Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Few Notes On Fly Lines

I'm not against golf, since I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout" Paul O'Neil

I had to throw the above quote in here because it reminds me of someone I met 10 years or so ago who told me that he had just recently got into fly fishing because he felt that he needed a "hobby". It was going to be either golf or fly fishing. He chose fly fishing and quickly became the Anti-Christ of any recreation - THE EQUIPMENT/TECHNIQUE JUNKIE! Golf would of been perfect for him because it's all equipment/technique with no spotted, beautiful creature living in a place of beauty to have to deal with.

Lefty Kreh said the following: Use a fly line one size lighter than the rod manufacturer recommends. Jim Green, who has designed fly rods for years and is a superb angler, mentioned to me more than three decades ago that he almost always used a line ONE SIZE LIGHTER when fishing dry flies where the trout are spooky or the water is calm...If you are using a six weight rod you can drop down to a five weight line with no problem. In fact, in very delicate fishing conditions I often drop down two line sizes.

This may sound like heresy to some but it makes perfect sense. A lighter line hits the water lightly but a lighter line cast from a heavier rod hits the water even more lightly because it is traveling more slowly through the air when launched from a heavier rod (less rod loading). Some may ask "but how can I cast a two weight line from a four weight rod"? It's easy because there is little difference in weight between line weights.

Fly lines are measured in grains over the first 30 feet of line. For a reference point there are 437.5 grains in an ounce. A four weight line weighs 120 grains, a two weight line weighs 80 grains. The 40 grain difference, a whopping 9% of an ounce, is spread out over 30 feet!!!! Can you cast a two weight line on a four weight rod? Of course you can. Remember, when you are rigged with a four weight rod and four weight line and you're casting 20 feet you are casting a weight of line that is equal to about a two weight. If you're casting the same set up over 40 feet you're up into the six weight category. I bet you didn't know that you are breaking all the rules!!

I've been using one and two weight lines with three and four weight rods over spooky trout for years coupled with long leaders. My light fly lines are (beware: rare product endorsement) Wulff Triangle lines because that long fine taper lands sooo softly.

What does all of this mean? First, you don't need to own a fly rod in every weight size with a matching line. Second, a heavier rod/lighter line can improve your PRESENTATION and that's the name of the game. Third, hopefully this will simplify things and save you $$$.

For those who ask: the Millers is high and will begin to ice over soon. Not a safe place to be.



lenny tamule said...

Before I had my 3 wt I got the 3 wt triangle taper line and used it on my 6 wt while I waited for the other rod to come in. I caught my first on a dry that way at the swift


Anonymous said...


Is there a difference if the line is a double taper or a weight forward?

Good blog as usual!


Millers River Flyfisher said...


No difference except a DT will always hit the water with less force if done right.


BobT said...

I have long been a fan of the Wulff TT line-they roll cast extremely well too.

Bob O said...

Thanks Ken for putting two and two together. Line vs rod weight is something I've not much considered. It all makes good sense - as do thin nymphs.

Falsecast said...

Interesting post Ken! I have been using 5wt line on my 6/7 rod, but purely out of laziness. I basically only use this rod in a few locations for long casting. I am probably losing some distance, no? I must admit I never know how to answer the question of what gear I am using. Am I using a 5wt because of the line? or am I fishing a 6/7 because of the rod? Not that it matters.

With the Pats off this weekend I am going to get my 2016 lic and give the Swift a shot.

Happy New Year

Millers River Flyfisher said...


I cast my 4wt rod with a 2wt line on the Swift and get 30 feet when I need it. It's a small stream so I don't need it often. My 4wt FEELS good in my hand so I use it with little or no surface disturbance with the 2wt. Bigger, deeper rivers = 3 or 4wt.

Bob O,

Thin nymphs RULE!!

Bob T,
Wulff TT lines rule for trout fishing!!