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Casting Tip of the Month - Double-Haul Casting

courtesy Atlanta Fly Fishing School

Question: I’ve been invited to go salt water fly fishing and I was told I need to be able to double haul to get distance and to overcome the effects of wind. What is the right way to do it?

Answer:

Most Georgia trout fishermen are shocked at the degree of difference there is in the world of salt-water fly casting. The double haul is definitely a requisite to keep your trip from turning into an exercise in frustration.

The variations I’ve heard on how to haul are bewildering. Some instructors say “pull short”, others say “pull long”, still others “pull fast”, “pull slow”, “pull hard”, “pull easy”, “pull early”, “pull late”…The single and double haul are relatively simple maneuvers that involve a line hand pull on the fly line while casting with the rod hand. If we understand that the line hand haul simply assists the rod hand to make the cast (same basic cast) only with faster line speed then we quickly understand when to haul. In a basic overhead single hand cast we start slow to get the entire fly line moving in one direction, accelerate during the middle of the cast to get the “wrinkles” out and gain faster line speed, finishing the cast with maximum acceleration and rod loading just before a crisp stop. Adding a haul with the line hand is simple. It is a mirror image in movement of the rod hand. When the rod hand accelerates thru the casting stroke the line hand accelerates with the pull. As the rod hand reaches the maximum acceleration toward the end of the stroke the line hand pulls faster. When the rod hand stops, stop the haul with the line hand. Easy…right? Unfortunately the concept is easier to grasp than the practical application. Mastering equal movement and symmetry of both hands working in opposite directions is a little like learning how to rub your tummy and pat your head. It takes practice.

Here are two techniques I use that help students in our school quickly learn the double haul. First, put the rod down and pantomime the double haul with hands only, eliminating the distraction of casting a fly line while building muscle memory of what the hands are expected to do. The more time you give to this exercise the easier it will be to double haul when you pick the rod back up. One of the beautiful things about the pantomime exercise is you can do this anytime anywhere, although it will draw attention at red lights and at work. The second method I use is when you do pick the rod up and attempt the double haul; make only one-half of the cast at a time. Make a single haul back cast letting the line fall to the ground. Next make a single haul forward cast and again let the line fall to the ground. It may even help to perform these half casts in a side arm fashion in front of you rather than overhead so you can easily see what you are doing. Making single haul casts will give you ample time to think about what you are doing. When each half of the cast feels right, try putting the two single hauls together into the double haul.

Be careful out there, it’s really easy to get bitten by the saltwater fly-fishing bug…I know!


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