When it comes to fishing, wind can either be your friend or your worst enemy. Some is better than none, but there is such a thing as too much wind. So what is the best wind speed for fishing?
Wind can influence the behavior of fish to your advantage, but the ideal wind speed for fishing depends on exactly how you are fishing and what you are fishing for. The perfect amount of wind for one occasion may not be ideal for others.
Let’s dive deeper into the ideal wind speeds for some of the most popular types of fishing.
How Wind Affects Fish
Wind absolutely has an effect on how fish behave. Most notably, it creates waves that act as a visual barrier on the surface as well as pushes zooplankton, that will attract baitfish, into shore.
Both of these tend to coax fish out of hiding and feel more secure as they feed in shallow areas.
As a reference, a wind speed of 5-10 MPH is sufficient to create just enough chop to achieve this, and gusts of 20+ MPH are where whitecaps and waves begin to form.
This of course depends on the body of water you are fishing and the surrounding topography, but it is a good rule of thumb to remember.
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How Wind Affects Anglers
When considering whether or not to go fishing on a windy day, think about exactly how you will be fishing and what species you will be targeting.
Will you be taking the boat out or fishing from shore? What species are you targeting? Are you going to be trolling, casting, or using floats? These will all be affected by the wind in different ways.
Wind Speed For Bass Fishing
Fishing for large and smallmouth bass is one of the most exciting and popular pastimes of anglers today. Popular bass baits include jigs, spinners, crankbaits, and topwater lures.
No matter your favorite lure, casting is a central component of catching this species.
If you are deciding whether or not to go out in search of bass, first consider whether you will be fishing from shore or off the boat.
Fishing From The Boat
Fishing on a boat in the wind requires that you keep the boat in the right location all while being able to accurately cast around the areas that bass love to congregate.
Repeatedly dropping your lure around cover without snagging is akin to hitting a moving target. By no means is it impossible, but it takes a little more skill than most beginners have.
Depending on the size and profile of your boat, 20 MPH winds will have you floating away at a considerable clip unless you are anchored to the bottom.
A steady wind speed of 5-15 MPH is just enough to help pull bass out of cover, but not so much that you cannot land your lure where you want it.
Fishing from shore allows for a little more leeway when it comes to wind speed, but you will still need to be able to get your lure in the sweet spot. Anywhere from 5-25 MPH is an acceptable speed when casting for bass from shore.
This speed depends on the wind’s direction in relation to your casts. Higher winds can be beneficial when casting with the wind at your back because they will add some more distance to your cast.
Casting directly into the wind or into a crosswind will severely hamper the distance and accuracy of your casts, which are crucial when bass fishing.
Wind Speed For Walleye Fishing
Walleye are another species of predatory fish that undoubtedly feed more aggressively in windy conditions. The most popular techniques for catching these delicious freshwater fish involve trolling and jigging.
Trolling for walleye usually involves crankbaits or a live bait rig with a walking weight or bottom bouncer to get the rig to the bottom without snagging on cover or rocks.
While trolling is a great way to efficiently cover a lot of territory, it has to be done at a certain speed to be effective.
Depending on the size of the boat and trolling motor, 5-20 MPH winds will allow you to keep the boat at an acceptable speed when in search of walleye. Gusts above 20-25 MPH will require extra equipment, like a drift sock, to keep the boat from drifting too fast.
Jigging with soft plastics and live bait, such as minnows, is another popular and effective way to bag your limit of walleye. Like bass fishing, this requires more casting.
5-20 MPH winds will work just fine for catching walleye off the cast. Slower wind speeds will allow you to use smaller jigs for increased sensitivity, and higher wind speeds can be combated by using larger jig heads to increase the distance of your cast.
Wind Speed For Salmon Fishing
Salmon fishing consists of a wide variety of techniques that depend on the body of water you are fishing in.
Like walleye, the most popular way to fish for salmon in lakes involves trolling, though salmon tend to hang out in deeper waters.
Getting your bait to the correct depth for salmon is a little trickier than trolling for walleye because it involves letting out much more line.
5-20 MPH winds are ideal for this method of fishing, any more than this will likely cause your boat to move too fast, causing your bait to become too shallow.
Successfully keeping your bait deep enough can be manipulated slightly by using heavier weights and lures, but they will be useless if you cannot run them at a slow enough speed.
Fishing for salmon in rivers differs from the techniques used in lakes in that it requires more controlled casting and placement of bait due to a river’s current.
Most popular techniques for catching salmon in rivers involve casting your bait upstream and letting it float down through pools and eddies where salmon like to feed.
5-25 MPH winds are acceptable for these techniques, because salmon gear is generally heavier than bait for species like bass and walleye. This added weight will allow you to accurately hit your mark when the wind speeds are higher than normal.
Unfortunately, this does not hold true for fly fishing, due to the lightweight nature of flies. 5-10 MPH winds are much more suitable for fly fishing scenarios.
Wind Speed For Northern Pike & Muskie
Fishing for northern and muskie utilizes similar techniques and tackle. Casting larger jigs, spoons, and spinners with steel leaders is a popular method for hooking these monsters.
Wind speeds of 5-25 MPH are best for targeting these species because they require heavier line and lures compared to those you would use for bass.
Faster wind speeds will only make it harder to place your lure around the grassy cover that these species dwell in.
Be sure to stick to lower wind speeds when trolling so as not to pull your bait through the strike zone too quickly.
Wind Speed For Panfish
Similar to bass fishing, reeling in panfish revolves around casting, though species like crappie and bluegill are significantly smaller. This requires smaller lures and baits in order to successfully catch them.
Wind speeds of 5-15 MPH will prove the most fruitful when it comes to catching these pint-sized predators.
Because panfish don’t grow as large as bass or muskie, you can’t really increase the size of your lure too much without making it unwanted.
Wind Speed For Catfish
Catfishing tends to be one of the simpler species to catch due to their extensive palette and the fact that they prefer to hang towards the bottom.
5-25 MPH winds are great for pulling in big cats, but different types of rigs will excel at the opposite ends of this range.
Some catfish rigs involve a sinker that sits on the bottom while live or artificial bait is suspended just above, and some will incorporate floats that allow the rig to travel.
Drift rigs work better on days with less wind, because they will traverse an area nice and slowly. Setups like carolina rigs, which sit on the bottom, have an advantage during blustery days because they will stay securely in place.
Fishing can prove to be much more tedious in the wind, but the effects that wind has below the surface will make it worth your while. The ideal wind speed for fishing depends on the fish that you are after as well as the technique you will use to hook them.
Fishing for smaller species or in situations where you need to maneuver a boat or cast accurately will require lower wind speeds to be successful.
Fishing for species from shore that don’t require a lot of casting, or larger species that require heavier tackle are advantageous in situations where the wind is blowing harder.
Knowing which wind speeds are advantageous for your preferred fishing method can make the difference between a frustrating day on the water, and one that you will remember forever.