A Whole Lot About Lines
In this review, I’m going to dive right into a subject that was very perplexing for me when I first started fly fishing, and that subject is fly line.
There are many different styles of fly lines for different types of fly fishing, but the focus here will be mainly ‘weight forward’ fly line, and the intended prey will be trout (who would’ve guessed?).
I’m going to try to shed some light on a topic that was initially intimidating for me, so please, join me as I review some quality fly lines so that you, as always, can buy with confidence.
In this review we’ll cover:
- The best overall fly line for trout
- The best dry fly line for trout
- Best trout fly line for the money
- Understanding fly line
- What is fly line weight?
- What is a fly line taper?
- How to set up a fly line?
- And much more!
Let’s get started!
Best WF (Weight Forward) Fly Line for Trout
Here is our list of the best fly lines for trout. These products outrank others in terms of quality and application.
Orvis knows fly fishing, and their fly line is a shining example of their passion for excellence and quality craftsmanship. Their Pro Power Taper Fly Line is used on and off the competition circuit and is preferred by veteran anglers and newcomers alike who desire a consistent, quality cast.
This is a weight-forward fly line made of advanced polymers that have undergone their AST Plus slickness treatment.
Many companies use a slickness additive to allow for easier shooting on the back cast and forward cast, but Orvis touts their specific additive as, and I quote, “Eight times slicker than any other slickness additive available.”
Those are big words from a big company, but with consistent and numerous glowing reviews by the anglers that won’t use anything else, this product is more than deserving of your consideration if you’re shopping for a new line.
- Currently $129.00
- Textured, Floating, Coldwater Line
- Advanced AST Plus Slickness Treatment
- Welded Loop
- 90’ Length
- Three Incorporated Color Sections at 8’, 30’ (from the tip), and Subsequent Running Line
RIO is a company that holds its own when compared to the fly line offerings of other companies like Orvis and Scientific Anglers, and this is no small feat.
The RIO Elite Gold line stands out from their other products due to its consistent quality, super slickness, and low-stretch ConnectCore that can chuck bugs from #22 to #2 with precision.
RIO advertises this line as their best all-around, do-anything-fly line, and for good reason. Like the previously reviewed Orvis line, RIO incorporates a color-based measuring system on this product so that you can easily determine how many lines you have out. It’s also high-viz to keep an eye on those floating bugs.
- Currently $90.99-$112.99 (Price Varies by Line Weight)
- Ultra Slick with RIO’s Slickcast Additive
- Welded Loops
- Low-Stretch ConnectCore Plus for Control, Precision, and Smoothness
- RIO SureFire Tricolored Measuring System (Moss/Gold/Grey)
RIO is renowned for this highly durable line that consistently performs, season after season, so check out their website for this and other advanced and carefully crafted fly lines for many other applications.
I hesitate to call this RIO line the economy model because there is only a slight $20 price difference between it and the Pro line, and to me, the ‘economy model’ just sounds cheap, and there’s nothing lackluster about this line.
In 2020 RIO started adding its Slickcast additive to its Premier Gold fly line, and it has only increased its ability to shoot forward and back while maintaining exceptional balance and control for that perfect fly presentation.
- Currently $84.95 – $99.99
- Now With Slickcast Additive
- Max Float Tip (Floats Higher With No Added Diameter)
- Dualtone Marks the Sweet Spot Easily
- Front and Back Welded Loops
There are a whopping 15 different variations on this line, in a multitude of weights for a multitude of applications. This is advertised as RIO’s introductory fly line for trout, and it makes a fantastic first fly line for the newly initiated.
Scientific Anglers’ Mastery trout fly line is a smartly designed weight-forward line for chasing any kind of trout in any kind of water.
There is a rear and gradual front taper to this line that makes it perfect for a delicate presentation of your bugs, whether they are nymphs, dries, or small streamers.
- Currently $79.95
- Weight Forward, Gradual Taper Fly Line
- Excels in Medium to Long Distance Casts
- Braided Multifilament Core
- Tough and Well Reviewed
The braided multifilament core gives this line added durability and suppleness, even in freezing cold. Scientific Anglers have no poorly reviewed products that I know of and their fly lines are no different.
Want to learn more about fly lines?
Check out our article on Best Sinking Fly Line
Best Dry Fly Trout Line
We have featured one product for anglers who fish strictly with dry flies.
Here’s a RIO product designed specifically for the ‘dry fly or die’ guys. The long, fine front taper is masterfully designed to make super delicate yet accurate presentations of small unweighted nymphs and dries at a distance.
RIO has added their proprietary Slickcast additive for less friction and longer casts, and the line also incorporates their low-stretch Connectcore for durability. If you are a dedicated dry flyer, this line was made for you.
- Currently $119.00-$129.99 (Price Varies by Line Weight)
- Designed Specifically for Delicate Presentations of Dries
- Slickcast Additive
- Low Stretch ConnectCore Plus
- Features RIO’s SureFire Tricolor Measuring System
Best Trout Fly Line for the Money
These next two products come highly recommended and at a fraction of the cost of some of the other big fly line companies. You might not get the highest quality of materials or the latest technology. However, with these two products, you will get an affordable and effective fly line.
Prior to this review, I had never heard of Bozeman Fly Works, and after extensive research, I plan on testing some of this line out myself. At a $35.00 price point, you can’t go wrong here if you’re looking for a weight-forward fly line for trout.
The line comes packaged in a fly box, and is two-tone in color, with front and back welded loops that easily attach to both backing and tapered leader.
Bozeman stands behind this product and says that it stands up to the industry-leading weight forward lines at a fraction of the cost, and the reviews I’ve read (and I have read many) support this claim.
- Currently $35.00
- Packaged in Fly Box
- Weight Forward Taper
- Front and Back Welded Loops
- Two Tone Color
- Affordable and Functional
This fly line is well-reviewed, and the epitome of affordable, making it a great way to get multiple rods outfitted with a serviceable, functional line at a reasonable cost.
While some people did have structural issues with the line, specifically with the front welded loop snapping, the return policy is pretty much no questions asked, and the manufacturer is prompt and responsive.
- Currently $27.00
- Two Tone (Moss Green to Fluoro Yellow)
- Affordable, Versatile Weight Forward Fly Line
- Front and Back Welded Loops
Understanding Fly Line
Fly fishing is reliant on using the weight of your fly line to cast your bait (flies). This is what differentiates it from other types of fishing like spin fishing and bait casting, where the weight of the lure is used to be able to make the cast.
The fly line is an integral part of fly fishing. The line you use can have a direct effect on your ability to cast, strip, stream, and swing, and it is equally as important as your leader choice, reel, etc.
Fly lines are made of brand-specific polymer blends designed to float, sink, or suspend depending on your preferred method of fly fishing.
The fly lines I have reviewed here are ‘Weight Forward’ fly lines. This means that their taper is weighted so that you can cast further with more accuracy, and with a more measured and efficient presentation (more on that below).
When researching a fly line that sparks your interest, you will hear the words “turnover rate,” used in regards to how they cast. Turnover is the ability of the line to turn the leader over correctly and properly present your fly.
There’s nothing more frustrating than making that perfect technical cast to a spooky trout, and having your leader and fly fall behind your fly line (trust me, it has happened to me numerous times…).
Slickness refers to the smoothness of the line itself, and the minimal amount of friction produced by the line when it slides back and forth through the guides of your rod. Slickness is usually talked about in the same breath as ‘shooting.’
Shooting is a technique used to cast further, using the momentum of your false casts to make extra line fly forward through your guides and toward your intended target.
When engaged in shooting, slickness is important, and most of the fly line in this review has a slickness additive applied to the exterior of the line to facilitate better shooting.
In recent years there have been many improvements to fly line technology, and all this technical talk can be intimidating to the fly fisher that is just starting out.
When I started fly fishing, it took me a while to understand everything that goes into choosing a fly line that was right for the type of fishing I partake in. I was sure to include the prices of every fly line I reviewed here. On top of trying to understand the technical aspects of fly line, it was the sticker shock of some of the prices of quality fly line that intimidated me the most.
I will say that I fared well with a basic, non-tapered, and non-weighted fly line when I was starting out, but once you have grasped some of the casting techniques necessary to catch some fish, switching to a weight forward, a tapered fly line can make an almost immediate difference in how far you can cast and shoot, and how accurately you can make your presentation.
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What is Fly Line Weight?
Understanding fly line weight is a bit abstract but relatively easy once you get the hang of it. Fly lines are designed with a specific weight to be used with a corresponding rod weight. So, generally speaking, a 3wt line is designed for a 3wt rod.
Fly line weight is measured to AFTMA standard (American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association). This is based on the weight of a fly line at 30ft. It is measured in grains.
RIO has created a very succinct and informative video on line weight, and they describe it better than I ever could, so please, take two minutes to watch this informative video.
Sizing up or sizing down your fly line is always an option, and this can change how you cast. Sometimes it is necessary, especially if throwing heavier flies, bigger tandem rigs, or a gang of dry flies.
Generally speaking, a heavier line can cast further, but makes more of a commotion on the water and creates a less subtle presentation. Lighter lines are more precise at closer distances but less resistant to wind and other casting obstacles.
What is a fly line Taper?
When we speak of the taper of a fly line, we are referring to any adjustments or alterations to the fly line by the manufacturer.
Weight forward line is what I have reviewed here, so in general, the taper of this fly line is made up of a weighted tip section, and then a welded loop upon which to attach your leader.
Some of the fly lines I have reviewed have a front and back taper, meaning that this weighted section is tapered back to your running line, or the general width line that makes up most of the length.
How to Set up Fly Line
Setting up your reel with fly line and backing was another challenge for me when I began my fly fishing journey. Fishing native streams for brook trout as a kid with my father, I never stripped more than twenty feet of line off my reel, and I never gave a thought to backing at all.
Youtube University was my only guide when I started fishing bigger streams and rivers, and I cannot recommend it highly enough for the newbie and the seasoned veteran alike.
Mad River Outfitters covers everything from the knot, to the backing and how to spool your fly line. Do yourself a favor and check this out, it will only make getting your rod and reel ready for action easier.
Conclusion/Reeling it in
There’s a whole lot of information about fly lines here, but don’t let that intimidate you (like it did me) if you’re new to the hobby. I hope I’ve answered some of the more pertinent questions concerning fly line, and I hope the reviews have shed some light on picking a purposeful and functional fly line that’s right for you.
The difference in your casting and presentation that comes with a quality fly line is noticeable right out of the box. If you’re as dedicated to pursuing trout as I am, it only makes sense to have a fly line you can rely on to do what you want it to do. Tight lines.