Learning the Jump Roll Cast with Fly Fishing Instructor Andrew Toft

Posted: Mar 17 2018



Learning the jump roll cast


The jump roll cast is not very practical as a standalone cast in fishing terms without any additional adaptations, as it does not incorporate a change of direction. The jump roll does however form a natural progression from the basic roll cast. It is also useful while learning the Single Spey Cast as many of the general rules are applicable. The jump roll will also be the cast of choice while learning or improving technique on the non-dominant casting side. Many fishermen will often use this cast to practice correct loop formation and to make various adjustments. So, if you are learning to Spey Cast or aiming to improve your technique, time invested in understanding the key areas of this cast will be time well spent.

The Jump roll cast and the static roll cast share many similarities in that we have to form an efficient anchor and D loop. However, rather than sliding the line along the water’s surface, we will encourage the line to momentarily jump into position and form the anchor. In other words, we will speed up our movements and combine a few subtle differences, which will be covered in the following chapters.

So why is this necessary?

The basic Roll Cast is very important in practical terms and is often described as one of the key foundational skills when learning to Spey cast, but it also has its limitations in that the line is static. Therefore, we can only place so much line within the D loop; this also leaves a lot of line on the water’s surface, the anchor. Although the static roll cast is very necessary when fishing, it is restrictive in terms of efficiency, hence the reason for speeding up our movements and jumping the line into position in a controlled manner. This enables us to maximise the amount of line within the D loop, and in doing so minimise the amount of line on the water’s surface creating a smaller anchor. The cast then becomes more dynamic and efficient due to the larger rearward moving D loop and less line stick on the surface of the water.


Performing the Jump Roll Cast. (35 to 50 feet of floating line) 



As with many other casts, stance is very important and can make or break how effective our technique is. I always advise people to place their leading foot forward corresponding with the same side and pointing in the same direction that they are casting to. This provides adequate range of movement, but more importantly it helps maintain alignment of our body and prevents over rotation of the shoulders. As a general rule our grip should be around roughly shoulder width apart, placing the upper hand at the very top of the rod handle is something that should be best avoided, as it often encourages excessive pushing during delivery. (An over dominated top hand push)


The initial Lift - Jump Roll Cast



As mentioned above, the following movements will be adequate for around 35 to 50 feet of line from the rod tip. Adjustments in movements and timing will have to be made, as the line length increases or decreases for example.

It is worthwhile learning the Jump roll cast in two parts, practice forming the anchor, then move onto the forward delivery when more familiar with the correct anchor placement and timing.

Start with the rod tip fairly low to the water’s surface, leading foot pointing to the target. Lift slowly to around 45 degrees. This angle of the rod should be maintained throughout the initial movements of the sweep;-avoid raising the rod to high. It is also important that we use the bottom hand efficiently during the sweep and avoid excessive pulling with the top hand. The upper hand should only tease and guide the rod back as the lower hand is pushed out smoothly. Casting becomes much more natural when we can feel the rod flexing correctly. The movements should be progressive with only a little increase in speed, as the rod passes our body to encourage D loop formation. The rod tip path and speed is very important and it should be traveling on an incline. It may take practice  to become proficient at this movement, but by observing where the anchor is landing helps us to better understand the required timing. As mentioned, the jump roll cast is very reliant on smoothness of movement and timing; this is greatly helped by correct use of our hands. We learn quickly by a combination of observation and feeling. Watching and observing the lower section of the D loop and anchor will provide valuable clues as to the speed and path of the rod tip. Feeling the flex of the rod throughout the sweep will help us understand what influence it has on the line and anchor. It is worth practicing this movement until it becomes relaxed and consistent.



The Key casting Position



 We can then practice repositioning our hands (drifting upwards) into the key casting position just before the anchor touches down. The aim is to arrive in the correct and efficient position to make the forward delivery immediately as the anchor touches as this is the most effective, (touch & go). We are then able to use the rearward energy of the D loop and maximum tension in the line to our advantage. If there is too much of a delay or we are not in the correct key position, then it becomes difficult to be efficient, there will often be excessive line stick and a poorly timed forward delivery as a result.


The key casting position is a reference point or term used to describe the position of our hands and arms. The upper hand is positioned at around 90 degrees with the heel of our hand around eye level. The lower hand is positioned out from the centre of the body to allow adequate movement. The rod will be canted slightly to the side.

The Forward delivery

We want to make the forward delivery as the anchor momentarily touches down. Too much hesitation can make the difference between a good cast and a bad one. It is also important to use the slight body movement as we flex the rod and accelerate with the hands in a forward and slightly downward movement. I often refer to this as lead before speed; we have to lead with our upper body and hands before we apply the most speed. The speed I am referring to is the sharp push/pull movement made right at the end of the casting stroke. This combined with an efficient stop is what kicks the rod tip over at speed, the more efficient we stop the rod, the faster it turns over. I often describe an efficient stop as one of the most critical parts of the cast, if we do all other areas of the cast correctly but cannot stop the rod properly, then we will always get a similar result with poor line speed and loop formation no matter what cast we do. In general terms, fly casting is mainly about effective energy transfer, and without an efficient stop this is greatly reduced. After the rod is brought to a firm stop, we can immediately relax our grip on the rod to allow it to correctly recover. The rod will then be lowered sympathetically to allow the line to fully straighten.


D loops and V loops


The ability to for an effective V loop is an essential tool in gaining more distance with any of the Spey Casts. More often than not a D loop will suffice, but when we want to shoot line and gain more distance then some adjustments will have to be made. The speed path and trajectory of the rod tip is what influences the shape of the line during the rearward sweep. If we require a D loop then the rod tip must blend into a fairly steep incline as it passes our body on the sweep. This, if done correctly, will provide a more rounded shaped D loop. When we want to increase efficiency this sweep will become slightly longer and faster; the rod tip path should travel in a longer more gradual Incline. This in turn will influence the line shape as it travels rear-ward. The D loop will start to become more oval in shape rather than rounded. However, in order to fully form a V shaped loop, the rod can be swept back on a straight incline, this produces the sharpest of V loops as the energy is concentrated in the one overall direction, and the line travels back further into a fully compressed V shape. In order to do this correctly, we must use the flexible nature of the rod and avoid excessively pulling with the upper hand. The ability to adjust the shape of our rear loop greatly increases efficiency and distance.


Faults and Fixes.

The Jump roll cast is very reliant on technique and timing. The following list of examples, is by no means exhaustive, but they cover the most common and most likely faults. It is also worth remembering that nearly all faults originate from our inappropriate hand and body movements. Also, variations in timing and movements will change when wading, using longer or shorter rods or lines as mentioned previously.

Line is pulled along the water’s surface and fails to jump into position – Make sure the rod is raised to around 45 degrees and is not too low to the water’s surface, use both hands effectively and avoid pulling the rod mainly via the top hand. Gradually speed up the movement especially in the latter part of the sweep to encourage the line to jump into position.

Crashed or piled up anchor – Excessive dip from high to low during the sweep, is often a result of the rod being raised too high at the start of the lift and forming an excessive dip during the sweep. Skipping or missed anchor- inappropriate fast or erratic movement during the sweep, too high, too fast or aggressive. 

Mis-alignment of the D loop (not within 180 deg to target)-  Over rotation of the shoulders, often a symptom of pulling with the top hand that pulls the D loop slightly behind the caster and out of alignment. In some cases it may even hit the water behind. Check stance is in alignment and again, avoid using mainly top hand dominated movements. Using slight back and forth body movement can help maximise smoothness and range of movement. When this happens, it is unlikely that a good forward cast will be the result, as correct alignment is very important.

Line stick – Poor Timing-  A badly formed large anchor –  Can be caused by hesitating too long when the anchor touches down or positioning the rod too far back in preparation to make the forward delivery. Over rotation of the shoulders dropping line behind as mentioned above.

Audible crack from anchor – This is often caused by mistiming and can be cured by slowing down a bit. However most often it can, caused by raising the rod on an abrupt and steep incline towards the end of the sweep. When this happens, you will see the rear section of the anchor forms a shape upwards on a similar path, as soon as the forward movement is made the anchor breaks free, often with an audible sound.

Open climbing forward loop- Generally caused by inappropriate power application( power too soon) Accelerate smoothly and save the speed for the end of the cast.


Andrew Toft is an Aapgai & Master certified casting instructor based in Glasgow and is also part of the design team for the very successful Mackenzie fly-fishing products. For more information on learning to Spey cast and to arrange one to one tuition please visit www.andrewtoft-flysport.com or www.andrewtoftflyfishing.com

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