This Week's View

by Deanna Birkholm

March 5th, 2001

In The Wind

I starting my fly fishing journey in Michigan. Small streams mostly, fishing with small rods. A six weight was a big rod. We took a summer trip to Montana with friends and I had my first experience with big water, and real wind. It blows on the Yellowstone, the Madison, Yellowstone Lake - this isn't a little breeze either. We're talking 20 mile an hour wind as a rule not the exception. For the person who had fished small stuff, that means packing it in.

Except we traveled a long way to fish, and I for one, can't fish. Not very well anyway. I had figured out how to do a single haul, which in reality is half a double haul. That is done by making a sharp tug on your line as it unrolls on the backcast and then making the forward cast as usual. I knew there was a double haul, but I hadn't learned it yet. The single haul helped, and I did fish. But I really was limited.

When we moved west of Seattle, here on the coast, the only real choice for fly fishing was to fish the salt. We bought larger rods, and I learned to double haul. To put it bluntly, I had to learn. Salmon are rarely within a short 30 to 40 foot cast, and the angler needs to get the fly out as far as possible. A 50-foot cast is a minimum, 70 is better. If you can cast the whole line even better. (Not shooting heads, just normal floating or sink-tip lines.) But it isn't just about distance!

All too often I hear folks talking about the double haul as though it is ONLY to be used for distance casting. That is absolutely wrong.

What does a double haul do? It loads the rod and increases line speed. Visualize the rod bending deeper, and then transferring that power back into the line. That is what the double haul does.

Okay, if it increases the line speed, wouldn't that work to get your cast out into a wind? A strong wind? Of course! Instead of using the double haul for distance by letting out a little line on each false cast, you don't let out any line! Just load the rod deeply and make the cast into the wind!

The double haul also divides the work between both hands. That is not a small thing if you are casting a bigger rod.

Now the absolute truth. I use the double haul in ALL my casting. It's easier, less work and more effective. It has also become the most natural way for me to cast. Yes, even on tiny light rods.

The winner of our September Drawing, Skip Lynch thought he was a good caster. He thought he knew how to double haul. Until he got to Andros Island and was out fishing. You might read his story here.

In our classes, my husband JC and I always teach double haul early. With faster line speed, line control is easier. It will help your accuracy, and your confidence. It will make your casting better! We always teach by casting into the wind!

Swallow your pride. Take a lesson, have a friend help you, don't wait until you are on an expensive trip to discover your casting sucks.

If you can't punch a fly into at least a 20 mile an hour wind, you have never tried seriously to learn the double haul, do yourself a favor, learn it. ~ The LadyFisher

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