Paddling tips, tricks, news and gear reviews from an Unsponsored point of view

Cow Tails

During the late 80’s and early 90’s the Cow Tail seemed a pretty common accessory to have attached to your rescue PFD. Over the years they seem to have fallen out of favour.

May be this is a genuine change in focus of use or may be it’s because they are now an extra that needs to be paid for?

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Cow Tails

For those not familiar with the system, the Cow Tail is essential a short length of elasticated tape that is attached to the rescue harness of your PFD. The other end has a carabiner of some sort and this is used to attach the paddler to a throw line during live bait rescues or as an anchor point on the bank.


Some paddlers use them as short tow lines, but I find them too short to use for this purpose and definitely not ideal for use on fast flowing water.

The carabiner end of the Cow Tail should be stored in such a way that it will release if the system were to be snagged. Astral use a tape with a press stud and Palm use split D rings for this purpose.


  1. Alan

    I was told they are too much of a snag hazard, but still have one myself. They are ideal to clip your paddle to when doing a TX/deep (still/very slow moving) water rescue and need both hands to empty the other boat across your bow.

  2. Ashley

    On moving water I find it far easier to leave a screwgate karabiner on the throwline ready for live baiting and using a sling + karabiner for towing. Less faff and its one more thing to go wrong and get in the way.

  3. stuart mccabe

    I swear by. the cocktail system! love it, but I also carry a small sling with numerous carabeiners so if it gets used for tow I just extend it for that purpose.

  4. Oli Kershaw

    Cows tails are amazing for rescuing boats on high-volume runs, however you should never use a non-locking karabiner on a live bait.

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