Snake Roll article series, part 2: Double Snake Roll

The snake roll technique has, as with the spey cast, a single and a double variant. The basic theory for this is also the same; they should be used for each side of the river, this is in terms of which arm you cast best with. In the same way as with the double spey cast, the double snake roll has a longer basic movement before the tippet is finally anchored in the water.

Photo: Mountain Media.

You are starting your fishing early this morning, it was hard to get out of the nice, warm sleeping bag, but finally you are on your way down to your favourite pool. The casting works well, a bit stiff – but this will be good as soon as the sun warms up your back a bit more. You can see the sun rising above the hills, and the beautiful light with a green tinge fits perfect for a Highlander tube you have already tied to the tippet.
Then it happens again: the trees start moving, the breeze is increasing in strength. And this wind direction may actually become quite powerful after a while. The wind is howling stronger and stronger down the river valley, and just now when you were nearing the hot spot at the tail of the pool. It is becoming more and more difficult to angle the cast well enough and far enough out in the current as the wind is pushing the line too close to your body when you anchor the tippet in the water beside you. You lose the power in the cast, the angle is also very difficult to achieve and the tippet is continuously tangling on the fly line on its way out across the river…

In this situation one may feel pretty helpless, and many people have to end their fishing when these kinds of problems appear. Then it is paramount to master several casting techniques so that you can solve the challenges arising. Around 80% of all fly fishers only master fly casting with one arm, and it is the right hand which most people use. This means that if you haven’t learnt other casting techniques to use in this “wind situation” where the wind is howling downstream and you only master casting using one arm, you will often struggle as a fly fisher.

But even people mastering fly casting from both sides of the body will struggle if they only master the spey cast. When the wind is blowing downstream, you would have to use the double spey cast, but it can actually be difficult to achieve good fishing casts using this cast as you would have to build up the cast against the wind. The limitation of the double spey cast – although it is possible to cast up to a certain wind level – is that the build-up of the double spey cast is quite calm and as such it will deliver a relatively slow line speed in the launch phase of the forward cast. Here the snake roll technique is totally superior to all spey casts because the snake roll technique means a lot higher line speed during the build-up of the cast, and as such you can cast with a higher line speed, which is a necessity in strong winds.

Thus, for fishermen casting just as well from both sides of the body it will be a great advantage to learn the single and double snake roll casts; then you can vary between spey and snake roll castings depending on the challenges facing you.

Personally I use the double spey cast in this situation which I describe in this article. Then I can simply change from the single spey cast when that is no longer effective, to the double snake roll cast when that is required. This means that you become a very effective fly fisher.
With a normal single spey cast in this situation you are forced to lift the fly line slowly out of the water in front of you, and when you then start the middle phase of the cast before anchoring the tippet the line will tangle very easily during the forward cast. This occurs because the lift-off in the forward position happens too slowly, resulting in the line speed throughout the whole movement towards the anchoring phase being too poor, and then the wind will catch the line and bring the line too close to your body.


Photo: Mountain Media.

This is why I think the double snake roll cast is a really good alternative. When I create the snake roll motion on the downstream side of myself and the line hangs freely in the air in front of me, I can influence the power towards the back cast in a whole different way. I can force the fly line against the wind much better. Now I achieve two things; firstly, I avoid being hit by the line/fly, as the distance between the anchoring and the body becomes so big that even if the wind works against me I will not get hit, this is naturally an advantage. The other advantage is that the angle of the cast becomes much easier; I force the fly line against the wind with the power I need for each situation. I will now have more time to plan a good angle of the cast as I approach the anchoring with a higher line speed, this will make it that much easier to succeed with a nice presentation of the line during the forward cast. A totally awesome cast, regardless of which side of the river you prefer to fish from, when the wind is howling downstream.

Tight spots.
In tight and difficult spots and situations this is also a very good cast, primarily because you can anchor the tippet so far in front of you. In these situations it is also an advantage to use the snake roll as the tippet hits the water at a higher speed, thus the rod will load more easily. This goes for all snake roll variants.

In the film clip below you will se the double snake roll cast performed using a double handed rod, but the basic technique is just the same with a single hander, the only difference is as previously stated that you load the single handed rod by using the double haul, whereas with the double hander you use the scissor technique to add additional power.

Watch a film clip about the basic technique - click here.
The film clip is taken from my new DVD named “Advanced double-handed fly casting - My Best Casting Techniques”.

The technique.
Move the rod upwards and to the right, in order to create a good distance between the circles as they hang in the air.

2) Start the circular motion towards the bank; make it as round as possible with the upper arm.

3) Remember that the arm should stay at the same distance from the body throughout the circle movement.

4) When the rod tip is at its lowest during the circular movement you should start the second movement before the back cast.

5) Remember that in this part of the cast it is very important to accelerate towards the back cast, if you do not do this the tippet will hit the water too early in the cast.

6) It is also very important that you rotate the upper body with the rod movement in this phase of the cast; this helps you to better angle the cast out towards the river.

7) Remember that the arms should have the same distance from the body now as well, and just as with the double spey cast the upper arm should be moved in a horizontal motion until the back cast.

8) Then you lift the rod and stop the motion so that the tippet is anchored in the water.

The double snake roll cast must not be confused with the Air snake technique. This is a different snake roll variant which will increase the line speed towards the back cast, and as such even more advantages for the forward cast.

I will write about this next time.

Jan Erik.

jørem vald namsen

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