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Choosing The Right Fly Line For The Job

People who are new to fly fishing are usually surprised by how well-designed fly lines are. Most (non-angling) folks believe that the line's job is merely to pull in the fish. In truth, fly lines are delicately-created for efficiency and durability in a variety of angling conditions. Some lines float. Others help the fly submerge. Still others are designed specifically for playing larger fish. Since the fly is practically weightless, the line is integral to the cast. It must carry the fly to the angler's desired position. Below, we'll describe how fly lines are made, how to select the best line for the job and the difference between 2 popular types of lines.

What Are Fly Lines Made Of?

Most fly lines are made from a nylon monofilament. Often, the monofilament is contained within a polyvinyl chloride wrapping. While these lines are not unbreakable, they do provide remarkable tensile strength. In some lines that are designed to float on top of the water, the polyvinyl chloride wrap contains small air bubbles to provide added buoyancy. Some recent lines also employ a hydrophobic agent that actually helps repel water. This makes the lines float even more easily.

Selecting A Fly Line

There are several sizes and types of fly lines available. Some are better-suited for freshwater angling. Others are more efficient in saltwater. Lines should also be chosen with regards to the rod on which they're used and the size of the fish (bigger fish require stronger lines). The standard measure of a fly line is its weight. The weight of a line is the primary way of matching it to the appropriate rod. For example, a 9wt line is most appropriate for a 9wt rod.

Depending upon whether you're dry fly fishing or nymphing, you can select a fly line that either floats or helps your fly submerge underwater (great when fishing for steelhead or deep-water trout). Selecting the right line plays an important role in how effective you are when angling.

Weight Forward Vs. Double Taper

The taper of a fly line reflects its shape. Fly lines come with 2 main taper types: weight forward (WF) and double taper (DT). Each type affects the manner in which energy is stored and released during the cast. While many veteran anglers have a personal preference, most concede that one taper type is not always better than the other. A weight forward line is great for beginning anglers. It can be used to control long casts in a variety of conditions. That said, experienced anglers say a double taper fly line tends to tangle less and "feels" more durable and flexible during the cast and while playing the fish. Try both taper types. If possible, try them in different conditions with varying casting distances. That's the only way to know which feels better in your hands.

Caring For Your Fly Line

While your fly line is built for durability, it isn't impervious. It can develop small cracks with prolonged usage. If your line develops a crack, water can begin to deteriorate the line quickly. Take some time to clean your line after each use. A mild soap and warm water should suffice. Also, try to avoid exposing your line to heat. Over time, the sun can begin to deteriorate the line's structural integrity.

Your fly line is a critical element in becoming a proficient angler. All of the casting and fly positioning skill in the world won't matter if your line breaks. Keep your line clean and well-maintained. You'll prolong its life and help ensure you land your fish efficiently.