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Article By:


Gavin Hodgson

Choosing The Right Fly Line


Casting ability - There has been a number of fly lines manufactured in recent years, with the beginner or lesser ability caster in mind. It seems there’s a distinct lack of fly casting instruction in certain parts of the world, as well as a certain amount of reluctance to splash out on professional instruction.

Whatever the reason, there’s certainly a market for fly lines that load up fast and shoot far, with a minimum of effort and ability required.

Whilst there are disadvantages, flats fishing lines with a short head and very thin running line are out there and they are selling well. But, if you’re an experienced caster who gains more accuracy from holding more line in the air and shooting less on final delivery, then a completely different line profile is out there for you too. See four examples from Rio products below. Which one will suite your needs most? Read on…..

Time of year - One things for sure, if you take a regular fresh water fly line out on the flats during winter months, it can work. However, the down sides are softer coatings which prove more prone to damage from coral or rough sand, and the line feeling limp and useless when temperatures creep up a little.

Some specific flats fishing fly lines possess harder and stiffer coatings than others. So this is most certainly a consideration. A cool temperature, saltwater fly line is a good choice for winter flats fishing in many places, if for example, your home waters are of Striped or European Bass territory. Kill two birds with one stone. However, if you like the spring ans summer months for flats fishing, you will definitely need a tropical coating type fly line

Wading or Boat - A major deciding factor for fly line choice. When wading we most often make shorter casts than we would from deck of the boat. On many occasions we see fish at last minute so hence benefit from a line with a shorter head length which will load the rod very quickly. When fishing from the boat and using a fly line most suited for wading, a problem occurs where the thinner running line behind the short head hinders our presentation for two reasons; when we make longer casts, aerialising more line, with certain lines of a short head and thin running line design, the cast can collapse when reaching a certain length being held in the air. This inevitably screws up our final delivery.

The other significance is a lot of very thin running line on the boat which can tangle up easily, especially on a hot and windy day.

Terrain - Not the most important thing to consider when choosing a line, but one worth bearing in mind, is the colour and nature of the bottom we’re fishing over.  Also, a coral laden fishery or one with many mangrove flats can destroy a fly line far quicker than a powder soft sand type fishery. Taking a spare line with you is always good advice, but especially so for when fishing over coral.

If the places you fish are mostly of white sand, then many fly lines are extremely difficult to see. Choosing, for example a darker blue, rather than a pale sandy coloured line is a good idea. And vice versa, when fishing over turtle grass or darker bottom then the sandy coloured lines are very easy to see.

Fly patterns - This is something that should definitely be of major consideration. If most of your Bonefishing is done wading over skinny water flats and presenting to tailing fish, then a small or light fly with a delicate presentation is very important. For this, an appropriately, longer front tapered flyline is naturally the optimum choice. And if your fishing tends to be deeper water, casting a size 2 lead head shrimp or a crab pattern which is wind resistant and heavy, then a more aggressive, shortened forward taper is of huge advantage.

In both cases this can mean the difference of success or failure.

Species - More relating to fly choice, the target species very often dictates the pattern of fly we choose. So if you’re often chasing Permit, choose a fly line designed with Permit in mind. It can easily roll out a line and thump over a large round crab body. A line that turns over a large heavy fly with ease will make your life so much easier and allow for a higher percentage of ‘perfect casts’. And with a longer body, it then also enables you to hold line in the air without losing control of the cast.

Each fish and fishing situation differs.

Core strength - A consideration only really necessary when targetting species of size in extreme situations, #11 weight outifts and above, which are used for Giant Trevally on coral flats and close to the reef edge. This needs careful product choice as there is often a situation where you must stop a fish dead and lock down tight. A tug of war which when using regular fly lines can often result in line breakage. So, a number of manufacturers produce fly lines with 70 and 80lb core strength, rather than the 30 - 35lb strength which most fly lines possess.

Rod match - Although I am of the opinion that most good casters can cast any line on any rod, it is most certainly a personal thing and fishing with a well matched outfit to suite your own style and technique is very important. Certain rods have wider range of capability than others, expecially when it comes to holding long line in the air. Many collapse the loop at a point, and for a good caster, whether the rod is a fast action or not, it is good if it progressively bends, from short casts right through to the most you are able to aerilaise. Not all rods have such capability.

So, there are a number of important points to consider and help us get the best out of our personal skills and fishing situations.


I hope this proves useful to many in some way.


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