Tue 7 Sep 2010
After most fly people learn the straight front cast, they spend years trying to learn double hauling. This is a shame because one doesn’t have to learn to double-haul at all. You can still put out 80 feet, the usual goal, by learning two things: the sweet spot; and, line management.
A line’s sweet spot is where it casts its best and ‘shoots’ the rest of the line, to put your fly 80 feet from your feet. How is this possible? Mostly because today’s single-handed fly lines come with weight forward heads in the 30 to 40 foot length.
Simply mark the tail end taper with two inches of magic marker where it becomes the same width as the trailing ‘running’ line. This visible mark denotes where line no longer has enough body to shoot line. The sweet spot is reached by stripping the black mark within the rod guides a foot or so, and then seeing whether it will suck the rest of the line from your stripping hand. If it does, you have found the sweet spot in your fly line. If it does not, just pull in another foot and try it again.
In short order you will find the point where the line itself will shoot the most line. That is the sweet spot. Every time you pull that marked line to the same point within the rod guides, you will put out a great cast, and do so without double hauling.
The most common problem in double hauling is: the person tries to extend the fly line two feet at a time and sooner or later the cast collapses. This is because if you do 10 false casts, as they are called, you have ten times the chance of collapse. The solution is to remember that with each haul your hauling hand has to haul and also return to the rod. The haul is easy on the back stroke because the rod and hauling hand are moving in opposite directions. But if you don’t return your hauling hand to the rod, your arm is fully extended and cannot haul on the forward stroke.
If you eliminate double hauling and get in the habit of finding the sweet spot – varies on different rods – then doing only one back cast and then shooting the 80 feet in one cast you will become a very good caster in short order. You also won’t have to use the extra energy of double hauling all day long. And your fly will be fishing a whole lot longer.
The other thing to learn is: line management. With the short heads used today, you have 30 feet of running line to shoot. If it lies in the water, surface tension prevents it from flying. This is where line management comes in.
Get in the habit of stripping in 12 strips of roughly a foot each. Then put that loop over your pinky finger. Then strip in 10 strips, and put that loop over your next finger; then eight, and put the loop on your index finger. That’s 30 feet. The trick is that the loops are successively shorter so they do not tangle. When you cast the rod forward, point your stripping hand and fingers in the direction of your cast. The loops slip off your fingers as if by magic and you feel really great. 80 feet.
In the summer, I like to use a floating line with a head twice as long as usual – 60 feet. The reason is that a marked line with body can easily be made to roll cast 70 or more feet. Remember that the more line behind you in the loop, and the more dagger-shaped the loop, the farther you can cast. Again, doing roll casts uses far less energy than double hauling all day long, and, you need only 10 feet behind you rather than 30 or 40. This keeps your fly out of bushes or from snapping off in a premature forward stroke.