Getting Started On Fly Lines
Fly line technology has come a long way since the days of braided fibers treated with animal fats for floatation. These days, there is a different fly line for every different fishing situation and those differences are usually made up in the core, coating, profile, and weight of the line.
Most fly lines these days are built upon two types of cores, braided monofilament and braided, hollow, multifilament. Typically, each of them is going to be used for a specific type of fly line such as a warm water or cold water line. Monofilament cores are most commonly used in warm and saltwater fly lines as they are strong, stay supple, and have less stretch than some multifilament cores. While they are great in warm water, if taken into coldwater, they tend to coil. On the other hand, many fresh and coldwater lines will incorporate the multifilament core, as it tends to stay suppler in the colder temperatures. Another benefit to a braided multifilament core is the option to splice a leader directly into the line for a seamless transition.
The next important aspect of the fly line is the coating, which determines the profile of the line as well. The coating literally encases the core of the fly line. Simply put, this coating will make the fly line sink or float. To make them sink, tungsten powder is added to the coating and to make them float, micro air balloons are added. Adding different amounts of tungsten or micro balloons will determine the size and density of the fly line as well as aid in creating the profile of the line.
The profile, also commonly known as the taper of the fly line, is made up of the running line, rear taper, belly, front taper, and the tip of the line. It is this profile that controls the transfer of energy during the cast and propels the line.
The fly line tip is the front few inches, usually 6-10 inches, of level line and may have a welded loop for ease in changing leaders.
The tip of the line will transition into the front taper and both of these sections will affect how the fly is presented. A longer taper will allow for more delicate presentation while a shorter one will transfer the energy faster and with more power. The longer taper is better for delicate dry fly presentation while the shorter one would be great for streamers.
The belly of the fly line is the thickest section of line between the front and rear tapers and also the section that has the most weight. The length of the belly will affect casting as it really carries the majority of the energy in the line during a fly cast. With a shorter belly, that energy transfers faster than that of a longer belly, meaning it will perform shorter casts and faster turnovers than the longer belly. The longer belly will perform better at longer casting and will be more accurate in those longer casts. Basically, longer belly equates to longer casts while a shorter belly is better at shorter casts.
The belly will be the driving force pulling the rear taper and running line through the fly rod guides during a cast, but the rear taper also plays an important role. As with the front taper, the rear taper also transfers energy, and again, a longer taper does so more smoothly than a shorter one. The longer rear taper will be better for longer, more delicate presentations, but will also perform better while mending line on the water. The shorter rear taper accommodates faster casts better but will sacrifice some accuracy.
All of these parts combined are known as the “head” of the fly line. When purchasing a fly line, accessing the head of the line is most important, as it will determine what the fly line will be best made for. In short, a longer head will be better at distance and delicacy while a shorter head will be better at faster, shorter range casting.
The running line will be the back end, which is connected to the backing and reel. It is usually a thinner diameter level line that is light enough to be pulled through the guides by the head of the line.
In general, the perfect dry fly line will incorporate a long head in order to cast long distances and lay down on the water softly. On the other hand, a fly line built for streamer fishing may incorporate a shorter head to turn over heavy flies faster and at shorter range. By manipulating the head of the fly line, it can be built to fish certain fly fishing styles and techniques better than others, but it can also be built lighter or heavier to accommodate faster and slower action rods.
The AFFTA standard fly line weights are measured in grains and are set as a standard so all fly line and fly rod companies can build to specs that are recognized across the industry. This grain weight refers to the first 30 feet of line minus the level tip section. Refer to the following chart for specified weights in grains.
It has been said that grain weight of a fly line is a far more important consideration than the actual weight listed on the box. This is because the weight of the fly line changes according to how much of it is outside the rod tip during the cast. With more line, there will be more weight and vice versa. Essentially, a 3 weight fly line, on a 3 weight fly rod should be 100 grains, but if only half of the head is out of the rod tip, there is a lack of grain weight to cast. For that grain weight to be perfectly matched, the caster must have the entire head out of the rod tip. Lefty Kreh even went as far to say that a long distance dry fly caster should actually under load the rod in order to carry line on longer casts. On the other hand, to get a quick cast with a small amount of line out, it may be best to have a heavily weighted line. For this reason, fly line manufacturers have developed heavier than AFFTA standard lines to overload the fly rod and make casting easier, or just plain more efficient.
By producing a fly line that is heavier than AFFTA standard, the guesswork according to each different fly rod can be limited. An angler can now pick out a 5 weight fly line that is a half line size heavy to make that cast a little easier. This is especially important with the way that fly rods are built these days with so many being fast and even ultra fast action. Those rods will generally take a heavier line to even load the fly rod and cast a standard fly line. On the slower end of the spectrum, a slow to medium action fly rod can be paired with a lighter weight line and still cast efficiently.
Because the P2 Pipeline series rods are built for European Nymphing, they do incorporate a strong butt section with a softer, more responsive tip section. This model makes them a medium fast action fly rod that cast great with a standard grained fly line.
If the goal is to dedicate the P2 Pipeline Pro rod to Euro Nymphing, the best option for a fly line is to use a Euro specific line. This line will have almost zero taper, or profile, to it and will be as light as possible. The lack of profile and weight will allow the angler to stay connected to the flies as the weight of the line will not be too much to pull back and sag between fly rod guides.
The action of the P2 Pipeline Pro series fly rods have proven to make them great dry fly fishing rods as well as light weight traditional nymphing rods. To achieve the best performance in these fly fishing styles, a weight forward line in a standard grain weight is best for the all-around angler. To improve distance casting, as stated previously, under lining the rod may be beneficial. On the other hand, over lining the rod may be best for traditional indicator nymphing as the extra weight will aid in turning over heavier rigs at shorter distances. Ideally, a line that is 1 above or 1 below will be the best for these certain situations, while an all round line will be best measured at the specified rod weight.
Fly lines change often, so to achieve a great dry fly line, choose one with a long front and rear taper that is true to size and matched to the weight of the rod. To achieve a great all around fly line on the P2 rod, choose one with a shorter head, and even one that is ¼ to ½ line size heavy. If the ideal Euro nymphing setup is the goal, choose a Euro nymph specific line with minimal profile. Alternatively, using one of the previously mentioned weight forward lines and “Euro Nymph leader” addition, connected by a loop-to-loop knot is a great option.
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Like the P2 Pipeline rods, the AQUOS is built with a medium-fast action, a strong butt section, and a responsive tip section. This makes it a smooth casting fly rod with the ideal line weight pairing. By over-loading the AQUOS rods, superior casting with heavier rigs and bigger bugs can be achieved, but it will also perform well with an exact line weight.
Due to the medium fast action, AQUOS rods will cast a greater distance with more ease when not overloaded by too much. One half line size is plenty to overload these rods, while a ¼ line heavy is more ideal. Consider a fly line that is no more than one half size heavy if using this rod for casting dry flies, dry-dropper rigs, or streamers.
If traditional indicator style nymph rigs are the goal, a full line size with a shorter front taper and longer rear taper will be a better option. The shorter front taper will turn over faster while the longer rear taper will allow for easier mending during the drift.
To have one fly line to do it all will always end up with a shortfall in one direction, but it possible. If that is the goal, choose a line that has a shorter front taper, with a long rear taper and overall head length around 50 feet.
The AQUOS series fly rods have proven to be great options for the stillwater angler, especially in Loch Style fishing as the softer tip results in fewer “bounces” of fish. The strong backbone of the rod will still allow the angler to cast the heavy sinking lines necessary in stillwater fishing. Because these lines are heavy, it is best to use the specified line weight for the rod as to not over line it. Over lining in this situation will actually hinder the distance that can be achieved in the cast, as they are too heavy to carry through the cast.
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