Roll Casting - double-handed rod

Theres no help for the angler when practicing a dead line roll cast. Therefore it can be neglected It is however a great learning tool and a test of technique, precisely because there is no help for the angler, no dynamic line to cast forward easily.

I don't ever underestimate the dead line roll cast as a learning tool and a great measure of correct and efficient technique. I often use it as a test of a caster's technique, especially making the stop. The ability to cast a double-handed rod well is a skill better understood with the practice of a technically correct dead line roll cast.

It is a most useful cast for instilling correct rod tip path technique for a D loop forming move via the climbing curve, if one sets it up in that fashion, and also for the forward cast via the ability to produce a narrow loop.

One of the greatest problems in double handed casting in general for novices, and in this bottom hand dominated style, is to not allow the rod tip to drop behind, and to ensure that a concave climbing curve movement is made with the rod tip every time on the sweep. A climbing curve will depend on the tilt of the rod to the side out over the river early in the sweep. The dead line roll cast allows us to practice this rod tip path in a slow enough movement to ensure precision.

A very thorough understanding of technique is able to be derived from the dead line roll cast.

Practical use
The basic dead line roll cast is a cast used to roll out slack line prior to making another cast, or more usually to lift a sunk / intermediate line or a sink tip to the surface in preparation for making another cast. It is also sometimes used to make a presentation cast in very confined places with limited back room.

A roll cast is a cast made with no back cast, the line is simply dragged back into position slowly, slowly being the important thing. There is no big change of direction possible with a roll cast and the final delivery must be made inside of the line lying on the water.

Two roll casts on the downstream side, each one changing direction about 20 degrees or slightly more can be used to make a fishing cast. This is how I and others used to fish the sunk line for autumn salmon on the River Roe in Northern Ireland, it was all double taper lines at the time, class two sinkers and often two roll casts made for a fishing cast. As a result Roe anglers were some of the best roll casters one could come across. The river wasn't big enough to make Spey casting necessary but big enough to make a good roll casting technique useful.

While it is possible to make a change of direction presentation cast for salmon angling while roll casting on the downstream side using two consecutive roll casts with small changes of direction, normally however a roll cast is not used for a change of direction cast, though it may be used in this way and especially in a confined space.

The roll cast utilises the water resistance from a dead or practically stopped line as the resistance allowing the angler to make a cast. The rod is raised in front of the angler using a low shotgun lift, the rod tip is then swung around slowly and steadily out over the river slightly and upstream. The line is dragged back slowly and the rod is raised behind until a shallow D loop forms under the rod tip before making the forward cast.

If attention is paid at this stage to making a climbing curve with the rod tip path it will be extremely beneficial for all future Spey casting technique. It should always be ensured that the rod tip should rise in a climbing curve to the key position during the D loop formation and never drop down behind at any point. Although the roll cast set up can be made perfectly well with the rod tip arching and dropping down behind and without tilting the rod tip out over the river as much I never use this method nor encourage its use, I always encourage the making of a climbing curve rod tip path. This teaches the correct tilt of the rod at various parts of the dragging back of the line to ensure a climbing curve even though the bottom hand is pushed out steadily, the same as will then be used in a jump roll or in Spey casting technique to form a D loop.

The rod ends up at the key position. Enough elevation has been made so that the thumb of the uppermost had on the rod is at least about the top of the ear in height, or forehead height, the bottom hand will be pushed out.

The final delivery must be made on the inside of the line lying on the water. The roll cast may be executed on either side of the angler, best to learn it both right and left hand uppermost on the rod. If there is a wind the loop is usually formed on the downwind side of the angler for safety.

What is extremely significant about the dead line roll cast is not only the rod tip tracking motion - which presents an opportunity to learn how to create a rising or climbing curve every set up, and this forms the basis of the same arm, hand and body movements and rod tracking involved in D loop forming moves used for jump roll and Spey casting. That still is not the only very significant thing about the basic dead line roll cast.

The dead line roll cast is the greatest tool for forming the basis of correct double-handed technique for the final delivery or forward cast. If one can make a tight loop final delivery from rod action alone and using a high stop from a dead line roll cast set up one then has the use of the body and hands in the correct sequence and balance of power application in the bottom hand, and the effective stop of the rod mastered. Its easy to miss the significance of this and to think of the dead line roll cast as a basic or insignificant cast. It's supreme significance as a basis in technique is not missed in Fulcrum fly-casting style. Great care is taken over making a tight loop final delivery from a dead line roll cast from correct technique alone without the use of force.

It is easy to see in fact from a dead line roll cast final delivery how well someone has understood and mastered the use of a double-handed rod. Pure technique only works to a certain distance in dead line roll casting when unrolling the loop in the air, about 70 ft for a 15ft rod is approaching the limit and a proper limit for examinations where and understanding of technique and what a roll cast actually is or should be is involved.

Dead line roll casting isn't a sexy enough cast for some and people can find it boring or start forcing lines out without unrolling them in the air or creating tight loops. It is a challenge however to do it right and it is hard. The challenge of building a solid basis in correct technique using this cast is an essential thing to master, repetitive practice of precise technique to perfection is extremely rewarding eventually and putting out tight loops on a jump roll or Spey cast then afterwards is effortless and under your extreme control. No pain no gain, the ground work has to be done correctly.

Anyone forcing out a dead line roll cast, or not able to make a tight loop delivery that unrolls out entirely in the air is not using technique nor are they understanding how a double-handed rod works. They may remain that way.

Note: A dead roll cast is a cast in which the line unrolls out in the air.

A cast that rolls out on the water is not what I am talking about and does not constitute a dead line roll cast for examination purposes.