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 them deserved.

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 are here."

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 story.

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 regain control.

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 double overpower.

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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