October 26th, 1998
As you might suspect, we here at 'Fly Anglers On
Line-Communication Central' have a vast library of books on many
areas of fly fishing, including casting. As I write most of the columns
on casting here, it is therefore rather obvious that it is I who am most
familiar with the content of said books, especially on casting. There
is no way I could possess the wealth of knowledge I do without
having such a resource to steal, borrow, re-word, and otherwise
make stuff sound like it is my own idea; short of plagiarism, however.
Till next week, remember ...
Therefore, when it became evident I had not written
a column on the ROLL-CAST I attempted to research the subject a bit.
Said investigation proved to be more interesting than I had anticipated.
The ROLL-CAST is mentioned only rarely in the earlier works on fly
fishing and casting. And there may have been several reasons for such
near omission. If you knew anything at all about casting, certainly you
could do the ROLL-CAST as it was for many the stalwart of fly fishing
itself. The cast was performed using a 'chop-the-head-off-the-chicken'
stroke. Effective with the type of fly rods popular during many of the earlier
The rod was brought back past the casters ear,
stopped, swept forward to a horizontal plane, and the line 'rolled' out
on the surface of the water. The cast matched the equipment; necessity
again being the mother of invention. It is still a useful cast and taught in
There has been, however, an addition to the cast. So to
say, a different way of doing it; in fact more than one new way. This has been
due to the improvements of both fly rods and fly lines. There are some authors
who have kept pace with this, but some readers and beginners are now even
If you have read this far and are satisfied with your
ROLL-CAST don't go any farther, it is going to get very simple from here on.
This is going to be as SIMPLE as I can make it; and you probably know all
of the basics by now.
What I found in my 'looking-up-in-a-lot-of-books'
was this. The writers did a good job. A very good job. Pictures, drawings,
techno-babble, detailed explanations that lost me in tedium; they got carried
away with far too many details for me. I plain got bored with all of it, as
you may be by now too.
But, if you are still with me, you are serious about
wanting to know more of the ROLL-CAST, good. Here we go. If you
have an OLD fly rod (bamboo, or fiberglass); use the OLD ROLL-CAST.'
By that I mean, use the above mentioned method and let the line roll out
on the water. It is about all you can expect. They were designed for each
other. Don't worry that you can't cast clear to the other side of the stream.
If you have one of the newer fly rods, (graphite, or a
mix of it) then you need to know this. You have the ability to make a
ROLL-CAST in the AIR. That's right, so the front loop hops off the water
and zips toward the target in the air. And it is so easy to do. But, you have
to do it differently from the 'OLD' way.
For lack of another name (and please don't blame
me for calling it this) the ARIAL ROLL-CAST is started the same way.
That is, bring the rod back past your ear, come to a dead-stop, and here
is the BIG difference, do not make a ROLL!
Instead, make a forward cast.
Exactly like any other forward cast.Stop the rod at exactly the same place
you would for a forward cast. The line will shoot out with a narrow loop,
the fly will hop off the water and the whole thing will deliver just fine.
An example here may help you with this. If you
wanted to make a long front cast, would you use a big sweeping front
loop, or a nice tight one? Right, the tight one. Now, if you have some
problem learning this cast, try this. Kneel down. It is almost impossible
to throw a big front loop from that position, the tight loop will dictate
itself. Try it; and keep it simple.
Come back to a 'dead-stop.' Make a 'forward' cast.
Because the friction of the line on the surface of the
water makes this cast work, you need to practice on water! Or water
the lawn really well first.
That should keep you busy for a while; more on the
other things you can do with the ROLL-CAST in future columns.. ~ JC