How important could a fishing line be? Well, for trout fishing, it’s about as important as it gets.
You could have the best rod in the world, but without the fly line to match, it just isn’t going to happen.
Choosing the best fly lines for trout fishing is pretty straightforward, provided you know what you are looking for. If you don’t, fear not.
I’ve got all of the information you need right here, including some quality suggestions and a buyer’s guide.
Let’s dive right in…
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Table of Contents
- A Quick Guide to Fly Lines for Trout Fishing
- Top 7 Best Fly Lines for Trout Fishing 2021
- Complete Guide to Fly Fishing Lines
A Quick Guide to Fly Lines for Trout Fishing
OK, want to know how to find the best fly fishing lines for trout?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
I use the term size, but you might also hear it referred to as weight. All fly lines come with a number. This can range from #1 all the way up to #12. But what does it mean?
Simply this is the thickness of the line. #1 is the thinnest. #12 is thick and heavy.
I’m going to make it simple.
Match the number of the line with the number of your rod. If you are a beginner and don’t know which weight rod to use, I’ve created a quick start guide here. Have a read. It’s got loads of good info!
Note, this is different than ‘weight’. Fly lines have different ‘shapes.’
Seriously. There are two main types
- Weight forward
The easiest to cast line is weight forward. This is where the line starts off really thick at the tip and gets thinner.
Tapered can be useful for fishing really light and small flies for delicate presentation. Still, it is hard to cast long distances.
Most fly lines are brightly colored. You don’t need to worry about the fish seeing the line as you’ll be using a leader. If you don’t know what ‘leader’ is, read this… I’ll be here waiting when you get back.
Color is all down to personal preference. I like a nice bright line so I can always see where I’m fishing. You’ll often find lines with different colors marked along with their distance. This is a great help for casting accuracy.
Floating or Sinking?
There are two general types of fly lines. Floating and sinking. For me, a floating line is the most versatile as you can fish on the top (dry fly fishing) or sub-surface (wet fly fishing).
If you pick a sinking line, you are going to limit yourself to sub-surface fishing only.
This one is actually really important. The finish on your fly line can make all the difference when you start out and learn to cast.
My preference is lines that offer a ‘slick’ finish. They are coated to make sure that you get every last foot of distance in your cast. They also prevent the line from sticking if you hook a monster.
Alright, now that we’ve covered the basics, let us take a look at some ideas. If you want to know more about fly lines for trout fishing, I’ve got a detailed guide below.
Top 7 Best Fly Lines for Trout Fishing 2021
Complete Guide to Fly Fishing Lines
If you are shopping for a new fly line, you’ve probably realized that there is a hell of a lot of choices out there, and it can get quite technical.
Here’s what you need to consider when choosing a fly line:
The Right Fly Line for the Right Rod
What do I mean by this?
OK, have you got a fly rod? If so, get it out and take a look at the butt section. You’ll see a tiny number of a range of numbers printed. It looks like this (#4)…
This tells you which number (or weight) of fly line you need to make your rod perform at its optimum. Some rods have a huge range. Most decent rods are fine-tuned to cast one or two weights only. You’ve got to make sure that you match these numbers.
Go too light, and the line won’t cast at all. Go too heavy, and you are in danger of over-stressing your rod leading to breakage.
Weight Forward or Tapered?
Wight forward line is where the end closest to your fly starts off fat (relatively speaking). The further the line is from the fly, the thinner it is.
All fly line has a core, so you don’t need to worry about the breaking strain with the thinner section of the line, its consistent along its entire length.
What does a weight forward fly line do?
Placing more weight at the front of the fly line makes it easier to generate the required inertia to make it travel. In the most basic terms, what this equates to is an easier-to-cast line. This is what I recommend buying for most beginners.
If you are a beginner and want this explained in greater detail, check this guy out. He knows what he is talking about.
If you fish in windy areas, then a weight forward line is also super useful for ‘punching’ your line into the wind!
A tapered line starts with a belly in the middle before narrowing towards the ends. This line isn’t so great for casting huge distances but is much more controllable when fishing on tiny streams with light flies that require pinpoint accuracy, particularly in summer.
Want to see a selection of great summer trout flies? Follow that link!
Color isn’t just about aesthetics. As you’ll have seen from some of my suggestions above, many lines come in bands of color, designed to indicate distance. This is useful for several reasons.
First, it lets you know how much line you can cast out. If you can comfortably get out 30 yards of line before you struggle, these bands let you know the limit of your distance.
Secondly, the color gradient often indicates the optimum distance for you to pick up your line off the water for a perfect cast.
Pretty neat, huh?
I once fished with a cheap line.
I thought I’d got a good deal.
Boy, was I wrong?
It stuck to the rings, my distance suffered, and it felt rubbery. I was almost glad when a 20lb trout made a run. The line stuck! And then snapped.
I made a promise never to cheap out on my fly line in the future.
Cheap lines have a trashy finish. The higher up you go, the better chance you have of getting a nice and slick line. ‘Slick’ doesn’t mean slippery. You’ll find most ‘slick’ lines actually have a sort of soft and dry ‘powdery’ finish.
Trust me, they are really, really nice to use.
I knew I’d forgotten something…
Joking aside memory in your line is a biggie. You 100% need to avoid lines with high memory.
If you don’t know what memory is, think of a curly pig’s tail or an old-school phone cable… They both have lots of memory.
Or to put it another way…
Memory is the tendency of the line to revert to the shape it was stored in. Normally it’s kept on the reel, but the last thing you need is for it to be ‘reel shaped’ in coils when it is on the water. It means you aren’t in contact with your hook.
You know what this means?
Cheap lines tend to have high memory. The more premium lines are specifically engineered to avoid it.
Here are some great tips from Rio for getting memory out of a line
Got a few questions? Here are some things I hear guys ask often:
What color fly line is best for trout?
It actually makes little difference. Your fly is never attached directly to the fly line but is tied using a clear leader. This tends to ensure the fly line is far enough away from the fly to avoid spooking the fish.
I’ve had orange lines, purple lines, and even a pink line… I still caught the same amount of fish!
What is the best fly line weight for trout?
This all depends on where you intend to fish. Lighter lines work best for small waters, such as streams and ponds. Bigger lines can be cast further and are more suited to larger venues. The best bet is to get set up with a great combo.
If you are looking for a guide on what rod and reel work best in different situations check out my guide just here.
Are expensive fly lines worth it?
Yes, they are.
You’ll see a massive difference in performance. It is up to you how ‘expensive’ you want to go. Moderately priced lines are pretty decent, and you’ll get diminishing returns the higher you go. My favorite is the Rio Avid series lines. They offer a perfect balance of quality and cost.
Better lines mean better casts and presentation. Better casts and presentation means more fish.
Some would argue that your choice of fly line is the most important element of any fly fishing setup. I’m half inclined to agree.
It is certainly as important as your rod and reel choice. By choosing the best line for trout fishing, you are setting yourself up for success and enjoyment.
Spend a few extra bucks. It is definitely worth it.
What line do you use, and how do you find it? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see about adding it to my list.