How to Choose the Right Fly Line for Your Single Hand Fly Rod

Choosing the right fly line can be an intimidating task if you’re new to the sport of fly fishing. However, with a little direction it can be easy. First you need to make sure you match the weight of your fly rod with the fly line. Next you need to match the line to the fishing conditions. For example, if you are targeting tarpon in a tropical environment then you’re normal floating or sink tip fly line designed for cold or non-tropical climates would be like casting a soggy piece of spaghetti.

Matching the Fly Line to Your Fly Rod

Matching the fly line to the rod should be a fairly straightforward process. If you’re fly rod is an 8wt then buy an 8wt line. Where this can get tricky is when you have a fly rod that performs better with a line weight that is heavier than your rod is rated for. This was a common practice in the 80’s and 90’s and is still relevant today. How do you know if your fly rod will cast better if you put a fly line on it that is heavier than the rod is rated for? Google is your friend here but also it’s worth talking to the manufacturer or to the shop you are purchasing the fly line and or rod from.

Different Types of Fly Lines

There are many different types of fly lines available. The standard lines are floating, uniform sink, sink tip and multi-tip. These are the basic fly lines that are commonly used to target salmon, trout, bass, pike, musky, walleye and panfish in lakes, rivers and oceans.

Let’s talk a little bit about each type of line.

A floating or also referred as a dry line is probably the most common. This line is primarily used for fishing dry flies. However, it can be used with nymphs as well. It’s designed to keep your fly on the surface or just below it. Floating lines are also the easiest to cast.

Next up is the sinking line. The sinking line is the go-to line when you need to get your fly down to the fish. Sinking lines come in many different sink rates and the one you choose will depend on the type of water you are fishing. Common sink rates range from 0.5 IPS (inches per second) to 6.0 IPS. When fishing for salmon or trout in shallow water (less than 6’ with little to no current) a sink rate of 0.5 – 1.5 IPS would be ideal.

Sink tip fly lines are another staple line are work well in various applications such as rivers, lakes and ocean. They work well when you are fishing moving water and want to get your fly into the zone quickly. Also, they are easy to pick up your line a throw out a cast. Usually the first 3-12’ of the line contains the sinking portion and the rest of the line is float.

The multi-tip fly line is one of the greatest inventions, especially for the river angler that might encounter several scenarios during the day where they might experience changing conditions that require a different tip. Usually, a multi-tip line comes with a running line and 4 different tips, a floating tip, clear intermediate tip, type 3 and type 6 tips.

Different Brands of Fly Lines

There are many different manufacturers today. Here’s a list of the most popular ones:

  • Scientific Angler
  • RIO Products
  • Airflo
  • Teeny
  • Cortland
  • Greys
  • Monic
  • Orvis

So which line is the best? Well, that’s personal preference. However, there is a right tool for the job, whether that’s a floating line, sinking, sink tip or multi-tip. The best rule of thumb when determining which fly line you should purchase is talk to the shop you are dealing with. Make sure you explain where you are fishing and what your target species is. Tight loops!