all tails are caused by the same thing, the concave path of the rod tip between the two stops. the improper application of power creates the concave path, and takes many forms: overpowering the rod anytime during the stroke, creeping, slack, short stroke length with long line length, etc etc etc all create tails in spey casts.
A really common one that I see a lot is slack in the D loop. The caster starts forward with the delivery cast, but doesn't feel any rod load due to a slack D, then suddenly feels the weight of the line, but has now run out of stroke length so they punch the cast, resulting in the tail. Solution: set up a nice slack free D loop and life gets a whole lot easier!
Creep and slack are my two main bugabooes. How can I cure these two problems in my cast. Equpiment: 6126 w/delta 6/7 line and I'm casting with the belly @12" out of the tip. I also use a Burkie 15 for 9 weight wilth a mid-spey 9 with the belly just out of the tip. What I'm thinking and trying to do in my sequence of casting stroke is: Tip in the water I cresecent lift the tip up (@tree-top level) and then start a straight pull back to @90 degrees then I sweep up to "Key" position thinking a lifting delta (v) for my d-loop. My "Anchor" is in a box area about one rod to 11/2 rod and just in front of me. The splash down is lite with the nail knot to fly as the "grip/anchor. From the "Key" position smoothly accelerate with my right hand thumb in a straight line as a path guide to the stop position @ 10:30ish. The left hands pulls slightly down and out from the "Key" position and when the rod is high noonish the left hand pulls to my belly. (At the noonish position, I think "push" with the right hand and "pull" with left hand trying to equal the effort.)
I would think "Creep" and "Slack" develops from the "sweep-up" to "Key" position and before I start the "Fire" (slow /smooth acceleration)with a firm/complete stop) in my cast. To much force in the sweep-up and the delta can get some small waves (slack) - this I have seen and been trying to eliminate. To little force and the delta becomes a soft d-loop. Next possible problem area is CREEP. I don't notice any creep! I try not to move forward before I start the "Fire" but that doesn't mean creek is not there. I can't see my stroke at this point in the total sequence. Should I "poke" the sky to keep from drifting forward or is there soemting else I'm missing? Thanks for your help and congrat on passing the THCI. Klem
I suspect a "poke" rather than a gradual drift could possibly introduce more slack because the top of the d-loop would be accelerating up and back when the desired situation is maximum tension between the tip and the wedge. A drift backward is often added to extend stroke length for distance but there should be a sense of tension from the backcast (d-loop) as it travels backward at all times, even if it's much lighter than in a no drift situation.
Suggestion #1 - video
Dana has shown us how useful video can be. It would be incredibly useful if you had a video clip of said tail, you might even solve it yourself if you could see it from a ways back.
Sug. #2 - V-loop verses D-loop
Another way to check slack in the d-loop is to try a v-loop, which I suspect you may have already tried. By creating a flatter, "pointy" more energized d-loop in a slightly shallower angle to the water you might be able to detect parts of the d-loop that have slack, irregular shapes, etc - if there are any. The more aggressively formed d-loop is not likely to have slack. Setting the anchor becomes more of the issue with a v-loop, but when you get it right and then throttle back down to a d-loop again your loop should be nice and tight.
Sug. #3 - Study the timing of the d-loop without a forward cast
It might also help to stop at the key position and just watch to make sure there is enough of what I refer to as "opposing tension" in the d-loop between the top leg and the bottom leg & anchor. Do that a few times, then take the forward cast making sure you are tight all-around from tip to anchor at the key firing position.
One-armed D-loop trick:
I recently thought of a trick for the class I gave with Broadside this spring. I wanted an easy way to communicate D-loop mechanics, and it worked pretty well:
Take the bottom hand off the rod and put the butt on your midsection somewhere near the middle of your body. Now with only one hand on the rod, do a slow lift and sweep around to form a d-loop. Do not use the bottom hand, do not let the rod butt leave the body until the speed-up-and-stop stroke. No forward cast, just stop and watch what the d-loop does based on body and upper hand movement.
Here's what I found:
1) One-arm d-loops force people to use your body rotation to force momentum into the d-loop while showing you exactly how far you need to rotate the body to cast in any particular direction. I've found that the over-zealous use of the bottom hand for creating the d-loop is often the cause of turbulence in the d-loop. This also eliminates the common problem of "trunking" or kicking out the bottom hand like an elephant's trunk (you can't trunk with one arm)
2) Since there is no forward cast, the one-arm d-loop puts the whole focus is on making and watching that d-loop form and not coming forward at all. This is like having your single-hand students make only back casts for a minute to emphasize the importance, etc. Most importantly it reinforces the timing of the d-loop action building up to the anchor's kiss.
3) One arm D-loops emphasize how little effort it takes to create a perfect d-loop when the body and upper arm do the right thing. It emphasizes how little the bottom hand does for traditional d-loops (underhand techniques may differ).
Practice this until you are forming a beautiful d-loop with the one hand up and the butt against the body, no forward casts. Then put the bottom hand back on and keep it's function minimalized until the forward cast. Don't start your (smooth) acceleration until the point you remember the d-loop to be fully formed in the one-arm exercise. This should result in an effortless, fully formed and slack-less d-loop.
You might try shorter line / minimum effort casts made very clean and extend the line length a bit at a time, trying to keep the same clean stroke getting longer and longer.
Sometimes it can be just as effective to work on a cure than to diagnose the problem. After being inspired by a chat with Tim Rajeff at GGACC I have been working on a stroke that gets the top leg of the loop on a forward spey cast to be as straight as possible, a "javelin on a rope". I had been very bottom leg focused all these years, trying to get that to be perfectly straight off the rod tip to the wedge. But getting the top leg straight feels like throwing a javelin and sometimes when I am lucky enough to hit it perfectly the cast flies through the air like a lightning bolt with no turbulence nor even the hint of a tail because the top leg is so tight. I hope to master this stroke eventually, with a tight bottom leg as well and figure out how to do it every cast. Still workin' on it :wink:
This is not likely to be the case here but something that is often overlooked is that sometimes a tailing loop is an equipment mismatch NOT a casting fault.
Often when using a line ( especially sink tips) that are too heavy for a rod the cast will colide even on a properly performed cast..
a lot of people feel that it is cheating but i avoid it simply by making an arealized mend just reach the bottom of your loop out of the way of the top but i say that as one being much moreconcerned with the outcome of the cast rather than the construction of the cast...
With the rod tip touching the water surface (with my Thumb on top of cork), with my upper hand I then start the "Crescent Lift" my by turning my palm up towards the sky by 45 degrees and slightly lifting the rod until the tip is point @35 degrees (tree level) from the water surface. My bottom hand stays somewhat in place @belly buttom area during this part of the cast. I feel I can control the tip path in a distinct small, half or full Crescent shape to set me up for needed casting plane and direction. i.e. The switch cast I make the crescent lift almost perfectly straight up; for a change of direction with low obstruction in the d-loop area I would use a full crescent lift moving the tip in full crescent shape towards the down stream bank and following thru back out towards the center of the stream so I can then change my casting plane at 30 or 25 degrees from the water surface. In other words, turn my casting plane almost parallel to the water's surface and fliping the fly out underneath the fly line. What I'm trying to do is control the tip of the rod throughout all parts of the casting mostion.
Hand position at "Key Position" is: Right hand @ ear level almost like I was anwsering the phone. The left hand @ 6" from right boob. Grip of both hand is light just like a "cradling the rod". The height of my hands depends upon how close my butt is to the water surface. I raise my hand over my head in proportion to how deep I have to wade to present my weapon (fly) to a fish.
Thanks to Dana, Juro and Rob for your input. This spey casting is ADDICTIVE and the more you learn the more there is to know and refine. Klem
Without seeing what you're doing it would be hard to determine exactly what is causing the tail, a video would be great if you could get a clip.
In any case, best of luck and hopefully you will figure it out or hook up with someone who doesn't mind standing back to see what they can see for you, an extra pair of eyes.
There is one thing I would ask about though... per the "phone to the ear" analogy. I would hope that the call is from a fax machine so you'd have to hold the phone well away from the ear to avoid the piercing noise. If the 'phone' (upper rod hand) was close to the ear on a change of direction cast the d-loop would most likely have a distinct curve inward and even behind you rather than being taut in the plane of the target / backcast.
In the way I normally cast (realizing there are differences in style) my forearm is either vertical above the elbow or canted slightly outward, never inward - to be more specific the elbow is not bent with the hand/forearm coming inward as would be required to bring the phone to the ear. Usually at the end of my d-loop sweep the forearm and thus elbow is going pretty much straight out from my shoulder and quartering slightly to the rear on the side of the d-loop, more for added drift and distance.
My point is there is a possibility that your d-loop is coming 'round too far if the hand is near your ear and therefore the forward stroke has to pull that side tension out before jumping forward, hence a sudden application of power and the rod tip deflection etc described above.
I describe the d-loop as being in a sidecar where you are driving the motorcycle. Both the d-loop and forward cast occurs in a parallel offset plane, not unlike a cowboy whirling a lasso off to the side at a rodeo. Certainly if the hand comes inside the elbow the loop will come to the inside as well.
Anyway thank you for giving us this chance to try to interpret your description.
Sorry, I missed that part of the description. [RIGHT HAND ON TOP] The plane of the rod is about @20-30 degrees plane, canted from high noon and the right hand at the key position is about 8-10 inches from my head. The left hand usally is out from my right chest area.
when you sweep up into the key position are you doing a final "stab" as your hand reaches the apex? In your posts you mention using too much power and getting waves in the delta line. As a teaching tool I sometimes talk about stabbing the rod up to the key position for people who aren't using any acceleration when forming the D, or for people who tend to drop their rod tip, but a stab for a person who is accelerating properly can lead to slack in the D loop.
Will you try something for me and let me know how it works? Switch casting only, rod tip at water, line straight and tight, execute your movements in a relatively slow and relaxed fashioned and watch your rod tip. You will notice it start to bend as soon as you begin to lift. Now keep moving making certain the rod stays bent throughout the lift, and keep lifting smoothly until your top hand is at shoulder height. Next, without stopping at the top of the lift, move immediately into your back cast, and use enough effort so that you notice the rod tip bending even more as you pull your rod back to form the D loop. Pull straight back without any crescent move, imagining there is a rope attached to your elbow that is drawing your elbow back. Remember not to rush this: while you are accelerating it should be relaxed. You need use only enough effort to move the line.
Now, once your top hand has drawn back to a point out from your chin but still at shoulder height (slightly higher to neck height is okay too), stop the rod to form the loop then move your top hand up into the key position. This move is simply a drifting of the rod--you are not accelerating. Time it so that you reach your key position as the line is about to touch down for the anchor. Now come smoothly forward with acceleration until your top arm is near full extension, and your top thumb at eye level.
If any of this makes any sense let us know what if anything happens as you experiment with this approach.
On the lift I tend to go very slow, watching the water cascade off the line slowly . I think slow to a little faster at this part of the cast then a smooth, seamless transition to the pull back. According to you my possible problem is that I continue to accelerate up to the Key position. You say the rod should unload at this point (where I start the swing-up to key position) then I should drift up to the key position. At the 'clave Leroy demonstrated what I think you are talking about. Line continues back and forms a delta shape while drifting up to key position. But the rod is unloaded at this point and you have to gain reloading?? Don't you lose? I can see now this will work for long belly lines but what about short belly lines? The same approach?
Tommorrow I will try your idea and see what happens. I will let you know. You are spending way to much time with me on this problem. A cooold one is due you on me. Thanks Klem
the drift is like the drift in a single hand cast. the rod unloads and the rod tip is drifted back and up. Here is some video that shows it: rod drift
it will take a few viewings to see it. Watch for the rod to unload and the top hand to drift back and up as the D loop forms behind the caster (me). I've exaggerated the height of the top hand to make the drift clear--normally I wouldn't lift that high, more like this.
As the rod is drifting back and up the D loop forms and begins to load the rod. Because you have drifted back and up your rod tip can now travel farther on your forward cast, leading to increased power and, if you apply the power smoothly with the rod tip following a straight line path, no tailing loops.
The "drift" seems to cure the problem along with a slightly longer casting arch. I now need to work on the drift portion so the lift/drift is slow and smooth to key while the a line anchors. Thinking about the timing of the lift/drift to be completed just as the anchor sets down. Thanks again Dana. Klem
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