The Snake Roll Cast



The Snake Roll Cast


The Snake Roll cast is not only one of the most elegant of the Spey casts but when done correctly the snake roll can also be highly efficient. It falls into the downstream wind family of Spey casts and although it may look tricky to master, it can be learned fairly easily once you have grasped the fundamentals of good technique. If you want reach the farthest lies in the biggest pools then the Snake roll is ideal as we can really get some speed into the cast. The Snake roll can be used with a variety of tackle including Spey lines, shooting heads and sink tips, however,  I would not recommend using a Snake roll with particularly heavier sunken lines or heavy flies without some very necessary adjustments.


How to do the 90 degree Snake roll cast


As with all the other casts I would recommend when possible to place the leading foot from the same side that I am casting from. As mentioned previously this is my preference as it allows me to finish naturally in alignment and helps to prevent any excessive upper body rotation. As a reference when we make a Snake roll we are scribing the rod tip around in an egg shape.


The first movement will require the rod tip to be raised backwards and upwards into towards the bank and then using both hands to gradually accelerate outwards before tucking under and accelerating back inwards to form the D loop , arriving in the key casting position. When in the key position the upper hand and arm will be positioned at around 90 degrees with the heel of the hand around head height, the lower hand will be positioned out sufficiently from around the centre of the body. This allows the arm to be bent at around 45 degrees. This is all happening simultaneously as the anchor and D loop form.


An important point is that our anchor and D loop are influenced by the path and speed of the rod tip, therefore, it is very important that the rod tip maintains correct alignment during rotation in the air. This requires the correct use of the bottom hand during this movement. I also point the face of the reel at the intended direction of the cast; this should place the rod at a right angle to the target. This combined with the correct hand movements and speed will produce the best D loop and anchor alignment. I have observed many times when the top hand dominates the movements made during the cast, resulting in the anchor being positioned in front of the caster and the D loop is out of alignment. This is because it is almost physically impossible to correctly and efficiently rotate the rod tip within the correct path of movement with top hand technique.


An efficient Snake Roll Cast


We can also consider how to influence the speed of the line during rotation and influence the shape and form of our D or V loop. As mentioned above, I use the analogy of scribing an egg shape in the air with the rod tip. This works well as a reference point while learning but understanding how we can make alterations is equally important. The movement throughout the rotation is progressive with the fastest part of the movement being the sweep under (bottom of the egg) before inclining up into the casting position. The speed and path of the rod tip during this movement will determine whether we form a D loop or a V loop but in general terms, if the rod tip travels in a concave movement during the sweep under or final or bottom section of the rotational movement followed by a steep incline into the casting position, then we are likely to form a D loop. If however, the bottom section of the rotation is less concave and the rod tip trajectory travels in a more gradual incline then we will start to push our D loop back farther and slightly change its form. Finally, if the rod tip travels a flatter or straighter path during this tuck under or sweeping movement with the appropriate adjustments made to the speed then we will start to form a V loop as we blend into a shallow incline. It is the speed and path of the rod tip that influences and establishes the shape and formation of the D or V loop.


Delivering the Snake Roll Cast


It is important not to hesitate for too long before starting the forward delivery as the Snake roll is very dependent on timing. Weight shift, repositioning and forward acceleration should begin before the line touches down if we have any significant length of line. This is necessary for maximum efficiency. There is only a small amount of time as the line momentarily touches down on the water’s surface energy and line tension will be at an optimum. We can then make the forward delivery to maximise efficiency.

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