Make the Most of a Roll Cast

Make the Most of a Flexible Roll Cast

Is it possible to roll cast with intermediate and sinking lines?
Bob Hickman

Nick Hart replies: The roll cast is one of the most useful casts available. It is particularly at home in awkward situations when there is very little room to back cast and to provide an extra few yards of fishing prior to re-presenting your flies with an overhead cast, otherwise known as a ‘roll pick-up’. This cast can be performed with a variety of fly line densities and, in fact it is the roll cast that is used to surface subsurface lines such as intermediates or fast sinkers, prior to an overhead cast.

In some circumstances it may be necessary to use a number of roll casts to bring a sinking fly line up to the surface. Once the head section has appeared, along with the leader, launch into an overhead to re-present the flies. A roll could be used in this situation to present the flies but is not the best cast in its most basic form to achieve distance. To accomplish a long distance presentation with a roll cast it is necessary to learn advanced techniques such as the switch cast (sometime referred to as a jump roll), adding a haul for extra range. There is also a family of casts known as ‘Speys’ which are effectively ‘change of direction roll casts’ providing anglers with the ability to cast a wide range of fly lines, long distances in enclosed spaces. This latter cast is used mainly on rivers when fishing for salmon.

The key principles to remember when trying to perfect a roll cast are to ensure:
1 A large ‘D’ loop falls behind the fly rod prior to executing the forward stroke.
2 Minimal line remains in the water, providing enough anchorage to help load the rod without creating too much drag.
3 That the ‘D’ loop is lined up perfectly with your target.

Finally, it is worth remembering that while these principles will work just fine with a floating line, however casual we are about a cast, they will not work with a sinking line that has been allowed to sink. So as a final principle based around sinking lines, ensure that once the line has been surfaced with a roll cast that the cast is commenced swiftly. If this rule is not followed the line will sink once again, requiring more roll casts to surface it!

Reprinted with permission of Trout Fisherman magazine.