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Casting Tip of the Month - Roll Casting

courtesy Atlanta Fly Fishing School

Question: Recently I overheard a discussion on Roll Casting and it sounds like a very useful cast. Iíve tried it a few times but Iím not sure if Iím making the cast correctly or when I should use it.


As to use, the roll cast is helpful in many casting situations. Most often it is used when there is limited space to make a regular aerial back cast. Other uses are, to help raise a weighted fly or sinking fly line to the surface before making a back cast, when there is a strong wind at your back making a regular back cast difficult, or to keep from drying a wet fly as an aerial cast might. Another efficient use of the roll cast is fishing upstream. After a cast is made upstream the current pushes your fly back toward you. Raise your rod tip (to keep slack line to a minimum) staying prepared for a fish to take the fly. As the fly approaches you and a loop of line forms beside and behind you make a roll cast back up stream.

As to the technique of roll casting, it is much like the forward portion of the conventional overhead cast. To learn roll casting you should practice on the water rather than a lawn because the surface tension of the water holds your line helping to load your rod for a cast. Use the grip, stance, and arm position of your basic overhead cast when you make the roll cast. After making a cast or when the line is already out in front of you, slowly raise the rod tip up (way up), slightly away, and behind you so a loop of fly line forms from your rod tip (behind you) to the water near your feet with the remainder of the line on the water in front of you. WAITÖfor the fly line to stop moving across the water so the surface tension grabs it. Now lower your elbow placing your arm in the position it would be in at the end of a normal back cast. Make a strong, quick and powerful forward cast. The forearm is moved toward the target first and the wrist will turn the rod over to complete the cast. The power should be at maximum near the end of the cast just before a crisp stop. Stop very sharply to allow the rod to throw the line. Prior to the stop, the rod tip should be making a straight-line path toward the horizon or slightly above to send the line out in front of you. Performed correctly the loop will look like an elliptical oval or a short flattened O.

This is a great technique for small mountain streams where a back cast usually places our fly in streamside vegetation. By using the roll cast we eliminate walking back to dislodge our fly from the rhododendron and laurel. Some day there will be a lightweight, collapsible, pocket sized tree trimmer to retrieve flies. But since my vest is already full, I guess Iíll stick with the roll cast when fishing tight waters. Now, if we can just keep our fly out of the bushes on our forward cast weíll get more time fishing.

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