Everyone that enjoys fly fishing wants to be able to cast further than they already can. For that matter, at times we all need to be able to make a longer cast no matter how we are fishing. But this is about hauling fly line. Lets’ start with what a haul is, what it means to your fishing and then we’ll talk about how to do it. A haul is the deliberate and sudden acceleration of the fly line. This affords a much longer cast with much less effort on your part. If you are new to casting or at least to saltwater fly fishing, you may experienced times when you shoulder gets tired and hurts. Time to learn the haul. You may have seen fish that are out of your casting range by 10 or 30 feet. Time to learn the haul. Maybe you have been in a W condition and couldn’t deliver to the fish. That’s right, it’s time for you to learn the haul and it is really very simple. As a child you had or played with a Yoyo or have seen one in action. Think of hauling your line like you work a Yoyo. What goes down comes back up, what goes out comes back in. Here’s how it works; Work about 30 feet of fly line out on the water. Make a back cast and watch the line behind you. When you see the loop straighten out and feel the line load the rod, start your forward cast. As you come forward pull the fly line with your line hand. Give it a sharp, short tug. Now deliver the cast and watch the amount of line shoot out. Don’t worry about where the fly lands, just concentrate on the shoot. Do that a few times and get comfortable with it. Now lets’ double up on it. Lay the line out in front of you on the water. Lift the line with your back cast as before and turn to watch it, I’ll explain the watching behind you part in a minute. Do the same as before and come forward and give the line a sharp, short tug. Shoot the line as before, only this time don’t lay out the line. Keep your rod tip at about 10 o’clock, no further. Now start another back cast. You will feel the line load. As you are moving back, tug or haul the line. Shoot the line out behind you and remember to watch it. Now come forward as before with a haul, shoot and repeat the back cast. Do this several times. You are not trying to shoot a great distance of line here. You are learning the Yoyo. Back a forth, back and forth.
When you get comfortable with the Yoyo, strip out about 60 additional feet of line and lay it on the deck of your skiff or into your line basket. Have 20 feet out in front of you in the water. The line in the water will offer resistance and load the energy into the rod for you to get you started. You are going to make a nice 80 cast with one or two false casts. This depends on the speed of your fly rod. A fast action rod requires greater expertise however makes an 80 foot cast much easier and minimizes the number of false casts. Start your back cast, haul the line and shoot about 20 to 25 additional feet out behind you. Remember to turn your head and look behind you. Come forward and give a long sharp haul on the line. Watch the line shoot and enjoy what you just did. Don’t worry about how far the cast went. The idea is to be able to reach a fish that is 60 to 80 feet away. If you find yourself making a lot of false casts, consider a faster action rod such as an Albright. Practice this over and over. It is important that you don’t have to make more than two back cast before making the delivery.
I mentioned that I would go into why looking behind you is important. It is twice so, at least for me. Firstly it will help you get your timing down and teach you what and when the line load feels like. Secondly, it brings to mind the Triple Haul.
As many of you know, I grew up fly fishing the streams of Northern Michigan which is also known as bear country. I was on a stream one day slamming steelies left and right. By this time I had gotten pretty good at laying it out there, cross current with a nifty little curl back for the drift to the fish. To make that cast with a Michigan rod, 7’6”, I had to double haul and always looked behind me for a variety of reasons. With that short of a rod I found myself having to chase down stream after the fish, once hooked and sometimes because I spooked them. There were of course a few monsters every year that I just had to catch and took personal pursuit upon. It was one of those occasions when I was in such pursuit of a huge steelie and she was going to be mine. She was a long way off and I started my work. I could hear something behind me and dismissed it as the wind blowing the brush. The rushing water made its’ own rhythm for the dance that was about to begin. As I looked at my cast behind me the noise in the brush turned into a bear. A BIG black bear and it was only a few yards behind me. I looked toward the big steelie that I had to have, brought the cast forward, eyeballed the big old black bear and took off stepping and fetching like my ass was on fire and my head was catching. You have to picture this. I’m running after this monster steelhead, cross stream and back with a black bear chasing me, or so I thought, making a haul on the back cast, a haul on the forward and hauling ass to keep up with the fish and get away from the bear. I’m stepping or running across rocks that were just below the surface of the water, like a mad man. I’m screaming at the top of my lungs, God knows what, hook up on the fish which makes an abrupt turn up stream as I fall on my butt and she breaks off. In a panic I look around for the bear only to see that he had gone back into the woods. I was relieved to know that I was no longer about to be eaten. I then heard roaring laughter. I looked up to see an old Indian laughing as hard as he could. He stood up and said ‘white man walks on water and dances with fish,.. Very funny white man.’ At that point a smile came upon me as I realized that I had just invented something monumental in fly fishing,.. The Triple Haul.