Understanding Fly Line Tapers and Diagrams

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Buying a fly line doesn’t have to be a leap of faith.

For many anglers, fly lines and their characteristics are a huge mystery. They know that different fly lines cast differently and that some suit their needs or casting styles better than others but they have no idea why. What’s worse, when it’s time to buy a new line they aren’t able to make an informed choice. They just go to the fly shop and ask for the best line. Thank God for knowledgable fly shop guys, but do you really want to rely on someone else’s guess at what you will like?

If this sounds like you, I have good news. There is an easy way to get a sense of how a fly line will cast before you ever take it out of the package, and with a little experience you can quickly choose the line that’s right for the way you fish.

Fly lines have become really complicated in the last five years or so. Specialty lines have multiplied like rabbits and line companies have created lines to match every species, water condition and casting style. If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Fortunately, almost every manufacturer publishes line diagrams which show you, in detail, the taper of each line. If you know how to read the diagram, you’ll know how the line will cast.

BASICS

There are three basic types of line tapers. Weight forward, double taper and triangle taper. Looking at the diagram, it’s pretty clear how they get their names. The double taper line is a very traditional style of line which has a long level belly and a symmetrical taper on each end. Weight forward lines shift the weight to the front of the line and were developed to match modern fast action carbon fiber rods. Triangle tapers are a kind of hybrid of the two.

Think of the diagram as a picture of the fly line in profile with the thickness of the line exaggerated. The thickness of the line indicates two things. Where the weight is and the relative stiffness of the line. Where the line is thicker, it will be heavier. Different line materials have different stiffness, but within a given fly line, the line will be stiffer where it is thicker. Knowing where the weight is in the line will tell you how it loads the rod and the stiffness, as well as the weight, will tell you how it presents the fly.

ANATOMY OF A FLY LINE

To understand the information the diagram gives you, first you have to understand the different parts of the fly line and how they affect the line’s performance. Most modern fly lines have five parts. From front to back they are the tip, front taper, belly, rear taper and running line. Each one performs a specific function and its weight and length determine how the line casts.

THE TIP

The tip is the final word in fly presentation. The longer and lighter the tip, the more delicate the presentation. A long light tip will work to your advantage when

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The Fish In-Between 

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By Louis Cahill

Are you walking past the fish of the day?

From where I’m standing, in water that barely covers my boots, I can see the next pool. A beautiful bend, dark green and lazy, with a big submerged log on the outside edge. A little riffle at the head, pouring into a deep pool. It’s the perfect picture of the old fishing hole. I know there is a big brown in that dark green water. I literally know. In fact, everyone who fishes here knows. He’s not a secret and yet, to my knowledge, he’s never been caught. Hooked, for sure, but never landed. Still, you have to try with a fish like that.

There’s another beautiful run below with a handful of nice fish in it. I fished it without reward. Those fish, as well as the big brown, see plenty of flies. For all I know I’m the third angler through here today, but where I’m standing, a shallow, straight run with no obvious fish holding features, I’m pretty sure is virgin water. I’ve watched plenty of guys fish through here, and with the exception of the one standing to my left, they all fish the lower hole, then walk straight up the bank to the big bend, ignoring this littler piece of water.

Directly across from me is a clump of stream-side rhododendron, it’s leaves nearly brushing the water. It’s as un assuming a spot as you might find on a trout stream but I know from experience not to disregard stream-side cover, no matter how humble. There’s a spot under those leaves, about the size of a shoe box, you can’t see into. If I were a trot, in such a well trafficked piece of water, I’d like to be where no one could see me. I make a roll cast just upstream and let my fly slide under the branches.

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Be Prepared For Colorado’s Black Canyon

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Colorado’s Black Canyon doesn’t play.

My buddy John is getting even more fidgety than usual. He’s whipped himself into a froth as I go over the pack-list. Sleeping bag, pad, headlamp, tecnu…” “Water?”, he asked. “No, I told you, filter bottle.” “Cliff Bars, peanut butter, whisky…” “So this trail”, he starts again, “eight hundred and some vertical feet and the road, the guy said four wheel drive, I don’t think the Subaru has a skid plate. “What’s your deal?”, I ask. “No, well, ok, it just sounds like a lot, we are fifty you know, my back’s not good.” He knows it’s pointless, there’s no talking me out of it. “You’re right”, I answer, “let’s wait until we’re sixty, it’ll be much easier then.”

All this noise isn’t for nothing. Colorado’s Black Canyon doesn’t play. You’re not exactly taking your life in your hands fishing down there but bad things can happen. You need a plan because the canyon is not forgiving of mistakes. On the other hand, there are few places in the lower forty-eight that offer the scenery, the quality fishing and the natural experience of the Black Canyon and the Gunnison river. It’s not for everybody and it does get more traffic than you would expect. I’m not trying to add to the pressure but if you are going to go, you should be prepared. Here’s what I learned on my trip.

WHAT TO EXPECT

For the record, fifty is not too old. You need to be in good shape for hiking but if your health is good and you don’t have breathing or heart issues don’t let age stop you. I live at sea level and I did fine with a pack, tent, food and fishing gear.

Most folks do it as a day trip but it’s a great trip to camp. You expend a lot of time and energy getting into and out of the canyon. It’s nice to stay at least one night. The extra weight of the camping gear makes it a tough call but I’m glad we did it. Just go light. Seriously light! Eat cold food before you carry a stove and fuel. If you have an ultralite tent that’s great, otherwise you might sleep under the stars. Camp sites are first come first serve. Get an early start.

The elements are brutal. It’s dry and sun baked and you will be too if you’re not careful. You have to be serious about hydration. My buddy Andrew Grillos who has guided the canyon for years told me has drunk two and a half gallons of water in a day and still been dehydrated. A filter pump and a gallon jug is a good idea. Filter bottles work great but you will need plenty of water for the hike in and out when you’re away from the river. An extra filter bottle is a good idea anyway. I fell and broke the filter in mine. We got by ok sharing on the river but the hike out with one bottle was rough. Sun screen and a buff are a must. It’s hot as hell and the black rock heats up like a wood stove. Leave the

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4 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Chasing Musky on the Fly

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Today’s guest post was provided by Charlie Murphy, a long time member of Gink & Gasoline and musky devotee.

For those of you who don’t know Charlie, he’s as laid back as they come, he eats, sleeps and breaths fishing 365 days a year, and he’s always got your back when you need him. Another thing we love about Charlie is he’s constantly finding ways to add humor into every situation. All these qualities make Charlie a great travel and fishing partner and if you ever have the chance to fish with him, we highly recommend it. That’s enough introduction, read below Charlie’s humorous but true correlation between the old school movie The Karate Kid, the character Mr. Miyagi, and fly fishing for musky.

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Don’t Be Like This Guy

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I hope this is so obvious it needs no explanation.

There we are staked up waiting for migrating tarpon when this guy rolls up, jig at the ready. I’m sure he thought we were on fish. His kids huddled down in the floor of the boat and he wouldn’t even look at us. His wife at least had the decency to say, “I’m sorry.”

On the bow my buddy Scott offers an enthusiastic thumbs up. One of the reasons I love fishing with that guy. Nothing ruffles his feathers. I’d have likely put a hook in his ear. Scott was paid back karmicly by jumping a 150 pound tarpon that afternoon. It broke him off but it was still awesome. Wish I had a photo. I was on the phone with my mother. If you’re a mother, you call at the wrong time. It’s what you do.

Anyway, a picture is

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Restore an Old Bamboo Fly Rod #3: Video Series

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Matt Draft is back for part three of our video series on how to restore an old bamboo fly rod.

Today Matt goes over removing old components like guides, wraps and reel seats. He takes on a worst case reel seat removal before stripping the old varnish and prepping the rod for new parts and finish.

RESTORE AN OLD BAMBOO FLY ROD $3

Check out https://www.proofflyfishing.com

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Glass and Grass

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THIS IS A SIGHT FLATS GUIDES LOVE. THOSE GLASSY CALM MORNINGS DURING THE HOT SUMMER MONTHS WHEN ISLANDS OF FLOATING GRASS STACK UP ALONG THE EDGES OF CURRENT SEAMS. WHEN YOU SEE IT YOU KNOW SOMETHING GOOD IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. IT’S CALLED A SHRIMP HATCH.

Hatch is a misleading term. The shrimp aren’t actually hatching, they’re dying. Suffocating to be exact. Like a trout stream, the water in the ocean must be replenished with fresh oxygen for aquatic life to survive. The ocean however, does not have riffles turning out oxygen around the clock. Aquatic plants provide some oxygen through photosynthesis but not at night, so the ocean relies heavily on wind to oxygenate the water when the sun is down. This becomes even more crucial as water temperature rises. Since warmer water holds less oxygen it must be replenished more often.

On those still hot nights the shrimp are suffocating and leave the safety of the turtle grass to look for oxygen on the surface. There, they are an easy

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Rosa Parks Fished Streamers

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Stand up with me here streamer guys, you know what I’m talking about!

First of all I am in no way making light of Ms. Parks courageous acts or life of service. She is on my list of personal heroes and that list is pretty damn short. If you don’t know who she is, you should! That said, like Rosa, I’m getting pretty fucking tired of the back of the bus.

Stand up with me here streamer guys, you know what I’m talking about. Every time I get in a drift boat with a streamer rod I get stuck in the back of the boat. (I’m not picking on you here BW, everybody does it.) There’s always one of your buddies who pipes up with, “I sure would like the chance to catch one on a dry before you scare the hell out of ’em with that thing.”

I have a couple of problems with this horse shit. The first being, streamers do not spook fish. If they do, explain to me why fish eat them. Not just big fish, I routinely catch fish barely bigger than my streamer.

The primary reason that streamers do not spook fish is that fish are not afraid of things that are under water. Ask anyone who has snorkeled. If fish don’t spook at the sight of a person under water a fly isn’t going to phase them. I know one guide on the Snake River who, in the fall, prefers to have a streamer fisherman in the bow and a guy throwing hoppers in the back. His theory is that the streamer gets the fish worked up and ready to eat. It works, too.

I’ll say it again, streamers do not spook fish!

Secondly, it’s just a matter of etiquette. I put my time in on the oars like everybody else. When you get off the sticks, you go to the bow. That’s how it works, that’s your reward.

What the dry fly guy in the bow doesn’t get is that I’m making about ten times as many casts as he is. I’m working with a huge amount of line at my feet, getting hung up in the plugs or around the seat, getting grit all over it from the floor that cuts my fingers when I strip. That deck in the front of the boat was made for streamer fisherman. It’s for holding line, not your beer. Don’t even get me started on trying to get the oarsman to position the boat for a streamer guy. That’s never going to happen.

All that aside, here’s what really chaps my ass. Here’s what’s really going on. It’s not about me spooking fish or etiquette. Just like Rosa, I’m being treated like a second class citizen. I’m fishing from the back of the boat because the dry fly guys think they are better than me. They think that God handed down the #20 Elk Hair Caddis to them and my four inch streamer and I are a perversion and should only be allowed in Massachusetts. They think I’m doing it wrong.

If you’ve been reading my ravings for long, you already know that this kind of snobbery makes me crazy. I don’t know what it is about a fly rod that makes some people feel like they have to tell everyone else how to fish but it happens with amazing regularity. I get it, you’ve put a lot of time in learning how to fish and you feel like you have it figured out but here’s the thing, there’s more than one way to fish and none of them is the “right way.”

I love streamers and I make no apologies for it. The visual aspect of streamer fishing can’t be beat. To me, there is nothing better than watching a big trout rocket out of the shadows to chase down my streamer. I love to watch them come up from behind, then veer off and come back to broadside my fly. I like seeing their

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Getting A Grip On Fly Casting: Video

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Watch the Video!

No one grip is right for every casting situation.

In general, there isn’t enough said about grip in fly casting. I spent the first half of my life with a poor casting grip. I finally ran into a gentleman who helped me find a grip that worked for me but for years after that I never thought any more about it. When I started fishing in saltwater that trusty old grip failed me once again.

I got help again and straightened out my cast but it wasn’t until I met Tim Rajeff, and he explained to me how different grips work with different casting strokes, that I fully understood the mechanics of the casting grip. I now have technique and the knowledge about how and when to use it.

It’s made a huge difference in my casting, especially my accuracy. I also have much less trouble with casters elbow. It turned out I was causing myself a lot of pain by combining the wrong grip and casting stroke. It’s been so great for me, I asked Tim to share this quick tip in a video. It helped me become a better caster and I know it will help you.

Watch the video and get a grip on your fly casting!

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Fly Fishing in Gloves Gets Better with Time

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DO YOU EVER FLY FISH IN GLOVES?

If you answered no, don’t make the mistake of thinking just because you tried fly fishing in gloves a couple times and couldn’t stand them, that you’ll always feel that way. Believe me, I been there, I used to be one of the haters myself. I’d rather have my fingers ice cold all day long than try to fly fish in gloves and feel awkward, clumsy and terrified I’m going to lose the fish of a lifetime. These things kept me from learning to fly fish comfortably in gloves for a very long time. It wasn’t until the last couple years that I’ve finally become comfortable fly fishing in gloves. In fact, it was my first steelhead trip to New York

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