January 18, 2018
The Anadro is for big fish like steelhead, Atlantic salmon, Chinooks, and cohos in big rivers where long casts and long days slowly stack the odds in your favor. In the 8-weight version, the line has a 62' head with a short, powerful front taper for turning over big flies, and a 30' rear taper for long casts and–more important–line control at long distance so you can mend, mend, and mend again. The Anadro taper is available in Scientific Anglers' Mastery series, and in Sharkwave.
Like the Sharkwave line, this has a Sharkskin texture on the tip, a shooting texture through the head of the line, a smooth "tactile reference point" to let you know when the head is extended, and more shooting texture through the running line. The difference with the Amplitude is the price, slickness, and durability. Amplitude lines have a new slickness additive SA says helps the line shoot farther and last much longer than non-AST versions. The Anadro taper is 1.5 times heavier than the AFFTA standard. That means the 8-weight is 260 grains in the first 30', halfway between a 9-weight and a 10-weight. $130| scientificanglers.com
DirectCore Flats Pro
We tested the new RIO DirectCore Flats Pro on Belize permit, alligator gar in Louisiana, and tarpon in the Florida Keys in extremely hot conditions. The low-stretch monofilament core of this new line had zero memory coming off the reel, rolls out straight on the water without kinks or coils, yet it stays stiff enough to shoot long casts and doesn't tie knots around itself on the casting platform. RIO says the difference is the low-stretch monofilament core that also gives you better contact with he fly, and greater power to burry the hook when you need to.
Beyond the new core, the triple-color line helps you judge distances better and communicate more accurately with your guide. The front 19' is blue, while the rear of the body and rear taper (also 19') is bright orange, followed by 12' of yellow handling line, so it's easy to both see and feel when you've got about 40' of line out of the rod tip. DirectCore Flats Pro 6- to 12-weight lines are all one line size heavy for longer casts and to properly load stiff, fast-action rods. So an 11-weight is a 12-weight according to the AFFTA standard, a Flats Pro labeled as an 8-weight is actually 240 grains, and so on. $120| rioproducts.com
A 350-grain line is an 11 1/2-weight according to the AFFTA standard, but Cortland does a good job here by labeling the Tropic according to its grain weight, and offering multiple suggested rod weights as well. The reality is that this is an excellent line for modern 10-weight rods and actual fishing conditions, and the Tropic Compact comes in 200-, 240-, 275-, and 425-grain weights as well. The full-floating line with a short, aggressive head is perfect for casting large-profile batfish imitations into the wind, or turning over heavy permit flies with dumbbell eyes. $80| cortlandline.com
InTouch Single Handed Spey 3D
The InTouch Single Handed Spey 3D has a long 34-foot head that allows you to pick up and carry a longer line, which means you have to strip in less line before you cast, but you'll also need some space for that D loop to lay out a full cast. The body and longer rear taper also give you the option of making a normal overhead cast, with better mending and line control after the line lands. RIO came out with the floating Single Handed Spey line in 2016. The new 3D version has three densities from the running line to the tip–floating, hover, and intermediate–to get your flies just under the surface. It's perfect for swinging soft-hackles during a caddis hatch, or shining streamers through a riffle without the tedious repetition of stripping in a bunch of running line before you can cast. $99|rioproducts.com
Airflo Super-DRI Elite
Most Double-Taper lines are symmetrical–identical at both ends. When you wear out one end, simply flip the line and you've got a brand new line. The Airflo Super-DRI Elite builds on this 2-in 1 idea with presentation tapers at both ends, but they are not identical. It's an asymmetrical double-taper fly line. One end is tapered for delicate presentations, the other end is slightly more aggressive, with a thick tip taper to turn over bigger streamers, nymphs, and strike indicators. The 5-weight Super-DRI Elite is 145 grains, which is within the AFFTA standard. It's perfect for fishing distances under 40 feet and standard-size drys and nymphs, but as the package indicates, don't take this outside the trout world. $85| airflousa.com