Learn the Snake Roll Cast with Andrew Toft

Glasgow Angling Centre has teamed up with Andrew Toft, World Champion Spey Caster, AAPGAI Master instructor and part of the MacKenzie product development team to offer Spey Casting tips, instruction and information.  In this latest article, Andrew introduces the Snake Roll cast, one of the most highly efficient casts to learn and when done correctly, lets you to reach the farthest lies in the biggest pools.
Learn the Snake Roll Cast with Andrew Toft
Learning the Snake Roll Cast

" With the 2015 season at a close we can look forward in anticipation to the beginning of a new season in 2016. Why not learn a new casting technique or fine tune your existing skills - weather permitting of course!

The Snake Roll is not only one of the most elegant Spey casts but when done correctly, it 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 to 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 and shooting heads, sink tips. However I would not recommend using a Snake roll with particularly heavier sunken lines or heavy flies without some very necessary adjustments.

Learning 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 like shape, or similar in the air.

The first movement will require the rod tip to be raised backwards and upwards in towards the bank. Then using both hands to gradually accelerate up and over out stream before the tucking under and accelerating back inwards to form the D loop. The rod tip path will continue on a gradual incline allowing our arms to glide up into 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 sufficiently out from around the centre of the body. This is the most comfortable and efficient position to deliver the cast from as soon as the anchor momentarily touches down.

The anchor and D loop are greatly influenced by the path and speed of the rod tip therefore it is very important that the tip maintains correct alignment during rotation in the air. This requires the correct use of the bottom hand during this movement. I start this cast by placing the face of the reel in the intended direction of the cast; thus placing 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 movement is made during this cast resulting in the anchor being positioned in front of the caster and the D loop thrown off 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 used 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 fairly steep incline movement and into the casting position, then we are likely to form a more D looped shape. If however the rod tip trajectory travels in a more gradual incline then we will start to push our loop back farther and change its form. If the rod tip travels flatter or on a straighter path during the incline movement and this is combined with the appropriate adjustments in speed then we will start to form a V loop. It is the speed and path of the rod tip that influences and establishes the shape and formation of the D or V loop.

Making the Forward Delivery
It is important not to hesitate for too long before starting the forward delivery as the Snake roll is very dependent on timing. For medium to longish casts weight shift, repositioning and forward acceleration should begin before the line touches down for maximum efficiency. There is only a small amount of time as the line momentarily touches down on the water’s surface where energy and tension will be at an optimum. We can then make the forward delivery remembering to stop the rod correctly to maximise efficiency.
The Snake Roll is a fantastic cast used with both single and double handed rods and well worth learning if it is a technique that you have not already mastered. It can be a great alternative to the double Spey and a very effective way to quickly change direction to cover rising trout on rivers and Stillwater’s."

Andrew Toft is a AAPGAI and FFF certified casting instructor and is involved in product design with Mackenzie Fly fishing. Andrew also provides Fly Fishing lessons in Glasgow and Stirling within Central Scotland. He also offers Spey Casting Lessons in Glasgow to help you become a much more efficient Salmon Fly Caster.