Resembling the "Perry Poke", the Tongariro Roll Cast was developed in the Hydro pool of the famous mighty Tongariro River in New Zealand. It developed accidentally as a way to send heavy bombs and glow bugs a large distance without a back cast and needs to be seen to be believed and as an incredibly effective way of fly fishing New Zealand's larger rivers. Some anglers around the Tongariro now achieve further distance than overhead casting with the Tongariro Roll Cast as well as reducing the risk of receiving a bomb in the back of the head on a windy day.
Tongariro Roll Cast Video/Movie/MPG
In the demonstration here, I am using an 8 weight rod with a weight forward 8 weight line, 14 feet of 6lb flouro-carbon to a size 10 hare and copper bomb (heavily weighted fly - 4mm tungsten bead with 2 wraps of lead dubbed with hare and over wound with copper). Trailing the bomb by a foot is a size 12 glow-bug a foot behind and a yarn indicator (basically the standard Tongariro winter nymphing rig).
If you are initially unable to view the movie (MPG) file to the right of this (it may take a few seconds or even a couple of minutes to download of you have a slow connection so bare with it a little) then click here. This will hopefully open the application that your computer uses by default to view the movie - after clicking, you may have to check the other open programs as it may not come automatically to the surface. The cast is extremely effective and consistent with very little chance of mucking up once learnt i.e. 90% or more of your casts will achieve 90% of your maximum range.
Most people find that once learned they can pretty much achieve the same distance as double hauling but with far less effort.
This demonstration was filmed on the Tongariro on a windy day, there were no takes i.e. only filmed once with no warm up and the distance cast is around 80 feet of fly line from the reel plus the leader. On my best days I can achieve around 95 feet of fly line extended from the reel plus leader.
Shortly there will be further videos on here showing things in more detail and slow motion with diagrams but for now I will try to just explain the basics of the cast.
Although you can perform the Tongariro Roll Cast with a broom stick and a bit of rope if you needed to there are better combinations of tackle. A fast action rod will give a longer cast in the end, I am currently using a New Zealand made Composite Developments XLS 8 weight 4 piece rod.
The most important thing to get right is the fly line. Certain lines are horrible for the Tongariro Roll Cast, some are OK, and some are excellent. The best taper and line I have found so far for my rod is a Cortland 444SL. Unfortunately the durability of these lines is not great and the only tend to last me around a month of hard fishing on the Tongariro before they are too cracked to use. I used to use Rio Long Casts but they discontinued these and I had heard that the replacement "Rio Accelerator" wasn't any good however I would have to say this is wrong - I had an Accelerator given to me from the rep and it is proving to be a fantastic line. Initially I found it didn't seem to roll the flies over well but I have got used to it and can hit around 90' of line from the reel consistently. The line is lasting well and is showing no signs of the cracking issues of Cortland lines so I would have to rate this as my first choice at the moment. The Scientific Anglers lines High Plateau and XXD are 2 more great lines for Tongariro Roll Casting - its just a pity they don't float! In the cheaper lines the Cortland fairplay seems to do ok'ish for the price but I certainly prefer the Rio Accelerator.
Whatever manufacturer you are loyal to, the important thing is to get a long bellied fly line. Some people like to muck around with spey lines and double tapers which probably do a good job of the Tongariro Roll cast I would imagine, however when you can get 80 - 90' out of an ordinary fly line which casts well overhead as well then why would you jump back 30 years and go to a double taper when a weight forward casts far more superior overall?
The Tongariro Roll Cast Explained
How does it work? Why does it work? It just does - but there are some very explainable reasons why.
If you are reading this page then you probably already know what a roll cast is and realize that if there is not much casting room behind you then you can still cast a reasonable distance forward by laying the line out in front of you on the water and then drawing the rod tip back behind you leaving the tip of the fly line and flies in the water ahead, you then quickly make a forward cast which when you stop the rod at the end of the shot at the 10 o'clock position leaves the fly line propelling forward and ripping the tip of the line and flies off the water and forward.
The Tongariro Roll Cast is merely an extension of this basic roll cast.
Before I explain the Tongariro Roll Cast in more detail I need to first make sure that you understand a couple of terms that I will be using that are often used in Spey casting and roll casting.
Line Stick is the water tension that is holding the fly line to the water, i.e. when your line is on the water and you go to lift it off you will see a bit of a splash as the line rips clear of water because the water sort of has hold of the line.
The D-Loop. Imagine you have just cast on the water. Now you lift your rod tip up and point at the sky (12 o'clock). Now a friend of yours walks out into the water 5 meters away and grabs hold of the fly line. He then walks behind you holding the line up high. As he walks behind you dragging the fly line the rod you are holding up and the line he is carrying forms a rough letter D shape with the rod being the straight bit of the D and the line from the rod tip through your friends hand and back down past your feet into the middle of the river forming the curved bit of the capital D. This is the D-Loop.
The Anchor. When you roll cast or spey cast the fly line, flies, and leader that is still touching the water at the time you begin your forward casting stroke is called the Anchor.
Basically the reason the Tongariro Roll Cast is so effective is that it allows you to create a bigger D-loop than ordinary roll casting. In fact it probably allows you the greatest D-Loop of any of the spey or roll casting techniques.
Set up as though you are going to roll cast. Drop a heap of slack line onto the water. Back cast the slack into as tighter D-loop behind you as you can. As the rod loads up behind you with the fly line moving into a tight D against your rod tip and the anchor, cast your forward stroke.
Sounds easy in theory and if you roll cast a lot or spey cast you will pick it up in no time otherwise it will take a bit of getting used to.
You will find that the closer the anchor is to you the more effortless the cast is. You also want to have everything aligned as straight as possible just as when roll casting. You will need to find out how big your anchor needs to be for your set up. If you use a longer leader and heavier flies then the amount of fly line you need to leave as part of the anchor will decrease, whereas if you are casting a dry then you may need to leave a few meters of fly line there to act as an anchor.
Everyone who can do it well (which is not many - probably only a couple of dozen people) has there own little beliefs and technique differences in the final application but we all share the same basic movements.
We set the line up in front then we throw out some slack (some just drag off the slack - I actually give a little haul and a low side cast attempting throw some slack line well out past the indicator), then we pretty much back cast that slack behind us - again I give a little haul, and then when it loads up we fire the forward cast in exactly the same motion as an overhead cast. The rod loads against the anchor and as the line propels forward over the anchor it rips the anchor clear of the water and carries the flies out.
When you cast the slack behind you that forms the D-Loop make sure that you don't drop your rod tip too far allowing any of the slack to touch the water as this will increase the amount of line stick hence adding to your anchor and your anchor will become to big to rip clear of the water on the forward stroke.
With your setup whether you shoot line like me or drag it off like Herb make sure that your rod tip is in a low side cast position only a foot or 2 from the water as this is a lot easier. In my case of shooting some line out it actually also speeds up the whole maneuver which stops the heavy flies sinking down to the bottom and increasing the anchor.
Perform the setup quickly. If you do things too slowly particularly with heavy weighted flies, then the flies will sink to the bottom and when the forward cast comes and the line is trying to rip the anchor clear the flies will have further to travel through the water column, offering far greater resistance and will basically act as too bigger anchor. I.e. with Tongariro size flies your anchor increases with time as the flies sink deeper.
To achieve the best distance you will need to haul. Haul when you throw the slack out. Haul when you throw the slack back into a D-Loop. Haul like hell when fire the final shot (cast).
If possible shoot/slip line anywhere you can in the setup. I shoot line when I do the little side cast. I shoot/slip some more into the D Loop.