Whether you’re just getting started with fly fishing or you’re an intermediate fly angler, choosing the right fly line for the right application is critical to have more chances at catching your quarry. In today’s world, fly lines come in various tapers and weights for different uses – there are even species-specific fly lines! While having options is generally a good thing, having too many options can make selecting the right fly line feel like grocery shopping for a breakfast cereal (seriously, the cereal options are flat out overwhelming!). In this post, we are going to break down fly lines into their functional uses and explain basic fly line terminology to put you on the right fly line for your water.
Floating Versus Sinking Lines
Keep in mind that a fly line is simply a delivery system – we are casting the weight of our fly line to propel a near weightless fly to a targeted location. At the end of the day, all fly lines, floating or sinking, are designed with this basic goal in mind.
Floating lines are arguably the most versatile type of fly line and are useful for a variety of applications in fly fishing. They are also the easiest to cast and to mend on a drift. While designed for fishing dry flies, a floating line can also be used to fish streamers and nymphs! By simply adding a sinking leader to your floating line, you can fish flies at greater depths.
As you might have guessed, sinking lines are all about getting down to fish that are holding at depth below the surface. While more difficult to cast then a floating line, using a sinking line opens the world of fly fishing up to lakes and other still-water fisheries! Sinking lines are available in full sinking lines and sink tip lines, and are specified for different sink rates, from half an inch per second to 7 inches per second.
At one time, fly lines were simple, level lines, with the entire length of fly line having the same diameter. Today, most fly anglers prefer to use tapered fly lines. Tapered lines have a thicker diameter section referred to as a belly section. From either side of the belly section, the line tapers down to a thinner diameter section. There are two primary types of tapered lines, weight forward and double taper.
Fly rods, fly reels and fly line are all rated in weights (1-weight all the way to 12-weight+!). Generally speaking, the weight of your fly line should be consistently paired with a rod and reel in the same weight. Choosing the weight of your fly line should be primarily driven by what you will be pursuing with larger weights being appropriate for larger quarry.
Equipped with a basic knowledge of the different types of fly lines you are now ready to make solid, confident decisions about what fly line you will need for different applications. Get ready to elevate your fly fishing game to a whole new level and fly higher than ever before!