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Fly Fishing Line: What You Need to Know


Fly fishing may seem easy at first glance, but as you delve into the details, it can become quite complicated. One area that can be particularly overwhelming is selecting the right fly fishing line. With various colors, sizes, weights, and types to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin. However, understanding the purpose of fly fishing line and familiarizing yourself with the terminology can make this process much simpler.

The Purpose of Fly Fishing Line

Fly fishing line differs from traditional fishing line in that it provides the weight needed to cast the fly, rather than relying on sinkers or weights. The energy from the cast is transferred through the line to the fly, allowing for a presentation to the fish. As the weight and casting ability of the line are crucial to fly fishing, it is important to invest in high-quality fly line.

Fly Fishing Line Weight

Fly fishing line is available in various weights, indicated by a number ranging from 1 to 14. The appropriate weight to use depends on the type of fish you are targeting and the location where you are fishing. It is also essential to match the fly fishing line weight to your fly fishing rod, as rods typically come with a recommended line weight for optimal performance. If you are new to fly fishing, it is best to start with the recommended line weight from the rod manufacturer and explore different weights as you gain experience.

Fly Fishing Line Length

When purchasing fly fishing line, it usually comes in lengths of around 100 feet. While this may appear short compared to traditional fishing lines, there are additional factors to consider. Backing, which is often 100 feet or more, and the leader, typically 7 to 15 feet in length, should also be taken into account. When fly fishing, you generally do not cast more than 50 feet, so the total length of over 200 feet is not necessary.

Fly Fishing Line Tapers

In addition to weights and lengths, fly fishing line also comes in different tapers. There are three basic types of tapers: weight forward, double taper, and level taper. The weight forward taper is the most common type and provides additional weight in the front section of the line, allowing for longer casts. The double taper offers a delicate presentation, making it suitable for easily spooked fish. The level taper, which has no taper, is not widely used and often of lower quality.

Type of Fly Fishing Line

Fly fishing line can be categorized into three types: floating, sinking, and sinking tip. Floating fly line is the most common and stays afloat throughout. Sinking fly line sinks below the water’s surface and comes in different sinking rates. Sinking tip line combines floating line with a sinking tip, allowing for easier recasting and reduced chances of line tangling or getting hung up underwater.


Understanding the basics of fly fishing line is vital for a successful fishing experience. Starting with a floating weight forward line that matches the weight of your rod is recommended for beginners. As you gain experience, you can explore different types of fly lines and find the combinations that work best for your fishing style. Two top-rated manufacturers to consider are Scientific Angler and Rio. With the right fly fishing line, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy the art and challenge of fly fishing.

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