Should I use a washer or other weight on my tri-string loop?
This a commonly asked question. There are a wide variety of opinions about it -- often very strongly felt. I have studied this pretty carefully with an open-mind, and the answer is "it depends". Many people that feel strongly one way or another have experimented with a limited number of materials. Old-timers often forget how hard it sometimes is to dip a loop in the juice container.
Here are some thoughts that should help you figure it out.
Try it both ways. What you like is what is important. Try it both ways. If you really like how a weight feels and you are just beginning, give an unweighted loop a chance after you have some experience. Also, when you try out a new loop material, try it with and without a weight.
Matter of taste. To some degree, it is a matter of what feels good to you. Success at closing bubbles depends more on what feels right to you than any objective factors. If you are open-minded, you may find that your preference changes over time. It may also change with your loop materials. When I began making bubbles, my first loops were made from single strands of twine or bamboo yarn. These loops were very Self-Closing. Without a washer, the loops would barely open when the handles were spread. They needed a washer to get the loop open.
Your preference may change. When I switched to diamond-braid cord (with the core removed), I still found it useful to have a weight (a washer) on the loop as I found it made it easier to get the loop dipped into my narrow bucket. A friend periodically urge me to make a loop without a weight attached. When I finally tried it out, I found that after I got some experience with an unweighted diamond braid loop that I preferred the loop without any weight on it. The loop opens easily without a weight, and I have no trouble dipping in a bucket. Without the weight, I feel that I have a better feel for when it is time to close the loop, and the loop closes more gently than when a weight is attached. That being said, there are conditions when a little bit of extra weight on the loop is useful.
When is a weight useful?Edit
With lightweight materials that are highly self-closing, a weight can be necessary to get the loop to open.
When a loop is lightweight (whether self-closing or not), it may have a tendency to fly out or sail. There can be advantages to that in that it sometimes helps bubble close without being ripped from the loop and broken. But, there are times where one wants to reduce the degree to which the loop flies out.
What are the disadvantages of a weight?Edit
With loops that are somewhat self-closing in a useful way, a weight will reduce the amount of self-closingness and will remove the benefits of self-closing.
A weight can dramatically change the loop's inertia which means that there will be less responsive to your opening to your manipulation.
A weight can interfere with the 'feel' of a setup. Some people gain an actual feel for how a bubble is responding and a weight on the loop reduces what they can feel.