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Home Fly Fishing Articles How to Select a Small-Stream Fly Line

How to Select a Small-Stream Fly Line

 

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How to Select a Small Stream Fly Line

 

      I remember when the job of selecting a fly lines was a simple task! Back then, our only choices were a  Double Taper, a Weight Forward, or one of those terrible but inexpensive Level fly lines. However, if we wanted to change our presentation to one that was either lighter or heavier, then we had to either purchase another fly rod or put one line weight lighter or heavier on the rod we presently had. However, today selecting a fly line is an entirely different matter. For instance, just bring up any major fly manufacturer's web site (Scientific Angler's, Cortland, Rio, Orvis, Air Flo) and you will be presented with a bewildering array of specialty taper weight-forward lines as well as several different series of double-taper lines. Consequently, you can now have one rod that serves several different purposes by simply carrying additional fly lines on extra spools in the back of your fly vest or pack. For instance, by purchasing one line designed to deliver an extra soft presentation and another line in one of the popular line-weight-and-a-half tapers, you can cast small dry flies with a delicate presentation in the morning, then switch spools and change to the heavier line mid-morning to cast weighted nymphs or wooly buggers, and then switch spools again in late afternoon to cast your delicate dry flies to trout rising for the evening hatch.

 

     Thus, for fly fishing on the small backcountry streams here in western North Carolina, line weights 3 & 4 are often quite popular for casting dry flies because they are capable of delivering the fly quite delicately while 5 weights are often preferred for casting larger dry flies as well as nymphs and streamers and for fishing at longer ranges. For fishing "big water" here in western North Carolina, line weights 5 & 6 are an excellent choice because they are capable of casting larger flies over longer distances than lighter lines are capable of. Thus, they make an excellent choice when fishing for large Trout and Smallmouth Bass on larger creeks.

 

     In addition to different line weights for different purposes, there are also many different types of line tapers available to a fly fishermen today and each one significantly affects the way the line feels and behaves. Thus, choosing the right taper is every bit as important as choosing the right line weight. Therefore, lines designed with one of the "classic" line tapers such as the Cortland's  444 Classic or the 444 SL Classic, the Rio Classic, Scientific Angler's Trout taper, and Orvis' Superfine Wonderlines are all excellent choices for a small stream, general purpose, fly line with a moderately delicate presentation. On the other hand, if you regularly fish crystal clear Spring Creeks such as the ones here in western North Carolina, then you often need a line that provides a more delicate presentation but has a front taper that will allow you to punch a size 12 dry fly into a minute space underneath overhanging foliage and still land the fly delicately once the line straightens. For this, I would suggest Cortland's 444 Clear Creek line, Rio's Gold line, or Scientific Angler's Mastery VPI line. On the other hand, for fly fishing on "big water" for either large Trout or Smallmouth Bass I would suggest using Cortland's Western Drifter or Cortland's Precision Trout series lines, Rio's Classic and Grand series lines, Scientific Angler's Trout and GPX series lines, and Orvis' Trout Power Taper Wonderlines.



Fly Line Weight vs. Fly Size


Fly Size

F

l

y

 

L

i

n

e

 

W

e

i

g

h

t

6/0

5/0

4/0

3/0

2/0

1/0

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

1

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

2

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

3

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

4

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

5

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

6

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

7

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

8

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

9

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

10

X

X

X

X

X

11

X

X

X

X

X

12

X

X

X

X

13

X

X

X

X

14

X

X

X

X


 

 

 

 

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