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TxArcheo 08-11-2009 11:44 AM

Roll cast question
All -

I'm a relative newcomer to this fine sport and have a roll cast question for you experienced casters.

I can typically manage a decent roll cast on still waters; however, I was out on a river (first time with the fly rod) and came across a tight quarters situation that I thought called for a roll cast but was at a complete loss on how to accomplish this on moving water. All the online instructionals I found demonstrate the roll cast on still water.

Can a roll cast be used/performed effectively on moving water; particularly across the current? If so, can anyone shed some light on how to achieve or maybe direct me to some literature?

Thank you for looking and by the way, great forum group you all have here.

cb 08-11-2009 12:48 PM

Re: Roll cast question
You have now entered into the wonderful world of speycasting! In effect spey casts (and there are several of them) are jump-roll casts with a change of direction. On running water of course you often need to change direction of the cast because the fly has swung around on the current.

Now the fun bit. If the wind is blowing downstream you must keep the fly below you and roll from your downstream arm. If the wind is blowing upstream then you must position the fly upstream of you before you make the final cast (jump roll) using the upstream arm. It is quite wonderful the ways you can achieve this. I suggest you search YouTube for spey casting but for now here is a good one. (no one casts this way on a river - but shows how much fun it can be!)

Enjoy the learning journey! :)


jpbfly 08-11-2009 12:50 PM

Re: Roll cast question
Roll cast is of course very useful on moving waters,if you can perform it on still waters there shouldn't be any problem on a stream or a river,so try it,I think it's hard for you for the lenght on line on the water is shorter so you need to get used to it.Maybe when you wade try to go a little far from the branches in your back or bend your rod(45 angle)if you can combine roll and curve cast it'll be great.Hope it can help and one of my US friends will add their two cents:icon_bigg

FrankB2 08-11-2009 01:09 PM

Re: Roll cast question
I have Joan Wulff's DVD, and she starts a roll cast with a few feet of line,
until eventually all of the line has been roll cast. Maybe you need to
make two roll casts: one to get the line somewhat upstream, and the second
to get the line more upstream. Ken Morrow or another qualified instructor
should be able to offer more advice.

mcnerney 08-11-2009 02:33 PM

Re: Roll cast question
Search YouTube for Roll Casting and you will see some good videos showing how to do a roll cast. Here is just one:


speyrod1 08-12-2009 03:23 AM

Re: Roll cast question
look up a snap-T spey cast for those tight quarters you will find it very useful even with a single handed rod it combines the roll cast along with the change of direction you are looking for on moving water
good luck on your quest of fly casting dont be affraid to use some of the spey casts with the single handed rod you will find they are a great tool to have on some tight water

BigCliff 08-12-2009 09:17 AM

Re: Roll cast question
Y'all are making this too damn hard. A simple roll cast can work when needing to change angles in moving water (throwing back across the river after letting the fly swing downstream), but direction changes over 30 degrees can be tough.

I think the double spey is most useful for the situation the original post described. Its a little tricky to learn, but you'll find yourself doing it as often as possible once you get it just for the fun of it. Here's the two most important things to remeber: always have at least your fly (if not some leader as well) touching the water before delivering the forward cast, and do not cast over your leader. (doing the latter generally causes tangles.

You may find it easier to use your non-rod hand to the butt of the rod to add a little more snap to your stroke. I frequently use the technique with my 9' 4wt and can throw 70' with little backcast room.

randyflycaster 08-12-2009 09:48 AM

Re: Roll cast question
For me one of the biggest problems with roll casting is maintaining line tension, or keeping slack out of the line. To help me do this I use my finger to hold the line against the rod handle. When I stop the rod at the end of the forward cast I release the line. Also, I begin my forward cast just before my fly stops moving. I want my loop to be in the shape of an oval (or a D-loop.) If I wait to long my line loses the shape.


cb 08-12-2009 11:01 AM

Re: Roll cast question

Originally Posted by BigCliff (Post 65531)
Here's the two most important things to remeber:

I'd add a third Cliff - don't use the double spey in an upstream wind. Gentle upstream breeze perhaps-but only if you cant do the single spey. Downstream wind perfect. Downstream gale use the snake roll.

Tight loops!


flyguy66 08-12-2009 01:09 PM

Re: Roll cast question
do y'all shoot line on the roll cast?

can you aerialize a roll cast?

at the end of your downstream drift, simply retrieve most of your line and pick up. plop it down upstream, shoot line on the roll cast to the target. ta-da! this is best option for delicate presentations (dry flies, spooky fish situations, short to medium distance roll casts, etc.)

the other best option is the 1-handed double-spey. (fine for streamer fishing and such on faster water, etc. where subtle approaches are not important)

if you learn to aerialize your roll cast (keep the loop in the air from the time you start the forward casting stroke until the fly lands), the upstream roll cast becomes far more efficient. i'll give you a hint: the fly line is going to follow the path of the rod tip on a bigger scale, right? can you execute a side-armed roll cast? play with it! and remember - slack is the enemy!

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