The Water Haul Cast – Slow Your Roll

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Slow your roll during a water haul cast for a better presentation. Photo Louis Cahill

By Kent Klewein

The water haul cast is phenomenal for fly fishing small trout streams.

I love it for a few reasons. First, because it allows you to make a presentation without false casting over the fish. This is done by you using the water and fly line to load your fly rod and present your fly/flies in one cast. On highly technical water, where you have spooky fish, this niche cast can significantly increase your catch rates. Second, the water haul works great for tight quarters where you don’t have a lot of room to cast. The biggest mistake I see fly anglers make when they’re water hauling, is rushing the cast. You want to slow your roll when you’re performing this fly cast on the water. The water haul cast takes about twice as long to make a presentation with your fly than a traditional fly cast, and that is because you combine the pick up and the water haul together.

If you’re having problems getting the distance or straightening out your leader and fly when your water hauling, try slowing down and you should see your cast improve. A proper setup is key before you begin a water haul cast. I like to set up my water haul cast by first roll casting my flies down stream of me. That way I can get my flies straight downstream of me and have a straighter line to my target. I also do this so I can get the correct amount of fly line out so I can reach my intended target. I then drop my rod tip to the water and smoothly accelerate my rod through the casting stroke to a quick stop. Anglers wanting to increase their line speed and get extra distance with this cast can also apply a smooth single haul with their stripping hand as the rod begins to load during the water haul. It takes a while to get used to it, but after you get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised how effortless it makes your water haul cast. I use the water haul cas myself and with my clients all the time. It’s perfect for beginners who are not yet comfortable casting traditionally in tight quarters or who have problems with getting tangles. Less false casting, equals less tangles and more fishing.

Try it out next time you’re on the water trout fishing. The water haul cast can often be the perfect tool in your bag to catch trout when other casts are too difficult to present your fly where you’re fly fishing. Last tip I’d like to give you is pay attention to the path of your rod tip during your water haul cast. When you’re trying to present your flies under overhead cover with a water haul, it’s very important that you keep the rod trip traveling low and sideways, not over the top or over head. The later will have your flies traveling to high above the water and will regularly end up in the trees and bushes.

Below is a video demonstrating how to make a water haul cast.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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9 thoughts on “The Water Haul Cast – Slow Your Roll

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    Paul Kenyon
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    Paul Kenyon
    Works at Fly Fishing Devon
    Attended University of Reading
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    Paul Kenyon
    Shared publicly – 11:54 AM

    Hi Kent, Here is a copy of the entry I inserted on my Google+ page.

    The water haul cast: Here is a little ‘gem’ from Georgia fly fishing guide Kent Klewein. This cast is ideally suited for the type of small tree-hung rivers we have here in South Devon (UK). Kent makes several important points:
    (1)slow down your cast
    (2) make sure that your fly line is lying downstream without slack before making the upstream cast
    (3) avoid sending your fly into overhanging vegetation by keeping your rod tip low before and during the cast.

    Of course there are limitations to the water haul (and repeated upstream roll casting) . One problem you may encounter is that your dry fly becomes waterlogged as it is dragged through the water. This can be overcome – to some extent – by the design and materials used to construct the fly. I am engaged in an ongoing search for fly designs with built-in buoyancy to overcome this problem: trailing shucks on emerger patterns, water-repellant fly treatments, and wings that shed water easily all help to some extent.

    Other tricks include: making a ‘hard stop’ at the end of your cast; this helps to flick water off your fly, and lifting some fly line off the water before making the cast to reduce water-logging your fly as it is dragged through the water. But make sure you have sufficient line lying on the water to provide the ‘anchor’ for your cast.

  2. Hey Kent, I have found water hauling to be an excellent technique for lake fishing as well. Not to be used in place of the backcast, but to be used in the initial pickup of fly line after your retrieve, then one backcast, and then shoot the line for your presentation. Using the water haul on your initial line pickup when you have finished your retrieve allows you to begin your cast with more line already beyond the rod tip than you would normally be able to in a normal “pick up your line and false cast several times, then present” type of cast. This allows you to cover water more efficiently which is essential to being an effective lake fisherman. This technique is easiest performed with a floating line and topwater fly like a popper. I most often use this for largemouth fishing but if the opportunity presents itself, smallmouth or pike.

  3. Thanks, Kent. A number of Spey casts use water tension to store energy for the cast, what we call a “sustained anchor” casts like the double Spey, Snap T or Circle Spey, and the Perry Poke. Any Spey casting instructor will tell you that the advice he or she gives most frequently to students is “Slow it down.” But that certainly applies to single-hand as well.

  4. Excellent advice, Kent. Many overcomplicate casting on small streams, resulting in flies in the trees, unnatural landings, and missed targets. Keeping it simple and slowing down are the key as you point out. A cast that falls a bit short is not a problem if you fish it out and then retry with a bit more energy. Slow down. Don’t overdo it. Make a good presentation.

    One other point: this simple cast lets you be ready to handle the drift immediately rather than fumbling to get the line and take up slack.

  5. Most excellent post! This is the only cast I’ll show a newcomer. It is super easy to comprehend and control. It also illustrates the correlation between rod loading and line behavior very well, which is priceless when they graduate to back and false casting.

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