Double Down - Understanding and maximising your Double Haul Part 1
By Joe Mahler
The most common requests I get as a fly-casting coach are to learn or perfect the double haul. When I ask why, the responses most always are “To add line speed” or “Get more distance.”
The double haul is perhaps the most written about, argued about, and misunderstood aspect of fly casting. Yet, in reality, double hauling is simply pulling the fly line, at the appropriate time, to increase the line speed. When well executed, it appears as natural as breathing out and breathing in. The hand and line artfully and rhythmically glide back and forth like a violin bow.
Why would you want to learn and master the double haul? My answer is that it makes casting a fly rod easier on the casting arm and it helps you to sculpt your loop.
The range of uses for this technique is many. You can use it to open the loop, tighten the loop, apply it to your roll cast, achieve greater distance, help throw bulky flies, and even to shorten your line in mid-air. The variations in these movements are applied mostly on the forward, or delivery haul. The back haul and pick-up haul remain, for the most part, constant, regardless of the desired effect.
Sculpting the Loop
The straighter the rod tip moves, the tighter the loop will be. Traditional instruction on the double haul describes a sharp “down and up” motion. Rather than such direct movement, which requires a stop, I prefer an elliptical path of my haul hand. A narrow elliptical path allows for continuous movement and promotes a smoother cast overall. Match the size of the ellipse with the length of the cast - a larger ellipse for long casts and smaller ellipse for short casts. Keep the line and haul hand generally in line with the rod blank.
The pick-up is the foundation of the cast. Get this right and the rest of the cast will follow. First, hold the line in your line hand, rather than trapped under the finger of your rod hand. This can be a tough habit to break.
Start the pick-up by slowly lifting the line smoothly off the water until the leader just begins to move. Next, simply “lift” the fly from the surface with a wrist snap and a smooth downward haul.
The Standard Haul
This is your garden variety, every day double haul. It will help make the casting motion easier on the casting arm, not harder. The standard haul, when done properly, will add additional line speed with little effort. The ideal timing for the standard haul should be later, towards the end of each stroke. Fly casting is basically bending (loading) and unbending (unloading) the rod, using the weight and inertia of the line. The stroke (in either direction) begins smoothly, and the rod begins to flex. It is important to note that your wrists work in tandem, separating to increase tension, then coming together smoothly at the end of each stroke.
Part two of Joes Double Haul article will be published 21/08/23
Joe Mahler is one of the USA's leading fly casting instructors and author and illustrator of “Essential Knots & Rigs for Trout” and “Essential Knots & Rigs for Salt Water”. You can Book a fly casting lesson with Joe via his website here .