June 18, 2001

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Double Haul - A Misunderstood Technique

By Hans Weilenmann, Netherlands

Ask a hundred novice flyfishers/casters why they want to learn the double haul and pretty near 100 percent will tout wanting to make longer casts.

Ask a hundred experienced flyfishers/casters why they employ the double haul and the answer will not be very different. With thrown in a vague description about increasing line speed and tighter loops or wind control.

Long distance casting is not at the center of what makes the double haul technique of such value to the angler; it is a mere side effect!

With a background as tournament caster, long casts are not unfamiliar to me, yet in all practicality a very small percentage of my fishing requires very long casts. And very, very few of the fish I hook and land come from a long way away, yet pretty much all of my casting involves double hauling (or more accurate, a double tug, as the actual movement with the line hand is measured in inches, not feet.)

Ok, so if long distance casting is not what makes the double haul so valuable, what is?

The answer is as brief as it is simple. The double haul makes for a better cast, with less effort. At any distance!

This text will not focus on teaching you to double haul. There are many paragraphs written and video footage shot by fine anglers, which deals with the how-to. I will concentrate here on the why, and along the way, touch upon a couple other flaws frequently observed.

So why on earth would anybody use double haul on casts with but a few yards of line out?

Let me start by saying that to use the double haul to compensate for incorrect rod hand movement is not a cure, just a workaround. Somewhat like casting with rod sideways at an angle because if held vertical the fly or line keeps hitting the rod. This simply means the underlying basics are flawed.

Every cast, back and forward, will introduce some irregularities. The irregularities in the casting strokes cause waves, sags, slack and wobbles the fly line.

The angler can use the initial part of the tug to smooth out any irregularities. The remainder of the tug generates some additional line speed, but it does a lot more also.

To make a smooth loop, without shock waves, the rod has to have minimal oscillations of the tip. It has to dampen quickly, which is the result of the quality of the rod design, but also it does not need to dampen oscillations if they were never there to begin with. In order to reduce the pressures on the rod, the tug generates the speed you would otherwise have to impart with the rod hand. Less pressure/power needs to be put into the rod hand, as the job is shared between the two hands.

So quick recap: Proper use of the double haul will give you a smoother loop, less shock waves, and more line speed. It augments the basic casting stroke, i.e. the smooth acceleration followed by the controlled stop, which forms the casting loop. More over, because the rod hand can concentrate on travelling in single plane, and also move in a straighter line with its tip, you can make tighter loops if so desired. Or widen up the loop if you use droppers or heavily weighted flies.

There is one fundamental error made by most people attempting the double haul. I refer to it as a forward creep.

See if you recognize this? Chances are you may not, until you really pay attention to what you do yourself.

After the backcast is executed, your wrist is in a certain position. It should remain there, or perhaps drift backwards, but what normally happens is that the wrist comes forward in kind of a 'bounce'. The result is that the forward cast motion has just been reduced by some 50%, and you are more likely to push the rod forward to compensate, which in turn stimulates the tailing loop phenomenon.

After the tug, you have 'taken' line. In order to do another tug with the next cast, it has to be fed back through the guides. What happens next is that when the line is extended behind you, the line hand comes up to feed line back, and rod hand moves forward at same moment. They meet halfway . . . You lose contact with the line, and the rod with the line. So a forward creep has a very profound negative effect on the forward cast, which follows.

Bottom line: don't be a creep! ;-) ~ Hans Weilenmann

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