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Tips & Tricks


Using hauling techniques - single and double haul.

Every combination of fly rod, line and angler has limits. Sometimes these limits are less than they might be because the angler has bad casting techniques. Often because they have never taken the trouble to learn the basics correctly. Becoming a good fly caster is like building a stairway, if your technique is good you can make safe and sure progress but if your workmanship is poor you can expect to fall at any time. If you want to make good hauls and to cast with little effort using the double haul your basic technique has to be sound, you have to be on a safe landing of that casting stairway and be able to make consistently good back and forward casts.

double haul casting
Double haul for efficiency

When teaching hauling techniques I start with the back haul. Most anglers find that it is the easiest to learn. It does not depend on making a good cast beforehand because it is used to lift line from the water. Hauling only works correctly if it adds to the line speed that might be achieved without it. Therefore hauls should be concentrated and targeted to the final acceleration phase of the cast when the rod tip is traveling quickly. If you can make the haul during that period it will increase line speed and the stored energy in the rod to produce a longer cast. If the haul is made too early and completed before the final acceleration of the rod tip the cast may benefit because the line is taut during the lift but it is not going to increase the line speed to gain distance. If the haul is made too late, some benefit may be gained but the process is not as efficient as it might be. Ensuring that the fastest part of the haul coincides with the fastest rod tip speed gives maximum efficiency. The back haul reinforces the back cast and similarly the forward haul reinforces the forward cast. To make these hauls ensure that your hands are together at the start of the cast and accelerate your hands apart towards the end of the stroke, pulling the line smoothly and firmly with your non rod hand. Back hauling is useful for making a better back cast into a following wind and of course the front haul helps to cope with head winds. Single hauls are therefore a useful addition to the anglers casting armoury. Learning to make them correctly is also a great step towards good double hauling technique.

Double haul cartoon by Ally Gowans

Describing the double haul is not terribly easy so I made this false casting double haul cartoon movie that demonstrates the the technique. There is another sequence in a pop up window available via the link below. This shows a lift from the water, one false cast and a delivery cast using the double haul technique. Click here for double haul movie. It will take a few seconds to download and display.

Double haul is the combination of both the back and forward single hauls. As previously described a single haul starts with your hands together and they move apart so a double haul starts with your hands together, they move apart during the back haul, move together again feeding line into the back cast as it is extending in the air and finally they move apart to accelerate the line during the forward cast before shooting line or feeding line into the forward cast as part of a false casting routine. In other words line is hauled during a back haul, the line is then fed into the back cast and hauled again on the forward cast. There are two common descriptions for the work of the non rod hand during this process. Together - apart, together - apart (common in UK) and down - up, down - shoot (American). Both are helpful reminders when learning the rhythm.

Hints for better hauling.

  • Be smooth and ensure that both the rod hand and the line hand accelerate to a stop.
  • The line hand must not complete before the rod tip speed is maximum.
  • Rod tip speed is maximum just after the rod hand makes the stop.
  • There should never be any slack line when feeding into the extending cast.
  • Keep your fly line clean so that it shoots easily.
  • It is better to haul a small amount of line at the correct time than to try to make long hauls when learning,
  • Hauls must complement the action of the rod hand to increase rod loading and line speed.
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Copyright 2004 Alastair Gowans APGAI. All rights reserved.


Recycled Flies: You can recycle flies, which have been chewed, or otherwise look a little ratty. A great fly fishing tip and money saver would be to razor blade off old material then just re-tie new flies.  Now if I can just find a way to retrieve flies from trees without having to cut down the forest, and it makes fly tying a new art form.

Floating fly boxes however much they are a good idea, beware on fast moving rivers. To my cost on opening day 2002, my box fell out of my pocket while crossing the river, all I could do was watch it float away!!

Always Cast to a Target! When practicing your cast, don't just blindly cast into the air. Pick a target, use a small piece of yarn on the end of your leader, and try to get your yarn to land in the target each time you cast. The target can be the classic hula-hoop, a rock in the pond, a bucket in the garden, a hat, or just about anything. This will help you develop the eye/hand coordination necessary to get your fly on target consistently. Another good exercise is to practice opening your loop up at various heights by casting at a tree. Try to tap your yarn on branches at the bottom, mid, and top of the tree. Mix it up. You'll be surprised at how little movement it takes to accomplish this and how quickly you will become proficient at it. If you let the cast fall to the ground, you'll also notice that casts to different heights result in different amounts of slack in the leader when it falls to the ground.

Having difficulty tying your fly to the tippet? The next time you're on the water with the light failing, the fish rising, and having trouble fly tying, try holding the fly up against a light single-colored background. A good candidate for this is the sky overhead. It is one of the last things to go dark if it is not a terribly cloudy day. Even if it is cloudy, you can usually find a cloud big enough to use as a solid color. Sometimes the solid glare from the low light on the water does the trick. Look around. It might be solid color leaf that does the trick. Using any of these backgrounds makes it much easier than trying to see and tie on a fly against the multi-colored, multi-edged background of streamside vegetation. This is not a cure-all, but it helps and it sure beats not fishing!

Fly tying Finishes:  The secret: when you're done tying the fly and tie it off by your personal preference is to place a thick piece of fishing line through the eye, then use your head varnish, even if you do cover up the eye,  you can pull the line out. Alternatively use a spare hackle and pass this through the eye.

Top tip

when the fish are smutting freely, they tend to slip into an almost trance like state and rise to a set pattern. This will vary from fish to fish. Some might be every 8 secs, some might be every 20 secs etc. When they get like this they will tend to ignore anything that passes during the interval between rises. So if you see this happening, time your presentation to coincide with  the rise pattern.

My flies are tied on either 18's or 20's. Going any bigger than 18 greatly reduces the chances of success. I have even tied the same pattern as small as 24, but at this size apart from being buggers to tie, the hooking to rise ratio falls to about 1:6. Still I keep a couple in the box as they will sometimes tempt a bigger fish when all else fails.




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