11/18/10 – Over the last several years fly rod construction has been the big thing. Special “Thermo-plastic” resins, nano-ceramic coatings, higher modulus graphite and new tapers are all the rage. Fly lines don’t get much press. Which is too bad because if you want to add feet to your cast or improve your accuracy and presentation the answer may be a new fly line not a new fly rod. Or said another way the answer may be a $50.00 to $80.00 expense versus a $500.00 to $800.00 expense. So I thought this week I’d just make some general comments about fly lines.
One question I hear often is how long should my fly line last? That’s another of those hard to answer questions because a lot depends on how often you clean your line, step on your line or how much you abuse your line by leaving the reel (line on) laying in the hot sun on the dashboard of your vehicle. But my general answer is if I can get two years out of a fly line I’m a happy man and I qualify that by admitting I fish often. Someone who only fishes 3 to 4 weekends a summer along with perhaps a few mornings or evenings set aside out of family vacation week may get 7 or 8-years out of a fly line.
Another question I hear often is do I buy a Double Taper fly line or a Weight Forward fly line? My answer is buy the Weight Forward unless you regularly roll cast further than 45′ or regularly mend in excess of 50′. My reason for that is Double Taper lines and Weight Forward lines have the same front taper and belly size for the first 30′ of the line.
Beyond that the Weight Forward line tapers to a Running Line and the Double Taper stays the same diameter which hinders how far the line will “shoot” out through the guides on a normal cast. Since I can roll cast and mend either fly line taper out to the 45′ to 50′ range but I can get more distance if I need it out of the Weight Forward Taper it is my line of choice.
Now, to be fair, you can reverse a Double Taper line and get some extended life out of the line by doing so. Say your Double Taper line is tired after 2 seasons of use and you reverse it and use it for another season.
That’s a good thing and perhaps enough to make you decide in favor of a Double Taper line purchase. I’ve done it and it does work but I still buy the Weight Forward because on three out of four trips it seems there’s a fish just out of my casting range and that range is shorter if I’m fishing a Double Taper so I’ve decided the extra range EACH time I go out is worth more to me than an extra season on my fly line.
Those are the basic two tapers out there. Other tapers and constructions like Shooting Heads, Integrated Shooting Heads, and Multi-Tip lines are all variations on these two. There are certainly uses for these variations and if you’ve got questions about them be sure and post your questions on the forum and I’ll try to answer them. But for now I’m just going to look at two popular variations of the Weight Forward line – the Superfine Taper and the Easy-Mend.
The Superfine taper is an extended front taper. Instead of the normal 6′ taper found on either a standard Weight Forward or Double Taper this specialty line has a longer two stage front taper for delicate presentations. The first 30′ of the fly line still weighs the same as the standard Weight Forward so the Superfine Taper casts much the same as a standard Weight Forward. But if you’re fishing a Spring Creek or Stillwater Pond you’ll notice a difference when the line touches down – the Superfine taper is noticeably quieter. That extra quiet can be all the difference.
The other variation on a Weight Forward line in the Easy-Mend Taper. You could call it the opposite of the Superfine Taper as this line has a longer rear taper instead of the longer front taper of the Superfine. The longer rear taper was designed to address the need of those who roll cast and mend line a bit further out than I can.
If you regularly roll and mend long distances but don’t want to use a Double Taper because you also like to “shoot” line this might be the line for you. Many people consider this line the perfect compromise between the Weight Forward and Double Taper lines.
So there you have the two most popular line tapers – the Double Taper and the Weight Forward – and a couple of variations to address specific uses. One of those lines should address your normal use and provide you with years of comfortable casting. But if you’re line is cracked, dirty or both it won’t make much difference which line you use – it will perform poorly. If the line is dirty – clean it. If the line is covered with small cracks and crevasses that show black mark that won’t come off – buy a new one. You might find the extra ease of casting makes your older fly rod cast like new again.