How to Choose the Best Fly Line for Streamers
Stripping streamers is one of the best ways to consistently catch large trout. When trout reach a certain size, their diet consists of bugs AND other fish. Remember that food chain thing you learned in grade school? If you're hunting for the largest trout in a particular watershed, you'll have a good chance of finding them with a large streamer pattern.
If you're wondering which fly rods are the best for fishing streamers, we've covered that topic here. But the best streamer rod with the wrong fly line will only get you so far. Choosing the right line will help to increase your chances of landing a monster on a streamer.
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First, choose a fly line that matches your fly rod. If you're fishing a 6wt rod, choose a 6wt line. Streamer lines are often built .5-1.5 sizes heavy so don't make the mistake of overlining your fly rod (more about this later). If you're fishing a deep river, consider a sinking fly line. If you're fishing a smaller creek or stream, a floating line with a weighted fly is often the best choice.
The streamer fishing we're talking about here is a trout-based game which means you'll be fishing in cold water freshwater scenarios. Therefore, choose a cold water line that won't shrivel in rivers/lakes/ponds like a tropical line will. If you're confused about which lines are made for which environments, we've covered that topic here.
If you're considering a line with 'streamer' in the name like the Cortland Streamer Fly Line, you're on the right track. Here are some other recommendations.
The taper of a fly line often dictates what the line is made for. Different taper styles make different types of casting easier. Here's a short, generally-accepted list of taper types and techniques.
- Taper: Long Front and Rear Taper, Gradual, Lightly Weighted
This taper type is ideal for carrying a lot of line in the air, casting small flies, and accuracy at longer distances. An example of this type of line is RIO Technical Trout Elite Fly Line.
- Taper: Short Front Taper, Long Rear Taper, Moderately Weighted
A line with this kind of taper is built for versatility. It doesn't do one thing really well but it does a lot of things at moderate performance levels. This kind of line is ideal for anglers who target fish with multiple kinds of flies or techniques.
- Taper: Short Front Taper, Short Rear Taper, Heavily Weighted
These lines are ideal for turning over large flies, casting in heavy wind, and shooting a lot of line with minimal false casts. An example of this type of line is RIO InTouch Outbound Short Fly Line.
Therefore, a line with a long, gradual, lightweight taper isn't ideal for streamer fishing. Choose a line with either the second or the third taper.
If you're fishing streamers out of a drift boat, chances are you're focusing on covering water. Streamer fishing from a drift boat often requires anglers to cast, strip several times, pick line off of the water quickly, and cast again. A line that loads a fast action rod at short range is paramount for drift boat streamer fishing.
Contrarily, if you're standing in a riffle and swinging streamers or blind casting, chances are you're making long blind casts. In this scenario, a shooting-style line is ideal for covering water when blind casting.
If you're fishing a moderate action fly rod and smaller streamers, you can get away with a less aggressive fly line. Moderate action rods are easier to load and don't require a line that's heavy or aggressive. That being said, a moderate action rod and a lighter line won't turn over large, bulky flies as well as a fast action rod... certainly not with as much accuracy.
If you're like 90% of streamer junkies out there and you've chosen a fast action rod, a heavier line with an aggressive front taper will help you load the rod easier. It'll also propel your flies farther in windy conditions.
FAVORITE STREAMER FLY LINE
So, what's the BEST streamer line? It depends on the scenario, but one of my favorites is RIO's InTouch Big Nasty Fly Line. I'm also a huge fan of Airflo's Streamer Max but Airflo is undergoing a change of ownership so I'm not sure how long that line will be around.
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