Fly Lines

How To Choose The Best Fly Line For Beginners

Picking an excellent line for your setup is really important. In this comprehensive video, we go over all the different factors you need to consider when you choose a fly line. 

How To Choose The Best Fly Line For Beginners

How To Choose The Best Fly Line For Beginners

Picking an excellent line for your setup is really important. In this comprehensive video, we go over all the different factors you need to consider when you choose a fly line. 

How To Choose The Best Fly Line For Beginners

Fly lines are integral components of fly fishing ā€“ literally connecting you to the fly. These lines serve as the heavy 'load' that makes casting possible and carry the lightweight fly to your target in the water. The fly line's weight, material, taper, and temperature rating significantly influence casting distance, accuracy, and overall performance. A well-chosen line enhances the fishing experience, increasing yout chances of success.

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While fly lines have been around for centuries (starting with horsehair lines). Silk lines, which originated in the 17th century were a popular choice until the mid-20th century. The modern age heralded synthetic materials, notably PVC-coated lines, offering better performance and durability, changing the face of fly fishing forever.


Buying a new line? Watch our video, or read on for some tips on choosing the right line.


Line weight:

Line weight is a critical consideration, referring to the physical weight (in grains) of the first 30 feet of the fly line. The weight is denoted by a number, usually between 0-14, with 1 being the lightest and 14 the heaviest. Choosing the right line weight largely depends on the fly size and weight. Lighter lines (0-3) are ideal for small streams and delicate presentations, whereas heavier lines (10-14) are used for big water and large fish.


Temperature Ratings:

Fly line temperature ratings also play a crucial role, affecting line performance in different environments. Cold water lines are designed to remain flexible and tangle-free in chilly conditions, while tropical lines resist softening and stickiness in the heat. The right temperature-rated line ensures optimal performance in the fishing conditions you'll encounter.


Line Type/Density:

When it comes to line types, there are three main categories: floating, sinking, and sink tip lines. Floating lines are great for topwater fly fishing, making it easier to mend the line and control the fly. Sinking lines, on the other hand, are designed to sink at a specified rate, useful for getting flies deep into the water column. Sink tip lines offer the best of both worlds, with the front portion sinking and the rest of the line floating, making them versatile for different water conditions.



Fly lines also come in various tapers, including weight-forward (WF), double taper (DT), and shooting taper (ST). WF lines are great for long casts and windy conditions, while DT lines offer gentle presentations, and ST lines are ideal for very long casts.


Features and price points:

Fly lines can vary significantly in price, from under $50 to over $100. Lower-priced lines are often durable and versatile, great for beginners or casual anglers. Mid-range lines might offer more specialized features such as improved temperature control, while high-end lines provide superior performance and features like low-stretch cores, advanced taper designs, and coating technologies for maximum casting distance and accuracy.


Popular options:

Popular fly lines such as the SA MPX and Rio Gold offer superb all-around performance. The SA Grand Slam is designed specifically for saltwater fly fishing, and the Rio Outbound Short excels at long-distance casting, particularly in windy conditions.


Our favorite brands:

In the world of fly fishing, the choice of fly lines is vast, and several brands have earned reputations for their quality and innovation. Here's a deeper look into these prominent brands:

Cortland has a storied history spanning over a century in the fishing industry. Known for combining innovation with value, Cortland offers a wide range of fly lines, from traditional floating lines to advanced specialty lines. Its 444 Classic series, in particular, has gained iconic status among fly anglers for its reliable performance and durability.

Airflo stands out in the industry for being the only company that extrudes Polyurethane as a super tough coating on its fly lines. This UK-based brand's "Ridge" technology reduces friction, enhances line shooting, and increases buoyancy. Airflo's innovative materials and designs, such as their Super-Dri technology for floating lines, provide anglers with tools that meet and often exceed their expectations in various fishing conditions.

Rio has been a leader in the fly line industry for many years. From trout to tarpon, freshwater to salt, Rio offers a comprehensive selection of fly lines for every angler and fishing situation. Known for their innovative InTouch technology, which reduces stretch for increased sensitivity, Rio lines offer superior performance and fishability.

Scientific Anglers (SA) is another trailblazer in the industry. It offers a wide selection of lines, each optimized for specific situations, fish species, or water conditions. SA's Mastery and Amplitude series, featuring AST Plus slickness additive, have set a high bar in the fly line industry, delivering long casts and precise presentations.

Royal Wulff was founded by the legendary Lee Wulff, and the brand carries forward his legacy of innovation. Their signature Triangle Taper line has been recognized for its ability to deliver a more delicate presentation and better energy transfer than other designs. This brand remains a favorite among seasoned fly anglers.

Teeny offers unique fly line designs, such as the integrated sinking line (ISL), which seamlessly integrates the running line and shooting head into one piece. Known for their effectiveness in handling large flies and fast currents, Teeny lines are a go-to choice for many serious fly anglers, especially those pursuing large freshwater and saltwater species.

Monic stands out for its commitment to the environment. Known for producing the world's first clear and eco-friendly fly lines, Monic offers anglers stealth and performance without compromising on environmental responsibility. Its Phantom Tip line, a clear floating line with a stealthy tip, is particularly lauded by anglers who require discretion in clear waters.

Orvis has a long-standing reputation in the world of fly fishing. Known for their high-quality lines that cater to all fishing styles, environments, and species, Orvis offers a broad selection that includes the Hydros and Pro series. Orvis lines consistently deliver on performance, offering superior castability, durability, and precision.


We understand that fly lines can be super confusing - if you're still not sure, please reach out to us via chat, e-mail, or simply give us a call so that we can make your buying - and fishing - process as seamless as possible.