Alpine Pond Fly Fishing: How to Master the Roll Cast

I’m no fly fishing expert, but it’s certainly a hobby of mine. Every angler should be well versed with all types of fishing tackle to become a better angler. Fly fishing is no different. While I’m not tying my own flies or anything like that, I am an intermediate fly fisherman even as a Southern California native. We don’t have trout streams like other people in the country do, but we do have ponds and lakes that you can throw fly tackle on. The trick is learning the proper technique, in this case: the roll cast.

What’s a Roll Cast in Fly Fishing?

Glad you asked. A roll cast is a type of fly casting technique that allows you to pitch line without a back cast. In some cases, like here on a pond, there isn’t much room to back cast to load your rod. Instead, you load your rod in a motion that transfers the energy from the rod into the line in a loop that “rolls” the line forward.

While you do lose efficiency due to the friction and stickiness of the water, it’s a fun technique that allows for putting your fly accurately into the spot where you want it to go.

How to Roll Cast

1) Let line out

First, you’ll need to free up line. Free up 4 to 5 rod lengths of line and bring the line out of the tip using the drag on the water.

2) Point your rod to the sky

Then, lift your rod tip and put it into the 12-o’clock position. You should notice that your line is now hanging in a “D” shape. If you’ve made it here, great!

3) Swing your rod tip to 3-o’clock

Now, swing your rod tip down and forward, making sure to load the rod with the weight of the line. Notice your rod is now pointed directly out to the horizon. The roll cast motion is like throwing a paper airplane, or hitting a hammer – it isn’t like hucking a 4oz weight into ocean. If done correctly, a nice loop of energy will be deployed from your rod tip, rolling your line forward and will pop your fly off of the water and in front of the line.

Make sure that you’re loading the rod during your swing. Because fly fishing rods come in different actions, the speed and weight of line are factors in determining how fast or slow the rod needs to be swung to execute a roll cast.

Fly Fishing a Pond

In the video above, I’m fly fishing a very tight pond that has an angler or group in every nook. I have my kid with me, so wildly back casting is a recipe for snags and disaster.

Ever since we started fly fishing this pond, we’ve been crushing it. Because I utilize a roll cast, I’m able to place a different type of bait in front of fish that they aren’t used to. This isn’t power bait, or plastic jigs that these small pond fish are used to. Instead, these are natural looking presentations in an area that’s filled with bugs landing on the water’s surface.

I highly recommend giving fly fishing a try in areas that no one fly fishes. The fish are smarter than we give them credit for.

And if fly fishing doesn’t work, try feeding the fish with salted mussels baits or salted squid baits. They keep well in my backpack and give me an additional option to use when my regular tackle isn’t working.