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[Posted May 29, 1996]

Watch the Reverse

Rigging Shooting Tapers

A few weeks ago, John Toro asked if he had over-lined his new Loomis GLX rod correctly by increasing the line weight of the shooting head by two over the rod's recommended line weight.
I replied that going up two line weights for a shooting head is pretty much standard operating proceedure on most fly rods, but not all. Some slower action Second Generation Graphite rods are only able to handle an increase of one line weight before the tip starts to overload.

GLX rods have a fast-action, so going up two weights seemed to be the way to go, but I added that I had never had the opportunity to test a GLX. Of course, when angler/writers use the word test, they really mean: Fool around to my heart's content without a sales rep looking over my shoulder.

Now I have. It tested a GLX 9-weight, and as suspected, a 10-weight SciAngler shooting head felt just a little too light. The rod was still casting fine, but I believed I could to do a little better with a heavier head, so I moved up to an 11-weight SciAngler Shooting Taper.

Thump! Well, not really Thump!, but it felt like the rod was working its little heart out trying to bring that 11-weight line around from the back cast.

This doesn't mean that SciAngler was at fault. Their weight ratings are right on the mark. It was just my casting style combined with the GLX 9-weight that produced different and odd results.

Great, I thought. Now I'm going to have to trim this 11 head down. You can fine tune a shooting head by taking small bites out of the thick end. Naturally, cutting off too much all at once can ruin everything, so it becomes a time-cumsuming process of casting, trimming, and casting. But I would end up with a shorter head and I would prefer to have the full length in my favor. If you can handle it, the longer the head, the better because you'll be getting just that much more distance on every cast.

I was about to go for nippers, but I'm in the habit of reversing my shooting heads. I have since Day 1. It just seemed logical to reverse the head so that the heavier portion was forward and the thin diameter taper matched up with my thin diameter shooting line. Disregarding that little This End To Reel sticker has worked well for me on various rods, but I recalled one that didn't conform to the norm: a G. Loomis IMX 9-weight.

In my hands, the IMX loaded a 10-weight shooting head (reversed) well enough, but just for kicks, I re-installed the head in its intended way. The improvement was slight, but still enough to make me want to go tapered end forward. I tried the same thing with other rods and as far as they were concerned, I found I still preferred the reversed head installation.

But back to the GLX. I turned the head around and surprise, surprise: Smooth, almost effortless casts with good distance. No notion of over-loading whatsoever. A perfect match.


A possibile answer may lie in the G. Loomis rod taper. At least, it's all I can come up with.

By installing a shooting head with the heavy portion forward, you are actually increasing the forces on the rod as that heavy end whips back and forth some 30 feet away from the rod tip, but putting the most weight nearer the makes for a slightly lighter load. So a shooting head can actually effect a rod in two distinctly different ways, depending upon if its installed as is or reversed.

The moral of this little tale is simply to never take things as they are. Experiment, even if the experiment seems oddball. Try reversing your shooting heads this way and that. Try longer heads, heavier heads and lighter heads. You just never know.

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