Double Hauling Musings

 

Silueta

Lately I’ve been thinking about the approach to double hauling from the mainstream instructing standpoint. To be honest that hauling is somewhat considered an advanced technique leaves me scratching my head. When I was a child I broke one of the pedals of my bicycle and it took some days till my father fixed it. Did I stop riding the bike during that time? Come on! Are you kidding? It wasn’t very pleasant but, at least, it was still cycling anyway; when eventually the pedal was back in his place… What a difference!

Having two hands you should employ the same logic you apply to your feet: using both isn’t an advanced technique, it is a basic one! That, once learned, hauling is always used (whatever the distance we are fishing at) seems to mean something, doesn’t it? So, in that regard, leaving for later the learning of a fundamental technique for efficient casting looks debatable. Specially because in the case of a lot of fly fishers that “later” actually means “never”. And they can’t be blamed for that. In fact those to be blamed are casting instructors themselves, not only for delaying addressing that task but also for a poor understanding of the function of hauling.

This is the logical route followed by many anglers: They say that hauling is for giving speed to the line; but I only fish small to medium streams, I don’t need to cast far… so learning how to haul doesn’t interest me. Quite logical reasoning if you ask me, when what you have heard about the function of hauling is just increasing line speed. Of course hauling actually accelerates the line, and it is a fundamental tool for distance due to that. However the main goal of hauling is a more comprehensive one, something that applies to every cast whatever the distance: Increasing our overall control of the cast. Just try this by yourself: make some casts at around15 meters with the narrowest loops you can get by using just the rod hand; then try the same by adding the line hand: hauling narrows the loop significantly. Think of that prime lie under those long low hanging branches and we are talking control now.

Moreover (and here comes the capital aspect of this control issue contained in the act of pulling with the line hand) underneath any activity involving motor skills lies a fundamental truth: the faster we perform a motion the harder it is to keep it under control. For the same line speed the portion of that speed provided by the haul allows for a slower, less accelerated, more relaxed motion of the rod hand. Rod hand motion sets trajectory and shape of the loop; any error in tracking or force application is going to have a bad effect in line behavior (and regarding force application even the smallest error is going to have a big effect). A rod moved with a relatively slow motion can be much better and easier “driven” than a faster one.

Conversely moving the line hand fast doesn’t pose the same problems due to the line being guided by the rings. The only serious risk is a tailing loop due to the haul ending too early in the stroke, and that isn’t very common.

OK, you say, but every instructor is aware of the utmost importance of double hauling, and this technique is a basic aspect of every teaching program, so this is just some byzantine discussion of interest only to some casting geeks. Well, not in my opinion. The issue has much more implications than it seems at first sight, because this popular attachment of hauling to “line speed” as an absolute —and its consequent exclusive link to distance casting— has had a profound effect in how the technique is taught.

In terms of timing and length of the haul all the instruction we receive is intended at getting maximum distance, but not at allowing a greater control at the most usual trout fishing distances. And since these two different goals also require —I think— different technical approaches it is the time to get a little deeper in the nuances of hauling. I for one have changed the way in which I teach the double haul.

8 comments on “Double Hauling Musings

  1. Bryan says:

    Aitor,

    Will you be providing follow-up postings that explain/show your current way of teaching the double haul?

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  2. Hi Aitor,
    well written. I have been teaching the double haul in every first three hours of teaching a beginner for quite some years now. That is not because I want them to cast far, but to learn one of the most often used casting techniques in a proper way (getting my support). When I teach it, I teach it based on 7 essentials of controlling the haul. 7 key factors for controlling and improving it.
    Not once did I have a beginner, who wasn’t able to adapt the double haul in the very first lesson. There was a fair number of students in my lessons, who did learn it within 30 minutes (I tried how fast it could be taught, because too often instructors told me about beginners would not be able to handle the dh in a beginners lesson).
    In regard of what the dh will then be useful for, I tell them a lot of things. Yes being able to increase the max possible line speed (if needed in a few situations) is just one of them.
    Again nice article!
    All my best
    Bernd

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    • Aitor says:

      Thanks Bernd.
      In fact you were the first instructor I met (and the only one so far) who addressed hauling during the first class. It was inspiring.

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      • Steve Kemp says:

        Lee Cummings has been known to have a complete beginner hauling in an hour or so into the first lesson. Again, inspiring.
        I agree with everything you wrote here too. Good stuff.

        Steve.

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  3. […] hauled casts were really nice. Then I took the camera and asked him to cast with the rod hand only. Removing the haul wreaks havoc with line control, but it is a fantastic exercise to educate our rod […]

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