At a Glance: Fly Lines
Fly lines are highly specialized lines for fly fishing, designed to cast relatively light flies out to great distances with a precise location yet soft landing. The transfer of energy from the angler's arms to the rod then to the line upon casting makes the front end of the fly line pull the weight of the entire amount of slack line out in a controlled manner. Slackline is the line pulled off the reel waiting to be cast out. The three most important characteristics to know when shopping for a fly line for your needs are the line weight, density, and taper. Fly lines are typically made up of two different materials which combine to meet the needs of fly anglers fishing in nearly every climate in both saltwater and freshwater. Those two materials make up the core and the coating, and determine the performance of every fly line. The core controls the strength of the line, and what type of fish the lines are best suited for, as well as the size of the flies. The pound test is reliant on what weight the core can handle. Line weights of 1, 2, and 3, are ideal for panfish and small trout while 4, 5, and 6 are considered all-around weights for larger trout, bass, and small saltwater species. Line weights of 7, 8, 9 and higher are best for large trout, salmon and steelhead, pike and musky, and large saltwater gamefish. Also determined by the core is the stretch factor of the line. If a line has too much stretch, it will be extremely hard to control in the water and when casting moderately large flies. If a line is too stiff, the landing will be loud and potentially disastrous when targeting skittish trout. The coating holds the colored pigment for the line, making it visible or invisible to certain fish in different water conditions, and also determines the density of the line. A high-density will allow a full sinking line to target fish in deep water whereas low-density floating lines ride high on the water for dry flies or surface poppers. Sink tip lines are designed to have a short section at the end sink for nymph fishing while the remaining line floats. Intermediate lines will sink but at a much slower and controlled rate. The coating material will also determine the climate the line is designed for. Tropical saltwater lines will handle the heat of long days in the sun in warm water, but won’t perform well in the cold rivers of the Pacific Northwest. The taper of a line will control the casting abilities of the line and the angler. There is a taper for every situation a fly angler will face, whether it be small streams, windy coastal shorelines, or wide open flats fishing. Weight forward tapers are the most popular, followed by double taper. Both are fine for beginners and advanced fly anglers alike, while level lines have no taper and offer no leverage advantage for the beginning fly caster beyond their low price. Running and shooting lines are also available, along with spey, Skagit and switch lines for the two-handed rods for big rivers holding big fish. FishUSA offers the best selection of fly lines for all species and all climates from the best line companies in the business.
The top brands of fly lines at FishUSA include Airflo, Cortland, RIO and Scientific Anglers.