Fever dreams

Fever dreams

Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 19 March 2019

No fishing for me this last weekend: I spent both days in bed fighting my way back from an attack of the influenza bug. It hit me on Wednesday and felt like a wall fell on top of me. I managed to limp into work on Friday but needed Saturday and Sunday to complete my recovery. Getting out and lawn casting on Sunday afternoon felt like a celebration.

I have an unusually busy schedule for casting lessons coming up. While this is possibly my busiest period each year, for some reason I’ve gotten a lot more requests than in the past. On the one hand, it is nice to see some repeat students: it makes me feel like they thought the previous lessons were worthwhile. But, on the other hand, I have this nagging suspicion that I am not getting the job done. In the preliminary discussions I’ve been having, where I ask what the students want to focus on, I keep hearing the same concern. Tailing loops always are at the top of the student’s lists.

For some outside perspective I posed this question in the teaching section here on Sexyloops: how do other instructors approach taming a student’s tailing loop? The question failed to produce pages of discussion. At last look, there were only two responses, and while they were both spot-on, (use Richard’s 6 step approach and strive for longer, smoother strokes), neither were something I had not considered.


So, having days of sitting up in bed with nothing better to do than mop up my slobbering, I had plenty of time to give the problem a lot of thought. And I think I just might have come to some conclusions.


One is that tailing loops are wily little creatures: they are easy to see but hard to get your hands on. Just ask anyone who has attempted to become a certified instructor! Most good casters have them at first but they eventually tame them. Then, to pass their exam, the instructor candidate needs to produce tails on demand –which turns out to be amusingly difficult. It seems once you tame ‘em, it is quite difficult to make them appear once again. Usually, the early attempts by the would-be instructors are quite contrived and in reality, do not reflect the same animal the beginning caster has to wrestle with.


I hope no one expects me to provide a new theory of what causes a tail! I think that has been thoroughly wrung out right here on Sexyloops. A dip, then a rise, of the tip path is the culprit, and that flawed path is a result of an improper input by the caster. I’ll leave it to others to mull arcs and creep, etc. I think the above is enough for now.


But I do think there are tackle-related species of tailing loops. I see different animals when I watch someone tail a 5wt dry fly cast compared to a 12wt tarpon outfit cast. It is that second version of which my local students suffer. From here on we are going to be talking about tailing loops when casting for large tarpon.


To begin with, I believe a lot of my students have been previously misled with some bad sales advice. First off, all of them come packing 11 or 12 wt outfits.  They are told that big rods are required for the big fish they are after! And while I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut on that topic, as I am obviously a heretic, let me point out that the size of the usual tarpon fly of late could easily be cast with a 9 wt line. Also, even though line manufacturers are beginning to tell a little truth about their flyline weights, it is still common for the occasional tarpon seeker to hear they should over line that high-end fly rod. And heck, let's tell them a fly reel the size needed for marlin has a distinct advantage.


The result is a tackle combo that is heavy and a rod that is not only over-lined, but also severely over-gunned for the relative wisp of a fly it carries.


When you add all that up, it is not hard to imagine why a less than expert caster would apply too much power. It takes some muscle to simply move the mass of the reel and the flyline.


This over-gunning also seems to fit into the distances I commonly see these tails thrown. Usually, these anglers have a default cast around 75 feet. They occasionally can cast further, but ask them to present at half that distance and they are unable. Which is a real shame, since a lot of tarpon eat rather close to the boat.


So, I guess I’ve answered my own question?


What do you think the answer is?