Instructor Exams and Tailing Loops

Instructor Exams and Tailing Loops

Scott Loudon | Thursday, 21 January 2016

Lee posted an interesting question on facebook the other day about tailing loop demonstrations and whether instructors tend to show these to their clients. The majority answer was ‘not really‘ and only if it is a serious problem that needs addressing.

My own thought is that 99% of the time a demonstration isn’t needed, it needn’t even be brought up in the majority of cases as all most people need is an understanding of how not to result in the tied and crumpled leader. It leads to an interesting area of discussion though and one that I’ve had a number of times with a good friend of mine. That is, how tailing loops are assessed in instructor exams.
I’ll put it out there first that I’m a member of two separate organizations and feel at liberty to critique, where warranted, the testing methods and value in the test itself.
In the advanced levels of most casting instructor examinations there will be a task requiring the candidate to demonstrate a tailing loop on the front and backcast on command, a tailing loop due to inappropriate power application, a tailing loop due to insufficient casting arc and perhaps a tailing loop due to creep. This can be quite challenging as most candidates know numerous easy ways to generate a tail, the easiest being to stab the rod tip upwards with an abrupt burst of power in the casting stroke. BUT the tests are quite specific and want the various causes of a tailing loop demonstrated.
In my opinion there is a fundamental flaw in this approach in that these cannot be standalone events that cause a tail except one.
Abrupt or uneven power application – causes a dip and rise in the tip path, tail. Check.
Insufficient casting arc – if this was the only issue at play the result would be a collapsed cast not a tail. A power fault is needed to tail.
Creep – exactly the same as above.
How then can a candidate distinctly demonstrate all of these as different casts when they are in effect the same root cause? In my opinion they can’t. Nor should it be a requirement of the examination. Worst of all is that should a bright candidate question the task there’s a good chance that will be a fail. Admittedly, the game with any exam is to play by the exam rules so don’t go challenging theory during an exam!
Taking it further, what skills does this task prove of an instructor that has a real world teaching application? The most useful part of a demonstration of a tail would be to show what a tailing loop looks like – a quick obvious cast to make them go “a-ha, I saw that crossing”. I’d challenge anyone to mimic a student’s cast to tail in exactly the way they do in a repeatable and slow manner that was useful to the student’s understanding of what they were doing wrong and then subsequently offer an alternative cast to fix it. It’s just too complicated and likely to not return value to the student. A few simple prompts to change what they’re doing will likely lead to a much faster result.


I was in Chamonix at the weekend skiing so doing the opposite of Paul and acclimatising to cold temperatures. Minus 15 celcius roughly with a windchill around double that. Great fun and good snow though. Norway in a week and half's time when I'll be trying my hand at some ice-fishing as well as dog sledding and shoeshoeing. I should have an unusual FP coming out from that one!