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First, I'll cover the "When" and then go into the "How" and "Where."
This fly fishing casting style can be used anytime, but especially when sidearm casts are useful or needed. When drift boat fishing with two people, one can use the onside cast while the other uses the offside cast. This keeps the lines away from the rower. These casts tend to lay the lines out straight which is useful when casting to the banks. Weighted flies rollover nicely without kicking for both fresh and saltwater flies.
Canoe fishing is mostly done from the sitting fishing. Rollover casts are done with upper body rotation, which does not destabilize the canoe as much as the rocking motion of overhead casts, especially for the longer casts. Using both casts give better coverage of the water.
If there is wind these casts can be made to lay the line quickly on the water as is done with the Mulson Wind Cast (the Mulson Wind Cast is covered in another article.)
Now for the "Where."
Fishing small brushy streams where sidearm casts are the most useful. Having perfected both the Onside cast and the Offside cast allows the fisherman/women the ability to cast in either direction from the side of the stream as needed.
Regular sidearm casts can easily kick to one side of the cast and put the fly in the bushes. The rollover casts lay out straight, eliminating this problem.
In brushy streams the wind is often channeled up or down the stream. With the light lines used in these conditions, it does not take much wind to cause accuracy problems. Laying the bottom line on the water solves this problem.
A nice puddle cast can be made by aiming the cast up, which is easy to do with sidearm cast. The line straightens and the fly slides back along the path of the line as it falls.
Finally, I'll show and explain the "How."
Stance: The feet are oriented at 45%. This allows for an easy 90% rotation of the upper body. Even on a flats skiff, rotating the upper body is preferable to rocking the body, thus rocking the skiff and sending pressure waves across the flat to the leary fish.
Grip: Extended grip with the last two fingers coiled around the grip such that the grip is now under the heel of the hand.
It is started with the arm extended, the palm up and hand approximately chest high. The rod angle to the wrist/forearm starts with the reel at 30 to 40 degrees away from the wrist.
The cast is like a gun, it needs to be loaded before it can be fired. The first quarter turn of the shoulders and folding of the arm straightens the line and bends the rod.
The rod and the arm are now in a loaded position ready to be fired. This should be done in a deliberate and unhurried manner. In the Onside Cast the unhinging of the wrist and closing the last two fingers add more power making this a much stronger cast.
As the hand moves by rotating the shoulder a quarter turn, the arm is folded with the hand back as the elbow drops to the waist with the wrist/forearm rod angle opening to around 60 degrees.
At the same time the hand is rotated a quarter turn while the wrist hinges back with the butt pointing to the target. This loads the rod and straightens the line. The forefinger, which is now behind the grip, extends and cups the grip at the first joint. The last two fingers are relaxed with the grip held against them by the loaded rod.
The cast is finished by continuing the shoulder rotation and extending the arm while rotating the forearm and squeezing the grip with the last two fingers until there is a rotational stop with the back of the hand up and thumb under the grip.
The hand continues forward in a follow through with the forefinger pointing toward the target. The haul coincides with the forearm rotation.
The rod is not aligned straight with the forearm during this rotation. It is more likely to be elevated by 30 to 45 degrees. This depends on what the caster has in mind. The elevated rod is needed for the tip to travel straight along the target line.
Rollover casts work best when there is a good bend in the rod before rollover. For this to happen, one needs a fairly aggressive shoulder turn prior to the rollover. A strong haul is made during the rollover.
Final notes; the loop in the Onside cast has a small curvature on the bottom and is somewhat open on the top. The bottom line seems to be under tension with the top line rotating over it. This seems to be why it has a strong tendency to lay out and why weighted flies do not kick, but lay out instead.
For the top line to successfully run on top of the bottom line, the rod needs to be held up at an angle somewhere near 30% by keeping the wrist cocked and thus the reel at that angle from the wrist. If it is not, then the line runs off to the side. Also the torque and the load on the rod during the rotation is somewhat less and leads to weak cast.
Get out and practice on your lawn to perfect this cast and be ready to use it when the conditions dictate.
Editor's note: Joe Mulson developed the Rollover Cast, both the Onside and the offside versions. In this article Joe shows you how, when and where to use the Onside version of the Rollover Cast. The Offside Rollover Cast is covered in Part Two of this two part series.
Joe Mulson started serious flyfishing in 1944 with the Shadfly (green drake) hatches on the Central Pennsylvania streams. It was a Mecca for fly fishermen at the time.
In the late Fifty's Joe took evening classes in fly tying given by the local school system and has tied most all of his fresh and saltwater flies ever since.
He started traveling in the Seventies and fished the streams on the western slopes of the Rockies from Arizona to Montana. And in the Eighties he joined FFF and Backcountry Flyfishing Assoc (BFA.) His interest in fly tying and casting intensified during his attendance at the FFF Conclaves. It was also at that time during his membership with BFA that started him on his venture into saltwater fishing.
In the Nineties the Southeastern Council of the FFF was formed and Joe was asked to represent BFA as a board member. It was at the SEC Conclave in New Orleans where Joe earned his certified instructor certificate.
Joe lives in Central Florida and provides a free casting clinic each month to the members of the BFA. It is such a priviledge to be able to attend his clinics.
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