How to Choose the Best Fly Line for Stripers
Every year, thousands of Stripers migrate up the eastern coast of the US to spawn. These Bass offer enthusiastic saltwater anglers the chance to get out on the water after a long winter season inside. Plus, they get BIG, so there’s always the chance you’ll find a trophy fish in the 30-40lb range and some even larger. Most anglers target these big saltwater fish with conventional gear, surf-casting with long rods and plugs. While this is a popular approach and can increase your chances of catching a trophy fish, we think fly fishing is more fun (but maybe we’re a little biased). If you’re an avid angler who likes to chase Stripers up and down the coast with a fly rod, we’re here to provide some insight.
First, we’ve already talked about choosing the best fly rod for Stripers and choosing the best fly reel for Stripers. These posts are important if you’re a first-time Striper 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 Stripers, this post will help you choose the right fly line.
If you’re planning on waking up before sunrise, reading tide charts, and slinging beast flies, you’ve come to the right place. Plus, we’re located in southern Maine, the tip of the Striper migration. We live and breathe this stuff. The advice in these posts is time-tested on the water. Read on to find out which fly line you should be fishing for Striped Bass.
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First, choose a fly line that matches your rod. If you’re fishing a 10wt fly rod, pair that rod with a 10wt fly line. If you’re fishing a 9wt, choose a 9wt fly line.
Most Striper fishing is done in cold, saltwater conditions. Therefore, choose a fly line that’s built for cold water saltwater angling. A tropical line is going to shrivel up and give you major problems when you’re fishing for Stripers. 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 ‘Striper’ in the name is probably a good bet. If you have a RIO InTouch Striper Line, Royal Wulff Saltwater TT Striper Line, or an Airflo Ridge Striper Line in your cart you’re on the right track.
But there are other factors that should play into your fly line choice for Stripers. Fly choice, fishing style, and setting should all be considered. Here’s how it breaks down.
If you’re fishing big flies in windy coastal conditions, choose a fly line with a short, aggressive front taper.
If you’re casting smaller flies (crabs, micro minnows), choose a fly line with a long, gradual front taper.
If you’re an angler who likes to sight fish to Striped Bass from a boat or you find yourself primarily fishing to Stripers busting on bait, a line with a long, gradual taper will be more accurate and easier to cast at middle/longer distances.
If you’re an angler who targets Stripers from the surf or from the beach, blind casting is the name of the game, and accuracy isn’t important. Choose a fly line with a short, aggressive front taper that you can easily pick up and cast long distances blindly.
If you’re targeting fish out of a boat, backcasting room generally isn’t an issue. You can choose a fly line that’s easy to carry in the air because you’ll likely be making longer casts.
If you’re fishing from shore, chances are you’ll be dealing with rocks and obstructions in your backcast. Fishing in a setting that doesn’t allow you to carry a lot of line in the air necessitates a line that you can easily pick up and shoot. A ‘shooting-style line’ is the best line for the job. Consider a RIO OutBound Short or a Scientific Anglers Titan Taper.
A note about Floating vs Intermediate vs Sinking
Fishing for Stripers often means targeting fish that are deep in the water column. Striped Bass are ambush feeders which means they often hide in rocks or structure. Sinking lines are a great way to efficiently feed hidden Bass.
If you’d rather target fish that are chasing bait just under the surface or in the middle of the water column, an intermediate line is a good choice. Intermediate lines are more versatile than either a floating line or a sinking line because they allow you to target fish that are deep but can also help feed fish that are closer to the surface.
If you’re ONLY fishing for Stripers that are pushing bait to the surface, a floating line is the best option. This isn’t the case with most anglers, however, so an intermediate line is probably the best overall line for targeting Stripers.
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