Fly Fishing with Chris Dore

Your FFF Certified Fly Casting Professional, and Member of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association

An Overview of the Double Haul

Hauling directly increases line speed and also adds load to the rod, although the latter is to a minimal degree. The double haul is simply pulling down with the line hand on the back cast, and pulling down again on the forward cast. This really has a profound effect on ones casting and creates better control of both short line and distance presentations.

Before beginning to double haul ensure your stroke is efficient. Hauling will introduce slack into your cast, and so it is important to ensure your loop speed is such that it can pull this slack out before the next stroke is made. Ensure efficient power application and a crisp stop. Generally speaking, if you can shoot line effectively then you are ready to haul.

Pantomime is one of the best ways to train your muscles in the timing and coordination of the haul. The line will follow the path of the rod tip, the rod tip will follow the direction of the hands, so take away the rod and line and teach your hands what to do first - develop muscle memory.

Ties somewhat like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time. Seems tough, but practise and you will get it!

Begin by pantomiming your stroke, SLOWLEY. Get in a rhythm and feel comfortable before introducing the line hand. Your hands should begin together, your line hand trailing your rod hand through the beginning of the stroke. Time your downward haul on the back cast with the power application / rotation of your rod hand - as you flip your wrist back, pull down with the haul. Think 'downup' - not down, not up - not downandup, but 'downup', like bouncing a basketball or recoiling after touching a hot surface.

Ensure your hands again meet on the completion of the back cast before beginning the forward stroke as the imaginary line straightens. Again track the rod hand during the translation phase of the cast, pulling down as rotation begins - downup.

Practise this for 10 minutes in front of a mirror to build muscle memory and there you have it. Pick up the rod and line and away you go.... Still having trouble with the timing? Phantom cast - that is, false casting single-handed with a short line, pantomime your haul as you go. This helps one with the feel of the rod, line / haul combination.

Alternatively, side-casting parallel on the grass will help learn the DH. On the back cast, as you introduce the 'flip of the wrist', downup with the line hand and let the back cast fall. Check the positioning of the hands - are they back together, is there any slack between the line hand and first guide on the rod - does everything look tight? Now for the forward cast - 'downup' again in time with rotation. With a crisp stop of the rod, and a zippy haul with the line hand you should immediately see the improvement with line speed.

Common faults

Bringing the line hand up too fast, creating a loop of slack between the line hand and rod. The line should 'guide' your hand back up to the ready position of your stroke is efficient.

Moving your rod hand forward to meet your line hand. Once the back cast is complete, the rod should either remain in position, or drift backwards (except in the case of slide loading, but that’s another story) and your line hand should move up to meet with your rod, not the other way around.

Casting harder. When people first introduce the double haul there is a tendency to often cast harder. Ease off on the power, think technique. Think heavy with the rod hand and zippy with the haul.

Like your casting stroke, your haul should be performed smooth. No jerky applications of power, just a smooth, accelerating pull on the line. Jerking with the line hand, ending the haul too soon, or moving the line hand back up too fast can all contribute to tailing loops.

A note on timing

Some people teach to begin the downward pull in time with the beginning of the stroke. This is fine, however often creates more open loops. I find hauling later in the stroke (beginning in time with rotation / power application / SUAS) better increases line speed, and those who are taught to haul from the beginning of the stroke often have trouble adjusting their timing later on down the track (no pun).

For distance I do not begin the haul until the rod passes through the perpendicular, for extremely high LS. Side casting helps when working on timing the haul.
As for the angle of the haul, this should be made in line with the rod - pulling at an angle away from the rod will create friction between the line and guides, robbing you of speed.


Perfecting the double haul is I feel essential to good casting. It will aid in accuracy, distance, and in general, loop control over all distances. Downup your way to better fly casting.


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