How to Do a Roll Cast in Fly Fishing

If you’re planning to fish on creeks or streams any soon, you should definitely add to your skills the roll cast, as it’s one of the most effective casts out there.

A roll cast gives you the ability to cast when it’s not possible for you to try a back cast. This may happen if there are any trees or bushes behind you or either side. You may also want to try the roll cast on a stiff wind at your back or if you simply need to reset your fly really fast.

The basics on the roll cast

Doing a Roll Cast in Fly FishingThe graphite rod definitely change the game when we talk about the roll cast. Back in the days, when fiber glass was a common choice, it was a bit more difficult to load the rod efficiently. You would do the roll cast by raising the rod to a position smoothly behind your ear, lowering the rod right the way in the direction of the cast. It was just like “chopping a log” sort of thing. You’d get your loop and the line would feed out right in front of you.

It’s the graphite rod that made the roll cast way easier. As the line is tight in front of you, you simply lift the rod up to the 1 o’clock positon, a bit behind your head. Continue by doing a forward cast as you’d do with an overhead cast. The rod is supposed to load enough to cast your fly straight to where you need it. Never stop at the top position as the line may pool right in front of you.

The water surface tension on the line is what makes the roll cast effective. The tension keeps the line, but it also lets you load the rod during the forward cast. You do need to be near the water to get better at the roll cast, though.

Some useful tricks

Once you’re able to do a roll casting, it’s only a matter of time until you want to master it. Practice does make perfect, but wouldn’t you rather know exactly what to do and not go in the blinds?

  1. The angler roll casting

If you’re an angler roll casting, it’s better to anchor your flies as close to your left/right side as possible.

It’s quite a common mistake for an angler to not bring the flies back to his/hers body side, close enough, before starting the forward cast.

This is essential no matter if you’re making a roll cast on your dominant side or an off-shoulder roll cast on your non-dominant side.

If you skip this trick, you may never get the precision you’re looking for and you won’t get a big enough D-loop, able to load your fly rod either.

When your anchor point is too far from your side when you start the forward cast, the presentation is going to be pushed to the right or left of your target, every single time.

Keep in mind that if your anchor point is in front of you and not off to your side, the risk for hooking yourself as the fly leaves its anchor point is quite high.

  1. Take it smooth

Skate or ski your fly nice and smoothly across the surface of the water to the anchor point.

You should always begin by having control of your fly line, leader and fly, all the way up to the roll cast. The fly has to stay on the water’s surface, moving nice and steady in a straight line, up to the anchor point. This is how you may obtain a pretty D-loop that is going to give you enough fly line to get tension on the water’s surface. You may load your rod efficiently and give the line speed you need during the roll cast.

  1. Put some speed when it’s time

Keep in mind that you only have a forward cast to make your roll cast. When you’re roll casting, you don’t get the strength of a back cast, so you need to be sure your forward cast has the right form and is effective at the same time.

You need to focus a bit and speed up the rod in a straight-line path, stopping the rod all of the sudden at its quickest point in the 2 o’clock position.

This way you obtain maximum bend in your rod and the strength you need for a strong roll cast that straightens out the leader, without losing its accuracy.

Sometime you may end your roll cast with the rod tip too close to the water’s surface, which means you may have moved the rod tip in a convex trajectory and not in a straight line path. This may cause the opening of your casting loop, lowering the line speed, whereas the fly line and leader would pile up short of your target.

Roll Cast in Fly Fishing

  1. The complete stop

It’s quite common for the anglers is to not come to a full stop when the fly reaches their anchor point. If you don’t do it properly, the fly line won’t get the tension on the water’s surface so you may not be able to load the rod as you should.

When you’re fishing weighted flies and pause too long, the flied sink too deep, meaning you’re not going to be able to pull the flies to the surface as you forward cast. This is how a collapsed roll cast happens, failing to reach your target.

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How to Wiggle Cast

Also known as, the “serpentine” cast or the “S” cast, the wiggle cast is great to use in upstream, across stream or downstream presentations as well.

It’s not as difficult as you may think and you mainly wiggle the rod right after the forward cast power stroke. You need to maintain a slight tension on the line.

You need to do the rod wiggling in the horizontal plane. If you do it right, the fly is going to be sent on target with the leader and line lying down, in a snakelike pattern.

There are some tricks to follow though so throw an eye on our tips down below.

The ABC on the wiggle cast

The most important thing about the wiggle cast is to place multiple coils or wiggles in the line as you finish the forward cast. When you’re done, as the currents work the coils out of the line, your fly gets more drag free drift as it goes in the targeted zone. You obtain even more time in the zone if you put a reach mend to the wiggle.

the cobra

Keep in mind that the line always comes after the motion of the rod tip, applying it to the wiggle cast. When you deliver the cast, it’s better to wiggle the rod tip sideways, back and forth. The faster you begin the wiggle after the stop of the rod and the beginning the drift forward to the target, the closer the wiggles get to the end of the fly line. This is what you want to get in the end.

wiggle casting

When your wiggles don’t reach the tip of the fly line, it’s better to move your practice on the lawn. Take your time and work on the timing until you get it right. Practice makes perfect, right?

Take it on the river

When you feel you’re ready to step away from the lawn, you may want to put the wiggle cast into practice so it’s good to know it works best when casting upstream or quartering upstream. You may cast at almost any angle, if you do it right.

  • If you go upstream, you may need to set a position for the wiggle cast either right across or off to the side of the fish you want.

The closer you get to slowly wade to get into position, the better. The ideal is to go 30 or 40 ft.

Aim a spot two to 5 ft. above the wanted fish and make a normal cast. As the loop of the cast displays, reach lay the rod over upstream, the reach cast, and wiggle the rod tip altogether to give the serpentine coils to the line when it lands. This is what we all know as the reach wiggle cast.

  • When you’re ready to step up your game, don’t hesitate to give it a go with the downstream wiggle cast.

You may need a casting position from an arc of 30 to 60 degrees upstream from the trout.

It is also a good idea not to place yourself so that you are straight upstream from a working trout. It may only work once, just between you and me. If you pick up the cast once, the fish will go downstream so it’s better to stay to the side.

It’s important to make measuring forecasts off to the side. You may have to add extra line into your cast to compensate for the wiggle and reach of your presentation cast. Target your cast two to five ft. above the position of your fish and wiggle the rod tip fast as the line loop unfolds. You should get a good drag free drift for your presentation.

Let’s sum it all up

For those of you who like the shorter instructions, here are the main ideas on wiggle cast.

You should start with a normal overhead cast and stop the rod. You continue by shooting some line and waggle the rode from side to side while shooting.

It’s essential to shoot the line as you make the wiggle cast or the fly ends up bouncing back, creating a nasty mess.

casting tips

As for the application of the wriggle cast, you may try various options:

  • Waggle early when you’re in for the wriggles at the end of the line
  • Waggle late if you want wriggles nearer the rod

We also talk about various sizes on the wriggles:

  • Make really big waggles if you want big wriggles. You may reach from side to side as you extend your arm
  • Make smaller waggles when you’d rather have small wriggles. You may want to try a double taper line in this case.

One last thought! You may win more time to wiggle more soft line coils when you slowly raise the forward cast’s  path and unwind the line speed.

 

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Double Taper vs Weight Forward Fly Lines

Double Taper vs Weight Forward Fly Lines

Any avid angler is often asked which is his/hers favorite fly rod or the favorite fly line just as well.

There are many great manufacturers out there and it would be such a shame to only single it to one choice. Sure enough, some work better than others, but at the same time it doesn’t help anyone to go with just one option.

Double Taper vs Weight Forward Fly Lines

The more you look into the matter though, the more you come to an interesting reality. The competition comes down to just two options so come with us for a closer look at each one of them: the Double Taper or the Weight Forward.

 

Double Taper

The DT lines used to be the most popular line as they’re build to be fished when using slower-action rods. Even when graphite began to win its popularity, rod makers would still made slow-action rods. Let’s get their side of the story: they have been using bamboo or fiberglass since the beginning of time, so why change now?

A DT line is made to have all the weight of the line distributed in the even way, all the way through its length. If a WF line has a thick head, backed by a running line, that’s not the case for the DT line that presents the same taper and weight on both of its ends.

  • The goods on DT lines

We like the DT lines for many things so here’s our list:

1). They give big, open loops

Everyone out there these days go nuts for the high line speeds and very tight loops. That’s great when you’re planning to cast 80ft, but you almost never do it in trout fishing as the high line speeds would simply give more of a splash on the surface of your line landing. DT lines are made to cast large, big loops that unfold as nicely as they fall onto the water. This is why you’d want to have a DT line when fishing dry flies.

2). It’s easy to mend them

As the DT line is so evenly weighted, when you have to make a mend, you definitely don’t have to put so much effort into it for lifting the line. By contrary, when you’re mending a WF line, you would typically have 40-50ft of line out, which is ideal for the trout fishing distances. 36 ft. is the most for the head of the line as the rest is running line, way too thin and light. As you try to mend and pick up all the running line, the heavier head gives in the end some nasty mends. You don’t get that with a DT line. Just shake your wrist to send the line anywhere you want.

3). DT lines do know how to cast

Maybe we’re annoying by now, but the weight being evenly distributed all the way the length of a DT line brings up so many advantages. Roll cast is much easier when using a DT line for the same, obsessive reasons. You may simply let the rod flex and let it do all the roll cast on its own.

  • The flaws of DT lines

As much as we’d love the DT line, we do have some minor downsides to mention:

1). The speed is slower

In the situation of a fast-action rod, you’re definitely not going to get a high line speed with a DT line, or not as high as you would get with a WF line. The fast-action rods are made so that they load over weighted WF lines.

Therefore, if you’re an angler who really like the high line speeds and fast, tight loops, you shouldn’t go with the DT lines.

2). Not very efficient on a windy day

It’s common sense to understand that, on a windy day, a line with most of its weight at the front is going to cut more efficiently than a line with an evenly distributed weight. So, stay away from the DT line when it’s windy.

Weight-Forward (WF)

The WF line has become the most popular fly line at the moment. It’s designed to have the most of its weight in the “head”.

  • The advantages of WF line

There are many reasons for you to appreciate the WF line, but some are more important:

1). Amazing for the windy days

Fishing against the wind is no picnic, but a WF line is there to help you when the wind is determined to mess up your fishing day. The WF line helps you punch really tough through the wind.

2). They turn longer leaders

A WF line turns over a 12’ 6xleader fast and right on target, as it lends itself better, handling heavier nymph or streamer rigs. Keep in mind that this depends a lot on your fly rod and the casting style, and not that much on your fly line.

3). They do load the modern rods more efficiently

Most rods out there are made to accommodate lines build a half-to-full size heavy with rigid upper parts that need a heavier fly line for storing the energy from a back cast. This would be transferred into the line of the forward cast later on.

  • The downsides

There are some things that bug us on the WF lines:

1). They’re not for the small dries

All the weight in the front of the line makes the WF to splash more on the water. Sure, you may always adjust the casting style and use a rod build with a soft tip, but you would still didn’t get the WF line to work for dries under size 22.

2). They’re too heavy for medium-action rods

If you use a slower-action rods and a WF line that’s not true-to-weight, you may over line the rod. Over lining, the rod is a good thing in some cases, but that’s not very common.

The conclusion

No matter which way you go, it’s best to understand that you need to match the line to the action of your rod and the most common fishing situations.

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