Try Some Rubber Tape!

Rubber Tape for Running Line
Pleasant pinching place.

At Alaska West and BC West, lots of our anglers fish spey rods.  Most of the time we’re spey casting, we’re using Skagit-style heads.  Skagit heads require running line between the head and the backing, and for easy casting and line handling, lots of folks prefer using mono running lines.

One problem with mono running lines is that, on cold, wet days, it can be a little tough to pinch the running line against your cork.  When casting, or more importantly when setting the hook, having the running line slip between your fingers and the cork is no bueno.

One solution to this problem, courtesy of the legendary Ed Ward, long-time guide on the Skagit River and at Alaska West, is to wrap some rubber tape around your cork, wherever you pinch off your running line.  This provides a soft, slightly tacky spot to squeeze your running line, and that decreases slippage and makes your ‘pinching finger’ less tired.

Rubber Tape
Use the right stuff.

If you want to give it a try, make sure you use the right tape!  Electrical tape, or any other tape that has adhesive, is a very bad idea – the adhesive will make your fingers and your running line very gummy.  You want to use all natural rubber tape, with no adhesive.  It can be a little tough to track down – we found ours at the local plumbing store, labelled as ‘splicing tape’.  It’s nothing but natural rubber, with a backing attached to keep it from sticking to itself on the spool.

UPDATE: Lots of you have gotten in touch asking where you can buy the right tape, and we’ve finally found it on Amazon.  Click here for the link to the right stuff.

Here’s how to apply it to your cork.

  1. Make sure your cork is as clean as possible.
  2. Cut off a piece 6 to 8 inches long, depending on the thickness of your cork.
  3. Cut both ends off at a 45 degree angle – this will minimize any bumps on your grip at either end of the tape.
  4. Peel off the backing.
  5. Pinch one end of the tape off on the cork, near where you pinch off your running line.  Start wrapping the tape around your cork, stretching it as you go.
  6. Maintain the tension on the tape, and wrap it 2-3 times around the cork, trying to wrap the surface as smoothly as possible.
  7. When you get to the end of the tape (it should end with a 45 degree cut), pull it tight and squeeze it against the previous wraps of tape.
  8. Using your thumb, smash the end of the tape hard, working it into itself, to make a nice smooth end to your wrap job.
  9. Enjoy slip-free casting and hook setting!

More Spey Info


  1. Paul Bodenshot says

    I thought it was a great idea but after telling some of the guys at the coffee shop they brought up the fact that whenever we all use black tape after several months it ‘leaks’ sticky-ness from out of each wrap edge. They feel it gets on your line and hands and can become a bigger mess to deal with. Comments anyone?

  2. andrew says

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve never had that problem with pure natural rubber tape. This is not normal ‘black tape’ or electrical tape like lots of folks use on their ferrules. The right stuff has no adhesive at all – the adhesive would definitely create stickiness problems.

    Are you seeing that problem with pure rubber tape with no adhesive?

    I find that after maybe 30 days on the water it just starts to wear out, so I just peel it off and reapply.


  3. Tony Mason says

    Great idea also use the tape on joints In the uk the tape is sold as self amalganating tape its used to provide waterproof joints on electrical components
    Tight lines

  4. says

    I went looking for some tape in a sporting goods store in the tennis dept. Found some that works just fine ..have had it on some rods for many years. It also comes in handy when fishing old hardys and Dingly with no drag.I use a half finger glove and I just press my line between the glove and the tennis tape on the top of my cork for a drag!!

  5. Alex Breckenridge says

    This is a great tip, as already been said been using this stuff for years on my rod joints to stop them twisting. Used a lot in the offshore industry Amalgamating tape.
    Ive been taping my handles for a few years too and it does work.
    Tight lines to all.

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