A Small Stream Double-Haul

I saw a muscle car with a message on the back that read, “Hang On, I Feel Like Taking a Chance!” I felt like taking a chance, myself… not with driving, but with a double-haul of DSCN5275 small stream fishing.

After a week of work followed by a day of helping out my mother, I was ready to tackle two streams in two days, each one with a mile of water waiting to be fished. A double-haul cast of fly line isn’t necessary on this kind of stream, but to double-haul my outings would be good for mental health.

1/ The “Miracle Mile” at a Trout Stream Near My House:

DSCN5310I was eager to try my newly tied “Grouse and Flash,” a wet or soft-hackle pattern based on the Partridge and Flash, a fly I learned about from the blog, Small Stream Reflections. I liked the contrast between the dark grouse fibers and the pearly Mylar tinsel. I would use it as a search pattern as I chanced a day with rain and storm predictions.

It rained fairly hard, and the wind blew, and the Grouse and Flash did not produce. I tried to find a pattern of the fly the trout were feeding on. A small caddis or a Trico would have done the trick, I’m sure, but a Pheasant-Tail Nymph was all I really needed.

There was nothing miraculous about the “Miracle Mile,” but the native trout cooperated OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnicely. One day short of the Equinox, the trout were not yet fully in their spawning colors. Summer’s withered growth, along with recent blow-downs and accumulated debris, made the wading difficult at times. The storm potential never eased, and it finally killed my plan to fish the full mile.

I was thankful to the fishing gods that I could still adapt to changes that surrounded me, and even to act soberly at times.

DSCN52742/ The Cedar Run Experience, Part 11:

Pipelines, gas rigs, trucks, and more trucks greeted me while driving toward the run. Tioga County looked to be industrializing, and it maddened me. Our globe was heating up, burning and flooding, and the truck parade with its chemical stew and drilling gear grew longer and longer. Sure, it looked like money, but not the kind I like to earn.

I felt like a hypocrite, driving a gas-powered vehicle while heading toward a great OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAescape, complaining of an industry’s choke-hold on these beautiful lands and waters.  I was full of… contradictions (better than “shit,” I guess), as Walt Whitman would have said of any poet or angler.

I had satellite radio to distract me, Elvin Bishop singing “Old School,” heh heh, singing that a phone’s as hi-tech as the guy will get.  And, “Don’t send me no E-Mail, send me a… Female!”

And the drab, cool canyon was a joy.

The water low and clear and 56 degrees. The trout extremely skittish, but abundant.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I forged ahead on my 11-mile walking/fishing journey from the mouth to the source of Cedar Run.

I chose to delay a mile of canyon fishing for a later day, perhaps in a week or so, with the foliage sharper, redder, with the sun spiking the wild browns into action. I chose to work a stretch between two bridges in the gorge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI thought about this choice, this chance I took. To work one piece of water now, the other later. I concluded nothing. I remembered a Brian Eno line from “King’s Lead Hat.” He sang, The passage of my life is measured out in shirts.

The passage of this life seemed measured out in casts. A wet fly first, the Grouse and Flash, producing nothing. Then, a beadhead Prince, a pull from the depths…

The trout was on for several seconds. It broke off the tippet and escaped beneath a ledge within a deep and dreamy pool. Alright, the fish had caught me unprepared… No doubt, and damn it! The biggest fish I ever lost in Cedar Run…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Despite my fumbling on the rocky and uneven bed, the upstream trout were kind to me. They rose through the Red Rock Riffle, taking a dry fly– a Black Ant and a Rio Grande King. I saw several wild browns about 15 to 17 inches in length. Again, all the trout (I spooked a lot of them) were wary in this low, September flow.

These fish, whose lives depended on taking the smallest chance with movement, rewarded me with satisfaction. For the chance I took with them, I felt like the ripples of a stream, becalmed, or maybe like fatigue with a smile, or gentle waves approaching an ocean shore.



About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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14 Responses to A Small Stream Double-Haul

  1. I’m curious as to whether the illustration is a double-haul cast and what it’s used for.

  2. Jim, the illustration (from an old but trusty guide to fishing) is the double-haul cast of a fly line which is rapid and powerful and used to get some extra distance with the fly. It’s mostly used on larger waters such as rivers, lakes, and bays.

  3. Bob Stanton says:

    The grouse n’ flash is a nice looking fly. I’d bet it would make a great spring, early season killer (grannom time).

  4. trutta99 says:

    “Full of contradictions…”Ah , a fellow idiosynchratic misanthrope drawn to practical conveniences and Trout. (plus good music!) 🙂

  5. Good stuff, I’ve gotten away with single hauling for years. I need to learn this double one.

    • Thanks Kevin. Depending on the type of fly-fishing that you employ, you may or may not have any use for the double-haul. Oh, it looks good at a demo, but unless you’re out on big water a lot, you may not have much use for it. The cast is good to know for the big rivers when a fish is sighted at a range beyond what you’re used to reaching.

  6. Brent says:

    That’s a really pretty pattern on the vice there. At risk of giving away any trade secrets, where is the “Miracle Mile” stretch of water? It’s not something I’ve heard you referring to before.

    • The angle of the fly in that photo doesn’t really show the luminescence of the body, but it’s there. As for the “Miracle Mile,” my term for a stretch of Dyke below the village of Andover, I’m not afraid to disclose location. It’s dynamic in that it changes its flow all the time, but keeps on producing some surprising wild and native trout, despite erosion and ungodly amounts of trash that’s washed down from the village. I’m about the only person who fly-fishes the stretch so, frankly, the water could use some love. Just recently I got TU interested in doing a big clean-up of the stretch next spring. I’d also like to see the state stop the stocking of trout at its lower end. The stream really doesn’t need any hatchery fish in its upper half.

  7. Walt
    The double haul cast can be a life savor at times and a demon at other times especially for the beginner angler. I have to give the soft hackle a try in some of the fast water on our local tailrace, true it is a perfect search and find pattern. Thanks for sharing

    • Bill, I think you’re right in your assessment of the double-haul. I seldom use it but see its value in certain circumstances. As for soft-hackles, I’ll bet you’ll do well with them on the tailrace when the trout are feeding on emergers. Thanks for your input here.

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