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A Guide for Understanding Fly Fishing Line Types

For someone who is new to the sport of fly fishing, there is a lot of information to take in to ensure you have the right equipment to catch the right fish in the right body of water. There are a multitude of different fly fishing line types on the market to choose from, all offering their own unique benefits and downfalls, and you need to use the appropriate line to achieve the results you desire. I’ll discuss here some considerations to make when picking out fly line for your next fishing trip.

Importance of Having the Right Fly Line

Have you ever asked yourself if having the recommended fly line really matters? It is the nymphs and streamers that attract the fish, right? The short answer to this question is yes, having the right fly line does matter and will influence your overall fishing trip. Every species of fish has its own habitat – whether they live in deep or shallow water, and their own prey hunting techniques. The right fly fishing line will help get your bait down to the right depth and will help it mimic the food source.

Fly fishing line types

The Proper Length and Weight of Your Fly Line

Before you head out on your fly fishing excursion, identify where you plan to fish so that you can get the fly line that is most appropriate for the type of fish you are catching and the body of water you are going to fish in. For river and stream fly fishing, consider using a light-weight fly line that floats on the water when cast so that you catch the attention of surface hunting fish. If you are fishing in the ocean or in a deep-water lake, you will need a longer and heavier fly line that will reach down to deep water fish species. For catching trout and panfish, a line with weight ranging between 4-6 will do, while if you are looking for salmon, pike, steelhead, or bass, you will want to go with a longer line with a heavier weight ranging between 7-10.

Choosing the Right Fly Line Taper

Fly line taper simply refers to the taper of the line you are fishing with and influences how your line will cast into the water. A weight-forward taper line (WF) offers more weight along the first ten feet of the line and levels out throughout the rest of the length; this type of line is great for long casts and river fishing. A double taper line (DT) is also one to consider if you plan to fish for trout. The double taper line is thicker along the first fifteen feet, then levels out, and then becomes finer along the last fifteen feet of the line. A level taper line (L) offers a consistent thickness for the entire length of the fishing line and is considered to be the most difficult line to fish with as there are no weight adjustments along the length of the line.

Fly Fishing Line Types

Another consideration to make when selecting fly line is how it behaves when it hits the water. A floating fly line is the most versatile of all fly lines and it is one that you should always have in your tackle box. A floating line is lightweight and floats on the surface of the water when it is cast. You can add weights to this line to achieve a sinking line or a sink-tip line. A sinking line quite simply just sinks when it is cast into the water. Some sinking lines sink faster than others, so be sure to read the packaging when you select this type of line. A sink-tip line is a hybrid between a floating line and a sinking line. A sink-tip line features a connector that allows the last ten feet of the line to sink while the length of the main fly line floats along the water’s surface. You can also find a variety of specialty fly lines such as spey casting lines, HD lines, switch lines, and others. These fly lines are appropriate for large species fish and casting in swift river currents.

The Color of Your Fly Line

When shopping for fly lines, you will be amazed by all of the different colors there are to choose from, and the colors have nothing to do with how the fish will respond to your fishing line. During the daylight hours feel free to use any color of fly line that you prefer, whether it be neon green, yellow, blue, pink, or orange…the fish do not recognize color in the water, only contrasts. When fishing at night, you will want to go with a natural color or a deep brown line.

Ensure your next fly fishing trip is successful by investing in the right fly line to do the job. Before you invest money into gear, take some time to research where you are going to fish and what fish you will be after so that you have the correct fly line for that specific habitat. By using the right fishing line, you may just catch the prize-winning fish you have always dreamed of!

More info on fly fishing line types

Ron Lawson

Ron Lawson

Ron grew up in Central Maine. He has been fly fishing rivers and creeks in Northern and Western Maine for the past 25 years. He likes learning everything there is to know about fly fishing and wants to pass that knowledge on to others.

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