Fly Casting- Tailing Loops, those Oh-So Mysterious Creatures !

here’s yet another inspiring casting analysis gem straight from the creative mind of Aitor Coteron.
more than worthy of careful study for fly casters of all levels, i’ll venture to say that this one’s specially important for anyone teaching casting.


” for although that dip/rise is somewhat of a “concave path of the rod tip” it has nothing to do with those big bowl shaped tip paths so many drawings depict. For years those bowl shaped explanations were to me as perplexing as the tailing loops themselves: however much I looked whenever I saw a tail in someone’s casting I couldn’t see that big concave path everybody was writing about. Not even on the casting videos available. Reality is much much more subtle, so subtle that seeing with the naked eye the expected anomaly in the tip path -even knowing what to look for- is really hard. Here we have a tailing loop in full glory. It is played at a slower pace than real speed. The tail could be used to illustrate a casting handbook; can you see the “bowled rod tip” anywhere? “

this last point is quite important. most (all as far as i know) video analysis of TLs has been done by casters staging them just as us instructors do when certifying. they’re over-exagerated and very non-realistic interpretations of what’s really going on when its an involuntary fault. or in other words, studying bad examples can only lead to bad conclusions… 
“P.S. The tailing loops shown here are real ones, nothing staged for the camera but involuntarily produced.”

i’ll not add more. click HERE for Aitor’s complete article including different gifs at different speeds and rod tip path overlays. enjoy !

Fly Casting- The lowdown on Tailing Loops

Mysterious Creature by Aitor Coteron

very well and simply explained, this is the best i’ve read on the subject.
more than worth the read (actually, studied), Aitor’s article includes explanations, the how and whys of Tailing Loops backed up with the help of gifs and video. this is a must for any fly fisher of any level.

“Tailing loops have the aura of a mysterious creature. Currently we know pretty well how they are generated but, at the same time, we can’t help to surprise ourselves when we get a tail now and then, no matter how experienced we are.
Aitor's Tailing Loop
I mean that when casting for perfect loop control in mind I will immediately detect any error in the stroke, my hand will easily feel any deviation of its intended straight line trajectory. The view of the fly leg getting out of plane in relation to the rod leg at the latest stages of the loop life does nothing but confirm what I already knew before stopping the rod: that I had messed up the stroke.” 

click the gif or HERE to access the complete article. enjoy !

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…

13 Ways to Peace.


13 Habits of Unaccomplished Anglers

by Kirk Werner/Unaccomplished Angler via Deneki Outdoors

it’s not every day we get such awe-inspiring tips on how to have a better day on the water. this is the voice of experience, humility and wisdom at its best.

Count your knots. During the course of a day your leader/tippet will amass a considerable number of “wind knots.” First of all it’s important to note one thing: There are critics who will refer to these as “casting knots” in an attempt to place blame not on the wind, but on the caster. Poppy-cock, I say. When the Unaccomplished Angler goes a-fishin’ the wind will blow. There will result multiple wind knots. Count them. There’ll be more knots than fish. At the end of the day the angler with the most wind knots wins.

Let the fish eat someone else’s fly. The Unaccomplished Angler is the consummate conservationist. By being way too slow—or in many cases premature—on the hook set, they inevitably catch far fewer fish than their compadres. There’s nothing wrong with that as it leaves the fish for the skilled anglers who deserve their just reward. Relax and take comfort in the knowledge that your buddies and the fish appreciate your inabilities.

When in doubt, fish on. Unaccomplished Anglers don’t allow themselves be distracted by things they cannot change, such as but not limited to tailing loops and fouled hooks. As an example, when stripping an articulated streamer through a weed bed, the several inches of vegetation that become affixed to the hook are a good thing. Not only does it serve to increase the profile of the fly, additionally weeds are an important part of a fish’s life. What angler hasn’t observed small baitfish scurrying about the water collecting weeds for their nests? Big fish chase these diminutive weed gatherers because why? Because they want their weed.

there’s ten more gems and all you have to do to study them is click HERE. if you too want to be as Unaccomplished as it gets, be sure to visit Kirk’s site regularly.

the Cobra Effect


“The cobra effect occurs when an attempted solution to a problem actually makes the problem worse. This is an instance of unintended consequence(s). 5headed cobra

The term cobra effect stems from an anecdote set at the time of British rule of colonial India. The British government was concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. The government therefore offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially this was a successful strategy as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, enterprising persons began to breed cobras for the income. When the government became aware of this, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the worthless snakes free. As a result, the wild cobra population further increased. The apparent solution for the problem made the situation even worse.
A similar incident occurred in Hanoi, Vietnam, under French colonial rule. The colonial regime created a bounty program that paid a reward for each rat killed. To obtain the bounty, people would provide the severed rat tail. Colonial officials, however, began noticing rats in Hanoi with no tails. The Vietnamese rat catchers would capture rats, lop off their tails, and then release them back into the sewers so that they could procreate and produce more rats, thereby increasing the rat catchers’ revenue.”

well, at first this might seem like it might put a damper on things here at TLC (specially in the fly casting ‘debunking myths’ section) but au contraire ! i’ll just have to strive to find and learn more and better info and find ways to convey new concepts in contemporary fly casting to a slightly greater public. it’s the Year of the Snake, time to start rattling some tails !

3013 cobra gif


quoted text and images via Wikipedia, gif found on Tumblr

good knots

it’s been brought to my attention lately that a lot of people believe good casters never make ‘wind knots’.

well, that’s a load of bull it’s just not true. i regularly have the great joy of meeting and casting with what are referred to as some of the best fly casters in the world and i can assure you that it’s quite rare to see a ‘clean’ leader, specially during competion-style distance casts. heck, i even specialize in figure-of-eight knots! (above and below) these knots are a good thing. a blessing. they teach us.

they’re here to remind us that we can always improve and do better, but mostly to remind us that fly casting is an activity that no-one will ever truly master. that might be a hard one for some to swallow. too bad. the one below happened to me during a course. i had a dozen or so beginning students in front of me, i lifted the line to demonstrate a cast, the leader or fluff got stuck in some mole turds (see the mounds in the background), jerkiness happened (the line jerked and i jerkied it even more) and what happened next took around five minutes to undo. of course this isn’t supposed to happen and of course it’s entirely my fault !  (i hadn’t taken the mole turds into consideration) and to make it even worse, what knotted so badly was the fly line… however, what happened was all of a sudden, the dozen or so people smiled with even a few polite and well deserved giggles. what happened was all of a sudden, the pupils and the teacher where on the same level and all of a sudden, the whole group was less intimidated by their beginnerness. the day finished wonderfully and most left with enough casting skills to go out and catch a fish or two. a big lesson there for both sides. just like the sticker says: “sometimes it’s good to fuckup… “

Fly Casting- Tailing Loops, a visual explanation

film-stills casting sequence performed by Paul Arden.

a lot can, has and will be said about tailing loops but before adding more  i thought it would be of interest to look at this frame by frame sequence because the elements leading to tailing loops are hard to see in real time even when we’re casting slowly and diagrams are often suited to taste. not only is it cool to look at but it should help understand this loop’s cause and dynamics. enjoy !

NOTE- the comment section at the bottom of the post is well worth the read. as always, Aitor’s wisdom helps me understand what i thought i understood…

Brain Farting and Tailing Loops

a funny yet insightful article, something to think about when your brain freezes up !

Brain Farts by Will Shaw

“Irrespective of our political views, I bet we all had a chuckle at Rick Perry this week. For those who didn’t see it, this potential Republican US Presidential candidate had a disaster of a TV debate when he couldn’t remember one of his own key policy proposals.3

“The Scientists say it’s the worry of screwing up that stops your brain accessing the right information. All your processing power is taken up with the “Don’t Forget, don’t forget!” thought, and nothing is left for actually accessing the info. you want.”

“I think a similar thing can happen in casting practice. The more you want to stop that tailing loop, the worse it gets. Gradually you tense up more and more, casting more and more frequently, and more and more aggressively. The only thought in your mind is “don’t tail, please don’t tail!””

“This continues until your arm seizes up, or you run full pelt and screaming, driving the rod-tip into a tree.”