By Louis Cahill
Does having the right fly line mean catching more fish? Absolutely.
Having the right fly line for the species you’re targeting and the conditions you’re fishing is key for a successful day of fishing. You can buy a line from almost any manufacturer bearing the name ‘Bonefish’ but that doesn’t mean it will be the best line for the day you are on the water. It may do a great job of loading your fast action saltwater fly rod, but not catch you a lot of fish.
When shopping for a fly line, we focus almost completely on how the line casts. Of course it’s important to have a good cast but often it’s too late when we stop to think about how the line we chose fishes, and there are some big differences. This, of course, applies to all types of fishing but is especially pertinent to bonefishing, so I’m using that as an example.
It’s very common these days to see anglers over-line their fly rods.
Putting a 9-weight line on an 8-weight rod absolutely makes it easier to load, but that ease of casting may come at a price. I fished recently with an angler who had paired his Sage One 8-weight with a 9-weight RIO Outbound Short. He liked it because it felt like his Winston trout rod. The only problem was, he couldn’t catch a fish.
There are three things wrong with this setup. First, the head diameter on that line is huge! It casts a huge shadow and makes a thunderous racket every time it lands on the water. It spooked every fish on the flat. Secondly, the short head meant that he had to strip the line in completely every time he recast. There’s no time for that in bonefishing. You need a line you can pick up and recast quickly. Lastly, by slowing the action of his rod down to that of a trout rod, my friend had lost all of the benefits of having a fast action rod.
I’ve seen this problem go the other way, too. I tarpon fished with a buddy a while back who had chosen a RIO Technical Tarpon line. A great line, with a long, fine taper belly, for calm days when fish are spooky. Not so great for fishing the ocean side in five foot swells and howling wind. He was frustrated and ended up fishing my rod.
Like everything in fly fishing, chasing the right line and rod setup boils down to experience. It’s smart to try out several setups before you buy and it’s crucial that you understand the fish you are pursuing and the conditions you’ll be fishing in. Base your choice on knowledge, not marketing.
Start by choosing a rod you can cast. If you find yourself going way out of the norm on line choose to make your rod cartable, it’s not the rod for you. I carry two rods. One technical setup for calm days and one that’s a wind tamer. If you are only carrying one rod, a general purpose, saltwater line is probably a better choice than a specialty line, unless you are dead certain what the conditions will be. In my opinion, you are best off avoiding shooting head style lines. These lines promise distance, but deliver less casting control. Casting distance comes from practice, not purchase.
I hope this helps you be a more effective angler. If you have a rod and line setup you love, or hate, please share it with us in the comments section.Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com firstname.lastname@example.org Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!