“The truth will come to you at last, when all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll, and she’s buying a stairway, to heaven…”
I was inspired on a float down the river yesterday, when arriving at the confluence of my focusing thought and the humming of one of my favorite drinking songs – start a beer when the first guitar plucks start, what is that note – sounds like a warm E, but my guitar lessons are long overdue anyways and I’m looking forward to some instruction from a potential client. You’re supposed to finish your drink before the song ends, but somehow I seem to forget where I am, and end up, well, I digress. Led Zeppelin seems to be good river music, along with the whispering trees and the slurping fish, so that’s what got me thinking about the workhorse cast, the Roll Cast.
The truth is, you got to do those things the best you can. The Roll Cast is a work horse cast because it’s so commonly used, especially on a drift boat. It’s one of the basics; when times are tight, the seam is calling; you’ve got to get those double-bead flies and indicator over that faster water and the wind is blowing at you, and the overhead cast just won’t work, because at this point you’ve already fouled two new leaders and eight flies, and your patience is as thin as that 6x tippet – whew, it’s time for the roll cast.
The key to the roll cast is the anchor – being patient enough to slowly build that loop of line, hanging below your rod tip and laying on the water, and be purposeful with your motions. Too often, anglers try to roll cast with too much line on the water, and unless the end of your line is moving, those flies aren’t going anywhere. On a side note, see Steelheading.
When I’m guiding clients on the Clackacraft, it’s easy to tell who really likes to cast, and who doesn’t. Often, the people who love to cast will do it so frequently, that there is no way they’re going to catch fish. In a previous blog, I discussed presentation, and how that’s key to catching fish. Keeping those flies in the water gives them a chance to “fish” the water you’re in, and guides specialize in instructing you on the where, when, how long, and why – but there comes a time “and it’s whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason” to cast and a time to drift. Experienced anglers understand the delicacies of overhand casting with nymph rigs, and often adapt their casting technique over time to counter for the difficulties; I tend to side-arm my roll casts, or across my chest sometimes, but in time, what holds true is the anchor. Prepare for it, move with purpose, be patient, then watch how those heavily-beaded “truck and trailer” rigs that your guide so artfully tied up for you arc through the air, landing at the top of that prime water, a quick mend, strike, play, and release.
Take those steps, and you’re on the Stairway to Heaven.