Fly Fishing Lines – What’s Important?

Fly lines are an extremely key piece in your fly fishing set-up. Choosing a good fly line should be just as important as choosing your rod, if want to be able to learn to fly fish quickly. After all it is your fly line that actually does most of the fishing (your rod only gets your line onto the water!). The good news is there are only a few things you need to get right when selecting a fly line. The key features of a fly line that you need to consider are highlighted in this article.

Fly Line Weight

Fly line weight technically refers to how heavy the first 30 foot of the fly line is, in grams. Luckily a few of the manufacturers got together, a number of years back, and decided on a simple weighting system (similar to rods) that ranges from 1-15. A rule of thumb is that you should match your fly line to your rod weight, so if you are using a 5 weight rod, a 5 weight line should suit that rod nicely. Of course you can always ‘over-line’ your rod by putting a 1 weight heavier line on it (put a 6 weight line no a 5 weight rod). This will assist with loading the rod and will help you to generate line speed quicker, a key factor in learning how to fly fish.

Fly Line Taper

Fly line taper is a slightly more confusing feature for beginners to understand. The easiest way to think of taper is to think of it as the profile of the fly line, how it looks when viewing it end to end. There are a number of different tapers, the four key ones are level taper, double taper, weight forward taper and shooting taper. Each of these tapers is designed to assist with casting the line and achieving the desired casting result in some way, for example: generate faster line speed, allow for a more delicate presentation. The most popular taper is the weight forward taper. These line have a little more weight and width in the first section of the fly line, for most anglers these lines will be the easiest to cast well.

Fly Line Density

Essentially, fly lines either float on top of the water, or sink in the water – this is a nice way to look at density. To look at this in more detail, fly lines are generally broken down into the following densities: floating, sink tip, intermediate, sinking, fast sinking. This is where you really need to consider the type of fishing you’ll be doing and what type of fly line is suitable for that type of fishing. The floating fly line, for example, is used for dry fly and nymph fishing, where it is paramount that the fly line floats on the water. A sinking line, on the other hand, is designed to sink in the water you are fishing – taking with it your flies which are attached to the end of the fly line.

Fly Line Colour

Fly line colour is probably the least important of the features to get right. Fly lines tend to come in all sorts of colours and often it comes down to personal preference. Some people think that buying a ‘camouflage’ fly line is important (especially in clear conditions with spooky fish) while others believe that the fish will see the line no matter what colour it is. As a rule of thumb, generally buy dark coloured sinking line and floating lines of earthy colours – provided you can still see them on the water.

The above ‘criteria’ are the things you need to be aware of when selecting a fly line. The types of fish, water and areas you are fishing will determine the combination of fly line features that you need. Check out the resource below for more details on how you might select the right fly line for different situations.

Fly Editor is an experienced fly fisherman and the editor of an informational fly fishing website: is a resource for anyone interested in learning to fly fish or someone looking for information on fly fishing. Check my site for other articles and much more.

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