Fixing Tailing Loops [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Fixing Tailing Loops

07-01-2004, 11:21 AM
When I start aerializing more than 40 ft. and gaining line speed, I start to get a really bad tail. I'll drop the tip and inch or two at the end of the forward cast to let the line go over, but the tail then collides with my line. The only way I can prevent a tail is to cast an open loop, but I loose distance and accuracy. I have this problem with everything from a midge on a 4 wt, to a bass bug on my 8 wt.
I finally figured out the snake roll last week. I was doing it on my 7' 6" 3 wt. and moving about 30 ft of line. Not much distance, but its a start.

07-02-2004, 10:40 AM
What often happens when we try to cast longer distances is we overpower the cast, "hit it" too hard in an effort to put more energy into it. This then manifests itself as a tailing loop. Without watching you cast it is difficult to know exactly where this is happening during your casting stroke. The solution to all tailing loops with longer casts is to increase the distance the rod tip travels (use a longer casting stroke) and make sure that you are applying the power smoothly with a gradual acceleration to a stop. Also, you need to be very smooth with your double haul, as any jerkiness can also cause a tail.

The best video I've seen that teaches distance casting and helps you clean up tailing loops while distance casting is George Roberts's Saltwater Fly Casting. I have it and can recommend it highly. You can reach George through his website:

Another good one that I've grabbed recently is The Art of Advanced Fly Casting with Chico Fernandez.

07-02-2004, 12:39 PM
Thanks for the tips. I definetely am overpowering the stroke. Do you recommend drifting? I noticed that it helps, but right now, I am working on too many other factors of casting correctly. I'll start drifting once I smooth it all out.

07-02-2004, 01:12 PM
yes, drifting will help extend the stroke, but I think a really good thing to try is to shorten up your line and really work on a nice smooth application of power. Then, little by little, add more line until you are casting as far as you want to without tails, remembering to extend your casting stroke as you add more line to the cast (and BTW--keep in mind that everyone tails sometimes!).

Where do you notice the tails happening in your cast: early on (soon after you stop the rod on the forward stroke), or right near the end (close to the point when the line/leader junction turns over)?

the interesting thing about casting is that, the more line you have out, the less actual effort you seem to need IF everything about your technique is sharp. When I was doing my Spey certification I had the pleasure of watching Brian Niska ("Whistler" here on the board) cast an entire 5 wt line with a perfectly pointy loop, perfect turnover and no tails. Brian is a Master Certified casting instructor and his single hand casting is beautiful to watch, and what is most interesting to me is that he doesn't really look like he is trying very hard to throw all that line. His technique is flawless, so he really doesn't have to wear himself out pounding the line out there.

old man
07-02-2004, 02:39 PM
Good thing that this cameup as I've been having the same problem and it is frustrating me. But like you said I've been cutting down on my distance and it seems to help. So thank you for the info it will be used wisely.


07-02-2004, 03:08 PM
My tail starts "early on (soon after you stop the rod on the forward stroke)".
Am i waiting too long on the backcast before I start my forward cast?

07-02-2004, 03:37 PM
sounds like you are applying the power too early in your stroke. Think "lead before speed" and "speed up and stop" to conceptualize the principle of acceleration during the cast.

Here is a video clip that might help. It is a spey cast but you can clearly see that the stroke starts slow and continually gains speed until it stops dead at the point of maximum acceleration. The same principle applies to the single hand cast.

and here is another one:

07-02-2004, 03:50 PM
I would also check to see if your rod is creeping forward before starting the forward cast. I have this problem sometimes when going for distance. This shortens your stroke to a point where a smooth acceleration of power like Dana describes is very hard to accomplish because you run out of casting stroke. Thus causing you to apply too much force trying to make up for it.

At least that is what happens to me,


07-02-2004, 03:56 PM
yup, could be that too. and maybe slack in the line caused by a back cast that doesn't unroll properly, or a big wide loop in the back cast that has slack in it. Or too early and too hard a pull by the line hand during the double haul, the list goes on. That's why it is always a challenge to correct stuff via the written word--much better of course to see it.

All tailing loops are caused by the rod tip dropping below a straight line path between the start and the stop of a casting stroke. This happens to the rod tip due to a missapplication of power at some point during the casting stroke. Since the line always does what the rod tip does, the line dips downwards causing the line, leader and fly to drop below the bottom leg of the fly line. You can make tails on the forward cast or the back cast and in lots of different ways: using too short of a stroke for the line you have out, creeping (moving the rod forward without any load on it, before the line has straightened out on the backcast), hitting or punching the cast early in the stroke, hitting or punching the cast at the end of the stroke, and so on. All of these are missapplications of power that create tailing loops. Extending the casting stroke and thinking smooth acceleration are good general ways to correct them all.

I'm hoping to get out this weekend and take some speycasting video and if I do I'll take along a single hander and record some tailing loops to put up on the site. I think you'll be really impressed with my expertise at making tailing loops! :chuckle:

07-05-2004, 12:30 AM
Here are a bunch of tailing loops for you to look at, and there are a few ok loops in there too for comparison (I wouldn't call 'em sexyloops ( , but they're ok for a speycaster).

The first clip shows a good cast or two followed by a whole bunch of tails made in a bunch of different ways, then back to a good cast:

tailing loops pt 1 ( (and bonus marks for anyone who can identify the other casting fault early on in the clip)

If you watch carefully you can see the tails forming at different places as the forward loop rolls out. Some of them I made by applying the power too early, some by applying too much power late in the cast ("punching it"), some by misapplying the power 1/2 way through the stroke, etc. I just went crazy and did a whole bunch of 'em.

The next clip shows the arm motions that cause tailing loops. You can see that the good casts have a longer, smoother stroke, while the tails have short, choppy, or jerky casting motions:

tailing loops pt 2 (

The last clip shows tails made while double hauling. I really cranked on the haul (both forward and back) for these casts, as well as shortened my stroke and really whomped the rod with too much power. Then I made one good one to end things off:

tailing loops pt 3 (

Thanks to Ben Baartman for the videography.

07-06-2004, 09:46 AM
Thank you so much for the videos. They help alot in seeing what I'm doing wrong.
I am "applying the power too early". I noticed that when i drift, my stroke gets smoother. Fly casting is harder than one would think. I am excited to finally get somewhere with my corrections. I will be taking video of myself, to see where some more faults are. You guys one this forum are great. Thanks for all the help.

07-11-2004, 08:30 PM
Thanks for the videos. They are indeed excellent and instructive. I think I have every cst throwing a tailing loop imprinted on my muscle memory, now how to forget them. I think the difference between a good cast and one of the myriad different ways of throwing a tailing loop is relatively subtle. I bought a switch rod and can cast some really impressive loops with it.

07-12-2004, 10:05 AM
Another remedy is put less line in the air and shoot more line. This is one problem I had to overcome trying to get that last foot of line out when Steelheading.

There is a point for each rod line combo that when exceeded will cause tailing loops. Find this spot with your combo, shorten the line just a little and you will find a great deal of your tailing loops are gone.

Also turn so you can watch your back cast .


07-12-2004, 02:43 PM
good advice about the limitations of your combo. Do you think that higher end rods will handle more line efficiantly?

07-12-2004, 03:15 PM
I am not sure if the higher end rods will keep more line in the air.

For my single hand rods I only bought G Loomis and Sage. I never had a cheaper rod to compare them with. The Lommis were the old IMX Of which I still have the 10 ft 3 weight. The GLX was in the 10 ft 8 weight. For Sage I had the 10 ft 6 weight RPL . All of these were great casting rods. Arthritis mandated I quit using the single hand rods in anything over a 4 weight. So my son now has the 10-8 and I sold the 6100 on ebay.

I know the longer rod will keep more line in the air. I always preferred the 10 ft rods, because you are getting a longer stroke.

For me now other than the 3 weight, I will be using all Spey rods. They are much easier on the arthritis.


07-14-2004, 02:52 PM
Supposedly, most rods are pretty good. I was trying to help a cousin with his casting on a 6 wt trout rod. It was miserable and very difficult to use compared to my two Sage rods (RPL and SP). So, I think rods can make a big difference.

07-15-2004, 08:20 PM
I was hired recently by a gentleman who had a mail order single-handed striper rod from a big catalog company. Since most of these rods are made by major rod makers and re-branded, I assumed it would be fine. Watching the casting trouble through the morning I was tempted me to ask to try the rod... :eek: let's just say not all rods are created equal and the rod was definitely making his day more miserable than it needed to be.

The 'flex profile' through the length of the rod was not at all smooth and parts of the rod (as the energy traveled through it) felt hard where the caster would expect a little sweetness for single hand rod. This made the hand and arm work very hard, and the rod did little but get in the way of the arm trying to move line around where a good rod generates it's own momentum to aid the cast.

It's true, not all rods are created equal. Nor are lines, leaders and flies for that matter. No wonder we talk about this stuff so much to keep it all sorted out :tongue:

07-16-2004, 09:40 AM
I'm glad the past few posts were made. I am thinking of upgrading my rods and was leaning towards the TFO stuff. What are your thoughts on TFO. To me right now, its a price issue. My rods to upgrade are 3, 4 and 6 weights, all at 9 ft. I already own a TFO TiCR 8 wt. I really like it, but still getting used to the faster action, hence the tailing loop problem.

07-22-2004, 12:26 PM
Since my last post, I've worked on tails and almost eliminated them with everyone's help/advice. Thanks to Dana for the videos. I got to see exactly what I was doing wrong from seeing him make tails. I started to apply drifting and voila!!! my tails were gone. I snap better at the end of my forcast with a drift. I have doubled my line speed and now have a problem with a tail on my backcast. jeez, I fix one problem and inherit another. I know whats going wrong, just need to work on it.
I test drove a Sage XP 490-4 last weekend and had a blast. I felt confident enough to cast it 60-70 ft without effort. The XP actually helped me 'feel' my casting and adjust it on the spot. Wonderful rod. I had posted in another thread about getting an XP and now I need to start saving for it.
That was one of the rare rods that when a picked it up to start playing with, I felt nothing but line the whole time. My TiCR 8 wt I'm still struggling to feel the line, not the rod, but I'm getting better at feeling it.

07-22-2004, 10:12 PM
LabanTayo -

Great reading about your progress!

Just curious, when you say you have doubled your line speed, what exactly has gotten faster? I am curious because the term "line speed" seems to have several definitions, all valid.

Also, what is causing the tail in your backcast?

07-22-2004, 10:34 PM
thanks for the comment. since i can throw better loops (forward cast), i can get more speed with hauling and not having to worry about throwing a big open loop, which would slow me down. my tails on the backcast are because i am waiting to long to start my backcast and the line flips under like a tuck cast. since i am gaining speed, my timing is off on starting the backcast. forward cast = no tails. back cast = tails. i've been working on my forecast so hard, i let my backcast kinda go to crap. now i can work on it while still getting a good forecast. oh, and did i mention that drifting made wonders of how i can 'feel' the load and getting a good snap. i have been trying to fix every aspect of my casting all at once. not a good idea. too much to think about at once. so, i started over from the beginning and correcting one fault at a time. when i feel comfortable enough, i'll post video of my progress. once i get this down with a single hand rod, i'll start getting into spey casting. i've been doing some spey stuff on a single hand rod and its fun as hell. granted i dont have casting distance, a small river is good enough for a 9 ft. rod.

07-23-2004, 05:50 AM
Thanks for the reply.

In a conversation with Tim Rajeff, he mentioned that (and forgive me if I mis-quote) line speed as he defines it is the velocity at which the upper half of the loop travels as a straight and taut "javelin-like" unit through the air. If this component of the cast is wiggly, flying upward, downward, sideways, etc - then no matter how fast the rod is moving it will lack speed over the course of the cast.

This way of looking at the loop has dramatically improved my thinking. I had worked my way to a very tight lower half of loop with a spey cast, and although both halves were tight with the single hander (probably more due to double hauling) there was much room for refinement. I have spent many hours tuning my stroke to produce the most efficient 'javelin' speed and shape I can. I have not perfected it yet but can produce the shape I want with increasing regularity each time out. Like yourself it has given me a basis for refinement and pursuit of a better cast.

Per the tailing loop, it sounds like you have already diagnosed the "shocking" of the stroke due to a late start. There is also the possibility that an upward drift is starting early on the other end, pulling the direction of the lower half of the loop upward while the upper half continues in it's original path - a collision course.

Bruce Richard's writings have also been of great influence to my practice regimen. He writes "Everything about the loop size and shape is determined by the path the rod tip takes while accelerating the line, and what it does during and after deceleration. Where the top leg of the loop is, and the top leg shape (curved up, straight, curved down, curved to the side) is determined by the path the tip of the rod takes while acclerating the line. The path the rod tip takes during the deceleration determines the shape of the "point" of the loop. What position the rod tip holds after the loop has been formed determines where the bottom leg of the loop will be.

If the tip path is upward through the acceleration, the top leg will be high, if the path through the deceleration is a rather broad curve forward, ending low, the loop "point" will be very round, if the tip ends up low after the deleceration that will direct the bottom leg low, resulting in a typical big round loop. "

Therefore in a tailing loop scenario, quite often the path of acceleration occurs in one vector, while the path of the rod tip during deceleration and position it holds after effects another. Just a thought, and interesting to think about. It might help you to try a slower, smoother acceleration going back - minding especially the path that the line accelerates on it's way to the start of the drift. Combined with starting the backcast just before your forward cast 'kicks' over you should be good to go!

Congrats on your progress!

07-23-2004, 04:47 PM
Are you having tailing loops on your backcast when you are false casting or on the intial pick-up backcast? Both present a slight different move with the rod. If on the intial pick-up backcast, make sure there is a definite rod-tip pick-up (breaking the water tension with the line) to around 10:30ish before you start the power phase of the cast. This movement gets your rod tip to the proper plane for a good straight line tip path. If your are getting tailing loops during false casting, then after the forwards stop, reach forward (call follow through) a little bit. This forwards reach (follow through) is like drift on backcast. This move is without power and is repositioning the rod slighlty forward. The follow through allows you more territory and you will gain better line control and line speed. Klem

07-27-2004, 07:25 AM
I get my tails while false casting. I never thought of drifting up front. I will definetely try that. Thanks for the tips. :)

07-27-2004, 12:18 PM
Just change the name "drift" up front to "follow through", then everyone will be on the same page. Good casting. Klem