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LabanTayo 07-01-2004 11:21 AM

Fixing Tailing Loops
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.

Dana 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.

LabanTayo 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.

Dana 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.


LabanTayo 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?

Dana 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:

sean 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,


Dana 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:

Dana 07-05-2004 12:30 AM

here are a bunch of tailing loops
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.

LabanTayo 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.

Loopy 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.

Skilly 07-12-2004 10:05 AM

tailing loops
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 .


LabanTayo 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?

Skilly 07-12-2004 03:15 PM

Higher end rod
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.


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