Understanding Fly Lines

By Bob Leeman

Are some of these lines better than other flylines? Actually, despite differing in color and price, a (WF) weight forward floating flyline will do what they say they do-that is, float better and perhaps longer, if coated.

The Question
Do you really know how many kinds of flylines are available to anglers today? As I write this, we have (L) level, (QT) quad tader, (QT) quad tip, (I) intermediate, (IT) intermediate tip, (S) sinking, (ST) sinking tip, (DT) double taper, and of course (WF) weight forward. Among others there are also nymph flylines. Now there’s a whole other category, including sinking tip. Which one is for you? That is the question, isn’t it?

As you know, most, if not all, have a different color for each flyline product. Cortland Line Company, for instance, has a peach colored floating flyline exclusively for 444. Now, Scientific Angler’s flylines have differing colors of flylines from top to bottom of their product. So too, for Rio Company, and a few flyshops that offer their generic flylines-maybe a bit less expensive with differing colors and capabilities as well.

The Better Lines
Are some of these lines better than other flylines? Actually, despite differing in color and price, a (WF) weight forward floating flyline will do what they say they do-that is, float better and perhaps longer, if coated. Coated? Now there’s one question for you. And YES! These lines may make a real difference in slipping thru flyrod guides speedily.

But there is no question, the top-of-the-line, no pun intended, have been produced with hi-density, hi-tech, and all sorts of testing over many years. They’re hardly just “strings” anymore. Would you believe, the average price for the top-of-the-line is $125.00 each? True. Whereas, the average top-drawer is hardly inexpensive either, that being $90.00 average. Have you noticed? Almost all of the “top-of-the-line” flylines have exclusive names.

Oh, yes, you may well purchase a lesser expensive flyline that fits your purpose, of maybe the “average” fly caster who only finds time to go on the water a few opportunities per year. In that case, I would suggest you check out a least expensive outfit, with flyrod, flyreel, with backing, flyline and leader—ready to go! These are generally priced for the above, but let me say, don’t laugh—I got a couple of these myself, and use ‘em often. If you’re pinched for price, and only need a “cheap” flyline, you can find these in most fly fishing catalogs, or maybe even on line, for $50.00 to $60.00 bucks, or sometimes less.

Top Drawer Lines
Now, the graduates, or even the masters, might well fall in line, again, no pun intended, for one of those “top-drawer” exclusive, master flylines on the market. These would include: Scientific Angler’s Amplitude Infinity, priced at -hang onto your hat!–$180.00, plus tax. Too, they supply “Bass Bug” flylines at about $90.00 bucks, or so, and a full line of moderately priced flyline products.

Rio Creek Flylines is another top competitor in the field, selling a full array of high-grade lines for all, also, covering the saltwater flycasters and those super-sports seeking pike, musky, and stripers.
Also, let us not forget Lee Wulff famous flylines guaranteed best for roll casting.

As mentioned above, Cortland Flylines, Cortland, New York, has been in the business since “Rex was a pup”, and still produces one of the finest lines for fly casting, highly recommended by this writer, including the famous 444, peach-colored (WF), and double taper at around $60.00.

If all of this has been a bit confusing, all the average fly caster needs to use most often on his reel, would be a floating line, matched-up to size of your flyrod, a five-weight flyline for mid-weight, 9ft. .to 9ft. flyrod, and/etc. check on the side of the rod near the handle.

Oh, and most flylines today have a loop end for knot to backing. If not looped, then use leader to line with a nail knot, use surgeon’s knot for tippet to leader.

Class dismissed!

(Bob Leeman is a Master Maine Guide, outdoor writer, naturalist, book author, and a co-host of the MAINE OUTDOORS radio program on Sunday evenings from 7-8 p.m. His three books are all available, in soft cover only, at several bookstores and fly shops, or directly from him. For information, see ad in this publication or call 207-573-1468.)

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