Fight Wind: Learn
The Double Haul
by Randy Kadish
This is your time of year:
your vacation. You're on the flats, fly rod in hand, finally. The
tarpon is sixty feet away. Something electric - perhaps a primitive
instinct - surges through you, turning on your long-held dream of
hitting the fly-fishing grand slam. You lift the line off the water,
cast back, then forward. The wind howls, and in your mind you hear a
coyote, but then you remember you're nowhere near the woods. Over
the water you see your beautifully shaped, but somewhat wide, loop
blown out of shape. Your line crashes down, well short of your
quest. Reality left hooks your dream. Your guide says, "Use this."
He holds a spinning rod. You
think, Isn't a spinning rod cheating? What will I tell my friends?
That I played it safe and stopped at third base? I'm supposed to be
a fly fisher, for better or worse, aren't I?
Yes. Then why not for the
better? Why not learn the double haul and how to turn your casting
loops into tight wind-piercing -like arrows?
It's easier than you think.
LET ME EXPLAIN. I'll begin
by asking: what is a haul?
Simply put, it is casting a
fly rod with one hand and simultaneously pulling down the line with
your other hand, and increasing the line tension on the rod tip, and
therefore bending (loading) the rod more so that when we abruptly
stop the rod at the end of the cast, the tip recoils faster and
across a longer arc.
To take this definition even
further: The haul is, in a sense, a reflection of our power snap.
And what is a power snap?
I'll define it as the second
part of the casting stroke. In the first part, the loading move, we
slowly accelerate the rod. In the second part, the power snap, we
rapidly increase acceleration, reaching maximum speed at the end of
our casting stroke.
Let me digress: It is a
well-known principal of fly casting that if we want to increase the
length of our cast, we must also increase the length and
acceleration of our loading move, and also of our haul.
(If you ever watch a
long-distance tournament fly caster you'll see that during his or
her power snap they move their hauling hand faster and longer than
their rod hand.)
The Downward Back Cast Haul
HOW LONG AND FAST? The more
line we're casting - usually at least 35 feet--and/or the heavier
our fly, the longer and faster we must haul. If we properly
accelerate our cast and our line forms a wide loop, we hauled too
slowly. If our line forms a tailing loop, we hauled too quickly or
To be more specific: When
false casting, we'll finish most of our downward back- cast hauls
with our line hand pointing to about eight o'clock. If we want to
increase the length of our back cast haul - many casters haul longer
on their back cast than on their forward - we'll have haul at a
steeper angle and finish the haul with our line hand pointing to
about six o'clock.
On most of our downward
forwardcast hauls we'll finish with our line hand pointing to about
seven o'clock. On our presentation casts we'll accelerate our haul
as fast as possible and finish with our line hand behind our front
Downward Forward Cast
To help increase my
presentation-cast acceleration, I like to pretend that, instead of
hauling, I'm holding a football upside down and throwing it behind
me as far as I can.
But what about those tailing
loops? To help prevent hauling to early, we must begin our downward
haul and power snap at the same time. So during our back cast,
loading move we must keep our line hand level with our rod hand and
move both backwards. (This will seem difficult at first, but with a
little practice it will become second nature.) During our forward
cast loading move we must move both hands forward.
Next, we begin our power
snap and downward haul, rapidly increasing acceleration, then
snapping our hauling hand down. Finally we stop our haul and our fly
(To help me do this, I like
to visualize a loose rope connecting my rod and line hands. When I
stop my rod I imagine the rope completely tightening and stopping my
But what if we continue our
haul after we stop the rod?
We'll make it very difficult
to execute our upward haul without adding slack.
(More about the upward haul
So now you have it: the
basics of the long, downward haul.
WHAT WENT WRONG? Probably
when we executed our upward haul and gave line back.
Hands Together: The Forward
As soon as we finish our
long, downward haul we must immediately give line back at the same
speed the line is unrolling. If we give line back too quickly -
some- times to compensate for stopping our downward haul too late -
and we don't feel tension on the line, we'll add slack and weaken
But supposing we give line
back too slowly and don't get our line hand up to our rod hand
before we begin our next cast?
We'll probably commit one of
two serious, casting defects: 1. We begin our cast by moving our rod
hand before or faster than we move our line hand, and therefore add
line slack between our hands and decrease the line-tension on the
rod tip. The result: the rod doesn't fully load and our cast is
under powered and maybe even collapses. Oh, the embarrassment! 2. We
begin the cast with our line hand below our rod hand, and we still
manage to move both hands in-sync, but because we started our haul
with our line hand too low, we run out of hauling room. Again our
To help get our line hand up
to our rod hand it's important to remember that if we shoot line, we
should simultaneously slide our line hand upward.
If we finish our upward haul
level with our casting hand, but still add line slack between our
hands, we should try varying the speed of our cast and/or our haul.
For example, slow down our haul and speed up our cast, or speed up
our haul and slow down our cast.
If we're false casting into
the wind and we cannot execute our upward hauls without adding
slack, we should increase the acceleration of our downward hauls but
decrease their length. This may appear to be a contradiction, but it
isn't if we begin our haul later in the casting stroke, after we
begin our power snap.
GETTING THE LINE TANGLED
AROUND THE ROD BUTT. This is a common problem when executing a long,
upward haul. To solve this we should begin our upward haul by moving
our line hand up and away from our body.
FINALLY THE REAL SECRET. To
become a great hauler practice throwing a ball with your hauling
And so for as long as we
fish we'll probably wish for less wind and closer fish, but now we
won't have to wish as much, because in our double haul we'll
thankfully see its defects: wide loops, tailing loops - loops that
will reflect cures and help us become our own hauling doctors; so
that the next time we're on the flats and see a tarpon we'll round
third and head for home.
Text and photos by Randy Kadish 2007 ©
Randy's historical novel,
The Fly Caster Who Tried To Make
Peace With The World, is available on