Intro to Fly Fishing: Casting with The Double Haul
Image by Nikki P. Age 11
Double hauling is a valuable skill for fly fishers using single-handed rods in all water types. Having the ability to skillfully present your fly under all circumstances in probably the single most important element of fly fishing. Over time, and a lot of practice, an efficient cast can become effortlessly so that the rod, line, leader, tippet and fly combine to form a tight, highly efficient loop that unrolls right at the target location.
After you have mastered the overhead and roll cast, you are going to want to cast beyond 40 or 50 feet. These casts don’t supply enough line speed and rod bend to get the line out further. First take note of the diagram below. This illustrates that cast exceptionally well. I actually find it more helpful that a video.
Do a standard overhead or roll cast and lay a distance of line in front of you, say about 40-50 feet worth. Have about 10-15 feet of line at your feet. First, we will do the Single Haul. The Single Haul is the intial step in the Double Haul and is done just on the back cast. Start with both your rod and line hands at your ready to cast position, about 8-9 O’clock. Now place your line hand directly under your rod hand grasping the line in process.
Now, simultaneously, whisk the rod to the 2 O’clock position and keep your line hand in sync with your rod hand. At about the 12 O’clock position, make a strong, downward pull on the line. You should pull down about 12”-18” depending on your size. Notice how the line accelerates back much faster than the traditional overhead cast. Let about 4-5 feet of line slide through your fingers. Now, with the line unfurled behind you, begin your forward cast. Abruptly stop at the 10 O’clock position and let the line slide between your fingers. Follow through and let the rod tip gently follow the line down. Once you get the first step down, the second step is a lot easier. I can take some practice syncing the Front Haul and the Back Haul together. Trust me, I know, my Back Haul isn’t that good, still!
So, let’s try to add in the Back Haul or the Double. Start your back cast as above, moving the rod from the 10 O’clock to the 2 O’clock position, completing your first haul. Now, raise your line hand back to right underneath your rod hand. This is exactly the same position that you started with, but now your rod should be at 2 O’clock instead of 10 O’clock.
There is a timing and rhythm element to this. You’re accelerating your rod back, pull down on the line, then quickly moving your hand back to its position right under your rod hand. As the line unfurls behind you, and it’s just about straight, start your forward cast. Insure your line hand stays in sync with your rod hand. Again, at the 12 O’clock position, give the line a tug, the same amount of line hand travel, about 12”-18”.
Abruptly stop at the 10 O’clock position, let the line slide through your fingers, let the rod tip slowly follow the line down….and you’ve just completed a Double Haul and shot some line!
Easy Peasy, Piece of Cake! Well, not so much so. It does take a lot of practice to get it down. You want to make sure you have a good rod that you are in tune with. What do I mean by “in tune”? Good casting has a rhythm to it. You need to be able to feel the load of the line in the rod, the action of the rod, its acceleration, and the flex. I can’t tell you how long I fished where I would watch my back cast. For some reason, I didn’t have an issue feeling on the front haul, but the back haul was always a challenge.
That’s perfectly OK. I actually recommend it. Some folks say it messes up your form by turning you head and looking at the back cast. I found it helpful. I wasn’t turn my body, just my head.