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Choosing a Fly Line
In the old days if you wanted to buy a new floating Trout Fly Line it was simple. Double taper or weight forward? Nowadays the fly line world seems complicated, confusing and congested. What was once the simple matter of buying the right line has been turned into a selection headache. For example, if you look through these RIO pages for a trout line you would find eleven different weight forward lines designed just for trout fishing! Why so many? Because the modern fly fisher has become more aware of the subtleties in line design. Just as there is no single car that will race around a racetrack, four-wheel through bogs, carry family and the dog, get great gas mileage and haul large gear loads, there is no one line that will perform in every condition, in all types of trout waters and with every fly size to be cast.
Modern fly lines are designed to enhance a particular aspect of fly fishing. Sure you can get an all-around line that will do most things well. The RIO Gold is our best selling all-around line, good at throwing flies between #2 and #22. But we make better lines for distance, better lines for presentation, better lines for modern fast action rods.
To buy a fly line that is right for a specific application, a brief understanding of the line’s design characteristics is useful. A weight forward fly line has four parts: the front taper, the body, the rear taper and the running line. The first three are combined in what is commonly known as “the head.” The running line is everything that follows.
The front taper usually varies between three and ten feet in length. A short front taper will turn over quickly. A long front taper will lose energy as it unrolls and tends to land gently. Thus, a line such as our Trout LT with its long front taper will be perfect for the subtlest of presentations. While a fly line with a short front taper like the Tarpon line or our new Xtreme Indicator line will be good in wind or for casting big flies and indicators.
The Body section can be level, have weight at the front or the back. Weight at the front causes the line to load the rod at short range for fast, one-shot casts and for casting big stuff. Weight at the back helps the line be stable at range, enabling the caster to carry longer lengths and is good for mending, roll casting and spey casting techniques.
A short rear taper makes for a fast shoot of the line and is incorporated into lines designed for quick distance casting like our OutBound Short. A long rear taper is good for mending ability and for allowing casters greater freedom in how much line they can carry while casting.
Finally, the head length should also be considered. A short head of 35 feet is an excellent choice for novice casters and regardless of skill level, is ideal for casting in restricted casting spaces or when sitting low or wading deep. Long head fly lines are excellent river lines great for mending, picking up at range and for carrying long lengths when casting. So, that’s why we make so many different lines. They are not created equal. Each is a carefully tested, painstakingly designed, perfectly honed tool; the end result of which is a line that will be the very best option for that discipline. The only problem you have is deciding what that discipline is!