Firstly, lets look at the illustration below showing the different profiles of fly line available today. Starting from top to bottom you will notice the 'Level' fly line. This fly fishing line has no 'Taper' or 'Belly' and is used for delicate presentation of the trout fly at short range such as small streams & brokks however it's seldom used in fly fishing today. Next is the 'Double Taper' fly line, this is perfect for delicate presentation at short to medium range and can be reversed if one end is damaged. Next we can see the most commonly used fly line, the 'Weight Forward', a fly fishing line that is designed for medium to long-range casting as all the weight is at the forward end of the fly line allowing the long running line behind the head (or belly) to shoot through the rod rings. Next we have the 'Pike Taper' & 'Saltwater Taper' lines. These have a heavy weight forward head so it can easily cast big Pike or Saltwater flies. Next we have the 'Wind Taper', this has weight forward compound taper making casting small flies easier in windy conditions. Next, the 'Shooting Head' fly line is a short length of fly line where the running line behind the head or belly is replaced by braided monofilament, this results in less friction when the line travels through the rod rings. This is the line required if you are casting a very long distance and is fast becoming a very popular line.
Fly Line Densities:
Fly lines are available in different densities to accommodate different circumstances. The density of the line will determine whether the line will float on the surface or sink. Floating fly lines have the lowest density, Intermediate fly lines have neutral density whilst sinking fly lines have the greatest density. Floating lines are the most commonly used as the angler is able to present a dry fly on the surface or even a wet fly below the surface. If you are new to fly fishing we recommend you purchase a floating fly line to start off with, increasing your collection as you become more experienced in fly fishing. With this in mind, make sure you can easily obtain spare spools for your reel when choosing it so that you can easily change the fly line over when required. For reaching fish in deeper water you will require an 'Intermediate' or 'Sinking' line. Intermediate line will sink very slowly whilst a sinking line will sink at speed enabling the angler to present the fly on the bottom quickly, ideal for deep water fly fishing or in extreame heat where the fish will be hard on the bottom in search for cooler water. Sinking fly lines are available in different sink rates, this is usually measured in IPS (Inches Per Second).
What is AFTMA and what does it stand for? AFTMA stands for the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association. It helps us to easily identify a fly lines weight in grains. Only the first 30ft is weighed and is shown by a number code chart below.
AFTMA Number Weight in Grains
The code will also identify the fly lines profile, weight & density, for example, a weight forward weight 7 floating line would read like this: Profile = WF (Weight Forward), then the weight of the line = 7 and density = F (Floating), this gives us the AFTMA code of WF7F. The chart below shows some of the more common abbreviations of the different line profiles & densities:
Line Profile abbreviations Line Density abbreviations
WF = Weight Forward F = Floating
DT = Double Taper I = Intermediate
SH = Shooting Head N = Neutral
S = Sinking
F = Fast Sinking
Your fly fishing rod will display the number too so you can easily choose the correct line for your rod, this can usually be found just above the handle and will show 1 or 2 numbers, for example: 7 or 6-7, this means your fly rod is built to take either an AFTMA 7 weight line or both 6 & 7 weight lines, or it may read 6-8, meaning your rod is built to take a range of line weights of 6, 7 & 8.
Fly Line Care:
Fly lines always benefit from a few moments of care that will not only improve the life of the line but increase performance too. Here's a few pointers to keep your line in optimum condition:
- Always clean the fly line with a conditioner after every fishing trip
- Always stretch your fly line before you use it
- Always examine your fly rod rings for cracks
- Always match your rods AFTMA to the correct line AFTMA
- Always store your fly lines in loose coils
- Always store your fly lines away from strong heat & light