By Garner Reid
A good portion of my fly fishing involves throwing some sort of a sinking fly line.
Realistically, half of my time on the water involves streamers and sinking lines at least for some part of the day. If I am not out on the water guiding for streamer-eating fish like stripers, I’m in the fly shop talking about them.
I have come to the realization that there is some mystery for most anglers when it comes to choosing which sinking fly line will suit their needs. The selection of sinking lines on the market today is as vast as the waters where we chase our quarry. Today fly anglers can effectively target fish at any level in the water column, given the right combination of rod, fly line, and fly pattern.
When chasing large predatory fish like bass, stripers and big brown trout in moving water you have to get down deeper than floating lines allow. With all of the options and versatility, it is easy to get confused. I have put together some thoughts to help you choose the right line configuration to effectively get into fish.
Fly Weight vs Sink Rate of line
After several seasons experimenting with different types of sinking lines and various streamers, I have found a number of variables which I can control to have a productive day on the water. A big factor in my success has been dialing in the correct weight for the fly with the sink rate of the line.
For most fishing conditions, my primary concern is the fly being weighted properly. It must get down into the fish’s area of awareness and achieve the proper motion to entice an eat. The task of a sinking fly line is to get your fly into that strike zone quickly and keep it there.
I look for a sinking fly line to compliment the characteristics of the streamers I fish. They must fish effectively over a wide range of environments. It’s easy to get carried away with the thought that a heavier line is always better. The problems with a line that’s too heavy can snowball quickly. Loss of presentation quality, poor castability, and a rapidly depleting streamer box due to snags are all common symptoms of fishing too heavy.
Of course it’s possible to fish a line that is too light. It’s less of a problem in most scenarios, due to the fact that there are more practical ways to get a fly deep. Such as adding weight to your rig or by changing your presentation. It just makes sense to keep gravity on your side rather than fight it. Lately, I have been experimenting with different leader lengths and different weights of flies and the ways to weight them to achieve more action.
Next time you are at the vise consider tying your streamers in an assortment of different weights. Wrap more lead on the shank, try keel weighting, or simply tie in a heavier or lighter dumbbell eye than you normally would. The possibilities are endless. Streamer fishing is so subjective and that is why I love it. You will be surprised at how versatile your fishing can be with an intermediate tip line when you simply adjust your leader length and the weight of your fly.
Selecting the proper line
The first thing that I look for is the sink rate of the fly line. The sink rate I use is determined by how deep I am trying to get the fly. For most of the rivers I fish, I typically prefer lines in the intermediate to 250 grain range with sink rates between 1 1/2 to 6 inches per second. Lines somewhere within those sink rates allow me to cover most of the water column throughout the river methodically with varying retrieval rates.
I also prefer lines that don’t require a lot of false casting. Sinking lines and false casting typically don’t mix too well. When I’m pounding the bank with streamers I want to present the fly, strip it in, pick up and put the fly back in the zone as quickly as possible. I have become a big fan of RIO’s Outbound series of lines for their ability to load a rod quickly and to turn over the large wind resistant streamers bass and stripers like to eat. Remembering to open your loops when casting sinking lines will help you tremendously
Now, the idea here is to not get too weighed down when it comes to selecting the right sink line. We are fortunate that fly line manufactures offer us so many different sinking lines. Each one certainly has practical applications for varying environments and species, luckily the line designers and manufactures do a pretty good job categorizing which lines may be best suited for your fishing needs. It still might take some experimentation on your part to find the ‘perfect’ line for your needs but I guarantee the right line for you is out there.Garner Reid Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com email@example.com Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!