Fly fishing is all about pitting yourself against nature and using your natural skills as a hunter-gatherer. This is what makes it so incredibly rewarding and it’s what puts fly fishing above other forms of fishing.
When you fly fish, you aren’t using spinners that will attract all manner of fish – you’re going to the effort to create a trap and then lying in wait, knee deep in water and completely submersed in nature. It’s an incredible feeling and especially when you notice your skills starting to improve and the fish you’re catching start to get larger and more exotic!
But of course this is only going to be so highly rewarding if you actually do improve. And if you find yourself spending a long time in the water without catching anything, then it can very quickly become highly frustrating!
But perhaps it’s not your fault? Maybe it comes down to the gear that you’re using? They say that a bad workman blames his tools – but in reality the tools are just as important as your skills when it comes to fly fishing success.
And it all starts with the absolute basics: like the fly fishing line.
If you’re new to fly fishing, then you may not know how to go about picking the right fly fishing line for you and you may not fully understand the differences.
And unfortunately, fly fishing lines are not quite as simple as they may at first appear. Sure, this is just the line that you use to attach your rod to the fish – but actually there’s a lot more to consider here, a lot more elements and a lot more different factors.
For starters, your fly fishing line can come in different weights. How do you choose your fly fishing line weight? Simple: it has to match your fly rod weight.
How do you choose your fly rod weight? Simple: it has to match your fly line weight.
To learn more about fly rod weights, check out our in depth look at fly rods. Otherwise, suffice to say that both the rod and the line need to ‘mate up’ in that they should be the same weight as one another. And the way you’ll decide what weight you want, will be by looking at the type of fish you want to catch and the conditions that you’re fishing in.
The fly line weight will dictate just how much weight it can handle at the end. The more weight it can handle, the bigger the fly you can add and the bigger the fish you can attract. This is good news, seeing as you’ll need a tough, heavy fly line in order to catch the biggest and heaviest fish without the line breaking or the rod snapping!
Fly fishing lines come in weights ranging from 0 to 9 and upward. Generally, getting a line that is weighted between 5-6 and a rod and reel to match, will ensure that you’re able to catch the biggest variety of fish and that you’re able to fish in the biggest variety of waters. If you’re starting out, the these are the best fly fishing line weights.
Your fly fishing line setup also needs to consider the material of the line though and this again going to impact heavily on the type of fly fishing you can do.
That’s because the different materials will behave differently on the water. Some will sink, which will allow you to use nymphs (a type of fly fishing lure) and to attract fish that live at the bottom of the water. Others will rest on top, which will make them easier to keep track of and better suited to using dry flies – but these will also snag more easily.
Horses for courses, fly fishing lines for… different types of water.
The best fly fishing line for starting out is probably the weight forward line. This is advantageous because it makes casting out that much easier. Here, the bulk of the line weight is built into the front of the line, which makes it easier to build momentum and means it will project itself very quickly across the water.
Another good choice for a beginner fly fishing line setup, is the double taper. This works similarly and is also good to propel forward without too much effort.
Once you know the type of fishing you intend to start doing, you can then choose the weight and material of your fly line and then you can check out our reviews in order to get a good product to get started with.
There are a few more aspects of your fly fishing line setup to consider too though. One for example is the backing you choose.
This acts almost like a ‘back-up line’ and will offer you about 80-90 foot of extra length when you’re battling large fish. It also wraps easily around the hard spool without spinning, which makes the experience of playing with fish that little bit easier when you’re starting out.
The good news is that backing is one of the rare instances of a very simple choice for your fly fishing!
Another consideration is the leader and the tippet. These attach to the end of your line and have the job of protecting the fly while also helping it maintain the right orientation.
You can find some information on the best fly fishing tippets and leaders here. And with that, you’re ready to start choosing your line and get started with your fly fishing line setup. Good luck and happy fishing!