Monday, November 5, 2012


Chris & Sam with Tom Harrison on the Deerfield
Just before I nodded off a couple of Saturday's ago I was startled by the muscle memory of a trout slamming a quickly retrieved streamer. My whole hand twitched and I swear my other arm did a strip set. I smiled as I drifted off.

Like most fly anglers I appreciate the aesthetic of a trout taking a dry off the surface. And I know of the effectiveness of a practiced nymph presentation. But there's nothing like a wrenching tug on a tight line as it swings or is retrieved through the current.

via Michael Richmond
My high school physics teacher, Mr. Fazzino, taught me about Newton's second law* and even a modest trout lacking mass more than makes up for it in acceleration yielding a force on the end of the line that is quite satisfying. Add a fast current and you've got quite the thrill. Of course, the trick is giving the fish a good look at the fly so as to interest it in the rest of the game.

There are some people who make fly casting look easier than it is. My buddy Len is one of those people. Bruce Smithhammer is another. I watch folks like Len and Bruce and try to pick up a bit of technique to mend my own which tends to be effective yet hideous.

One trick I've noticed in both these gents' repertoires is a single haul. For them it's an almost imperceptible and probably subconscious act but you can see its value. When making a short cast or if there's a bit of a breeze that extra dash of line speed can help load and fire line effectively.

I learned double hauling in Alaska where fishing large, heavy flies -- whether they were streamers or mice or large nymph rigs -- is common and where the rivers are large. I'm not a master of the haul, but I've got the basics down.

Once I had the double haul down the single haul was easy; though I hear learning a single and graduating to a double is the more traditional way to approach the technique. Regardless, I make it work in my own way.

I fished the Housatonic a few weeks ago with a good friend. It was a cloudy day and while the river had recently been stocked with twelve thousand fish we didn't find too many. I blame the mergansers.

The BWOs were there and we got a few on tiny flies but the fish weren't on them consistently. We also managed some nymphing and swinging wets.

Streamers helped
Late in the day, I switched to a second rod I had leaning up against a tree on the bank. This five weight rod was strung up for streamers with a 150 grain sinking line and a garish yellow and orange articulated fly. A little hauling got the fly to the right place.

What good fun. I didn't land any of the fish I hooked, but I did have four on in a relatively short period of time. And the takes were the jarring experience that gets the adrenaline going.

I spent a day casting heavy sinking lines with the Harrison's up on the Deerfield River two weeks ago. The nymph fishing was slow so we switched to streamers early and the fishing was steady after that.

The usual trick with streamers is casting right to the bank. By doing so you get your fly traveling right through the ambush zone where the water deepens. Of course, this also means you're likely to have to cast a bit farther than normal and that's where a little haul can make the task easier.

This time of year my Day's Worth Fly Box looks like quite the menagerie. On one side a collection of nymphs and dries with the largest around an #18. On the other is crammed tufts of marabou in yellow and orange on hooks that can barely be contained in the box.

There are still plenty of opportunities this fall to cast lilliputian dries to sipping trout. But more often than not I'm tying on something large and colorful and hauling to the far bank hoping to set the hook and feel that lively tugging that resonates from finger tips to shoulder.

Small flies for fall trout.

* f=ma or, in his mnemonic, "Force equals your mother"


  1. nothing better than a take on a streamer...especially after a good haul.


    1. Amen! With the coming of fall I enjoy reacquainting myself with streamer fishing.

  2. I have to say, I'm now a believer in the streamer after seeing you hook a cuttie in Yellowstone while the rest of us were netting little baby fish off the standard fly menu.

    Double haul.
    How I detest thee...

    1. I'm counting on you to get that Olive Bugger back!

  3. If I might suggest, please bring those small flies for trout to the north.

  4. Wait... did you just insert math into fly fishing? Jackwagon...