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
The 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.