Fly Lines, Taper, Weight, Function and Colour

The selection of fly rod and fly line depends firstly on the species of fish you intend to target.
The selection of fly rod and fly line depends firstly on the species of fish you intend to target.

Fly Lines, Taper, Weight, Function and Colour

Fly lines – where do you start? The most commonly asked questions by anglers starting in the fly fishing game revolve around their best line choices.

The selections depend firstly on the fish species you intend to cast for. Most fly rods should have the designated weight ratings marked on them, usually above the handle. This is a general guide for the suitable weight that casts well with that rod. The foundation for a good cast with your rod starts with matching line weights to give the correct balance between line and rod.

The power between the line and rod will tell when you pick the line from the water. The line will add load to the rod through its weight, to use the rod’s flex to its full capacity. So if your cast is timed correctly, your flexed rod will straighten up to drive the line to its full capacity. If your balance is out the cast will almost certainly fall short of expectations.

Matching the line to the situation.
Matching the line to the situation.

When choosing appropriate flylines, it can at times be a question of cost versus performance. High-performance lines, while a little more expensive, avoid costly wastage and make for a more enjoyable fly fishing experience, being less likely to fall short of the distances you need. The more time you spend on the water, the more important the quality of the line will become apparent.

Tapered lines have changes in their diameter which can affect casting and ease of use. Weight forward lines are more popular as they ease longer casting, because the location of the weight is in the forward section of the line, while the following sections are lighter and slide easier through the guides.

Double tapers should be used only on short distance casts up to 30′, giving a light touch to the fly and best for roll casting. Speciality tapers such as Bass Bugs and Saltwater Tapers have their specific uses. Bass Bugs Tapers are designed for casting wind-resistant flies with large poppers and hairbugs. Saltwater Tapers for close to medium-range fishing are quickcasters for those cruising fish. Your line weights are based on the first 30 feet of the line. Saltwater Fly Fishing Tauranga Flats Kingfish on my Vintage Glass Fenwick Feralite FF 858 By Dick Marquand.

Lines range from 1 to 15, the highest being the smallest. The higher the weight rating the heavier the line and the stiffer the rod to match the balance.

In general, heavy lines cast larger flies in higher winds with more distance covered. The line functions are usually marked on your fly line box.

Some float (f), some sink (s), and some both float and sink (f/s). These give more choice to anglers and a greater consistency of use.

For floating lines, anglers target fish feeding on the surface. This can be a most rewarding sport watching the fish take the fly you have cast him. If new to the sport, it can be the best way to get hooked as they are easier to cast and control. Many anglers miscalculate the feeding habits of trout and find it is a larger percentage of fish feed below the surface, particularly the large ones.

Using a sinking fly line, the objective is to get the line with the sink rate, which will take your fly to the level you need, at the fastest speed and keep it there the longest. They come in various speeds, from very slow (int/1), and are indicated on the flyline box, to very fast (v), measured by inches per second (ips). A sinking line is most effective when fishing from a boat or float tube

Some situations are not so clear-cut whether to use either one or the other. This is when floating/sinking or (f/s) lines come into their own, eg streams where more depth is needed. With this line the body of the line floats while the front tip sinks, generally between 10-20ft.

While the tip takes your fly or nymph down, the rest of the line floats allowing more control and good drift. Again various rates alter the speed according to depth and currents you are experiencing.

The colour can aid in the control of your line, the brighter being easier for the angler to see and contrary to popular belief, brightly coloured lures do not spook the fish but do aid the angler.

It’s always a good idea to keep an alternative flyline on a spare spool, in case conditions change and the line you have chosen doesn’t fit your conditions.

Here is how to read the label on a fly line box.

Here is how to read the label on a fly line box. 

YouTube video

Have you ever wondered what the differences are between all the different fly lines that are offered? In this video our R&D manager Josh Jenkins breaks down all the components of a fly line from taper length, head length, and line weight and how they all function together.

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