Roll Casts

The roll cast allows you to cast forward when there is no possilbility for a backcast or an overhead cast. This can be a very common situation around small streams that are tree-lined or have tunnel-like brush stretches. A properly executed roll cast can easily reach 30 feet or more. It is important that there is no slack line between the rod tip and the water prior to executing the forward cast. You may find better efficiency if you hold the shooting line in coils within your line hand prior to the forward cast. You are also at the mercy of the current since the line travels upon the water.


When on a stream, pull out about 20 feet of fly line from the reel and let the current drag this section out, keeping the rod tip low near the surface. To start the roll cast, keep your elbow in front of your body and raise your entire arm with the forearm being perpendicular to the water. The rod tip will move with a moderate, progressive lift to just past vertical. Do not break the surface tension between the line and the water. The tip of the rod will be behind you and the line from the tip to the water should have no slack. Your elbow should be well in front of your shoulders and elevating as you bend your arm, bringing the rod back to the proper angle. The line should not be laying alongside the rod. If it is, slowly roll your wrist outwards to move the line away from the forward pathway of the rod. You'll notice a slow curve of fly line coming from the water to the rod tip. Do not allow the line to go back behind your head. This curve is the first part of the loop you'll eventually cast. Now, drive the rod tip forward with a accelerated motion and an abrupt stop at the 3:00 o'clock position. If you hold the coils of shooting line in your line hand, you can release the line halfway through the forward stroke by swinging your line hand toward the butt guide. The line will roll off the water and straighten out in the air in front of you.

Common mistakes are dropping the rod tip down too low. This will bring the loop of line below the rod tip when cast forward and may result in hitting yourself with either the fly line or the leader. Another common mistake is not stopping the rod completely before going forward. You need to stop the rod to load the rod properly when changing direction. The line will always follow the path of the rod. Also, try the roll cast by lifting the rod over your opposite shoulder. This is a backhand roll cast. Keep your elbow in front and bring the rod forward as you would with the forehand roll cast.

Roll Cast
©2023 Steve Schalla
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