The Importance of new fly line.
“I would rather cast a cheap fly rod with the best quality line rather than a high end rod with old crappy line.” --some fly shop dude
There is a lot of truth to this quote. Often times people mistake casting flaws for issues with the rod, when in reality a new line would solve a lot of problems. New quality line such as those from Rio and Scientific Anglers will have a smooth slick finish, with a supple core. These are qualities that will deteriorate over the life of the line depending on how it is abused and cared for. New line will shoot through the guides without much friction, creating a smooth effortless casting stroke. Old line with coils, cracks and a tacky texture will cause a caster to use more force to get the line to shoot through the guides.
Things to keep in mind when determining line condition:
- The most obvious sign of a worn out line are cracks. You will see lines going perpendicular to the line probably all the way around signaling flaws in the coating. This not only causes friction in the guides, but will also allow the core to absorb water, leading to a sinking line.
- Overall texture of the line might feel tacky or rough. This can sometimes be fixed with a line cleaning solution which will clean debris off the line and lubricate the exterior. Rio makes disposable towelettes for just $1 that are great to add a quick life back into a used line.
- Does your line float? A tip that will not stay afloat is a bad thing. It makes mending much harder, can spoke fish, and will suck your leader and dry fly under water on each cast. Other than cracks in the coating, sometimes when a pre-welded loop starts to fail, or when someone cuts that loop off, it exposes the braided core of the line which will absorb water like a roll of paper towels. Small single cracks can be treated with superglue to make them watertight again. It should be noted that stepping on your line or getting it caught on rocks can also cause cuts in the line coating.
What to keep in mind when choosing a new line:
- Match the weight of the line to the weight of the rod. For the most part, matching a 5wt line to a 5wt rod is a good way to ensure the correct fit. Although, not all 5wt lines are the same. Even within a selection of weight forward fly lines, the shooting heads might be slightly different dimensions and weights. Therefore, a heavier option such as the new MPX taper from SA will “loosen up” the action of a fast rod, causing it to feel like a completely different rod. Every rod/line/angler is unique, and a whole blog should be written on this weight forward line differences alone.
- Spend the money on a quality line. If people are on a budget, I will try to convince them to save a little money on the reel or rod, to afford good line. Quality lines, although more expensive, will have better coatings and lubricants impregnated in them to extend the life of the line. Cheap vs good lines may both cast great the first few outings out, but that’s only good if you only plan on fishing once this year… and who does that?
- Consider a textured line option. They have their pros and cons, again probably an issue for a whole different blog post, but textured lines will decrease friction shooting in the guides, and increase surface area to float better.
So do yourself a favor and clean or replace your lines this winter! Stay warm and have fun!