Fly Lines

Jim Teeny, Cortland or 3M?

Fliegenschnur, Jim Teeny, Cortland oder 3M-FliegenschnüreFliegenschnur, Jim Teeny, Cortland oder 3M-Fliegenschnüre

What is the use of a good casting style, a nice fly rod, an even nicer fly reel when the fly line is not correctly matched?

I could quite easily write a book in connection with what I have experienced in connection with fly lines. Dozens of times, not once or twice in my career as instructor, I have experienced difficulties imparting a decent casting style to a pupil only to find out that they had mounted the torpedo line the wrong way round so that the head was next to the reel core and the thin running-line was being cast! One participant complained that the line would not run through the rod rings and that all his casting efforts were in vain. It turned out that he thought that the line also had to go through the keeper ring intended for flies just in front of the rod handle! By the way, I hate keeper rings because you always seem to hang-up on them when shooting a line. My private rods do not have keeper rings.

Before we start with the subjects of line rating, form, floating position, rate of sink and colour, a sobering and factual piece of information: worldwide there are hundreds, if not thousands, of fly line brands but, however, only 4 main manufacturers with maybe 3M and Cortland out in front and commanding around 90% of the world market. I know who makes what and must laugh when someone claims that brand A is better than brand B when both products are manufactured on the same machine.

Are there really differences? The answer is yes and the differences can be substantial. Manufacturers sell their products in different price and quality ranges and with a wide selection of coatings, e.g.: hard for hot countries and soft for colder regions. The colour, form and logically the packing can be changed at will. 3M and Cortland supply what ever is required by the market. There are still today buyers who insist on white or bright fly lines even though Clark and Goddard proved 30 years ago that these colours are very visible to fish. There are also sales people who have no idea what they are doing and sell perfectly good fly lines for the wrong applications. There is the Lee Wolf Triangle Taper for distance and extreme distance casting where the head starts at 18 metre, this means over 20 metre together with the cast before the line starts to work. I have seen these lines being used on waters where casts of 6 metre to maximum 15 metre are required. The fly line head in these cases was still on the reel or, even worse, in the rings on the rod – terrible!

The subject is so extensive I am forced to confine my comments to short sentences. We start with the question “floating” or “sinking” line? On our native waters a dry fly line is perfectly adequate except for when it is being used for streamer fishing then either a sink-tip or even a sinking line should be considered. The actual speed at which the tip or the line should sink is dependent on several factors which are beyond the scope of this article.

With regard to colour you are, in every case, better off with a subdued coloured fly line rather than a light, bright or even white version which I strongly advise against.

Equally important is the profile of the fly line. I have a rule of thumb for fly lines: slow fly rods - slow fly lines. Fly rods with the rating up to # 4 are slow and suited to double taper fly lines which are always slow because they are thickest in the middle, or about 14 metre from an end, which is disadvantageous when casting between 10 and 20 metre. In earlier days when fly lines hardly lasted a season, the claim that these lines have the advantage that they can be reversed no longer holds valid because modern lines last much longer and, by the time it comes to reversing the line, the second half is so curly it can hardly be used.

As from fly line rating # 5 it is quite clear that a torpedo head is the favourite. Now: the Salt Water Taper? Yes, when you are on the coast and you have to cast far into a stiff wind otherwise they are unusable especially on the waters in Switzerland. The Rocket Taper? Yes, when distances have to be cast in a strong wind. This line profile requires a positive casting style which is not always ideal for the subtle dry fly fishing styles.

The Long Belly Taper is the ideal solution but always poses the question: where does the belly start and where does it end? After my discussions with Leon Martuch Jnr. in 1966 (ex Scientific Anglers and now 3M) that the old designations HCH, HDG, etc. were useless for the sale and classification of lines, these were changed. Today I would like that the length of the long belly be defined, at least, as “short”, “medium” and “long” on the packing.

You now know certainly more about this topic. If you want to learn even more you should read the book “The Fascination of Fly Fishing” or attend one of our fly fishing clinics then we can personally discuss things and try them out in practice.


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