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 and then forward. The wind howls, and in your mind
you hear a coyote, but then you remember you're nowhere near the
woods. You look ahead and 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, once we begin the
power snap, simultaneously pulling down the line with our 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 break our wrist, though not on the back cast, and
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 then 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.)
HOW LONG AND FAST? The more line we’re casting—usually about 35
feet— the longer and faster we must haul. In general, if we properly
accelerate our fly rod, but our line forms a wide loop, we hauled too
slowly. If, on the other hand, our line forms a tailing loop, we hauled too
quickly or too early. But what if we’re casting
heavy flies? Many casters don’t increase their
hauling acceleration. In fact, they actually slow
it down as they believe that forming a wide
loop will help prevent a weighted fly from
hitting the rod tip. This is probably true, but
a wide loop limits our casting distance. Be-
sides, in my opinion, if a cast is executed
correctly, a weighted fly will not hit the rod
tip; so, for maximum distance, I increase my
casting and hauling acceleration when casting
a weighted fly. How much do I increase my
acceleration? As much as possible, as long as
my loop doesn’t tail and/or my fly doesn’t
bounce at the end of the cast.
HOW DO WE HAUL? When false casting, we
execute most of our downward hauls at an
angle of about 60 degrees to the water, and
we finish our hauls with our line hand pointing to about eight o’clock. If
we want to increase the length of our back-cast haul we’ll have to haul
at a steeper angle. Also, we might have to generate additional power
by snapping our line hand down at the end of our haul.
On our downward forward false-cast hauls, depending on how much
line we have out, we’ll finish our haul with our line hand pointing to
between 8 or even 6 o’clock. On our presentation casts, we’ll
accelerate our haul as fast as possible, and finish with our line hand
behind our front thigh.
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 when do we start our haul? Some casters start their downward haul
when they’re executing their loading move. I, however, like to haul
late, as this will help prevent tailing loops, and will also allow me to
shorten my hauls without losing power. (Shorter hauls, as we’ll soon
see, make it easier for us to execute our upward hauls without adding
slack to the line.) So, I begin my downward haul when I begin my power
snap. During our back-cast loading move, we keep our line hand level
with our rod hand and move both backwards. When our rod butt points
to about 12 o’clock, we begin our downward haul. (Moving both hands
backward will seem difficult at first, but with a little practice it will
become second nature.) During our forward-cast loading move, we
also move both hands forward. When our rod butt points to about 11:
30, and our casting arm is extended about halfway, we begin our
We increase our hauling acceleration faster than our casting
acceleration. Abruptly, we stop our haul and our fly rod at the same
time. (To help me do this, I like to visualize a loose rope connecting my
rod and line hands. When I stop my fly rod I imagine the rope
completely tightening and stopping my hands.)
But what if we continue our downward haul after we stop the rod?
It will make it very difficult for us to execute our upward haul without
So now you have it, the basics of the long double haul.
WHAT WENT WRONG? The answer probably is that when we executed
our upward haul and gave line back.
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—sometimes to compensate for stopping our downward
haul too late—we won’t feel tension on the line, and we’ll add slack and
weaken our cast.
But supposing we give line back too slowly,
and we 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 we therefore
lose all 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 manage to move both
hands in-sync, and maintain line tension, but
because we started our haul with our line hand
too low, we run out of hauling room, especially when we execute our
presentation cast. Again our cast collapses.
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
If we’re false casting into the wind, and we cannot execute our upward
hauls without adding slack, we should start our downward hauls later in
the casting stroke, after we begin our power snap. That way, our
downward and upward hauls will be shorter.
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
FINALLY, THE REAL SECRET. To become a great hauler we should
practice throwing a ball with our hauling hand.
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.
Copyright 2007 by Randall Kadish. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Nor'east Saltwater and in Fishing Facts
Fight Wind: Learn The Double Haul
Fight Wind: Learn The Double Haul
The finish position: The downward forward-cast haul
Hands together at the of the
The finish position: The
downward back cast haul