Fly Casting- What does a Tailing Loop look like ?

upon seeing this image on a casting discussion board recently i instantly replied “that’s not a tailing loop !”, further reminding me of just how many people have a false impression of what a TL looks like.
all of these images where easily found on the net, have been displayed on sites and forums and seem to be eagerly accepted by a large percentage of those posting and viewing them.
my point here isn’t to go into the causes of tailing loops but of identifying them because to work on a casting problem first requires properly identifying what needs to be worked on before doing anything about it.

more examples by different sources but basically the same as above.

pic1this one’s getting there, could be considered a ‘tailing tendency’ because of the slight dip of the fly leg but most probably won’t lead to any problem. it does however get a few bonus points for having nice background colours.tailingon this one they managed to draw/put the tail on the rod leg !
most definitely a first as a TLs happen on the fly leg of the line…


now, before explaining why those aren’t tails and why they’re not half as bad as some might have us think lets have a look at some real ones: the really bad nasty ones.
unlike the ones above, tailing loops with a big dip in the fly leg that like to collide with the rod leg and really mess up our cast, scare fish, make friends laugh and sometimes make knots in our leaders. tailing loops can serve no good or creative purpose. they are faults and this is what they look like.

with great help from Bruce Richards and images graciously provided by David Lambert, editor of IFFF’s TheLoop,  first up are two graphic overlays taken from the video with easily understandable ‘rod tip path throughout the stroke, line path and post-stroke rod tip rebound’ colour separations to help us see what’s happening in real, not something born of imagination.



what we’ll notice right away compared to the previous images is that the dip in the fly leg crosses the rod leg twice. the dip in the line is there since the rod tip dipped and came back up during the stroke and this very same dip is reflected in the line and propagates down as it unrolls. at best the line and leader unrolls poorly and if the unrolling dip is too close to the rod leg there’s collision making bad worse.
some casting-geek colleagues might disagree with the crossing twice part as a for-sure sign of of a TL and indeed, line collision is the real nasty and isn’t dependant of how many times the line legs cross themselves however, my point here isn’t to go into minute subtleties or go against their way of thinking but to help out casters of all levels to differentiate between crossed loops and tailing loops. they’re different beasts.

i won’t go so far as to say that the first images demonstrate ‘ideal’ casting form (whatever that is) but even if some of the drawing authors bothered to include a concave path of the rod tip during the stroke hinting to what is ultimately the cause of real tails, ultimately, what we’re seeing in the drawn line paths are crossed loops and crossed loops are not a fault as long as the line legs don’t collide.

its not very common to see all-in-one-plane candy cane loops, specially with longer lengths of line carried.
crossed loops constitute about 99% (that’s just a guess but the percentage is very high) of all casts from casters of all levels, irregardless of casting school styles, casting overhead or off to the side.

crossed loops are an obvious necessity for all roll and Spey casts, many non-linear presentation casts or simply to cast out of plane to not risk banging ourselves in the back of the head with a heavy Clouser.
the Gebetsroither-Austrian-Belgian-Italian, Kreh, saltwater and almost every style of casting is based on casting in two planes and the result is a crossed loop. to put it another way, on a global level its the norm.

hopefully these few words will be of help, specially to those that might be worried because they’re not casting perfectly parallel-legged candy-cane shaped loops.
unless you’re doing big nasty Bruce-Type tails you’re probably not doing so badly after all…

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