Fly Casting- A little more on the Double Haul

as a follow up to yesterday’s post Explaining the Double Haul, friend and instructor colleague Craig Buckbee a.k.a. EasternCaster offered a brilliantly simple addition, something every person of any level of fly casting can really benefit from by keeping in the forefront of the mind when practicing the double haul:

“The rod hand initiates the cast, the line hand finishes the cast”

that simple statement/mantra-to-be-mumbled-over-and-over actually says/implies a lot about great hauling form and great casting in general but there’s a few more things to add to this topic so i’ll just leave it at that for today and encourage you to not only try it out but also think about it for a while.


as for this somewhat cryptic image, here’s a minor tip that came in handy to help solve a little issue a casting student of mine had during a course a few months back. i know its a little off-the-shelf but if it can help someone else then it’ll be well, just great.

the situation: this gentleman had been falsley lead to believe for many-many years by a bunch of bozos that the double-haul was a ‘specialist’s’ technique only to be used by the elite to cast very far… and as a result and as primarily a river trout fisher, had never learned to haul but heard the contrary here and there and was keen to learn.

Krieger's Haul drill mono loop m.fauvet-TLC 5-1-16

by far, i prefer to have students use the type of gear they’ll be using in their ‘everyday’ fishing but he was having a little trouble getting the right feel and timing for the feedback so i pulled out my Mel Krieger Hauling Reel backup (it’s a shooting head with a mono shooting line – see the video below) and included Mel’s drill as part of the afternoon’s tasks.

this started off really well for those specific difficulties and after a few minutes they where almost a thing of the past however, whether it was his aging hands combined with the thinnish shooting mono or, 20-30 years of being used to slipping line through the fingers whilst false casting reflex, the end result was an excess amount of overhang after each casting cycle and as anyone who’s cast a shooting line knows, there’s only so much overhang possible before things start to get nasty, ugly and frustrating or in other words, this was turning into negative, unproductive time spent by the student.

since there’s no actual line shooting involved in this drill and after noticing how line slippage was quickly becoming the centre of his attention instead of the key elements (and also noticing how i was starting to sweat whilst trying to find a solution quickly… ) i decided to eliminate the impedment by cutting the shooting line at the correct overhang length and tie a simple loop knot that could be easily held.

line slippage became impossible, focus shifted back to the task and after a few minutes, the beginner hauler became quite proficient. enough so that when he re-installed his ‘normal’, thicker, non-slippery line back on the rod, everything went fine and dandy and the Mister left a happy-hauling camper.

in novels and movies i really like it when the hero gets her/his brains blown out or the couple ends by a grueling divorce but when it comes to casting lessons, a happy ending is always a win-win.

and as another happy ending, here’s Mel ! enjoy !

Fly Casting- Explaining the Double Haul

by Stefan Siikavaara

originally written in 2009, here’s an interesting approach on the subject that stands up well to time. intended for casting instructors, this ‘frame of mind’ or maybe ‘perspective shift’ should be of  interest for fly anglers of all levels.

when talking about or teaching the Double Haul we tend to simply say “it speeds up the line” and often just leave it at that. Stefan digs a little deeper and i thank him for it.

“You want to keep it simple while teaching, but this is sometimes easier said than done. While teaching you sometime get really tough questions from your students. I’ll give you an example: I’ve been asked a few times about what the doublehaul does to your cast

When I get this question all sorts of things go through my head. I am thinking about what I read in Mac Brown’s excellent book, Casting Angles. The haul is a necessity to master because it enables the caster to conserve energy throughout the fly cast. It entails putting all the various casting fundamentals together for a cumulative effect of attaining higher line velocity on the stream. The line hand pulls on the line. This causes the rod flex to increase which leads to greater rod deflection.

I am also thinking about a great essay in physics that doctor Grunde Løvoll published a while ago. Mr Løvoll’s findings show that the catapult effect, the actual unbending of the rod only equates to about 10% of the total line speed in a cast.

Among the other things that go through my head are a few of the traditional views of the double haul. That it increases the bend of the rod and that it also reduces slack line in the cast.

I am tempted to answer all of this. But as you already figured out, these explanations question each other. On some points they even contradict each other. And most importantly, handing this big package over to my student is not simple enough; therefore it is not good enough.

Let’s have has closer look at them. My conclusion of Mac Brown’s explanation joined with Løvoll’s findings is that the haul gives additional speed directly to the line. I like it, let’s leave it at that.

If I would go for the traditional view of the haul reducing slack in the cast I would risk planting a casting fault in my students head. Why is that you ask? Well, if there is slack in the line it would most likely manifest itself the most early in the cast, while the loop is unfurling or after the line has turned over. The idea of using the haul to reduce slack would incite starting the haul early. Well, if I start the haul early I risk finishing it too soon. And what would that give me? I run a considerable risk of adding a tailing loop to my students cast with that explanation.

So, all these things buzzing in my head and the student still waiting for an answer to his question: What does the double-haul do to my cast?

So what do I say? Do I go for the technical explanation or do I go for a traditional description? This student had not read all the literature and joined in on all the threads on the internet boards. He just wanted to brush up his casting for hunting seatrout down the Swedish coast.

No, instead I’ll choose an explanation by Lefty Kreh that I think sums them up: The line hand is the accelerator. You drive your car, you shift gears and you press the accelerator. You start your stroke, you speed up and then you haul.

Being able to abstract and condense a huge amount of information and different theories into a short and simple answer proves that you really know your stuff. Read everything, evaluate everything and learn from it all. But keep your explanations clean and simple. The mark of a great teacher as the late Mel Krieger is to make complex things simple. Use few words, use your body language, use examples that your student can relate to. Keep it simple.”

for the love of water,

because after this short resumé of Mel Krieger’s life-long passion for fishing and helping others to discover this fascinating aquatic world, that’s what it all boils down to. thanks Mel.

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Fly Fishing Films
For the Love of Water
Humour

Fly Casting- The Pull Through

here’s part two of yesterday’s Some thoughts on Instruction and Descriptions from Mel Krieger about the often brought up Pushing vs Pulling which basically consists of:

– when Pulling we’re translating the rod throughout the majority of the stroke and rotating it at the end: Late Rotation
as Mell notes below, an easy way to see this is if the rod tip is behind the hand throughout translation.
Pulling requires a greater (and more efficient) involvement of the arm. the shoulder muscles do most of the work and the elbow leads the hand and either goes up and down (overhead casts) or out and in (non-overhead casts).

– when Pushing we’re starting the rotation much earlier and counter to above, the rod tip will be in line or in front of the hand throughout most of the stroke: Early Rotation
Pushing doesn’t require as much whole-arm work. not all casts require a lot of arm movement but on the other hand,  arm-lazyness is a really good way to mess up and make lovely tailing loops. an added unwanted bonus to these screw ups is that Pushing/Early Rotation may/can/might promote creeping.

breaking down the basics of the movements involved to these simple definitions means that this is easily observable regardless of casting style: overhead, side casting, casting in different planes or with a single or double-handed rod.

now, what’s the point and why the vs as if they where at battle ?

well, Pushing isn’t a crime in itself but it leaves us with more limitations if that’s the only way we know how to cast, specially when we’re aiming to cast in tight places, create tight loops, trying to cast farther than usual or maybe into the wind.
what Pushing/Early Rotation generally does is give us bigger loops but that’s not a sin either because bigger loops (i mean nice purposefully formed and controlled loops, not ugly, fat out-of-control blob-loops) are often a common sense safety necessity when casting heavier/bigger flies or when fishing teams of several flies or simply on the front cast when there’s wind from behind. (the bigger loop gets pushed by the wind and line, leader and fly(s) land nice and neat, the wind does a big part of the ‘work’)
just to show that pushing isn’t all evil, it’s probably the best trick of all for good, consistent casting at accuracy target rings. most if not all the better accuracy competition casters do this. these comps aren’t about delicate presentation as the line is slapped down to the target and rotating throughout the stroke also enables a better judgement when hovering (judging the distance to the ring) but wait ! doesn’t this sound like terrestrial imitation ‘plopping’ or when casting streamers to the banks from a drift boat ?

i believe that by now we’ll agree that Pulling Through the stroke is what we want to learn and have as default style and change over to Pushing when the need arises. (i really like Mel’s term ‘Pulling Through’ as it leaves an immediate understanding of the action. thanks Mel !)
i hope you’ll benefit from my ramblings and Mel’s wisdom. enjoy !

” And now to one of the most elemental and important aspects of a fly casting stroke, often overlooked by experienced caster and even many instructors. It is a pull through motion – the casting hand preceding the rod tip through most of the casting stroke – the turnover and stop taking place only at the conclusion of the casting stroke. A push through movement in the casting stroke has the rod even or ahead of the casting hand through much of the casting stroke – somewhat akin to a punching motion. While it is possible to cast fairly well with this push through motion, especially with the stiff powerful fly rods that are currently popular, the pull through casting stroke is superior.

Some analogies might be useful to more fully understand this concept. Imagine a brick on the end of the line. A hard push through motion will very likely break the rod, while a pulling motion could easily move the heavy weight. Imagine a three foot length of rope pulled through to smack a waist high board. Pulling the rope through could almost break the board while pushing the rope through would be futile.
A bio-mechanical company working with Olympic athletes and professional baseball teams concluded that the closest athletic event to a distance fly cast would be a javelin throw. Try this: Lay out 70 or so feet of fly line on a lawn behind you, fly rod pointing to the fly, and throw a javelin, turning the rod over only at the very end of the throw. You may be pleasantly surprised with this extreme pull through casting motion. Now try the same cast with a push through casting stroke, noting the significant reduction in speed and the very likely resulting tailing loop.
Shorter casts are more subtle, utilizing a fairly short pulling motion at the beginning of the cast. Many instructors teach a pulling down with the caster’s elbow or hand during the casting stroke, resulting in an excellent pull through movement. Longer casts however, require pulling on a more horizontal plane; the longest casts very close the same plane as the projected forward cast.

Start all fly casting strokes with this pulling motion – a short pull with short casting strokes and a long pull with long strokes. Combine this pulling motion with a good rod bend and you’re almost assured of an efficient cast. “

Good luck!
Mel Krieger

Fly Casting- Some thoughts on Instruction and Descriptions from Mel Krieger

an excerpt from The Essence of a Fly Cast – Mel Krieger via Christopher Rownes

words, words, words. we need them to teach fly casting but if they’re not carefully chosen they can lead to confusion.
for instance, a pet peeve of mine is Joan Wulff’s ‘Power-Snap’.
in my mind, and something i’ve often witnessed in person is, when described to a novice caster those two words connected together often result in too much power and too much snap: things that get them in trouble real quick.
another one is the infamous ‘stop’ which we’ve already scratched the surface on that deserves an in-depth article of its own but in the meantime, what this article mostly reminds me of is there’s two basic approaches (or maybe mental-frames) to how the rod moves and how it affects the line. i like to refer to them as-

Hand Centric and Tip Centric.

in the first case, instruction and casting movement is envisioned around what the casting hand does and in the second, what the rod tip does.
it goes without saying that the hand needs to move the rod butt to eventually make the rod tip move but i by far prefer to focus on what the tip is doing because it’s the rod tip that’s the final element affecting the fly line and this greatly affects our understanding of concepts such as the ‘stop’, rod bend/rod shortening, straight or curved line path, rod straight position, counterflex or: just about anything that has to do with the casting stroke. besides, thinking about your rod tip is a lot sexier than the usual dirty, ill-manicured hand…

needless to say i’m happy to see a similar hand/tip approach coming from a Top-Gun like Mister Krieger. i sure wish i could have met him.

Mel’s approach on this and a whole host of other matters remain some of the better ones i’ve seen and leaves a lot of food for thought. enjoy !

All fly casting, no matter how descriptive and analytical the directions and teachings, must finally conclude kinaesthetically – that is by feel.
The only way to learn this unique feel of casting a long weighted line with a flexible rod is to experience it; not unlike the learning process of riding a bicycle for the first time. Convincing or inspiring the learner to jump on the bike and go for it may well be the ultimate instructional mode. Casting a fly is identical, and again like riding a bike, virtually every person who is not severely handicapped can learn the timing and feel of fly casting simply by casting.
There is of course a place for other instruction even in this basic learning cycle that may help the learner focus his or her efforts and hasten that learning process. That would include analogies, visuals and key words and phrases, techniques that are also used for intermediate and advanced fly casters. Although most of these instructional tools are valid and useful to the learner, there are times when they can actually inhibit learning and possibly lead to serious casting faults. The following are some possible examples.
“Throwing a ball” is an excellent analogy for communicating the athleticism and fluidity of a natural throwing motion. It can, however lead to the use of too much wrist movement and a throwing motion that fails to utilize the bending and unbending of a fly rod.
Words like “whump,” “snap,” “flick,” “flip” and “pop” are commonly used to convey the feeling of bending (loading) and unbending a fly rod. Again, they are mostly good words, but often misconstrued to indicate a too-quick loading and unloading of the fly rod, resulting in a dip of the fly rod tip and tailing loops. Spelling whump with two or three “U”s – “whuuump” or possibly “snaaap” might be of help, especially for longer casts.
Phrases like “accelerate to a stop,” “speed up and stop” and “start slow and end fast” are common instructional tools that accurately depict the tip of the rod during a casting stroke. Many learners however, attempt to emulate those slow to fast directions with their casting hand, often with poor results. A more useful instructional phrase might be “a smooth even hand movement to a stop.” The result will actually be the rod tip accelerating throughout the casting stroke.
Another common phrase that has almost become a mantra in fly casting is “Applying power too early in the casting stroke creates a tailing loop.” This statement is actually incorrect. It is possible to apply maximum power in the beginning of a casting stroke. The key to a good cast is maintaining or even increasing the rod bend throughout the stroke. The real culprit in this tailing loop concept is unloading the rod too soon.


In the pull-through casting stroke, the casting hand precedes the rod tip through most of the casting stroke and the turnover and stop takes place only at end of the casting stroke.
Lay out 70 or so feet of fly line on a lawn behind you, fly rod pointing to the fly, and throw a javelin, turning the rod over only at the very end of the throw. You may be pleasantly surprised with this extreme pull through casting motion.

Let’s look more closely at a fly casting stroke. The first step in all fly casting strokes is “bending the rod. Significant movement of the line only takes place after the rod bend.
Starting a casting stroke too slowly, or for that matter too quickly, commonly results in a poor rod bend and an inefficient cast. Think of starting strong or heavy, forcing a bend in the rod as the casting stroke begins. A somewhat better description of a casting stroke might be “bend the rod and sling the line” or “bend the rod and accelerate to a stop”, or whatever words work for you following “bend the rod and …”. Casting the fly line from the water and changing the back and forth direction of the line helps to start the casting stroke with a good rod bend. Notice that many casters make their best back cast from the water. That’s because the friction of the water puts a decided bend in the fly rod early in the casting stroke! A roll cast however requires a more forceful rod bend as it does not have the loading advantage of a water pickup or an aerialized line between back and forward casts.

The roll cast can be an excellent entry to the unique feel that exists in fly casting. Forcing the rod into a bend and keeping it bent – finally unloading (stopping) in the intended direction of the cast – almost like putting a casting loop in the fly rod itself.

for the second part of this article: The Pull-Through click here

Beginnings (an introduction to fly fishing) by Mel Krieger

hard to think of a better introduction than this intimate and very informative film.
made in 1996, this 1:12 video is the perfect thing to share with your little ones and starting-off friends on a cold night. created for newcomers, the experienced angler will also find or remember a thing or two.
as instructors or people who want to share fly fishing, casting and tying with others, we’ll be reminded how far enthusiasm, communication skills and keeping things interesting, easily assimilated and simple will go in getting the message across and this is something, more than anything else that i’ll always have the greatest respect for: Mel’s addictive enthusiasm and how this has gotten so many people around the world into our wonderful activity and how this enthusiasm continues even after his death. thanks Mel.

“The distance between your head and your hand can be a long way”

Mel Krieger

what a nice way to say “what i think i’m doing isn’t really what’s happening”, something many if not most of us are guilty of when it comes to fly casting (and a lot more… )
see, and just as an example, i had made no plans whatsoever to make an enormous, five minutes-to-take-apart series of knots in my fly line in front of all those people while doing a casting demo. dumb brain…

 

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Hi, I’m Stanley and I’ll be shattering your dreams today.

“Have a good look at me and smile because it’s probably the last time you’ll look at me without wanting to throw me away.”

Stanley the Enemy

how many times have you heard the gleeful chant “I just cast 30m/99 ft !!!” ? (with as an example the average line of 27m/90ft plus a 9′ leader) and that person believes the fluff-fly is actually that far from their feet ?
well, i’ve heard it a lot but since Stanley was usually missing from the equation, my reply tends to be a polite smile and maybe a “far-out !” for encouragement all the while knowing they’re usually 20 or so % off.

– with the average angler, in most cases the above distance once Stanley’d might be something around 25m at best.
– with an experienced caster (in this case meaning someone who has good to great control of their cast) that distance might be around 27-28m.
– and a distance competitor maybe between 28 and 29m.
please take notice of the ‘maybe’s‘ and ‘might be’s‘ above. there are too many countless variables involved to reach definite conclusions. however, my point here was to demonstrate ballpark proportions for the three groups of casters.

as can be expected, the one’s who regularly practice distance casting will be the most consistent and their casts will go furthest but there is a common denominator to the different levels: no one is actually reaching 30m. because fly lines simply don’t fly out and land all straight, taught and perfect. (or at least it’s so rare that it’s basically a freak incidence when/if it happens)
with our 30m example, to get to that distance consistently would mean being able to cast much further consistently and then ‘holding-back’ to reach the 30m smoothly,  precisely and with straight line layout: actions that are extremely hard to manage when trying to cast ‘all-out’.

of course (and thankfully), most fishers/casters couldn’t care less about exact distances, so this all is just a reminder of a common phycological state/belief  that things aren’t always as they seem.
thanks to friends like Mel Krieger who stated “The distance between your head and your hand can be a long way” and not-so friends like Stanley who likes to slap our egos once in a while, in the end both will put us back on the right track and make us work a little harder to live up to our expectations.
if you want to cast further and don’t have a tape measure, get one. as stated above, you’ll spend most of your time wanting to destroy it but at the same time, deep inside you’ll be happy to have this new friend and this one always tells the truth.

Distance Fly Casting seen from Above(a little lovingly nudge in the ribs to all my distance buddies… 😉 )

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more on catch and release

i often hear the counter-argument “I don’t care about C+R, it’s my right to keep fish, we’ve done it since the beginning of history, it’s in my legal rights”, etc, etc, etc. blah, blah, blah…

ok, so you want to keep fish and as far as i’m concerned as long as you stay within reason and local regulations then i guess go ahead and reduce a worldwide dwindling fish population a little more. you’ll have guessed that i do not kill fish any more than i would kill a horse after riding it or a dog or cat after playing with it or, as Mel Krieger once said to a young woman when asked about C+R

“If i had the great pleasure of making love to you i wouldn’t kill you after… “

‘nuff said, my point isn’t to tell people what to do. however, even if you’re going to keep fish, learning proper C+R methods is an absolute must, here’s a few reasons why:

– all of us often catch undersized fish. these little fish are fragile and can’t put up with improper handling. if they don’t go back in good shape they won’t live to reproduce and make a lot of other little fish that will become bigger fish that will make tons of other fish. easy math.

– although stronger and they can generally put up well with being caught, the same basic ideas can be applied to the larger specimens. if they got that big and healthy is because they have a very strong genetic structure. these fish will make more and better fish if they are allowed to continue reproducing.

– sometimes we’re fishing for one species but another takes the fly. they can be out of season (from varying reproduction periods that differ from one species to another) or an ‘undesirable or un-tasty’ species. either way these must go back properly. there is no such thing as a ‘trash’ fish and i feel sorry for anyone who would use that term. every single element of an ecosystem is as important as another and complements the whole.

here’s a really nice article on C+R i hope you’ll find informative from my good friend “Lineslinger“ Will Shaw.

CATCH AND RELEASE FOR TROUT

the title says ‘trout’ but the methods are pretty much the same for most species. there will be more on this subject later as i’m slowly putting together with several other authors what i hope will be an accepted reference in this matter.