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The basics of fly fishing equipment

October 19, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Not long after the first fiberglass fly rods were introduced by Shakespeare in the late '40s, the Scientific Anglers Company developed and introduced the first modern fly lines (1952) that we use today by "applying a tapered PVC coating over a level core." The following year the Cortland Company followed suit and brought out their floating PVC coated fly line.

Today's hi-tech, hi-dollar fly lines cast like a dream and just keep getting better and better. Line manufacturers like to claim their lines are the "slickest," meaning it travels through the line guides with less friction during casting greatly increasing casting distance.

Scientific Anglers just introduced their newest fly line simply called AMPLITUDE SMOOTH, touted as being "70% slicker than - any - traditional fly line ever" That's quite a claim when it comes to fly lines and I'll admit I was hooked and ordered one for my 9 weight rod.

When purchasing your first fly line remember the basics. Fly rods come in different weights, lengths and actions; they use fly lines of different weights to match the rod or to "balance" the rod. If it doesn't balance the rod, good casting performance is impossible.

Early fly lines were given a letter designation for weight or size. Now manufactures use a number to ID weight and letters to denote the "taper" of the line. A tiny 3 weight rod uses a 3 wt. fly line for delicate trout in a freshwater stream. By contrast, a 12 weight tarpon fly rod will use a 12 wt. line.

Fly lines come in three basic shapes or "tapers:" level (L), double taper (DT), and weight forward (WF)

A level line is as stated: level from end to end and of a single diameter with no tapering. A double taper line has a heavy mid-section with lighter ends. A weight forward line is tapered from a long thin (running) section to a thick heavy belly section then back to a short less diameter tapered end.

Weight forward (WF) lines cast better/easier than other types and are a good choice for beginner fly anglers. A WF line is also designed for distance casting and heavier duty fly fishing where large bass bugs or saltwater streamers are used and also better when casting in strong wind.

Besides the differences in weight, taper or diameters of fly lines, other factors come into play. Fly lines can be of the floating variety (F) or sinking (S) type. Some lines fully sink while others have a short sinking tip of say 10 feet or more designed to pull the leader and fly down in the water column.

Let's put this info to use. As an example: you've just purchased a 9 weight fly rod which is a good all-around size choice for saltwater redfish, snook and baby tarpon in shallow water.

Since you're fishing shallow, saltwater rated, floating fly lines will be used. Because you're throwing large saltwater streamers and popping bugs in the ever present wind, a weight forward line would get the nod.

We will now look for a WF- 9 - F line to match our 9 wt. rod.

If you're fishing a tiny stream for brook trout with a 3 wt. fly rod, you'll probably be purchasing a DT 3 F line.

When buying a fly line, spend whatever it takes to get a good quality line. Bargain lines cast poorly and cause frustration. Expect to pay a hundred dollars for a good quality line.

Take care of your investment and it will last for many seasons.

Fly lines need to be cleaned after use with mild soap and water then hung out to dry (uncoiled in large loops). After drying, a fly line should be "dressed" with a conditioning liquid or dressing to help preserve it and keep it waterproof and slick.

Saltwater or fresh, Southwest Florida is a fly angling hotspot.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or



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