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An Introduction to Fly Fishing by Tony Scott

Choosing your Fly Line

Let me begin by explaining the difference in profiles of fly lines.

You will see 3 main descriptions: Weight Forward, Double Taper, and Shooting Head.

Most fly lines are 27 – 30 metres long. The line has an inbuilt taper, or shape if you like. The different tapers are designed to give the angler different presentations of the fly upon the water or in the case of the shooting head, distance. The illustrations below are exaggerated to give the reader a better idea of the various profiles.

1. The Weight Forward Tapered Fly Line.

weight forward taper fly line

As the name suggests and as can be seen by the illustration above, the first 30 feet or so of the line is carrying the bulk of the weight. It is the weight of the flyline that loads the rod in a cast, very much like a coarse angler uses a lead weight to load his rod. A weight forward line will load your rod more easily with a shorter length extended than any other type of line. This makes it ideal for the beginner. As an instructor I always recommend students buy a weight forward line as their first one.

2. The Double Taper Flyline

double taper fly line

The double taper as can be seen has the bulk of the weight in the centre of the flyline. Whilst giving a more delicate presentation of the line and the fly, more line needs to be extended to cast greater distances. Although if you have more than the first 30 feet out on the water, it can be easier to “lift off” and recast than it would be with a weight forward line extended past the 30 feet mark. The reason for this is that you are asking the rod to lift more line off the water than it can comfortably handle with the weight forward line. An interesting point: The weight of the first 30 feet of a weight forward line and a double taper line is identical.

3. The Shooting Head.

shooting head fly line

More a type of line for distance casting and therefore not really suitable for complete beginners as they can become a little unruly when in the hands of a novice. Best used on large waters where distance is required to reach fish. The head of the line is short and carries nearly all of the weight of the line, the running line being a lot thinner and lighter by comparison.

Lets move onto how the line behaves once you have cast it onto the water. Once again there are 3 main types of fly line. Floating, Intermediate and Sinking.

The Floating Fly Line, as the name suggests floats very high on the water. This is always my suggested fly line for beginners. As it floats is it easier to see any faults that you may develop during casting. Normally you would use the floating line with a leader of up to 14 feet to present your dry fly upon the water. Equally you can fish the nymph, buzzer, emerger or lure. If the water you are fishing is not deep, a floating line is ideal. Easier to cast and easier to see.

The Intermediate Fly Line is in effect a fly line that sinks very slowly through the water. This can have the advantage of covering a lot of water, depthwise, if you are fishing deeper waters. In fast moving rivers the intermediate line can help keep you keep your line below surface currents thereby allowing presentation of the fly for a longer time than a floating line.

The Sinking Fly Line. These are available in differing sink rates. Anywhere from slow sink to the famous Airflo DI range. The Di7 will sink like a stone enabling you to reach deeper waters quickly in lakes and reservoirs where the fish may be feeding close to the bottom at the time.

As a general rule, you will use a floating line for dry flies, buzzers, emergers, nymphs and lures. An intermediate line is used to fish buzzers, emergers, nymphs and lures, with sinking lines also used to fish buzzers, emergers, nymphs and lures.


Kindly provided by Tony Scott / Tacklebargains - Copyright Tony Scott / Tacklebargains all rights reserved. Content on this web page may not be reproduced without prior permission.