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The Many Factors to Consider When Choosing Fly Fishing Line

The Not-So-Simple Basics of Fly Fishing Line

When it comes to fly fishing, it may appear easy on the surface, but once you delve into the details, it becomes clear that it can be quite complicated. One aspect of fly fishing that can be particularly confusing is choosing the right fly fishing line. With an array of colors, sizes, weights, and types available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, understanding the purpose of fly fishing line and its various features can simplify the selection process.

The Purpose of Fly Fishing Line

Traditional fishing involves using sinkers or weights attached to the end of the line to cast the bait far out into the water. Fly fishing, on the other hand, uses only the line and a lightweight fly to cast. The weight required for casting is provided by the fly line itself. This makes fly fishing line one of the most critical pieces of gear for successful fly fishing. It is responsible for transferring the cast energy from the fly rod to the fly, allowing for accurate presentation to the fish.

Fly Fishing Line Weight

Fly fishing line comes in various weights, indicated by a number ranging from 1 to 14. The weight of the line depends on the type of fish you are targeting and the fishing location. Fly rods also have a recommended line weight for optimal performance. As a beginner, it is recommended to stick to the manufacturer’s recommended line weight. Over time, as you gain experience and encounter different fishing situations, you may choose to experiment with lighter or heavier line weights.

Fly Fishing Line Length

When purchasing fly fishing line, it typically comes in lengths of around 100 feet. This may seem short compared to traditional fishing lines, but it is sufficient for fly fishing. It is important to consider not only the length of the line but also the backing and leader. When combined, the total length can exceed 200 feet. However, in fly fishing, casting distance is not as crucial as accuracy and delicate presentation of the fly.

Fly Fishing Line Tapers

In addition to weights and lengths, fly fishing line also comes in different tapers, which affect the line’s weight distribution and casting performance. The three basic types of tapers are weight forward, double taper, and level taper. Weight forward taper is the most common and provides additional weight forward on the fly line. Double taper offers a delicate presentation, while level taper has a uniform thickness throughout the line and is usually considered of lower quality.

The Types of Fly Fishing Line

There are three main types of fly fishing line: floating, sinking, and sinking tip. Floating line is the most common and is ideal for beginners. Sinking line is designed to sink at various rates, depending on the type, and is useful when fishing at specific depths. Sinking tip line combines both floating and sinking properties, with the majority of the line floating and only the last part sinking. This type is preferred for fishing with streamers.

Choosing the Right Fly Fishing Line

Choosing the right fly fishing line may seem complex, but breaking it down into its various components can make it easier to understand. As a beginner, it is recommended to start with a floating weight forward line that matches the weight of your rod. This combination will provide optimal performance. As you gain experience and encounter different fishing situations, you can explore other types of fly lines.


While selecting fly fishing line may initially appear overwhelming, understanding the purpose of fly fishing line, its weight, length, tapers, and types can simplify the decision-making process. As with any skill, practice and experience will help you better understand your personal preferences and enable you to experiment with different combinations of fly fishing lines. Keep in mind that reputable manufacturers like Scientific Angler and Rio consistently produce top-rated lines that are trusted by many fly fishers.

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