Intro to Fly Fishing: Casting with the Roll Cast
So….there’s probably a strong likelihood that in an actual fishing situation, there isn’t a ton of room behind you for the overhead cast….or any room for that matter. Enter in the roll cast !
One of the most used, most versatile and most useful casts in fly fishing. Great overhead casts look pretty and win casting competitions when combined with the double haul, but roll casts are used to actually catch fish and not fisherman. It is a very versatile cast that can be used in almost any situation.
Let’s Start With The Basics
The roll cast normally starts off course on the water. This is a little bit more difficult to simulate at home, than the overhead cast, but still very doable. To start with simply flick some line in front of you so it’s just lying in a relatively straight in front of you (relative being the operative word, perfection not required). You want 30 or so feet out there, not a lot.
With the line lying in front of us, we slowly sweep the rod tip behind us so that the rod tip is about at a 45 degree angle to the “water”….or lawn as it might have it. What you are trying to do is slowly drag the line through the water so that you are slowly elevating out of the water, away from your body, but with the rod high enough to be able to cast. The perfect way to figure this out is to put the rod straight up. Wrong position. Stick the rod straight out so it is perfectly parallel to the ground. Wrong position. Half way in between….you got it, just right.
Ready To Flick...
Gently lift your hand up towards about you ear level insuring you rod stays at the 45 degree angle. Notice the line slowly moving towards you. The line will begin to arch and form a “D” like the illustration above. Once the line is basically at foot, rotate your wrist and flick forward using the tip of the rod in the direction of your cast. The line should flick forward, unfurling gently on the water (lawn) in front of you.
Working Inside Out
This very simple cast is actually the most important cast in fly fishing, particularly for trout. Many fly fisherman make the mistake of thinking the best fish are all the way across the river, and cast over, and thus spooking, the fish within in 20 feet of them.
To properly work a river, you should work inside out. That is to say, cast closest to you, then work your way in distance across the river. The roll cast covers the first half closeted to you. The overhead cast will get the second half.
The truth is, the roll cast can give you a very soft, very delicate presentation, without spooking half the fish in the river. Think about it this way….if you cast all the way to the other side of the river first….do you think the fish closest to you that you casted over might get spooked? Do you think those spooked fish might affect all the fish in the area? Of course.
Perfect your roll cast.
It’s not nearly as sexy as the overhead and a nice double haul. However, in most cases, it’s more effective.