However, the one thing you should never do is fish perpendicular in the direction of the wind. When you cast, you will end up with a bow in your line, with the cast swiveling round, and you won’t be able to feel the bait when a fish bites down on it. Even if you can feel the bite, you will need to reel up all of the slack and figure out if it’s a good time to set the hook or not. This makes fishing more complicated than it needs to be. 

Check Wind Intensity

Using the wind to catch fish is a good idea, but it should never compromise your safety. If you’re fishing in a small boat, wind speeds approximating 39mph are enough to capsize your boat, especially if you’re caught off guard and are not expecting it. 

Sustained winds of 22 mph (35.40 kph) can also produce seas of around 5 feet (1.52 meters) across many bodies of water. You should try to fish in conditions of wind speed at 10-20 mph (16.09-32.19 kph) at most. 

Along with wind speed, also keep the weather radio on at all times so that you can be alerted to other upcoming threats, such as severe thunderstorms or lightning strikes. You should also wear a life jacket at all times when fishing in the wind, no matter the wind speed to avoid having to deal with problematic situations. A relatively low-speed wind can deteriorate into a gale fast. 

Fish the Spots Where the Fish Are

If you’ve gone fishing in a particular location before and know where all the best spots are for the fish already, you can just head on over. The fish are not going to go anywhere just because it’s windy – in fact; you might be able to catch more fish there now because the fish are more willing to come up in shallower waters now that the water is not so clear. 

If you have narrowed points down to a geographical precision and are very confident that these are the spots where all the fish are, you should do the one thing that everyone tells you not to do in the wind – anchor! Drop your anchor, line your cast up, and fish as much as you like. 

Here’s a rough gauge showing you the holding power of an anchor: 

Beam Length(inches/cm)Beam Power(inches/cm)Sail(inches/cm)Lunch Hook(Ib/kg) Working Anchor(Ib/kg)Storm Anchor(Ib/kg)
10’/25.45’/12.74’/10.1640/18.14160/72.57320/145.15
15’/38.16’/15.245’/12.760/27.21250/113.40500/226.80
20’/50.88’/20.327’/17.7890/40.82360/163.29720/326.59
25’/63.59’/22.868’/20.32125/56.70490/222.26980/444.52
30’/76.211’/27.949’/22.86175/79.38700/317.511,400/635.03
35’/88.913’/33.0210’/25.4225/102.06900/408.231,800/816.47
40’/101.614’/35.5611’/27.94300/136.081,200/544.312,400/1,088.62
50’/12716’/40.6413’/33.02400/181.441,600/725.753,200/1,451.50
60’/152.418’/45.7215’/38.10500/226.802,000/907.184,000/18,143.70

Keep in mind that the location of the place you plan to go to will also affect the type of anchor you need to buy. An anchor suited for soft mud would not work very well with conditions of bottom rock. If you’re unsure about the anchor that you need, you could try consulting with a local shop in your area. 

Use Appropriate Equipment

Batteries

If you’re using a boat with an electric motor and you go out to fish for a few hours, your battery will likely be completely dead, if not half-drained, at least. After going out, it is important to charge the battery immediately and ensure that it is fully charged before you embark on your next fishing expedition. 

Otherwise, the longer you leave off charging your battery, the lower the battery’s charge might be able to carry. If you go out and in the middle of fishing, your motor dies, and you’re far away from the shore, you’ll have a great deal of trouble getting back. In addition to this, if your batteries are more than four years old, you should get them replaced because your motor becomes more culpable to dying suddenly. 

As a result, make it a ritual to always keep your batteries at full charge before leaving the shore. 

Boat Type 

If wind speed is from 10-15 mph, you should be able to safely use any type of boat with an electric motor without having to worry about it capsizing. However, if winds are greater than 15 mph, you should be using a boat that is larger than 16 feet with a 70 lb thrust motor at the very least. 

When investing in a boat motor for your boat, you should also be using a higher speed motor than recommended on the boat. For example, if your boat recommends a 50 thrust motor, you should be using a 70 thrust one so you’ll have the appropriate horsepower to fish into a mild wind to catch the bass or crappie that you want. 

If you’re using a kayak or any boat without an electric motor, you should be only venturing out to fish when wind speed is less than 10 knots. The strong waves generated by the wind will also blow you off course and make it impossible to reach any of the fishing locations that you want to get to. 

Put Weight on Your Boat

Putting weight on the front of your boat will lower the front and ensure that it catches less wind. This reduces the bumpiness of the boat, ensuring smoother sailing and casting. This weight can come in the form of sandbags or other passengers. 

You can buy these Xpose Sand Bags and fill them up with sand from a local riverbank, or you can head down to a supermarket or variety shop to look for them.

Use Appropriate Fishing Rods

On windy days, you should be using fast action rods that have stiff rod tips and very little bend throughout the entire rod. The wind will naturally help you cast further than you should, and with these stiff tip rods, you won’t have to worry about the rods flexing more than they need to due to the added weight of the wind pushing at the back of the rod. 

In addition to this, you should also be using rods that have a shorter length. For example, if you plan to go trolling, take the shorter 12’ to 14’ rods because they work well in the wind and don’t bow in high wind. 

Fishermen conflict on whether you should take heavy power or light power rods. Some argue that heavy power rods are better for trolling in the wind because they can sustain the wind’s added weight and absorb shocks more, keeping the lure steady and not affecting the movement unnaturally too much, if at all. 

Others say that light to moderate power rod in heavy wind conditions for fly fishing works just fine because most amateur fishermen will punch the cast early, buckling the rod tip, and generate endless tails instead of learning how to use the increased power correctly. Instead, a fisherman should be familiar with casting properly to avoid personal injury and catch a limited amount of fish. 

The power of the rod depends on the type of fishing that you plan to do, but a moderate power fast action rod would be a safe bet for any type of fishing in the wind. 

Go Trolling

If the wind is blowing hard enough, it is possible to troll with just mother nature’s breath without having to use your own electric motors. When trolling with the wind, use crankbaits or bottom-bouncers that have action at slower speeds – because the wind likely will not make your boat move as fast as an electric motor. 

You can also troll against the wind, though this might be a bit more difficult for complete beginners. This is possible with an outboard motor, which gives you precise direction and maneuverability. However, you might need to use a great deal more energy than you normally would account for the resistance. 

Conclusion

It is important to remember that you don’t need to own a boat to go fishing. Going to your local pier, wharf, or jetty on a windy day and using the correct casting technique is guaranteed to get you more fish than it would on a normal day because you have more fish hiding in the relatively more stable waters near these jetties. 

Even if your confidence drops whenever you encounter a fishing day with wind, don’t sit the wind out in sheltered regions. You just need to keep practicing in windy conditions to better cast and catch more fish the next time.

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