Formulated by Anthony Colucci of Great Outdoor Designs by Colucci
Fly Fishing Fly Line Guide
Choosing the Line Weight and Type for Your Fishing Conditions and Style
Choosing the type of fly line takes into account the following:
- Type of fly: floating (dry flies or poppers) or sinking (wet flies, streamers)
- Size of fly: use higher line weights for heavier or bulkier flies
- Casting distance: use higher line weights for the casting distance, which are related to the environment (small bodies of water like streams and ponds generally require shorter casts than lakes or oceans)
- Big fish-big fly (most of the time): As mentioned before, to cast a big, heavy fly, you need the heavier line weight. Also, it helps to have a more robust rod (matched to your heavier fly line) to subdue the bigger fish.
- Wind conditions: Weight-forward tapers and shooting heads provide better performance when the wind is strong. A heavier line weight also provides an advantage.
- Balance: Match the line weight to your fly rod. Most rods have the recommended line weight imprinted near the rod handle. Some rods indicate two line weight ranges (example: 7 to 8). I tend toward the lighter line.
Line Designations with abbreviations and functions
Double Taper (DT): For delicate casting and presentation of smaller flies. Actually, the taper is symmetrical on either end of the fly line, thereby making it two lines in one by reversing the end one attaches to the backing
Weight Forward Taper (WF): A suitable choice over the double taper line for the beginner. Provides better performance for casting in the wind and for distance.
Shooting Head Taper (ST): Essentially, this is a weight-forward line without a heavier back-end to slow it down. Designed for distance casting.
Spey Shooting Taper (SST): A weight-forward shooting-head taper designed for two-handed rods, used mostly for salmon fishing and on rivers with little room for the back cast.
Level (L): Characterized by the same diameter end-to-end. Little used expect in low weights as an easier to handle backing to the main fly line.
Braided (B): Usually made of nylon braided to a length of 12 to 15 feet for tenkera fishing, the traditional Japanese form of fly-fishing
Floating (F): A low density fly line that floats and therefore suitable for dry flies, poppers and very shallow waters
Sinking (S): A group of fly line of varying density designed to sink slowly or faster to reach lower depths in the water.
Sinking Tip (I): A hybrid line consisting of a tip (about 8 to 12 feet of the front end) that sinks and the back end that floats- useful to fish shallow depths. The floating section makes it easier to follow the fly and to begin your next cast.
Observe and experiment – it’s part of the fascination of fly-fishing.
Also, you may download the handy chart below: