Fly Lines Explained – Part 1

The one thing that can really make a newcomers fly fishing experience a miserable one is the lack of understanding of the fly line. Using the wrong line for the rod or using a “cheap and nasty” line can lead to hours of frustration for the angler and take all of the enjoyment out of the sport.

Fly lines are made by coating either a nylon or braid core with a PVC coating and as a general rule of thumb the more you spend on a line the smoother and slicker this coating becomes thus aiding the fly casting and shooting of the line. A cheap line will not be as supple and when pulled off of the reel will sit in tight coils at your feet. These coils of line will often be referred to as “line memory” and are a real problem when you consider you have to try and cast these coils of line through the rings of the rod.

To get a good quality line you should be looking to spend anywhere from £30 to £35 upwards. This may sound quite an outlay but a well looked after line will last the average angler a few years, so get yourself a good line and clean it on a regular basis and you will reap the rewards when it comes to casting. I spend many hours teaching casting and even I struggle with a cheap line so you can imagine how difficult it would be for a beginner?!!

Casting with a good line makes things a whole lot easier.

Fly lines generally vary in length between 25 to 35 yards, this is attached to a thin backing line on the reel which serves two purposes. Firstly the backing line will bulk out the spool thus storing the fly line in more open coils and in turn reducing any fly line memory that may occur. Secondly the backing line acts as a reserve so if you hook a big fish that decides to go on a long run you have line in reserve should you run out of the relatively short fly line. A backing line of 20 to 30lbs breaking strain would be sufficient for most general fly fishing and should be wound onto the fly reel as neatly and as compact as possible as this will give the attached fly line a good base to be wound onto. Always aim to load as much backing onto the reel as possible just leaving enough space to fit the fly line on top, this can involve a bit of trial and error but it is worth taking the time to load your reel with line properly as you will be benefiting from this time spent over future fishing trips.

Next time I will be looking at fly line weights, densities and profiles to help you get the best from your fly fishing.