Rope Tricks

Lasso book by Carey Bunks

Keith Johnson asked about rope tricks and Steven M. Salberg replied...

Butterfly Loops

I'm in the third week of learning butterfly loops and have almost got it. Now that I look back at the book - it looks like I may have learned it "wrong."

I'm right handed. When I cast the rope to start the butterfly to my left side of my body, should it be in a clockwise or counter clockwise fashion?

The "traditional" method is (for Right handers) to have the rope spinning Clockwise on the left side and CounterClockwise on the right. Another way to think about it is that the rope is spinning *forwards* on BOTH sides... (you should be pushing the rope towards the front on both sides).

Why does it matter? It seems if I cast it counter clockwise it "rolls over" my wrist as the loop bounces from side to side. If I go clockwise, it's harder for me to keep the loops "alive." Any thoughts?

In the "reverse" direction the loop must cross over the rope-part that you are holding (it is called the "spoke"). As you make the cross to the other side you are "pulling" the loop towards you. When you are in the "traditional" direction you are pushing the loop away so there is greater room for error and (I think!) the little loop that holds the rope (called the "honda") can travel under the loop easier.


I've been working on the Western Art of rope spinning for the last few months. I work with #12 - 3/8" Samson cotton spot cord. The rope I started with is soft and flexible (I got it used). When I ordered another length from Mark Allen Productions (1-800-858-5568) the rope I received was stiff and starched. Now I'm wondering, should I try to break this new rope in to be like my old one or is a starched rope the way to go. Does a stiff rope hold a loop better? It may just be what I'm used to but I like that old broken in rope - the stiff new rope is a pain to work with. Besides, people already think the ropes I use are "faked" in some way to get it to do the tricks. What do you think?

There is some debate about stiff vs. flaccid ropes. Most ropers (like Mark Allen) use a broken-in rope for most tricks. Whereas Forrest Hobbes (who also shows up at the IJA fests) uses rope coated with some kind of verathane paint to keep them VERY stiff.

A stiff rope is very easy to use for the basic flat spin and I suppose it would be easier for the butterfly and ocean wave and such.

There is a whole style of roping (from Mexico) called MAGUEY. The maguey rope is extremely stiff. It's made of some kind of plastic/hemp that doesn't break down. The style involves holding a very long amount in the left hand (or reverse for lefties) and doing all the tricks with the right hand. Now if you're into ropes you know that if you don't twirl the rope it will twist and knot up. So this style demands that you are continually doing tricks on both sides of your body. For every rotations the rope makes on the right side, it has to do one on the left. This is a very challenging style and is absolutely beautiful. They can do tricks from the very smallest butterfly to the biggest texas skip and wedding rings.

You should probably stick to what you're used to. To stretch out your new rope, loop it around something strong (tree, fence post, Larry Merlo) and pull, pull, pull. And also - USE IT!

When someone accuses you of using "faked" props, just toss it over to them and demand that they perform with it. So even if it *is* faked, SO WHAT!? There's still quite a bit of skill involved.

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