Snake Roll article series

This is the type of cast that I like the most. After seeing this technique for the first time things really took off, I have never been out practising with the fly rod as much as during this period. I experienced a completely new world of opportunities, which made my fishing more effective. I had been spey casting for several years, but combining this cast with the snake roll made it possible to cast in very different ways.

Photo: Mountain Media.

The alternatives are: Single Snake Roll, Double Snake Roll, Air Snake, and Opposite Air Snake. In a series of articles I will describe all these techniques, using both text and film clips. This time it is the Single Snake Roll that will be described.

If you master this wonderful cast with both arms, you will almost never face a challenge on the river that you cannot overcome. With these combinations you can cast in very strong winds, thus you will cast with more control when using the Snake Roll in strong winds. The reason for this is that the leader will have a higher speed as it hits the water in the inwards phase of the cast than when spey casting. When performing the Snake Roll motion with the rod you initiate a rotation of the line because the rod is moved in a circular motion. This ensures that you are working with a faster line speed in the build-up of the cast, therefore you load the rod very effectively with full power as the leader in anchored in the water. After you lift the line off the water during the build-up and the whole line hangs in the air, it is simply easier to control its speed towards the back cast. 

Another advantage is that the shooting head is “made shorter” by using this circular movement, which helps you cast in extremely tight spots, and you can angle the cast much more as well. Another thing about the Snake Roll that fascinates me is that in most situations I will be able to do just fine using only one arm (e.g. my right arm); I can cast and solve most situations using the same arm from both sides of the river. The Snake Roll basic technique contains a very quick energy transfer from rod to line, and this is why you achieve such a high line speed when using this cast. For this reason this technique is very much suited for today’s fast rods and shooting heads.

Some advantages with the Snake Roll cast.
ven if you master the single spey cast using both your left and your right arm you will experience problems when the wind is howling downriver. In this situation, it is normal to switch to the double spey cast, but even so, you will have to lift your line up against the wind. In this situation, the Snake Roll is a truly fantastic cast to use, as you build up the inwards phase of the cast from the side of the body that is sheltered from the wind.

If you only master spey casting with one arm, you will often face problems with the double spey cast when fishing from the “right” side of the river, and especially if the wind is blowing downstream you will struggle in this situation. Then the double snake roll or the opposite air snake, among others, will be good solutions, as these are performed using the arm you already master fly casting with. (I will write about these techniques later).


Photo: Mountain Media.

Combining the spey cast and different variations of the Snake Roll cast will make you an extremely skilled fly caster and a very efficient fly fisherman. Please do not regard this article as promoting a negative view of the spey cast, e.g. when I present examples where the Snake Roll is more effective than the spey cast. I write this because there is a technical casting solution almost regardless of the challenges facing you when you master and combine the spey and the Snake Roll casts. My thoughts behind the combination casts I develop are focused on becoming a better fly caster and salmon fisher, and I hope this article will inspire you to practice more with the fly rod.

Another tip:
On those days with lots of wind, it is an advantage to use a sinking line. This will cut through the wind much easier, and you will avoid that the line drifts through the water too quickly when the wind pushes the line downstream faster than the current. This also goes for situations when the river is low, then you just choose a lighter sinking line.

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 basic technique.
1) Calmly lift the rod in one single motion upwards and inwards towards the bank. This motion is the starting motion for the Single Snake Roll cast, with this motion you will ensure a good distance between the circles as they hang in the air.

2) Then, move the rod in a circular motion out towards the river, try to create a circle as round as possible with the upper arm on the handle, this ensures that you will make nice round circles with the fly line.

3) Remember that the arms must move at the same distance from your body throughout the circular motion.

4) Then you move the rod backwards towards the bank in a careful, accelerating movement.

5) As with the spey cast you must lift your arms here too in order to create the spey loop, you must also stop the rod movement for a second so that the tippet is anchored in the water before commencing the forward cast.

6) This cast is the simplest of all when it comes to the angle change as it has the shortest basic movement, when the fly line is in the starting position downstream of you the upper body must face in the same direction, so when you create the circular motion with the rod you twist the upper body out towards the river.

PS! Remember that the basic snake roll motion is exactly the same for both single and double hand fly rods. The only thing separating these rods is how you load the rods. With the single hand rod and single hand modern casting techniques it is the double haul that is used to load the rod with extra power. And the modern way of loading the double hand rod is the much talked about “Scandinavian style” technique, i.e. the scissor technique – you will find separate articles on this under the link “Casting”.

Good luck with the fly casting, stay tuned for the next article which will talk about the double Snake Roll cast.

Jan Erik.

jørem vald namsen

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