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Fly Fishing Line

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Fly Fishing Line

How to Choose a Fly Fishing Line

Getting Started

The most common lines for fly fishing are Weight Forward (WF) lines matched to your fly rod weight—that’s really all you need to get started. If you have a 5WT fly rod, a floating WF5 (Weight Forward, 5 Weight) line will handle almost all the freshwater fishing you will do. If you’re using an 8WT fly rod for striped bass fishing, an intermediate sinking 8WT fly fishing line will work well.

Floating vs. Sinking Lines

Fish eat most of their food underwater. Whether it’s subsurface insects, worms and leeches, other fish, or crustaceans, most of the time you want your flies to be low in the water column. If you regularly fish lakes or saltwater, or you simply want to be more effective fishing subsurface on rivers and streams, then carry a full sinking fly line matched to your rod weight for those situations when fish are down deep rather than looking for food in the film or on the surface of the water. You’ll be waiting a long time for a leader on a floating line to sink down deep and reach fish on the bottom. A full sinking line, or even sink tip line, is a more effective and efficient way to reach deeper dwelling fish, faster.

Saltwater vs. Freshwater Lines

Differences between saltwater and freshwater lines include the line density, taper, and stiffness. While it’s fine to use either line in either environment, each line performs best in the conditions it’s engineered for.

Saltwater floats line more easily than freshwater, so a floating freshwater line must be less dense, and therefore have a larger diameter, than its saltwater counterpart. Saltwater lines can be denser and therefore thinner, and their tapers tend to be optimized for distance and accuracy. Some saltwater lines are crafted with stiffer cores to prevent them from becoming ‘floppy’ in tropical heat.

Fly Line for Streamers

If you’re a salmon and steelhead purist swinging brightly colored flies, or you’re a “meat chucker” targeting big browns in deep water, look for fly fishing lines designed to get streamers low in the water, like full sinking fly lines, sink tip fly lines, and steelhead/salmon-specific fly lines. These lines will have an integrated sink tip (or they’ll be weighted through the length for a full-sink line) and a larger diameter middle section to aid in casting larger flies. Using less effort and energy is a big plus if you intend to fish big streamer flies all day. But if you’re primarily fishing smaller streams, a standard floating line with weighted flies may be preferable. Use your water-type preference to choose the fly fishing line that will work best for the type of streamer fishing you do.

Fly Line for Nymphing

The large, abrupt taper in most nymphing lines helps turn over long and heavy nymphing leader setups and indicator rigs with more ease. And when the fish strike, the line’s brightly colored tip acts as an indicator to allow you to see subtle takes, immediately. Nymphing fly lines are also designed to mend more easily, as you strive to maintain that perfect dead drift. If you’re Euro nymphing, the Orvis Hydros Tactical Nymphing fly line combines a subtle light taper and ultra-thin diameter to increase sensitivity and reduce sag, even on windy days.

We have the USA's largest selection of premium fly fishing lines in stock. If you need any help selecting the best fly line to suit your specific needs, please contact our Pro Staff by phone or email. We'd love to help you select the perfect fly fishing line for your fly rod, experience level, species targeted, and unique fishing situations.

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