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Spey Casting with Eoin Fairgrieve - The Roll Cast (Part 2)

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A step-by-step guide to the basic roll cast

Following on from part one of the fundamentals of the roll cast, watch below as Eoin Fairgrieve demonstrates and explains each part of the cast in action.

1. Facing downstream, strip a comfortable length of line from the reel and allow the current to straighten the fly line. With the right hand on the fore-grip and the left hand on the butt grip, place your right foot slightly forward, pointing in the direction of your intended forward cast and hold the butt of the rod level with your belt buckle. You are now in a position where the rod tip is touching the water at about the 8 o'clock position, the fly line is completely straight and you're ready to begin the casting cycle.



2. As the rod tip is lifted smoothly upwards through the clock face, try not to take the rod back in a true vertical plane, rather tilt the rod tip at an angle of about 10 degrees to the right if casting with the right hand uppermost, or 10 degrees to the left if casting with the left hand uppermost. This places the 'D' to the side of your position and prevents the possibility of the fly 'kicking up' dangerously close to you during the forward delivery.



 3. With the butt of the rod still anchored close to your belt buckle, continue tracking gradually through the clock face, placing great emphasise on a silky-smooth progressive increase of lifting speed. If the rod is lifted with a 'jerky' motion, this creates unwanted slack line in the casting system. Slack line is the death to good spey casting because of the loss of tension. Keeping a constant tension in the fly line is fundamentally important. If the line becomes slack at anytime during the casting cycle, valuable energy from the spring of the rod is wasted returning the fly line to its tensioned state, resulting in a loss distance on the forward cast. As the rod tip nears the 12 o'clock or vertical position, push out the lower hand away from the body in preparation for a lift and point to the 2 o'clock or launch position to form the 'D' Loop.



4. To form a very dynamic 'D', once the path of the rod passes the vertical position, the rod tip should only track upwards towards the 2 o'clock or launch position. This lifting, pointing motion has three major benefits to the formation of the 'D'. Firstly, instead of the line 'feathering' across the water surface, the lift to the launch position 'jumps' the majority of the line behind your position, which in turn supplies more weight and resistance to load the rod for the forward cast. The second benefit is the pointed profile of the suspended 'D' loop prior to the forward delivery allows for a energy-efficient re-direction of the fly line into the forward cast. Lastly and very importantly, lifting upwards to the launch position allows the tail of the loop to anchor on the water straight and under tension in preparation for the forward cast.



5. Although seamless, there are two elements to the jump roll - the set-up and the execution. As soon as the rod tip has completed the lift to the launch position, the set-up portion of the casting cycle is finished. The tail of the line is now anchored on the water, the 'D' loop is loaded and it's time to execute the forward delivery. The rod is now powered forward with the right hand pushing forward and the left hand pulling in towards your body. The fly line is now being re-directed forward. As with the basic roll cast, try to imagine casting just the tip section of the rod on the forward delivery. As shown in the photo, the weight of the fly line suspended in the air will draw energy from the entire length of the rod, but the forward cast will benefit from a more compressed power stroke. This in turn will is not only require less effort, but also release the stored energy quicker through the rod and reduce the effect of downward defection as the rod is stopped.



6. As the rod is moving forward, think about accelerating the rod tip. In other words, the rod tip should be travelling at its fastest just before a positive stop at about the 10 o'clock position. This will ensure a deep load in the rod spring and good line speed as the line unfolds. Ideally you should be in a situation where the tail of the loop is pointing towards your intended target almost like an arrow directing your forward delivery and the rod tip travelling slightly inside of your target line. It's important to appreciate that the most efficient roll cast you will ever perform is when the line rolls out just inside itself, with the rod tip track slightly inside of your intended target. The energy from the rod is then used to simply roll out or unfold the line and not to try to re-direct the cast.



7. Once the rod has received a positive stop on the forward delivery, a rolling loop of line forms from the rod tip as the line lifts completely from the water surface and re-directs towards the intended target. If the cast has been executed correctly, the fly line will unfold out and above the water until the line has fully extended before falling to the water surface. Note the relative straight-line path of the unfolding fly line as it begins to extend on the forward delivery. This is a direct benefit of storing more energy in the jump roll, which is the foundation of the next cast - the Single Spey!


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