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Ally Gowans on hauling

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Learning To Fly Cast - Part 6

Every combination of angler, rod and line has its limits. Extend the line gradually with straight line casts and a point of failure will occur when the rod no longer lifts the line properly because it is being overloaded with the combination of line mass and water friction.

To avoid overloading a technique called hauling is used. There are two types of haul, front and back and the technique of using them both during a cast is called double hauling.

How hauling works

The Double Haul sequence

Hauling increases line speed. It moves the line faster than using the rod alone but it only does this efficiently if the haul is timed to coincide with maximum rod tip speed generated by the rod hand.

As a haul is made another thing happens, the rod bend deepens and this means that more energy is released by the rod when the stop is made and so the line is propelled faster and that means that it can go further. Hauling is therefore the key to long distance casting but it must be done correctly.

As in all casting movements the secret is smoothness. Jerky hauls like jerky rod movements are anathema to good casting. Hauls can be made short or long, fast or slow provided they are made by accelerating your line hand smoothly and at the correct time.

The amount of haul can be adjusted to suit the amount of line being used and even a small haul of a few inches makes a tremendous difference to the efficiency of the cast.

If the haul is made and completed too soon the rod tip may actually decelerate, resulting in slackness in the cast and a poor result. If the haul is made too late some of its potential is wasted but provided that a good stop is made the line will cast smoothly. A perfect haul adds to the maximum rod effort. When it is executed correctly you can feel the rod loading deeply and a firm stop is sure to send the line flying cleanly.

If at first you find getting the timing of hauls right evades you, persevere because you will know when it eventually happens, everything will feel right and the line will just go unbelievingly well. Nobody gets every cast perfect every time but practice helps to make them perfect or at least reasonable most of the time.

Back Haul

Back haul is most widely used, its purpose being to accelerate the backcast so that more line can be lifted from the water cleanly or to improve the backcast especially when there is a wind from behind.

This is the perhaps the most natural hauling action because it is made on the back cast and it is much easier to haul line when your hands are going in opposite directions (i.e. the rod hand is rising whilst line hand is pulling downwards).

Beginners often start by making the haul throughout the duration of the back cast and this is a good way of gaining some confidence in the technique but it is not the most efficient use of the haul.

By gradually delaying the start of the haul (until the rod is about 11:00) and making smooth and precise hauls the result will soon become apparent. Learning the back haul is quite simple just keep your hands together until you want to start the haul then move your line hand downwards and forward, increasing the tension in the line, loading the rod and accelerating the line to attain a significantly higher speed than normal. If you started with your hands together you can remember the action in two words; 'together-apart'.

The back haul is very useful anytime that you need extra line speed on the back cast for instance when trying to make a back cast against a strong wind or want to lift extra line from the water. It is a big mistake to make long back hauls because eventually you may wish to learn double hauling and if you make the first haul so long that you cannot feed the line back to the rod during the pause between casts, you will be handicapped for the second haul.

Forward Haul

Forward haul is the opposite of the back haul. Success with the forward haul is more illusive than success with the back haul because it is more difficult to pull the line fast in the same direction that the rod is going. There is no change to the principle however, keep the acceleration of the haul smooth and controlled and for maximum effect concentrate on timing it with peak rod acceleration. Coincidently that means at starting the haul at 11:00, the same point as it starts on the back cast but of course the rod is now travelling in the opposite direction. In this case the line is held close to the rod handle during the movement for the back cast but when the forward cast commences the line is pulled firmly downwards to accelerate the line forwards before being released to shoot the line.

To learn the forward haul make a normal back cast keeping your rod and line hands together throughout the back cast and during the first part of the forward cast, then at about 11:00 move your hands apart by pulling line downwards and backwards with your line hand. You started with your hand together and now you have pulled your line hand away and so remember; 'together-apart'. The same reminder was used for the back haul but of course this time you pull on the forward cast. This is a valuable technique for casting into a head wind as well as for gaining extra distance.

Double Haul

Once you have learnt the back haul and the forward haul and have got the timing pretty good it's time to try the double haul, haul on the back cast, feed the hauled line back to the rod as the back cast extends and then haul again on the forward cast. Combining the two hauls produces the double haul. The timing is the same as for each of the separate hauls previously described because the double haul is the addition of the back and forward hauls and the reminder reflects that; together-apart-together-apart. Correctly done this technique is poetry in motion, clumsily done it is nothing other than hard work. Commence with a back haul, hands together as the back cast commences pulling the line hand down and away from the rod hand as the rod is lifted, but this time when the rod checks to allow the line to extend behind, the line hand should feed the line back into the back cast as it straightens by bringing it up to the rod hand. Once the back cast is complete commence the forward cast, executing the forward haul and shooting line as described previously. The double haul is the most efficient means of attaining high performance distance casting and once learned it becomes an indispensable part of the anglers casting skills.

Open and Closed stance

A right handed caster normally casts with the right foot and shoulder forward, called the 'closed stance'. The alternative stance is the 'open stance', popularised by Americans and many distance casters who use hauling techniques to cast long distances. In this case the left foot and shoulder is forward allowing the right arm and hand freedom to move across the chest and deliver the casts with a longer movement and longer hauls, in order to achieve longer distances. The open stance also gives the caster the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the back cast straightening out of the corner of his eye but care must be taken not to move the around shoulders by looking back because this opens and drops the backcast loop and destroys it.

Alastair Gowans is an professional fishing writer, instructor, demonstrator and photographer based in Perthshire, Scotland, internationally well known for his casting expertise, famous salmon flies and contributions to many fishing publications. See his web sites www.letsflyfish.com and www.flyfish-scotland.com for lots more fly fishing. information

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