How To Dial In Your Perfect Rope Length

Dean Smith | Photo: Aaron Katen

Deciding on how long a rope to ride is a tricky thing. Beginner and intermediate riders often lean toward a shorter rope because it reduces the distance wake to wake. But an easy-to-clear gap isn’t the best way to determine your line length. After all, a lot more goes into a wake jump than simply clearing the wakes. While a shorter rope reduces the distance you have to jump, it also creates an abbreviated approach into the wake, and having time to properly set up will drastically affect your wake jumps. Lengthening your rope can be intimidating at first because of the wider wake jump. In the end, though, a longer line can actually make your moves feel easier. In this wakeboard how to, The Boarding School‘s Kyle Rattray shows you how to find the perfect rope length for your riding. Words: Kyle Rattray Photos: Aaron Katen

Dean Smith | Photo: Aaron Katen

Line it up

Use this method to dial in the proper rope length for your ability level and boat speed.

Size it up

First, ride in the trough right next to the wake, which will show you the spot on the wake where you’ll hit when you cut in.


Find the sweet spot

You want to hit the wake right before it curls over or within 6 inches to 1 foot of where it’s curling.

Know what to look for

If, for example, you’re riding beside the wake and it’s curling over 2 to 3 feet behind you, then you’re either riding too fast or your rope is too short. If the wake is curling 2 to 3 feet in front of you, you’re riding too slow or a too-long rope.

Set your speed

It’s important you ride at a comfortable speed. Establish your desired pace first then let the rope in or out so you’re lined up with the sweet spot of the wake.


Where to work from

Having trouble deciding if your speed is consistent with your rope length? Start from these speed-and-length combinations: 50 to 55 feet at 20 to 21 mph; 60 to 70 feet at 22 to 23 mph; and 75 to 80 feet at 23.5 to 24.5 mph.

Randall Harris | Photo: Rodrigo Donoso

Let it out

A longer line can lead to greater control, bigger tricks and better style.

Begin better

With a longer line, you can start your cut very easily and slowly build your edge as you approach the wake. Things will feel slower, giving you more control and extra time to tweak your edge or body position.


Go bigger

With a longer rope, the distance between wakes is wider, so you’ll have more time in the air going wake to wake.

Style it out

Use that extra time in the air to work on your style. Focus on holding your grabs longer and really poking and tweaking your tricks. Go to for style tips.

Go gradual

Let your rope out 5 feet at a time and get accustomed to the longer approach and time in the air before you let your rope out more.


End well

A longer line gives you more time to spot, get ready for and ride away from your landings, which should lead to more controlled touchdowns.