One of the most common casting flaws fly anglers experience, especially as they learn to double haul, is the infamous tailing loop. This occurs when the top part of the casting loop drops below the bottom part of the loop, this can happen on either the forward cast or the back cast. The result of a tailing loop is a loss of line speed, reduced casting distance, and often times, a knot that is referred to as a “wind knot.” I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings here but the wind actually has nothing to do with it, the knot was caused by an error in your casting stroke.
When talking about the causes of a tailing loop, timing is everything. A casting stroke should start slow with an even period of acceleration and be followed by a sudden stop. Your casting stroke will vary by how far you are trying to cast. A longer cast has a longer casting stroke with a longer period of acceleration. When talking about tailing loops, the part we are going to focus on is the previously mentioned sudden stop. The point of the sudden stop is to allow the line to straighten out (either in front of you or behind you depending on if you are on your forward or backcast.) As your casting loop unfolds and the line straightens out, your rod loads.
You have heard us previously discuss “the creep” when talking about casting strokes. This means the caster is creeping forward, starting their forward cast too soon. After the sudden stop on your back cast, you want to allow all of your line to straighten out (load the rod) before starting your forward casting. When you start your forward cast too soon (creep forward) you are not able to properly load the rod as it is already too far forward, this here is the most common cause for a tailing loop. The cure for this is to wait until you feel the line load on your backcast, make sure it all straightened out completely, before coming forward. When we say feel the line load you should actually feel it. The weight of the line will pull as the loop straightens out, that is your sign to come forward. Often times it helps to turn your head during the backcast and watch your line unroll.
Another cause of tailing loops that happens during the “sudden stop” is when you let your line load correctly, everything is going well so far, but you drop your rod tip just before you start your forward cast. Even the slightest drop in the rod tip will introduce slack in your casting stroke which again, interferes with the rod properly loading and therefore, earns a tailing loop. The cure for this is to keep your wrist firm throughout the casting stroke. This type of tailing loop usually happens after your final backcast. It is almost like you are trying to add just a little extra power before you let the line shoot. But when you unintentionally drop the rod tip, you get the opposite and instead lose valuable line-speed. Casting instructors have had students tuck their rod butt under a sleeve cuff or even put a rubber band around a casters wrist and stretch it over the butt of the rod. I find that once you explain what is happening here and make the caster aware of the dropping rod tip, that alone can make a huge difference in eliminating it from their casting stroke.
If you have a tailing loop, more often than not it is because the timing is off during your cast. When working on improving these things, go to a park and practice off water. Start with shorter casting strokes, get that dialed, before you slowly start to add distance. Are you noticing a tailing loop? Try watching your back cast. My bet is that you are either creeping forward too soon or dropping your rod tip some.
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