Spey Casting- the Snake Roll

devised by Simon Gawesworth in the ’80’s as a quicker, all in one continual motion alternative to the Double-Spey, this one can be of use for any fly angler. not only fun and quick, it’s usefulness extends to any situation whether it be on large salmon rivers or teeny-tiny trout streams, a boat or lake or sea, basically whenever a quick change of direction cast is needed.
here’s an example: i’m on a lake shore fishing to my right and suddenly i see a rise or a cruiser on my left. instead of lifting the line and doing several aerial back and forth false casts to get the line in the fish’s direction, i simply lift the line, initiate the ‘e‘ mentioned below and bang ! it’s out where i want it in about what ? two to three seconds !
cool, huh ?

” Many, many years ago my father and I ran a fly fishing school in Devon, England on the river Torridge. The pool we used to teach Spey casting on was almost ideal. It was wide enough to throw a full line, shallow and gentle enough to wade to the other side and teach casting from both banks and had a nice high bank from which we used to video casters under tuition. The only thing that was wrong with it was that there was not a lot of current. The caster would stand on the left bank (river flowing from right to left) cast a Single Spey across the pool and then have to wait quite sometime for the current to wash the line back to the dangle. This got frustrating and so I used to use two Roll casts to get the line back downstream (there were too many trees lining the pool to do an overhead cast). The first Roll cast was to get the line in the right area and the second to straighten it out. Over the course of time I started to speed the two roll casts up, merging them into one fluid movement and thus became the Snake Roll. “

read Simon’s full article here.

drawing the ‘e‘ shape with the rod tip to pull in the line and set up the D-loop. be sure to keep the rod tip in plane as much as possible on the imaginary wall.

in the video below we see Christopher Rownes‘ absolutely gorgeous  performance of the Snake Roll cast with a single hand rod. trés suave !

let’s always keep in mind that contrary to what many people perceive them to be, Spey casts are casts that can be done regardless of equipment, with both single and double handed rods. they are not a designation of how many hands are holding the rod or a type of rod.
in it’s simplest form, we’ll define spey casts as ‘change of direction casts’: a repositioning of the fly line resulting in the anchor and D-loop in line with the target followed by a roll cast.
the Snake Roll is one of the alternatives in doing this all in one continuous, graceful and highly effective motion.
it’s an easy and quick cast to learn and a definite bonus to your casting repertoire, give it a try !

16 thoughts on “Spey Casting- the Snake Roll

  1. Regarding the video:
    Not bad casting at all, but nothing extraordinaire either.
    Remember the rule which states that the D loop must be aligned with the target? Look at the rod tip and how it detaches itself from the imaginary chalkboard depicted by Simon. Not an efficient way of making this cast.

  2. hi Aitor ! nice to see you here.
    interesting comment. i’m seing it as quite perfect and thinking that our diverging impressions might be due to the camera’s placement. most spey or casting videos in general don’t show the cast from (almost) straight on and we all know that casts photoed or filmed from straight on or behind are always less ‘flattering’… 😆
    it would be very interesting to see this in slo-mo 😉
    take care,

    • Hi there,
      1.- Go to 04:00
      2.- Compare the relative positions of the tip of the line and the rod leg of the D loop
      3.- Tell me that both are in the same plane

      • hi Aitor,
        no, at that point they’re not. my impression is the D-loop is sucking it all back nice and straight a little later ?
        i could be wrong.
        this does raise an interesting question: since we know that not all of the line follows the rod tip, which becomes more important, what the rod tip does or what the line does ? 😉
        i’ll remain in the line-centric group !

  3. Hi Marc,
    Love your site!
    I really respect Aitor he has a really great eye and is a superb fly caster and asks questions that clear up many things.
    My real passion is to teach fly casting and to get people up fishing and catching fish as quick as I can.
    I can see and hear my self saying to my students keep the e on the black board and now I see I do leave the plane.
    Its all about safety so lets keep the fly away from us.
    Thats what i love about Fly casting and Fly fishing you never graduate.
    and look forward to seeing you at the EWF

    • thanks a lot Chris ! you’re absolutely correct, some are really good at our game but there’s always room to learn more and that’s what makes it such an enjoyable challenge.
      see ya soon,

    • Hi Chris,
      No criticism intended: I admire your casting style!
      Back to the angled anchor: IMHO there is more to it than just safety. We’ll talk about it in Munich. 🙂

  4. […] * Eoin refers to this as “sustained anchor”, a term coined from the Skagit Spey casting school. according to Ed Ward, the creator of the term, the sustained anchor, a deliberate and prolonged pause (much longer than in traditional Spey casting) before line reversal into the D-loop can only be applied to Skagi-specific casts with i guess, Skagit lines, fast sinking tips and heavy/flies. in other words, Ward ( pointed this out recently on a fly casting forum) wouldn’t agree with his term being used in this video’s context. whatever… a more universally accepted term for the double-Spey’s anchor is ‘water-borne’ and it’s counterpart, ‘airborne anchor’ applies to the Single Spey or Snake Roll. […]

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