Simple Fix For A Tailing Loop

Fly casting is a rather simple thing that we a fisherman have found excellent ways to complicate. There are however a few basic fundamental things in fly casting that we mostly all agree on and unfortunately it is easy to mess these up. With all of that said most of us all understand one thing and that is loops. We know that a tight loop is needed for distance and accuracy and usually signifies a good cast.

In fly casting, the rod does all the work. We help the rod out by giving it motion but the line is cast through the bending and un-bending of the rod itself. You bend the rod by moving it against the line such as in picking up line from the water and you unbend the rod by bringing your stroke to an abrupt stop. The stop determines the outcome of the cast because the faster to stop the rod the quicker you un-bend the rod and the more line you throw.

Loops are created when the fly line travels past the tip of the rod. The faster you un-bend the rod the tighter your loop will be but the angle at which you maintain your rod and its stop point determines the angle and whether the cast can reach its full potential.

The biggest or rather most common casting fault I see is the tailing loop. A tailing loop is the leader and the tip of your line connect with the main line during the cast and cause your forward cast to more or less fall into a pile in front of you somewhere. It usually occurs when someone tries to cast too far or tries to overpower a rod. Remember that loops are created when the line passes the tip of the rod which means you get a loop going backwards as well as going forwards. I often witness anglers throwing a tailing loop on their backcast without even knowing it and wondering why their forward cast pile, but more often a tailing loop is thrown on the forward cast resulting in a wasted effort and a tangled mess.
A Tailing Loop

Often a tailing loop in the backcast is created when the forward cast is begun too early.Your line is still traveling backward at this point and your rod is moving forward so when the backcast straightens out it pulls the rod tip under the path of the line which cause the collision of the loop. This is the cause of all tailing loops, when your rod tip drops below the path of the straight line or path of the cast, a tailing loop will result. The fix for this is simple and almost always fixes tailing loops in the backcast. Just wait a little longer to begin your forward cast. You are more than likely not pausing long enough before you begin your forward motion and by pausing a little longer or watching you backcast so you know when to begin, you can solve this problem.

Photograph of a tailing loop. Source Fly Fisherman

Another cause of tailing loops in the backcast is simple as well. Tailing loops are sometimes created when there is too much slack in the backcast as you begin your forward cast which causes the rod tip to get stopped when the slack line pays out and it dips below the casting plane and forms a tailing loop. As you can see the cause is the rod tip dropping below the casting plane which some people call the straight line path.

The forward cast is where we have problems describing the cause of tailing loops so bear with me and go slow. Everyone has their own casting arc, a casting arc is what we instructors are referring to when we talk about the path of your rod during a backward and forward cast and the stopping points at each end i.e. 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock. Now, good casters know that this standard theory that many anglers use is only good based on the amount of line we have paid out. You have to match the casting arc with the flex of the rod or else your tip will fall below the casting plane and your loop will tail out. For this reason you cannot get stuck in a rhythm and be set on one casting arc. your rod start and stop position needs to be adjusted on every cast based on the amount of line you will be casting and how far the rod must travel to achieve the correct flex for that particular distance. So if you are using a 10-2 casting arc and its not working you may need to adjust to 10-12 or some other angle.

The bottom line however is that to avoid tailing loops you need to achieve the proper rod flex for the amount of line you have out during your cast, you need to time it so that the forward cast begins at the right moment creating a smooth transition from back to front with minimal slack thus creating a smooth tight loop. While doing this you need to ensure that the tip of your rod does not drop below the casting plane, this is the most important aspect and once you've done all these things your loops will be tight and your casts will be accurate and effective. Great casts can catch great fish, sloppy casts catch not much of anything.

A nice tight casting loop. Source Fly Fisherman

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