How to Choose the Best Fly Line for Steelhead
We’ve already talked about choosing the best fly rod for Steelhead and the best fly reel for Steelhead. These posts are important if you’re a first-time Steelhead angler. They can also help anglers who are purchasing new gear determine which rods/reels fit their casting style and angling technique. And, to round out our species-centered blog posts about Steelhead, this post will help you choose the right fly line.
In our past Steelhead posts, we’ve covered singled handed rods/reels, switch rods/reels, and Spey rods/reels. In this post, however, we’re going to focus on single-handed fly lines for Steelhead. Spey/Switch lines are a different conversation but we’ve covered them briefly here:
In terms of single-hand lines, a lot of single-handed angling for Steelhead involves nymphing. You can also swing flies with a single-handed rod. In this post, we’ll focus on streamer and nymph lines that pair well with single-handed rods.
First, choose a fly line that matches your rod. If you’re fishing a 10’ 7wt fly rod, pair that rod with a 7wt fly line.
Steelhead fishing is done in cold water conditions. Therefore, choose a fly line that’s built for cold water angling. A tropical line is going to shrivel up and give you major problems when you’re fishing for Steelhead. If you’re confused about which lines are made for cold water conditions, read our article about water temps here.
So we’ve narrowed down your choices. You should be considering a cold water fly line that matches your rod weight. And if you want to be safe, a fly line with ‘Steelhead’ or ‘Nymphing’ in the name is probably a good bet. If you’re considering a RIO InTouch Salmon/Steelhead, Scientific Anglers Amplitude Anadro/Nymph Fly Line, or Cortland Salmon Steelhead Fly Line, you’re on the right track.
But surely there are times when other lines would be more efficient and more productive.
Fishing Technique is one of the most important considerations when choosing a fly line for Steelhead. Because these fish can be targeted in a variety of different ways, it’s important to choose a line that matches your desired angling style. If you’re swinging streamers with a single-handed rod, you’re going to want a shooting-style line that allows you to cover the most water. If you’re nymphing, your line is going to look totally different.
Nymphing Lines: SA Anadro is one of the best nymphing lines on the market. RIO InTouch Salmon/Steelhead line and the Cortland Salmon Steelhead line work well, too. These lines have short, aggressive heads and long back tapers to help anglers turn over bulky nymph/indicator rigs at longer distances. We recommend these lines when targeting Steelhead with nymphs in the Great Lakes or the western US/Alaska.
Streamer Lines: If you’re swinging flies with a single-handed rod, a few different lines are optimal. The RIO InTouch VersiTip II line system is a great option for anglers who want to be able to adjust their setup for differing water types. This interchangeable tip system helps anglers swing flies on a single-handed rod with efficiency and versatility. A variety of single-hand Spey lines will work well too if you’re planning on single-hand Spey fishing. The RIO Single Hand Spey Elite line is one of our favorites.
Regardless of which technique you’re using, these lines will help you be a more successful angler on the water this season. Plus, RIO makes a variety of tippets and leaders that will help your chances on the water, too. The RIO Fluoroflex Steelhead/Salmon Leader is a great choice when swinging flies and other Fluoroflex options like the Trouthunter Fluorocarbon Leader are ideal for nymphing. Similar tippets should be used.
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