When fly fishing, having a variety of casts in your arsenal makes you a much more proficient angler. There are dozens of different casting techniques and few more valuable than the roll cast.
In this article, we will take a look at the benefits of the roll cast and specifically the type of line that is best suited for the task. We will also look at a couple of line products that we think are well suited for the roll cast.
Benefits of the Roll Cast
The major benefit of a roll cast is it can be used in really tight quarters where the ability to make a backcast is not possible. This is great for working in small mountain streams or even in large tailwaters where to get the best angle on the fish, you just can’t get a backcast.
We also like to use a roll cast when we are fishing a short window of a feeding lane. With a roll cast, we can quickly pick up line and put it back upstream of the feeding fish without much movement.
Another advantage of this technique is that it allows you to fish in a very stealthy way. So if you are trying to sneak up on some trout or bass, the roll cast might be the way to go.
With the proper line and some practice, you can be as accurate with a roll cast as you are with the standard back and forward cast. Let’s take a look at some characteristics of fly line that make roll casting easier to master.
Line Type for Roll Casting
You can use both floating line or sinking line for a roll cast though, a sinking line can present some issues to those inexperienced in their use and the roll cast. Floating line is spooled far more often on fly anglers reels than floating line, so we are going to keep the discussion to it for the rest of the article.
When it comes to discussing fly line for roll casting, we think the tapering of the line has the most influence on the lines ability to roll over.
A weight forward (WF) tapering is probably the most popular tapering used by anglers. This taper allows you to shoot line more efficiently and even make casting in traditional methods easier. Usually, the first ten feet of line is thicker than the remaining line. This taper can be used for roll casting, and it is used every day by thousands of anglers.
The performance of this line when it comes to roll casting is limited because of the design. It is much harder for the lighter middle section of the line to turn over the heavier line in front of it. This makes roll casting at increased ranges a bit more difficult. In smaller streams where you are roll casting on a dozen feet at the most, the design of this taper doesn’t hamper roll casting at all.
The second taper that we like to use for roll casting is a double tapered line (DT). This taper the first ten to fifteen feet of line gradually increases in diameter. The next section of line, usually 60 to 70 feet of line remains a constant diameter and weight. Then, the last ten to fifteen feet of line decreases in diameter at the same rate as the front of the line.
Because the middle section of the line is thicker and weighs more, it can easily turn over the lighter line at the front as well as an increased amount of line in the water.
This makes the DT line excellent for roll casting at both short range and more importantly, long-range roll casting scenarios. This line can be a little tougher for general casting, especially for novices.
Both WF and DT fly line can be used for accurate and efficient roll casting. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and you should weigh their performance in other categories as well before spooling your reel with either.
While the two types above are the more common fly lines, there is a unique taper that is heralded for its roll casting ability, and that is the triangle taper. This taper, designed by Lee Wulff, is a continues taper (usually30-40 feet) starting which means that back line is always heavier than the line in front of it.
This makes it very easy for the line to roll over. As you can imagine, it makes it perfect for the roll cast. There are not a lot of options for line tapered in this manner, and the design can make other casting techniques pretty difficult for the beginner angler.
It can make casting in close, other than roll casts, pretty difficult but it also allows very delicate presentations.
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The Best Fly Line For Roll Casting – My Top 3 Picks
Below, you will find three fly lines that are going to handle a roll cast well, and with some practice with your equipment, you can master this cast in no time.
We want to note that some of these selections are geared toward specific fish species, but most manufacturers carry lines of the same design that will be better suited to whatever you want to fish for.
Royal Wulff Triangle Taper Floating Line
Since we mentioned the triangle taper, we thought we should take a look at a line designed in this manner. This is the classic Royal Wulff design that has become a staple for Spey casters as well as other fly anglers.
It is available in a wide array of weights and depending on the weight, features anywhere from 27 to 40 feet of tapering and the rest of the length is running line to give you a total of 90’ of line.
This line is available in dual tone, and other single tone color schemes and all go through the J3 coating process which helps reduce friction on casting and keeps the line floating high. Some products from this line are also available with welded loops.
Because of the design, you can get very crisp and tight roll casts due to the way the line can roll itself over with its weight distribution. This is true for short and long-range roll casts.
This line gives you a very delicate presentation with dry flies, but this same design can also make nymphing a little more difficult, especially up close.
Rio Trout LT DT Floating Line
Rio’s Trout LT is out choice for a double tapered floating line if you are wanting something that is going perform well executing a roll cast.
There are a lot of weight options for this line including 000 to 6 weight. All of these options come with the Sage color scheme and all but the 000, 00, and 0 weight lines have welded loops at both ends of the taper.
All of the weight options has 90 feet of line with a little under 30 feet of forward tapering at both ends with 32 feet of the main body which is uniform in its weight and diameter.
With 30 feet of forward tapering with rear loaded weight, it is perfect for just about all roll casting applications. And when one end of the line begins to wear out, you can change to the other end. Both have welded loops.
This is a great line for making mends as well as going to a lighter presentation.
Scientific Angler Mastery Trout WF Floating Line
Next up, we have the Scientific Anglers Mastery Trout line.
This fly line is your modern, do a little bit of everything fly line. It’s extremely versatile and can cover a lot of fishing applications and techniques. This is a standard weight forward taper.
The max weight of the line is around the 15-foot mark, so the line rolls pretty well at short distances. It’s going to be a little more difficult, but nowhere near impossible to get nice tight loops and line extension 20-30 foot range because the lighter line is trying to turn over the heavier line.
For a classic weight forward line, it still performs well in the roll cast department, and you’re not going to be limited in other casting techniques.
It shoots line well and maintains its floating properties well with its AST finish and it also features a welded loop.
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How To Roll Cast
Swing the rod to the outside of your body. The first thing you are going to want to do is to swing the rod to the outside of your body.
Why this is important is because if you were to bring the rod straight back the line is going to follow the rod, bringing the lure right at you and your body. Not only is this bad for your cast, but it could be dangerous.
To avoid that, be sure to always begin by swinging the rod along side your body, it doesn’t have to be much, but just enough so as to prevent the line from getting tangled.
Lift the rod to the 2 o’clock position. Next, slowly lift the fly rod up until your reel is at about eye level.
At this point, your elbow is going to be bent and you want your fly rod to be at eye level. This is an essential step because it is going to create what is called a D-Loop.
The D-loop is formed by your rod and the fly line that is coming off your rod. The bigger the loop the more line you are going to be able to lift and move.
If the rod and fly line aren’t creating the letter “D” you need to give your rod more of an angle. To properly form the “D” your rod needs to be pointing at 2 o’clock.
Bring your rod forward. Lastly, with your forearm, you want to drive the rod forward, give the rod a quick stop and allow the rod to follow it back to the water.
This can be done by bringing your rod from the 2 o’clock position to a 10 o’clock position in a quick yet controlled fashion.
Learn more in the following video:
Essential Roll Casting Tips
Keep things straight. The standard roll cast is not meant for changing directions. So if you try to change directions, especially when you are just starting out, you are going to end up with a lot of tangled fishing line.
However, over time and with much practice, you will quickly learn other variations to the roll cast that will allow you to change direction.
But first keep things simple and start off by casting in a straight direction.
Roll cast alongside your line. When you bring your rod up, your fishing line is still in the water. This is going to tell you in what direction your next cast will go.
You have two options at this point, to roll cast on the left side of the line or on the right side of the line. Do not roll cast directly on top of the line. This will take the momentum out of the line and your fly won’t go anyway.
The key is to cast it to either side, but at the same time keep it parallel to the line.
Add a haul for a longer cast. Adding a haul when bringing back the rod will help to create in a sense a bigger D-Loop. Doing the same on the forward delivery will do this same. This will result in a longer and faster cast.
Don’t forget to establish an anchor point. Some anglers will bring the rod up too fast and not establish an anchor point.
An anchor point is a point that the line touches the water. It is between this point and the line that comes off the rod that creates the D-loop.
However, without first establishing an anchor point, you aren’t going to be able to create enough momentum to bring the line off the water and roll the line.
For that reason, it is important to take your time, and slowly bring the rod back to establish an anchor point first and then follow through with your cast.
Don’t push the reel forward. The power to make the line roll comes from the fly rod, not the reel. So when making your forward stroke, avoid bringing the reel forward. This doesn’t transfer the energy effectively and thus won’t help you to roll the fly line.
Check out some other tips in the following video:
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The roll cast is too valuable a technique not to have in your arsenal. It can get you out of tight situations, and when you have the right line and the amount of practice needed, it can be as accurate and have as good of range as most other casts.
By outlining some key characteristics of fly line that is well suited for this technique and presenting a few of our favorite fly lines for roll casting, we hope that it will get you in the right direction of matching the correct equipment for mastering this invaluable technique.
Now it is your turn. What have you found to be the best fly line for roll casting? Share your experience in the comments section below.