Now that we have become aware of the reasons WHY we learn to double haul and what it does to improve our casting, it’s time to find out HOW we execute the haul.

Using a haul is nothing more than introducing the line hand, (the hand not holding the rod) – the key to the haul is TIMING – both hands must operate exactly at the same time – synchronization, if you will. Probably this is no more difficult than rubbing your stomach and patting your head – it just takes practice! 

IF your line hand hauls too soon, all it accomplishes is to pull line back through the rod tip. If you haul too late (after the stop), you only succeed in pulling line away from your target – again, defeating the purpose of the haul. Be careful not to bring your line hand back up (“giving back line”) too soon or else you will have slack between your line hand and the first guide – this is defeating the purpose of the haul – YOU MUST MAINTAIN TENSION on the line at all times!!!

IF, however, you haul at the same moment, you force an additional bend in the rod (loading the rod) – if you increase the load/bend, this flexible lever called a fly rod will; have to unbend even more. By so doing, it will generate more line speed and consequently the caster will achieve more distance and line and leader control.

Exercise #1 – Hand Hauling or Casting

This is fun for the intermediates, and particularly to show off to your friends! You Beginners, this is an excellent exercise, because it gets you used to using both hands AT THE SAME TIME, without having to worry about the rod too. And, it will truly give you the feeling of what we mean by increased line speed. Be careful! You may have to wear a bandaid in order not to literally cut your hands on the line!

Drape the line OVER the top of your right thumb. Grab the line from the bottom or underneath your thumb. Move both hands together on a horizontal line parallel to your body (a backcast) JUST as you stop the right hand suddenly, pull or haul in the opposite direction with your left hand (the line hand. Now, do it back in the other direction too. ONLY do one stroke at a time…think hard between strokes! Do it one stroke at a time, then pause to analyze what you did or did not do. 

Exercise #2 – Adding the Rod

Next, pick up a rod, but wrap your arm around it. The reel and grip will be behind your arm. As you know, the line goes where the rod tip stops – play with this and get used to casting on a horizontal plane. Play with making tighter loops. When comfortable, add your line hand – same as with the hand haul, move both hands simultaneously and at the exact moment you stop the rod (unload it) to form a loop, pull or haul in the opposite direction with that line hand. You will actually feel the line pull back – you “take” it away and then “give” it back.

When you are comfortable, try doing the same thing false casting – keeping the line in the air for several casts. You do not need a lot of line out of the rod tip for this. Depending on your line design, 25-30 feet is fine.

Exercise #3 Horizontal Casting – A Slow Motion Analysis

This exercise will finally introduce the rod hand AND line hand together. Take your regular grip, preferably the thumb on top for this exercise. Now, rotate your hand so that the thumb faces out, away from your center. You have just switched to a horizontal plane. Get use to casting side arm like this. It’s great training for fishing to big snook under the mangroves! 

Your arm, hand and elbow should not be higher than your stomach. Joan Wulff calls this exercise “Getting The Whole Picture.” It’s the best way I know to study all the variables: stroke length, timing, line speed, and power. –As the amount of line increases that we are casting, so to do the other variables. Remember the Mel Krieger saying, “Short cast, short stroke; long cast, long stroke.”

Do just as you did with Exercise #2 – one stroke at a time. Don’t rush! Think about what you are doing first. Then, move the rod to a stop (Loading move to power snap). Again, at the SAME time, haul your line hand in the opposite direction. Watch the line go zinging out! Do this until you feel you have it, and then try to false cast, adding the haul – keeping the line in the air. If it feels alright, bring the cast back to the vertical plane…if you get into trouble, then go right back down to horizontal and practice some more!

Exercise #4 – Pantomime – a la Mel Krieger

30 odd years ago, an instructor told his peers about a new method he had discovered to teach the double haul in 10 minutes. They laughed at him…that is…until they saw it with their own eyes! 

By doing a pantomime, the instructor got the class hauling effortlessly. This is one of, if not THE, greatest contributions to teaching fly casting – ever! 

Before starting the pantomime, set up all the rods with either a reel with a line 2 line weights heavier than the rod.
( Put an 8 wt. line on a 6 wt. rod)  or, put a shooting head at least one line weight heavier on the rod.
The key is to let the students imitate you, getting the moves down and the timing. After several fun pantomimes, let them go pick up their rods. DO NOT talk to them. They must work this out while it is fresh in their heads – soon you will hear squeals of joy and amazement from the class! They actually make hauls on their own- and thereby, by increasing the bend or load in the rod, they are generating more line speed, which in turn gives them farther distance.

As you “take” and “give” line back, the words “downup” (mind you, that’s ALL one word!) may also click for you . Whichever works, say it aloud, as you cast and try adding that haul. Once you have accomplished this, you will probably never cast without a haul, no matter where you are fishing!
HOW to Double Haul