Re: roll-casting

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Posted by Chris England on August 21, 1998 at 15:32:23:

In Reply to: roll-casting posted by mark on August 21, 1998 at 11:39:41:

Here's an excerpt from one of Jason Borger's instructional notes on roll casting.

To make a roll cast, begin with the rod tip parallel to the water's surface. Lift your arm slowly and smoothly in a back-and-up direction until your hand is next to your face, allowing your wrist to tip back until the rod is at the one o'clock position (just like an overhead cast). It is critical that the line not be aerialized--it must slide smoothly across the water's surface until it hangs by your side. To prevent tangling the line on the rod, tip your arm slightly away from your body (just a few degrees). Once the line has stopped sliding toward you, make a karate-chop forward stroke to roll the line out in front of you (see animation above).
Because the line is held by water tension (which helps to load the rod), extra down-and-forward acceleration will be needed in comparison to a standard overhead cast to achieve the same distance. This does not mean throwing the rod outward or slapping the rod tip onto the water in a wild attempt to break surface tension. Rather, it means adding additional speed during the acceleration phase of the cast. Everything else remains the same.
The forward portion of the cast can be rolled into the air or onto the water depending upon the rod tip's stopping position. Stop higher and you'll get a predominantly air-carried roll. Stop lower, and you'll be rolling the majority of line on the water. As I rarely fish with my line straight out in front of me, I usually prefer to aerialize the roll cast as much as possible. This allows me to modify the cast (with a puddle, reach, hump, or other mend) as needed.
"Shooting" line with a roll cast is very similar to shooting line with an overhead cast. On the forward stroke, line is shot immediately after the rod has stopped. Again, stopping the rod high will facilitate easier shooting. Allowing some line to slip through the guides as the rod is being raised on the backstroke is an additional way to shoot line without having to rely completely on the aerialized forward cast.
It is also possible to "haul" on the forward stroke of a roll cast, which results in far greater distance and line speed than is achievable with normal methods. As with an overhead cast, the peak of the haul should come just as maximum energy is being transferred from rod to line (as close to the "stop" as possible).
In addition to shooting and hauling, the roll cast can also be "drifted." By slightly accelerating the back-stroke portion of the cast, the belly of the line will move swiftly up and back, traveling past the angler. As the line comes past, the angler simply continues to reach up and back (the drift) until the arm is fully extended. The forward cast is then made before the line falls completely to the water's surface. This modification not only "cleans" more line off of the water, but allows for a longer acceleration phase, adding much more energy to the line. Coupling this with a haul and/or shoot allows an angler to fire off tremendous rolls.
An even more exaggerated form of this technique uses a thrusted back-stroke, resulting in all but a few feet of line being aerialized. When this "modified spey" cast is combined with a haul-and-shoot, an angler can roll cast an entire weight-forward line.
This versatile casting technique is not limited to simply presenting the fly. One of its most common uses is the roll cast pickup. This technique is used when excessive slack or a full-sink or sinking-tip line makes pickup difficult. A quick roll cast will straighten a pile of slack and help lift submerged line to the surface, allowing the angler to then make a normal pickup (or a second roll cast) to present the fly.
The roll cast also comes into play when casting up-current to spooky fish that won't tolerate line spray or false-casting. Rather than cast at and over the fish, the angler feeds line down-current until the length needed for reaching the fish is achieved (or enough line is out to comfortably shoot the rest). At that point, the angler makes a down-current roll cast, stopping high to aerialize the line. As soon as the roll is complete (but before the line falls back to the water), the angler turns and makes one precise up-current cast to the fish. This tactic eliminates line spray over the fish (the spray is shed during the down-current roll cast), and allows for only a single cast to be made (no false-casting back-and-forth in the air over the fish). This down-current roll technique is my presentation of choice in tough places like New Zealand.
The roll cast is truly a "must-have" cast for the fly fisher. It not only is the key to unlocking many difficult situations, but its versatility extends beyond simply presenting the fly. Learn to use the many facets of this technique and you'll soon be rolling on your way to more fly fishing success.

-- tight lines

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