I remember when I was choosing my first fly fishing equipment, and the advice I was given by the knowledgeable staff at Minturn Anglers in Denver. Particularly I remember the recommendations about how to choose the right fly fishing line. Rod manufacturers design their rods to be used by the average person under average conditions, and typically stamp a code on it indicating a suggested weight of line to be used with the rod. However, it was pointed out to me, this is not a rigid requirement. There are many situations where a lighter or heavier line is more appropriate.
Fly lines are judged by their weight. Lines that are rated with higher numbers are heavier, and typically are better for casting heavier flies. Lines rated 0 to 4 weight are very light and are suitable for small flies. Lines of 5-6 weight are usually used for trout and panfish, with heavier lines, 7-9 weight, used for bonehead, bass, steelhead and other mid-size fish. Lines 10-weight and heavier are used with big flies and for big fish.
We shouldn’t be limited by the average guideline provided by the rod manufacturer. Here’s what my Denver Minturn Anglers expert says:
- Choose a line that is appropriate to the kind of fly I will be casting; casting heavier flies or ones that are resistant to the wind will benefit from a heavier line
- Match the line weight to the size of the fish being pursued; heavier fish will require a heavier weight line, perhaps higher than the manufacturer recommendation; on the other hand, long distance casting can benefit by dropping the line weight a size or more
- Adjust line weight to match wind and temperature; a heavier weight line makes it easier to cast into the wind; some lines tangle in hot weather, or become rigid in colder temperatures so choose a line that works best in existing temperature ranges
- Choose a line weight that matches my skill level
There are over 2,000 different fly lines available on the market, and I doubt I have the skill to benefit from many of these highly specialized designs. Truthfully, I still rely on expert advice from Minturn Anglers staff to make the right fly fishing line choices.