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Cramer on Casting – Hauling

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Mossy Creek guide, Bob Cramer, continues his series of casting tips.

Hauling on your cast is a method of increasing your line speed to get the line to travel faster so you can cast further. Distance casting is all about storing more energy in the rod, developing more line speed and releasing that stored energy in the right direction. There are several ways to accomplish this. A longer power stroke and hauling the line are the main two ways.

If you are fishing big rivers that don’t allow you to get can close enough to the fish for a normal cast, hauling unquestionably helps. Hauling the line is also useful when you are casting into the wind. If you plan on saltwater fishing, you need to learn to do this as many times long casts are required just to reach the fish. Also, there are very few days in the salt that the wind isn’t blowing.

Hauling is accomplished by giving the line a sharp pull or tug just as you start moving the rod. It can be done in either one direction, a single haul or both directions for a double haul. That sharp pull on the line actually bends(loads) the rod more, storing more energy for the cast. Not only is the timing of the pull important, you also have to release line after you stop the rod.

If you are double hauling, you need to let your line hand drift back up towards the rod after releasing the line so you can pull on it again for the next cast. One of the best descriptions I have heard was from Mel Kreiger who described this motion of the line hand as a “down-up” motion.

When the rod starts forward the line hand tugs the line down and when the rod stops, the hand follows the line up toward the reel. This allows you to pull down on it again on the back cast. When you feel you have enough line out, you haul and shoot your forward cast.

Do not completely let go of the line when you shoot it. Form an “OK” sign or hoop with your thumb and forefinger and let the line shoot through it. That way you don’t have to look down after your line hits the water and you are always in control of your line.

I always like to teach people to haul in one direction before learning to double haul. A good way to practice this is to start false casting 30 to 40 feet of line. As your back cast is turning over bring your line hand up even with the reel. As you start forward with the rod, give the line a sharp, short pull. If your timing is right the line speed will double and the line will fly out through the guides.

Some times a haul is useful even for a short cast, when you are casting into the wind and casting a wind resistant fly like a big bass bug or a heavy streamer. It can also be used on the back cast when you have to throw your back cast into the wind.

One thing that kinda drives me nuts as a guide is that people that do know how to haul get into the habit of doing it all the time, even when its not necessary. I had a guy several years ago that I taught to double haul. On our next float trip he was hauling every cast, even 30 foot cast to the bank and had absolutely no control of where it was going to land. The double haul is just one tool in your casting bag, a distance tool, plain and simple.

I’ll close with an experience I had bone fishing in the Bahamas years ago. It made me appreciate the fact I had good hauling technique. It was on a five-day trip with Chuck Kraft and some friends. Our guide on the second day was Charlie Smith, inventor of the Crazy Charlie bonefish fly. Charlie is credited with being the first fly fishing guide for bonefish in the Bahamas.

When he arrived at our dock that morning to pick us up the water was so shallow he had to shut his motor off and pole the flats boat to the dock. After getting on board, he began poling us out to deeper water so he could start his motor. He had climbed down from the platform and was storing his push pole when he suddenly said “big bonefish, 80 feet, 10 o’clock.” I start stripped line from my reel as he was trying to get his pole back out and get back up on his poling platform. I started false casting and he said “no mon I get you closer.” Two false casts and a double haul later the fly landed 6 feet in front of the cruising bone and he sucked it in.

When I looked back at Charlie, all I could see were white teeth and a huge smile as he said, “Charlie have good day today.”