January 16, 2014
When I got started in fly fishing, a crotchety old-timer told me that the only line I'd ever need was the top-selling flaoting trout line of the day. He couldn't have been more wrong. While many rods and reels are multi-purpose and multi-species, fly lines are perhaps our most highly specialized pieces of equipment. Apart from our flies—which are hyper-specialized to meet specific hatches—fly lines should be the most carefully considered pieces of your presentation. If you're the type of fly fisher who fishes only one river using a single method, then maybe you can get away with just one good trout line. But if you like to switch from drys, to nymphs, and then to streamers, and you travel abroad to different rivers and lakes and even salt water, you'll want lines designed for each situation.
Modern fly lines are more than just specialized tapers. Everything about the lines is engineered for a specific purpose—from the core, which is the inner "skeleton" of the line, to the outer coatings, which are designed to work best in specific temperature ranges. Here's a few new fly lines that will help you catch more fish—but only if you use them in the right situations.
Airflo Tropical Sniper
Snipers shoot bullets, and that's exactly the bullet profile you see when you look at the taper diagram of the Tropical Sniper. It's a short head (26 feet) with an extremely steep front taper that helps make quick shots into the wind.
The line is part of Airflo's Ridge line series with a low-stretch braided core that resists tangling and helps you set the hook quickly, and with deeper penetration. The head of the line is gray, which should be stealthy from the fish's point of view, but fairly easy for you to pick out on the water in most light conditions. $80, airflofishing.com
Cortland Trout Boss
A great trout line might not seem like a 'speciality ' line to you, but what about for someone who lives in Key West? If you take a trip to the Rockies you need a line that deals with wind, cold water, large flies — you need a workhorse that can do it all. We tested the Trout Boss in Montana, Chile, and Pennsylvania, and found it worked best in big rivers where constantly changing conditions force you to reevaluate your game plan every hour.
The long, 65-foot head helps you mend at long distances, and roll cast when brushy banks make things tight. In keeping with the distance theme, the line has an 18-inch white, high-vis and high-float tip that's easy to see from far off to help you track your fly whether you are dry-fly fishing or nymphing. (The rest of the line is stealthy moss green.) $75, cortlandline.com
Orvis Streamer Stripper
If the Streamer Stripper doesn't sound like a good time, I don't know what does. Built for coldwater trout fishing, the 4-foot sinking tip and front-heavy taper help you deliver large flies with ease, and quickly drown them in deep slots where big trout live.
When you pound the banks from a drift boat with heavy tippet, and snag the shoreline, we've seen a few welded loops fail. That's not going to happen with this line — we tested these loops against 50-pound-test monofilament and found that the loop knot in the leader butt always breaks first. $85, Click Here to View Product!
RIO Bonefish QuickShooter
If you're going to mend, carry a lot of line, or roll cast, you need a line with a long head. What many people are realizing is that you don't do any of that while bonefishing. The Bonefish QuickShooter has a short, 36-foot head, acknowledging the fact that the flats are windy, and when your chance comes, you'll need to get the fly on target, and quickly. The dual-tone aqua blue/sand line helps you pick out the sweet spot to keep in your tip top, and the extremely hard, tropical coating makes sure the line won't wilt while waiting for the cast. $80, Click Here to View Product!
You can't find a better example of how 'specialized ' fly lines have become than RIO's Tarpon Technical and Tarpon Short fly lines. The Tarpon Short floating line has a weighty, front-loaded head, making it simple to load and quickly cast large flies. The Tarpon Technical is also a floating line with a hard, tropical coating, but with a long 60-foot head, it's a better line for expert casters on flat, calm days because you can pick up the line at a distance and reposition it quickly for a second or third shot at distant, spooky targets. Use the Tarpon Short on cloudy, windy days when the chop on the water is likely to give you quality close shots. $80, Click Here to View Product!