You Are Here
By Captain Paul Darby (QRRFISH1), Shalimar, FL
Friends, Romans, Flyfishers all, I come here
not to bury the tailing loop, but to praise
it. To rest laurels were none would suspect
Understanding the fly rod, I liken to a journey.
There are signposts along the way that mark our
progress, give us information and tell us "You
So it is with the tailing loop, your personal
towncrier giving you a message.
The message is "You're overpowering." Slow down.
Now depending on where you're at in your journey,
that message may mean several different things to
each person who receives it. To some it will say,
congratulations on your tight loops. You need only
slow to a safe operating speed. Others it's telling
them to open the loop, this ain't no light floating
line, you got some lead in the works and it's dropping
out of the sky on ya. In both cases it's sending you
a message you need to know about.
In the first case, the tailing loop with tight loops
is simple overpowering. You developed good loop
formation habits that have brought you to a point
were you're holding the line path straight forward,
but simply overdoing it a bit. There are several
ways to deal with this situation. Slow the rod stroke
speed a bit and get back in balance. If double hauling,
slow the draw of the line to more closely match the
stroke speed you're applying to the rod. Or you may
be better able to open the loop just slightly. The
bigger the loop, the more energy is expended as the
line advances a larger surface area against the air.
You may have noticed a common theme, overpowering
as the root cause for most tailing loops.
That's because it is.
The reasons are numerous and the methods are diverse,
plus given the infinite number of ways to over power,
it's easy to see why an exact explanation is so elusive.
Throughout this entire series I've been trying to
explain the components of understanding why we throw
tailing loops. It started with the word casting.
Most casting is understood to be a hard forward
thrusting power stroke.
While true for most fishing rods, does not translate
well to the fly rod. And is the most basic underpinning
of misunderstanding between instructors and students.
We throw tailing loops because the weight on a fly
rod is a long flexible piece of plastic coated
string, that precisely mirrors the movement,
energy path and direction we impart to it. It
does not know our desires, hopes or dreams, it
only reflexes what we understand and the judgement
we apply to it in the moment.
The most common reasons I've noted for tailing loops,
excess false casting. Every false cast has a reason,
not all of them flattering, but all of them tell a
Some say "I lack confidence, I'm not sure of my loop
control and the longer I wait to present the fly
perhaps the fish will move to a position I'm more
comfortable with." It becomes a game of second-guessing
as you sink deeper into frustration, and finely
resign yourself to taking your best shot. Unfortunately
by then you're tensed up, over compensate and thus
overpower the presentation stroke. Your whole movement
has become excessive; you've sent too much power up
the rod distorting your line path.
Learn to beat the demon from within, do the unexpected,
relax and edge the power down slowly and begin to
Another common time for people to experience the
tailing loop is when learning the effect of double
hauling. They forget or have never been told that
drawing the line to augment and shift the power
application from one hand to the other is about
comfort to the operator. It's a grave
misrepresentation, that the benefits of double
hauling, is in the exclusive realm of distance.
Therefore when they add the power of the second
draw with the notion of casting, what you get is
If you're lucky a tailing loop is the only
manifestation that may occur. However for the
real aggressive personalities in the crowd, the
signpost up ahead is a little less well understood.
You see the post has been broken off and the sign
on top used to read, "This way to High Sticking."
That's right, you can high stick and rupture a
rod blank just by applying too aggressive a stroke
over too wide an arch and drawing the line too
quick in concert. When you do that, the resistance
of the line being drawn coming down from the tip
conflicts with the power coming up from the grip
at the bottom. You thereby have created an apex
point in the blank, the walls of the blank distorted
to the point of collapse.
For you salt-rodders, that means you put a rip tide
in your rod blank, for the midwesters that means too
much bull in your whip. For the East Coast types it's
just, ah-yup there ya go, and if you're in California,
well check with your state legislature for further
clarification. Hmm, can you say that in a fly fishing
column? ~ Capt. Paul
Have a question? Email me!
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