Most Common Flag Rigging Mistakes!

It is not as simple to put up a flag as you might think. There are common mistakes made all over the country that we see. This is a list of the most common. If you have your flag strung this way, you are not alone. And it is probably easy to fix!


Throughout our flag investigation, we have seen a lot of things. More often than not, it doesn't look wrong. In fact, the display could be brand new and beautiful. But we can see trouble brewing. And it is always in the rigging. Structurally speaking, flags are like icebergs. more than 90% of what makes the flag fly, is in the rigging. But as we've seen, the flag may be brand new, but the rigging that holds it up, is old, incorrect, or broken. It is easy to see the flag begin to fray and replace it. But it is not so easy to notice your rigging.

External Halyard System

  1. Flagpole Truck
  2. 2" gap at pulley
  3. Flagpole Snap Hooks
  4. Flagpole Snap Covers
  5. Flagpole Rope (Halyard)

Internal Halyard System

  1. Flagpole Truck
  2. 2" gap at pulley
  3. Flagpole Snap Hooks
  4. Flagpole Snap Covers
  5. Flagpole Rope (Halyard)
  6. Flagpole Flag Arrangement
  7. Flagpole Counterweight
  8. Flagpole Beaded Retainer Ring

After this guide, you'll be a flag rigging expert. The flagpole and flagpole parts are a very small expense when compared to the cost of flags year after year. Getting the most life out of the flag possible, is a great way to maximize the value of your asset. At FlagDesk, we want you to get the most value out of your flag, because when done well, flag flying is infectious. That is good for our communities. But a flagpole without a flag does a disservice to the pride and joy of flag flying. Here are the top five (5) rigging mistakes we find.

1. Flag as rope

In the video (above), we show the most common mistake for flag rigging; the flag is used as the rope. Our flags are made with a canvas header with brass grommets. While this canvas is strong, it is not as strong as the halyard (rope) on the flagpole. It is not designed to take as much stress as the rope. Halyard is a unique field-tested material, with a unilateral braid and made of a stretchy material. These two elements combined help disperse the stress and the rope wears evenly. The canvas header is not stretchy and has no braid.

Make sure your flagpole has a continuous line of halyard or cable from all anchor points, whether that is a cleat (as in the video), a winch, or a weight. If you rig the flag incorrectly, you are greatly increasing the chances of the rope breaking, and this is a costly expense.



2. Flags too close

There are tons of flag flyers out there who couldn't settle on just flying one flag. Underneath the American flag, they want to fly a second flag. Many flagpoles are rated to allow for two flags. Some of the flagpoles are durable enough, while other are not. Some systems are well made for flying two flags, and others are not. Flags too close together will have one problem; the bottom flag hangs limp while the top flag flies, or vise versa. The general rule of thumb here is to separate the flags by at least 6 inches. Depending on the flag size, you may want to have more space between the flags.



3. Tying snap hooks

As shown in the diagram above, snap hooks are designed to be removable. If you tie the snap hooks onto the rope, you will most likely run into problems down the road. There are a few reasons for this. The first reason has to do the nature of parts. Flagpole parts wear down differently. Different types of rope fray at different times. Different types of metal snap hooks erode differently. Weather and climate are also a huge factor. If you've tied the snap hooks to the halyard (rope), you may want to change out parts, but can't without a great deal of of work and risk. The diagram above shows the proper way to attach snap hooks.

4. Wrap Cleat Wrong

Often times we find a flag with traditional rigging (ropes wrapped to a cleat), where the rope is stretch out in the wind. There will be a large gap between the flag and the pole. Your first instinct is to blame the wind. It is true that strong wind helps reveal this problem, but it is not the problem itself. The real issue is that the halyard is not correctly wrapped on the cleat. Over time (depending on conditions), the line will loosen itself until it finds an adequate pinch point.

Loose rope has another potential danger. With the slack, there is greater motion. With greater motion, comes great friction at the point with the rope meets the pulley. This is one of the weak points for every flagpole (regardless of system). Having a secure rope prevents breakage due to excessive friction.

Make sure you have enough rope to wrap the cleat several times. The cleat should have a continuous loop around the bottom and top cleat ends before you make any crossing. Make sure to tie off the rope with an overlap. After a few weeks, undo and re-wrap the cleat so it stays taught even after the rope has stretch out a bit.





5. Open Cam Cleat

There are two types of internal flagpoles. One type is called a cam cleat. The cam cleat is hand-operated where the rope goes through the inside flagpole shaft, through a spring-loaded device. The rest of the rope is held inside the pole. You unlock the cam cleat by hand and lower the flag, feeding the rope through the cam cleat. These are a fantastic economical solution to getting the internal look. But if you don't have a knot or stopper on the bottom side of the cam cleat, it is really easy to let the rope go through the hand-locking device. If this happens, the rope will go up through the truck and you will have to perform some major maintenance to re-string the flagpole.