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ORVIS – Fly Casting Lessons – Water Haul

Allow Pete Kutzer from ORVIS Fly Fishing School to reveal the prime method of harnessing water’s tension to optimize rod loading and execute precise upstream casts. Mastering “water haul” undeniably takes your angling prowess up a notch, turning out to be incredibly handy while fishing.

Your skillset gains an extra edge when you’re dealing with a rig that’s all too likely to get entangled, like a tandem nymph setup garnished with splitshot and an indicator. The beauty of water hauling is in its brevity – by forgoing false-casts, you effectively diminish the risk of various components twisting around each other.

Keen on further sharpening your flight casting skills and overall fishing expertise? Our plenitude of online learning hubs await to unravel more pearls of wisdom for you. In the realm of fly-fishing, mastery of the technique known as the ‘water haul’ becomes indispensable. A technique generously shared by Pete Kutzer from the ORVIS Fly Fishing School, the water haul involves an innovative application of water tension to load the rod coupled with execution of an unerring, swift upstream cast. This invaluable maneuver equips the angler with an effective weapons to use whilst facing a rig prone to tangling, such as a tandem nymph setup armed with splitshot and an indicator. The peculiarity of this technique? A complete elimination of false-casting, hence snuffing out any chance for the items to loop around each other.

Hello, I’m Pete Kutzer, from ORVIS Fly Fishing School. During the act of fishing, I frequent the technique called water haul. Admittedly, it may seem peculiar not being in water when discussing it, especially being on grass, but envision a river flowing this direction for a moment; visualize the challenge. Imagine you’re unfamiliar with the concept of water haul – an effortless way to both load the rod and achieve an effective cast upstream. The secret lies in a slight push of the thumb, aiding the line in reaching the fishes’ domain. Remember, this method eradicates the need for backcasting, keeping the fly fishing experience hassle-free and more enjoyable.

ORVIS – Fly Casting Lessons – Water Haul

The dance of the fly rod, the allure of the stream, the Precision of the cast – these are elements that feed into the romance and the technicality of fly fishing. One of the techniques that sit at the intersection of the practical and the poetic is the “Water Haul.”


Water Hauling, as a casting method in fly fishing, offers unparalleled control and flexibility. It is built around the principle of using the water’s resistance in setting up your backcast, a technique particularly beneficial in combating windy situations or when behind-the-caster space is limited. Derived from an often overlooked fly fishing lesson, the mastery of the Water Haul can elevate your casting game to unforeseen heights.

Benefits of the Water Haul Technique

The Water Haul technique allows you to maintain control in the face of adversity. It does not shy away from the wind but uses it, transforming a foe into an ally. Not only that, but the Water Haul helps preserve your precious fly fishing gear, reducing break-offs and tangles. Its efficiency can also dramatically increase the time your fly is in the water, ultimately increasing your chances of catching fish.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Water Haul Technique

Learning the Water Haul can be a humbling exercise, but with patience and consistency, your understanding and execution of it can improve remarkably. Begin with the rod tip low and close to the water, pull in line until the fly is straight downstream. Simultaneously, begin your backcast, as the friction of the water on the line will assist your backcast. Release the line at the end of the backcast to send your fly on its journey. Remember, smoothness and control are crucial.

ORVIS - Fly Casting Lessons - Water Haul

Using the Water Haul for Tandem Nymph Setup

a tandem nymph setup often consists of a heavy nymph on the bottom and a lighter one above it. This setup can cause nightmares in the wind, but the Water Haul technique helps maintain control of the situation. A fluid and controlled backcast sends both nymphs out towards their target, the heavy nymph followed by the lighter one, maintaining a tension that keeps everything in balance.

Using the Water Haul for Dry Fly Fishing

Suppose the elusive trout is rising to devour surface insects – a situation that calls for dry fly fishing. To avoid startling them with a directly overhead cast, the subtly of a Water Haul can pay dividends in these circumstances. It offers a delicate presentation of the dry fly, which can often tempt a wary trout.

Using the Water Haul for Streamer Fishing

Indeed, when fishing with heavier lures or streamers, the Water Haul technique can help achieve greater distance. A well-executed Water Haul allows a large streamer to sail across the river, landing in the prime lie where the big fish wait.

Tips and Tricks for Effective Water Haul Casting

The key to successful Water Haul casting is to remember that timing is everything. A common error is to rush the backcast. Be patient – the water will help load your rod. Also, don’t forget to adapt your angle to the wind; angling your forward cast slightly downwards can help counteract any wind getting underneath the line.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid excessive wrist movement. This is general advice for all fly casting, but particularly pertinent to the Water Haul technique. Too much wrist movement can disturb the smooth transition and result in less control over your cast.

Practicing and Mastering the Water Haul Technique

Like all aspects of fly fishing, perfecting the Water Haul technique requires practice. Begin with cleaner waters to familiarize yourself with water pressure on the line. Gradually, weave the Water Haul into your natural casting rhythm. Be patient with yourself and allow the technique to unfold naturally.


As you merge with the natural rhythm of fishing, remember that the Water Haul isn’t a phenomenon to be feared but a companion to assist in your fishing journey. Keep practicing this strategy, tweak it according to your individual casting style and propel your fly fishing to the next level.

“It is an art that is performed on a four-count rhythm between ten and two o’clock.” – Norman Maclean, “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories” – I trust you might agree that this could well be the mantra for mastering the Water Haul technique.

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