The Double Haul
By Bob Garber, Master CCI
Many beginning casters want to learn how to double haul before, during or after their first lesson. In some cases it is the first thing they try to do when they first pick up a fly rod. A double haul in your casting arsenal is a great tool to have but add it after a good basic foundational cast is second nature. A good foundational cast is one where you can perform it in a relaxed easy manner, not one where the rod swishes in the air from over powering the cast. It is also one where the pickup is smooth, easy and not ripped off the surface of the water and the lay down does not slam into the water. The loops are relatively narrow, the fly leg and the rod leg of loop are straight and parallel. When you can do this with thirty to forty feet of line in the air then you are ready to learn the double haul.
The double haul has several functions, one of which is increasing line speed and another is sharing the work with the rod hand. Increasing the line speed with a haul coupled with narrow loops allows a cast to go farther and is a critical element in going for distance. This is especially useful when longer casts are needed when fishing in the salt or casting into the wind. The haul also shares the work of casting with the rod hand by allowing the rod hand to move slower with less force while still maintaining line speed. This allows you to cast for longer time periods without getting arm fatigue and makes for a more enjoyable day fishing.
When teaching the double haul I use the same on the grass horizontal method that is used when teaching beginners line and loop control. Practice the double haul by starting with thirty feet of line on the ground in a horizontal straight line to the left or right in the manner of making a back cast. The reason to start with at least thirty feet of line is that much is needed for the loop to pull the line from the rod when hauling and to keep slack from forming between the line hand and the first stripping guide. If there is less line out it is difficult to achieve the benefits of the haul.
Begin with your rod and line hands about six inches or so apart. Make a back cast, but as you begin the back cast pull on the fly line with your line hand and then give the line back by moving your line hand back to within six inches or so of your rod hand, stopping the give back when you stop the rod hand and let the line fall to the ground. Go slowly in the beginning getting the motions and timing correct. Try to match the timing and energy of the pull/give back motion of the haul to the timing and energy of the start and stop of the casting stroke. Repeat this exercise on a forward cast, then a back cast and then a forward cast again. Do this through several cycles.
Moving both your rod and line hands at the same time and in different directions will feel odd at first but with practice it will feel better. It is often said it is like rubbing your head and patting your stomach at the same time. Once you feel comfortable with the timing and energy keep the line in the air on the back cast and forward cast, still in a horizontal plane where you can watch the loops. Then when the loops, timing and energy are consistent start raising the casting plane to your normal position. If the cast starts falling apart back up to where you have control and start over again.
Once you have mastered the double haul it will become almost second nature to use it in your casting. It will be like riding a bicycle, you never forget how.
As always if anyone has questions concerning the newsletter articles, casting, equipment or anything fly-fishing related that comes to mind feel free to contact me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and cell is 817-863-8190.