The Wallis Cast Demystified

There have been many articles written on the subject of Wallis casting and a couple of video clips on the net as well. The problem I have with publishing this article is simple, it's been done before. However, I have never been able to understand from these articles what is being explained. In my opinion, the biggest obstacle with teaching Wallis casting is explaining how to hold the rod correctly. I have witnessed at least two ways, both of which have left me wondering how it would be possible to cope if a big barbel was hooked. I am referring to those that hold the rod above the reel, and somehow use a finger as a brake. This is all well and good but I have to ask how do you grip the handle with any strength holding the rod in this manner?


I have written on the subject of the Wallis cast before, I have also taught countless anglers to use a centre pin reel. I have used a centre pin since the age of 10 and have been Wallis casting, since an elderly gent taught me when I was13. There seem to be various styles of the Wallis cast, but the method described below is the way I was taught and in my opinion is the easiest to achieve. It is incidentally the method used by Bob James and Chris Yates.

The Wallis Cast

There seems to be a lot of myth surrounding the Wallis cast, but I cannot see why. I wish that Mr. Wallis were still around now, to point us all in the right direction. There appears to be many variations on the Wallis cast but the description which follows is the way that I was taught. Perhaps I should mention here that the only time a centre pin reel is a disadvantage is if a barbel decides to swim towards you. I have in the past found it nigh on impossible to wind the reel fast enough but thank goodness this is not a common occurrence.


Any free running centre pin will suffice. I have heard it said that you cannot Wallis cast from a narrow drum center pin but I frequently do and without problems, although I prefer a drum with a width of between seven eighths and one inch. My own personal choice is the Swallow center pin, which has a drum width of seven eighths of an inch. This is a superb reel and very free running, although not a true centre pin because it runs on ball bearings and not on a central pin and bushes. There is much discussion about line guards, my own reels are not fitted with a line guard and I prefer it that way. The most important factor is that the reel should be free running. Please note that I said free running. I have read many posts on the internet by some of those who own a centre pin, who proudly say that their pin spins for a minute or more. This is not and never will be a requirement for the Wallis cast, free running is good enough and the reel will never have to spin for a minute.


Again, my preference is to use rods of between eleven and thirteen feet long. I would suggest that it should not be stiff, but a nice easy action. By this, I mean a through action, because the top of the rod needs to act like a spring. An Avon style rod is perfect for this and again, my own choice is an eleven or twelve foot Avon type through action, which is perfect for the job of Wallis casting. Perhaps I should mention Quiver tip rods. I did once try to use a quiver tip to Wallis cast but I am of the opinion that quiver tips play no part in Wallis casting. The sole reason being a quiver tip is too soft and absorbs the energy required to propel your lead forward during the cast.

Wallis Casting

I shall presume that you have not attempted the Wallis cast before, or have had limited success, so here is a step by step guide to the Wallis cast. You will need to use a weight of about a half an ounce for learning purposes and a float, purely as a guide to show you where the weight is going. You will not need a lot of line; about twenty-five yards of six pounds breaking strain will be more than sufficient.

Step One

Hold the rod across you chest at about the eleven o'clock angle pointing upward. Obvious I would have thought but someone is going to ask where the tip should be pointing. Hold the rod so that your hand is below the reel and your thumb is in control of the reel drum. I appreciate that there are various ways that anglers hold their rod when using a centre pin reel but this is the way that I am going to recommend to you. Now taking the line over middle and index finger of your left /right hand if you are left handed, as I am. Pull off about a couple of feet of line so that the weight is about level with the top of your rod handle. Use your thumb to stop the drum revolving. At this point I should tell you not to have the reel hanging down, but have the reel flat with the handles upper most this will aid the line when it is coming from the reel and avoid a birds nest. More of birds nests later. Now gently swing the weight forwards, as you do so, let your hand rise up towards the rod but don't attempt to rotate the reel at this stage. The line still held behind your fingers the weight should gently land a few feet out in front of you. Practice this before you move on to the next stage.

Step Two

As in stage one, bring the weight level with the handle top and gently swing the weight back and forwards like a pendulum. As the lead swings out gently pull down on the line behind your fingers, this action will start the drum of the reel revolving. Use light pressure with your thumb to brake the rotating reel drum as the bait nearly reaches its target and then, as in step one, bring your hand back towards the rod. If you have it right, you have just made your first Wallis cast. At this point I should mention that if you rush the Wallis cast you will muck it up every time. Cast as if you were casting in slow motion and each cast will be perfect. I have thought long and hard and I cannot think of an easier way to explain the Wallis cast but jut an hour or so should see you casting with some confidence.

Distance and Accuracy

Distance will come with practice, so please keep practicing. However, at the early stage of mastering the Wallis cast, whatever you do, do not try to cast to the far bank if you are fishing a wide river as you will only be disappointed. In all the years that I have been Wallis casting I have never yet had to cast a long distance, it is not usually necessary. If it's distance that you require, use a fixed spool reel. Please do not think I am criticising fixed spool reels, I am not. I often use one when the circumstance dictates. However, thank goodness that is not often!

Over past years I have taught a number of anglers to Wallis cast, those that I have had the pleasure of meeting again had perfected the Wallis cast and are extremely proficient, some more so than I. I hope that you can follow these simple instructions and that being able to Wallis cast enhances your centre pin pleasure.

If you decide to learn, I hope that you perfect the cast and get as much pleasure in landing a big barbel using a centre pin reel as those of us who already use the not so mysterious Wallis cast.

A 12-10
barbel from the Kennet that Allan caught in the middle of a lesson!Allan Marshall

A 12-10 barbel from the Kennet that Allan caught in the middle of a lesson!

As a footnote, I have been working with Roger McCourtney of (Peregrine Rods) to develop a rod suitable for Wallis casting. As I mentioned before, I have in the past found an Avon type rod suitable for the task but there were times when I felt a lack of power when playing larger barbel. With the help of Harrisons, Roger and I have developed a rod which in my opinion fits the bill. More news of this when I have finished testing the prototype, but let me say we hope it will be the ultimate rod for Wallis casting when it appears on the market. Check out for more details.

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