Roll Casting

A great cast which has many uses. Some are –

⦁ When we have little room to make a back cast in the air behind us.
⦁ Straightening out slack line in front of us.
⦁ Bringing a sinking line to the surface prior to casting.
⦁ Placing the line in the air in front of us prior to doing a conventional back cast. Especially good when dry fly fishing.
⦁ Sometimes in fishing we need to raise our rod to present our flies which doesn’t give us any room for the back cast. The roll cast helps us get the line moving forward.
⦁ The foundation of all Spey casts.

Water is the best place to practice this cast but you can do it on well cut grass. Start with a floating fly line and a leader with a piece of coloured yarn tied on at the end to represent a fly. Grip the rod lightly and stand with an open stance (see other web pages for info on stance and grip). Have any wind coming off the shoulder opposite to your casting arm ie if your right handed then you want the wind coming from your left. Start with a couple of rod lengths of line out of the rod tip, lying straight out in front with tip low to the water. I’m right handed so any visuals are based on that. If your left handed just the same but opposite sides.

Stage 1.

Slowly drag the line back towards you placing it a half to a rods length away from you. Angling your rod off to the side helps with this. Do not have the line too close to you, the fly or line could hit you.

Stage 2.

Finish with the rod tip pointing up and slanted back. It would be 1-2 o clock on a clock face.
This is called the key position. Pause. If done correctly you should have a curve of line hanging of the rod tip which using the rod as the stem, should look like a capital D. This is called the D loop. This loop of line will provide some mass to help the rod load/bend. This load coupled with the acceleration of the rod (as a lever) with help propel the line out in front of us. The point where the fly line leaves the water should be in front of you and the line still left on the water, the anchor, should be lying straight.

See image below. Stages 1 and 2 take place slowly, NO RUSH.

Stage 3.

Smoothly Accelerate the rod forward in a straight line using the anchor has your path. Having the rod tip positioned just inside the anchor helps with this. Do not accelerate over the anchored fly line because you will tangle. Similarly if you curve away from the anchor, your cast will loose energy and direction.
Think of pulling the rod butt down and forward without rotating the rod tip forward. Lead with your elbow then continue with your forearm holding the wrist back in the process. This movement will begin pulling the line in a straight line while loading the rod. When your arm is nearly straight but still forming a shallow V between your forearm and upper arm, rotate the wrist ( therefore the rod tip) to a crisp stop 30-45 degrees off the vertical. The direction of the stop is outward not down. If all done correctly the fly line should unroll over the rod tip in a nice aerodynamic loop. Wait for it to straighten then drop the rod tip to the water.

See the video below for a demonstration.

Roll casting on the River Avon

If the wind is coming from your right hand side then you need to roll cast off your opposite shoulder ( left handed casters would be opposite to this). Move the rod over to your left side and create the D loop on the left hand side with your right hand finishing up by your left ear in the key position before making the forward delivery. Make sure you accelerate forward and stop with the rod still on the left hand side of your body, following your anchor direction. There is a strong tendency to bring the rod across your body loosing accuracy and energy in the cast.

The two drawbacks of the roll cast are firstly you can’t change direction, wherever your D loop and anchor point, that’s where you go. Secondly, with little line behind you, distance is difficult.

That said it’s a great cast.

If you have any questions about roll casting, please contact me on