Arrow Fishtailing, Porpoising And Other Flight Problems (Ways To Fix)

You are here because you are facing problems with your arrow. Some of the common arrow flight problems are arrow fishtailing, arrow porpoising, arrow corkscrew.

As an archer, I faced all of these problems. I know how it feels when you can’t hit the target accurately.

I researched, learned, and practiced, which helped me avoid the problems.

And, I’m precisely sharing all of those.

Keep reading if you want to know:

What is arrow fishtailing?

Arrow fishtailing is the phenomenon that refers to the wobbling movement of an arrow. The sideways motion of an arrow on the fly is called “arrow fishtailing.”

Arrow spine, spring tension in the cushion plunger, and other variables may affect arrow fishtailing.

What causes arrows to fishtail?

The first and obvious question is, you are thinking, why is my arrow fishtailing? The main reason why arrows fishtail is because of the wrong approach to releasing an arrow. This usually affects the course and wobbling of arrows.

However, there’re a bunch of other variables that may cause arrows to fishtail.

Like:

  • Sloppy release.
  • Pulling string with high pressure. It happens due to excessive string pressure on the nose. Also it may be caused by string wrapping around the cheek.
  • Sometimes you falsely assume fishtails. It feels wobbling if you see your arrow spinning and using colored cock feathers, which is wrong.
  • Improper tuning may lead to arrow fishtailing.

Few other things may occasionally create fishtailing.

Like:

  • Centershot off
  • Arrow spine match
  • Hand torque
  • Fetching contact
  • Nock height

So, how to avoid arrow fishtailing?

As I mentioned the cause behind arrow fishtailing, you must want to know how to avoid them in the first place.

So, let’s begin with each problem again and find a way not to make that happen.

The main problem that leads to fishtails is the wrong way to release arrows.

So, if you can make sure that the way you’re releasing arrows is correct, you’ve already secured to stop arrow fishtailing.

Like:

  1. Arrow proposing

Arrows are porpoising direct arrow flight ups and down, making arrows impossible to hit the target.

  1. Arrow spine matching

It’s hard to achieve arrow spine matching but isn’t there any way out there?

There are a couple of ways to achieve a matching arrow spine. I discussed all of those later in this article.

  1. Sloppy release 

When the arrow doesn’t fishtail often, it’s most likely the problem with sloppy release. A clean arrow may help you avoid sloppy release.

  1. Centershot match

Centershot match is another potential cause behind fishtailing. But, what is actually meant by the center shot a bow? An actual center shot means aligning everything in line with the center of a bow. 

This way, you can follow down the riser to the bow to ensure that the arrow aligns torquing string and sights.

But surely you want to know how to do it own eyes. Obviously, this is not going to be more accessible since aligning boguses arrow. 

There are a couple of different ways to center shot arrows. I’m about to share with you the easiest one.

  1. Hold a bow with an open-handed grip so you can see the back of the handle line up with the string line of the cams and the centerline of the riser.
  2. And look if the arrow is to the left or the right of the string.
  3. If it seems partial off to left or right, adjust the rest.
  4. Manage a broken string (If you have a fractured bow)

To center shot match, it’s crucial to understand the release arrow the right way, which leads us to the next question.

What’s the right way to release arrows that don’t cause arrow fishtailing?

If you can make sure that you’re releasing arrows the right way, chances are you can avoid arrow fishtailing. Firing arrows the right way also increases the accuracy of your shot.

I know as an archer, it sounds great. But, what’s the right way to release the arrow?

No more fluff. Let’s get right into it.

  • Pull back the bowstring entirely naturally and gracefully.
  • When you’re ready to shoot, smoothly release the tension from the bowstring finger to make it fly as already energy stored there in the limbs.

Here’s a video you can follow:

This video explains the best practice of appropriate release

If you can do this by keeping pace with the natural body flow, you’re all set.

How To Fix Arrow Fishtailing?

The meat is here!

Those who already know the right way to release arrows can avoid arrow fishtailing. But, what if you don’t know? 

Here’s how to fix arrow fishtails.

Before we get started again, I’d mention the problem first-

  1. Arrow spine match problem
  2. Sloppy release
  3. Centershot match problem

#1 How to match arrow spine? (And choose the right spine for your bow)

Arrow spine matching is a crucial thing to make sure of stable arrow flight.

How?

Well, then I should brief you with a simple definition of arrow spine.

In simple terms, the arrow spine is the measurement of an arrow’s stiffness. That is to say; the arrow spine measures how stiff or flexible your arrow is.

Okay, Gotha!

“But, my question is how to use spine number for a perfect shot?”

You might also like to ask what an optimal arrow spine number is?

To understand this, let me remind you arrow spine definition.

How much arrow flex or bend is determined by spine number. That means a spine rating is a measure of how stiff an arrow shaft is. In short, the arrow spine determines the resistance to bending.

If an arrow bends too much, it won’t fly and hit the target correctly. The same goes if it’s too much stiffer.

So, guess what? The perfect spine number shouldn’t make the arrow either flex or make it stiffer.

Spine strength must be matched with draw weight to give your arrow an accurate flight and stay free from the “Archers paradox.”

So, you get the idea of what an arrow spine is and why it is essential. As you know its importance, picking up the right choice spine is crucial.

Here’s exactly what to do to figure out the correct arrow spine.

  • Longer arrows require a higher spine number.
  • If you want to shoot heavier arrow points, you need to get a higher arrow spine.
  • Use the spine selector to find the exact spine size fit just for you.
  • You may want to choose a stiffer shaft if you are shooting a longer broadhead than a field point.

But, if you ask me what arrow spine size is perfect for me, I can’t help you give with an exact number.

I found this arrow spine chart, and for your convenience attaching here.

arrow spine chart
arrow spine chart
arrow spine chart

Here’s how to use this chart:

  • Start with finding the draw and point weight from the chart.
  • Measure the length of your arrow from the nock throat to the end of the insert.
  • In the shaft selection chart, find the correct group number.

If you match and get the appropriate spine size for your arrow, sure, it would help reduce fishtailing.

#2 Sloppy Release: How To Avoid It?

The sloppy release is one of the reasons that cause fishtails. Correcting it would yield substantial results in improving fishtailing.

It’s hard to advise how you can avoid sloppy releases without seeing your release. 

But, here are some general yet practical tips that can help you along the way:

  1. Don’t release the arrows fast.
  2. Make sure the brace height is appropriate and not out of whack.
  3. Release and follow through.
  4. Practice practice and practice.
This video shows six different ways to release recurve bow

#3 How to center shot match arrows?

Before saying so, let’s get familiar with the term “archers paradox.”

Robert P. Elmer brought this term in front of the people back in 1930.

This phenomenon refers to pointing your arrow slightly left or right to the target if you want to hit it in the middle of the target.

Now, let me clarify what center shot match means. Center shot match means to position and aim your bow in a way that means to hit in the middle of the target.

The arrow shaft needs to be stiff and flexible enough to hit the middle of the target. If your arrow spine can’t flex enough on the fly, it won’t be able to shoot in the middle of the target due to the archer’s paradox. But, if it can, the arrow itself will correct its path along with the way down to the target.

What Is Recurve Arrows Fishtailing? (And How To Solve It)

Recurve is very basic and primitive. Unlike compound bow, it has little to no modern inbuilt functionality unless it’s not a traditional recurve. So,  the method of releasing arrows in recurve bow is different also.

To minimize fishtails in recurve bow, you can experiment with longer arrows, more weighted arrows, heavier field points, new finger release method.

Arrows Tailing Right: Causes And Fix

Arrow tailing is caused by-

  • If the arrow spine is too short and weak.
  • Faulty release.
  • If the feathers are coaking right.

 Solution

If your arrows are tailing right, here’s what needs to be fixed:

  • Get an appropriate arrow spine.
  • Release the arrows correctly.

What makes my arrow wobble in flight?

What is arrow wobbling? Arrow wobbling is an archery phenomenon that refers to the unusual movement of an arrow. It’s almost impossible to make arrows not wobble in flight.

But we can certainly fix the problem.

  • Higher arrow length and weight make the arrow wobble more.
  • Bendy shaft and heavy point make the arrow wobble more.

What causes an arrow to a corkscrew?

Arrow corkscrew in flight makes an arrow wobble. Unlike fishtailing and porpoising torquing when your arrow corkscrews, the arrow flies clockwise.

What is arrow porpoising? (And how to solve it?)

Arrow porpoising is the unusual movement of an arrow. In simple words, Arrows’ upward and downward (vertically) movement on the flight is regarded as arrow porpoising.

What problem does arrow porpoising create?

Well, I’d like to ask you a simple question?

Tell me, what’s your ultimate goal of using a bow and arrow?

Let me answer on your behalf.

Your ultimate goal is to hit in the middle of your target, huh?

What if each time you shoot an arrow and can’t hit the target! How bad is that?

Yes, arrow porpoising affects your shooting accuracy by changing the flight direction. Although the changes aren’t quite a lot, even slight changes can hurt accuracy dramatically.

Arrow porpoising can occur on both a compound and recurve bow.

Solution

Arrow porpoising on a compound bow and a recurve bow is relatively easy to fix.

It’s mandatory to know what causes arrow porpoising in the first place. One of the main reasons is improper knock height.

As you know the cause behind porpoising, now let’s learn how to fix arrow porpoising.

  • Test shot a few arrows at the target.
  • Examine the direction of arrow porpoising.
  • Check the end of the nock point. This will help you figure out the direction of porpoising.
  • Depending on the direction of the check, adjust the nock point accordingly.
  • Usually, adjustment as little as 1/8 inch fixes the arrow porpoising.

FAQs

Why do my arrows always go left?

Arrows go left or right due to the wind, wrong alignment of an arrow, torquing, and canting bow. If your arrows go left each time you shoot, most likely, this is the problem with arrow drawing, positioning, and release.

Final Thoughts

That was all about common arrow problems like arrow fishtailing, arrow porpoising, and wobbling. I tried to explain all of them most simply and showed how to avoid fixing those problems.

I hope this guide helped you, yet if you got any unanswered questions, comment below; within short notice, I’d answer them.

Hi, I am Brandon smith! I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I discovered my passion for archery at an early age.. Archerytipscentral is my blog where I share those tips on archery which I've learned along my archery journey.

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