Walking and Chewing Gum

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Published on: Aug. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

Doing two things at once is tough for some of us. Walking and chewing gum... or double hauling.

The double haul is the triple somersault off the high wire of fly fishing.

Fly fishing itself is easy - throwing a heavy line here and there (into trees, around your guide's neck, etc.), but double hauling is a refinement akin to turning a kindergartner's drawing of his cat into a Rembrandt.

The double haul increases the speed of the fly line and results in a longer cast. Double hauling is especially handy in windy weather when fly angling is at its most difficult.

As I understand it, which is about the way I understand algebra, you pull down on the line with one hand as you lift it from the water with the other, then release the tension as the line furls behind you (this is the first half of the double). Then you pull down again as the line straightens behind you, make your forward cast, and release or "shoot" the line.

Double hauling is a feat of hand-eye coordination as tough as going one-on-one with Michael Jordan. Both hands have to be in motion in opposing directions, in obedience to a law of physics as complex as Form 1040.

In the hands of a master, the double haul is Bernstein conducting a symphony. When I do it, it looks like a halfdrowned sailor desperately clambering up a rescue rope while sharks nip at his back end.

Some say it's as easy as falling off a log (I have no trouble with falling off logs), but these are people who not only can walk and chew gum, they can yodel and eat corn flakes at the same time.

They are blessed.

No fly angler can claim to be a finished fisherperson until he or she has double hauling in the bag. Without it, an angler is like someone claiming to be an astronaut after he got blown across the back yard when the propane barbecue blew up.

Once I had an office slightly below ground level. Visitors parked at the curb outside could peer down and see me, feet propped up, doing intensive research (reading outdoor magazines).

I began pulling the shades after the double haul incident. I was reading an article by famed fly fisherette Joan Salvato Wulff on the double haul. There were many illustrative diagrams, showing hand placement and arrows to indicate movement direction.

I positioned my hands around an

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