The Ultimate Guide to Saltwater Fly Lines & Top 8 Best Saltwater Fly Lines for 2024

The world of saltwater fly fishing is very different from freshwater and everyone needs some guidance getting set up right.

One of the most important things is choosing the best saltwater fly line for your needs and this is the piece of gear that will help you catch more fish.

Join me as I run through the top saltwater fly lines on the market, why they are so great, and how to pick the one that matches where and what you are fishing for.

How to Pick a Saltwater Fly line & Our TOP 3

You will find a full section explaining how to pick a saltwater fly line below the reviews. Here is a summary of the most important factors in case you are in a rush.

  • Density – Pick the right density fly line for the fishing situation. Floating lines are perfect 90% of the time but sometimes your fly needs to sit deeper, so look to sink tips, intermediates, and sinking lines.
  • Taper – Weight forward tapers are the way to go in saltwater as they help you cast longer distances and turn over big/heavy flies.
  • Stretch – Low stretch equals better hook sets, faster line speeds, and more control over hooked fish, it makes a big difference.
  • Memory – Lines with memory equals tangles, go for a low memory line.
  • Coating – Line with a good coating last longer and having a slick coating reduces friction for longer, easier casts.
  • Breaking Strain – Most saltwater fly lines break at 30 lbs, but sometimes you need more than that when going after monsters. If that’s the case, look for a line with a 50+ lb core breaking strain.

If you can find all of these assets in a fly line, it is a great choice.

Here are our top 3 that hit the nails on the head.

The Rio Elite Flats Pro is the best all around line I have ever used. It has low memory, close to no stretch, a slick coating, it’s durable, and the taper turns flies over with ease. Use it in all weights and densities, you won’t regret it.

Cortland’s Precision Tropic Plus Fly Line is the one to turn to when going after big species like GTs and tuna. It comes with all the features mentioned above but it also has a 50 or 80 lb core depending on the weight fly line you choose. You’ll be able to land huge fish with it!

The Rio Elite Tarpon Saltwater Fly Line is ideal if you are looking to catch the fish of a lifetime. Opportunities to cast to trophy fish don’t come around often and this line is made to help you take them.

It ticks all the boxes and it allows you to pick up and make the second shot count, something often needed when searching for bucket list fish.

TOP 8 Best Fly Lines for Saltwater Fishing

RIO DirectCore Flats Pro Saltwater Fly Line

The RIO DirectCore Flats Pro Saltwater Fly Line is an exceptionally versatile line that performs in almost every saltwater situation.

You can use this fly line to fly fish for anything from bonefish and redfish to tarpon, sailfish, and GTs. It comes in weights 6 to 12 and as sinking, sink tip, and floating options. No matter the situation, there is a RIO DirectCore Flats Pro Saltwater Fly Line to match.

What I love about this line is the low memory which reduces tangles and the low stretch core.

Why is low stretch important?

The less a line stretches, the more power you have. You can lift heavy fish from the depths, control the fight, and when you set the hook, it sets harder into boney mouths.

Built with a large weight forward taper, a mid-length head, and extended back taper it is perfect to cast at any distance. You can make quick short shots or long accurate ones.

The head also ensures you can turn big heavy flies over with ease, and into the wind which is key when flats fishing.

But there are some downsides. This is an expensive line and it’s old, being released in 2018. This means it doesn’t feature a slick coating to reduce friction and improve casting distance like newer fly lines.


  • Versatile and great for most saltwater species.
  • Low stretch for a direct connection.
  • Lifts fish, controls the fight, and sets hooks well.
  • Perfect taper for long casts into the wind.
  • Minimal memory for less tangles.
  • Intermediate/sinking/sink tip option.


  • A little expensive.
  • No slick coating like newer lines.


This is a beautiful fly line for most saltwater species. It casts beautifully, short or long, has minimal memory, and the low stretch core gives you control. But, it is a bit overpriced considering it doesn’t come with the technology found in newer saltwater fly lines.

Scientific Anglers Grand Slam Amplitude Fly Line

Scientific Anglers Grand Slam Amplitude Saltwater Fly Line is about as good as a saltwater fly line can get, almost.

It is the toughest line I have used. Its memory is close to zero, it doesn’t tangle, and it doesn’t degrade in salty tropical environments. The core is also heavy and is stronger than most making it ideal for fighting large species like GTs and tarpon.

As well as being durable as hell, it also comes with a ton of features to make saltwater fly fishing easy. What are they?

The tip is covered in a floating texture so it doesn’t sink and spook a permit. The line has a slick coating to reduce friction, maximizing casting distance. The taper is perfect for short quick casts and long ones too, accuracy is a given.

Oh, and it turns over heavy flies into the wind too. No matter the situation you are faced with, this fly line is there to back you up.

To top it off, it has almost no stretch which means setting the hook, lifting fish, and controlling the fight is as easy as it gets.

My one issue with this line is the noise it makes when you cast. It is expensive, but it is worth it!


  • A tough line that lasts in warm tropical environments.
  • Minimal memory.
  • Can be used for all saltwater species.
  • Floats extremely well.
  • AST slick coating for awesome casting distances.
  • Control for very accurate casts.
  • Excellent for quick short casts.
  • Punches into the wind.
  • Turns over heavy flies with ease.
  • Strong lb test core for big fish.
  • Close to zero stretch.
  • Tri-colored according to taper.


  • Makes a noise when you cast.
  • It is expensive.


A saltwater fly line that does it all and makes your life easy. Everything from its castability and durability, to giving you control is pretty incredible. Use it for every species from redfish to GTs!

RIO Elite Tarpon Saltwater Fly Line

The RIO Elite Tarpon Saltwater Fly Fishing Line is designed to make casting, hooking, and landing big saltwater species like tarpon and GTs easier.

When fishing for these species, you might not get many chances. When you do, they can come out of nowhere at any distance, short or long.

This line is built to ensure you can make short or long accurate casts quickly. This enables you to make every shot count, and this makes a huge difference to your success rate.

If that wasn’t enough, it also comes with a long back taper. This allows you to pick up and cast again very efficiently, giving you just enough time to make a second cast if you need to.

The low stretch core allows you to drive the hook into the mouth of a fish easily for a reliable hook set. When combined with the heavy lb core, lifting heavy tarpon and GTs when they go deep becomes lighter work too.

To top it all off, the slick coating and front taper ensure maximum casting distance with heavy flies and into the wind.

The only issue with this line is that it makes small flies land noisily as it has so much power. You might spook a few permit and bonefish if you are not careful.


  • Great for GT and tarpon fishing.
  • Minimal stretch for solid hook sets.
  • Lifts heavy fish from the depths.
  • Helps you make accurate 1st & 2nd shots.
  • Slick coating increased durability and casting distance.
  • Heavy core for big fish.
  • Tapered to punch into the wind.
  • Handles big flies well.
  • Great for quick, short/long accurate casts.


  • A little expensive
  • Small flies land noisily.


When you only get a few opportunities at trophy fish, this is the line you want on your reel. Think 100+ lb tarpon and 100+ cm GTs, chances that only come along a few times in 10 years.

You will be able to make that first cast count, and the second. Once hooked up, you are set to succeed with the low stretch and heavy core.

RIO Elite Flats Pro Saltwater Fly Line

The ​​RIO Elite Flats Pro Saltwater Fly Line is my saltwater fly line of choice. It is on all my reels from my 7 wt to my 12 wt. So, what makes it so good?

This line is just a delight to cast with, it actually makes life easy. The line loads fast action saltwater rods beautifully making accurate 30 ft casts and 90 ft casts a sinch.

The combination of the taper, tricolor system, and the slick cast is what makes this possible. The front taper creates great line speed, turns over flies, punches the wind, and more. The coating takes all the friction away, so you can send a fly a serious distance.

The tricolor system denotes the forward taper, back taper, and the running line. You always know where you are at, and how much line you need to strip in to re-cast and make that valuable second shot count.

The core is 30% less stretchy than other lines on the market which means better hook sets and more control. Lifting fish and stopping them from snagging you is easier with this line.

Adding to its greatness, it also has minimal memory and it handles hot salty conditions extremely well. The only con is the price, but it is worth the money!


  • Loads well and is easy to cast with.
  • Delicate casts with soft landings.
  • Built for all flats species.
  • Low stretch for hook sets & controlling fish.
  • Coated for minimal friction & extra durability.
  • Very low memory for less tangles.
  • Great for long & short casts.
  • Tri-color system shows you the tapers.
  • Front taper provides great line speed.


  • A little bit expensive.


One of the best all-around saltwater fly lines on the market and my favorite. The line casts beautifully in all situations plus it’s durable, doesn’t tangle, it sets hooks well, and controls fish – it makes life easy on the flats.

Scientific Anglers Sonar Clear Sink Tip

The Scientific Anglers Sonar Grand Slam Clear Sink Tip fly line is the perfect choice for when you need to fish your fly a little deeper.

Species like tarpon and roosterfish like to eat flies that stay in their feeding zone, particularly in surf environments. Floating lines don’t quite cut it in those situations, but this sink tip line is ideal.

It is also great when casting to offshore species like dorado. The sink tip is also clear, like mono, ensuring the ultimate stealth when fishing for spooky fish.

The taper is made to help you achieve long casting distances with heavy flies. It also handles the wind well.

Built with a 4 strand braid core, it is tough and has close to zero stretch. This makes setting the hook into the hard mouth of saltwater species a lot easier and it gives you more control to land the fish.

The coating is built for tropical environments and stands up well to the harsh conditions. Add in the minimal memory and you have a great line!

The one thing missing is a slick coating to help increase casting distances through reducing fractions. Something newer lines come with but at extra cost.


  • Sinking tip for getting your fly deeper.
  • Clear tip for stealth.
  • Great for tarpon & roosterfish.
  • Turns over heavy flies.
  • Casts long distances well.
  • Handles not environments well.
  • Taper is made for delicate presentations.
  • Close to zero stretch.
  • More affordable than newer lines.


  • No slick coating for reduced friction.


If you are in need of a sink-tip saltwater fly line, it is hard to go wrong with this one. It casts very well, sinks stealthily, and keeps your fly in the zone. It also performs well in the hook up and fight, plus it lasts in tropical environments.

Cortland Line Flats Taper Saltwater Fly Line

The Cortland Line Flats Taper Saltwater Fly Line is specifically made for the spookiest of fish, like permit. But how?

It is a 100% clear line from end to end and is close to invisible in the water. This means that no fish will see your fly line, making hooking the spookiest permit a possibility.

Not only does it provide stealth, it also aids in delicate presentations. There is nothing a spooky fish hates more than the sound of a fly landing next to them. This line’s taper is made to help you throw heavy flies with a soft landing.

Casting long distances is easy too as it helps generate a lot of line speed and loop stability. Add to this the slick coating and you have a line that pushes 80+ ft plus with ease.

To top it all off, it comes with a low stretch core. This provides incredible feedback for the subtle bites of permit, solid hook sets, and control in the fight.

My only problem with this line is that it doesn’t come in line weights above 9. It would be nice to have the 10/11/12 wt option too.


  • Ideal for spooky fish.
  • The clear option is close to invisible in the water.
  • Super durable.
  • Excellent line speeds and loop stability.
  • Long, accurate, delicate presentations are easy.
  • Coated for extra distances.
  • Turns over heavy flies.
  • Minimal stretch for hook sets and control.


  • Only for smaller flats species.


This is THE saltwater line to fish for spooky bonefish and permit with. Being 100% clear, almost invisible in the water, and allowing you to drop a fly in front of fish delicately at 80 ft means that fish isn’t going to know you are there.

Cortland Precision Tropic Plus Fly Line

The Cortland Precision Tropic Plus GT/Tuna Fly Line is the saltwater fly line you want with you when going after the biggest and baddest creatures in the ocean.

Built with a 50+ lb core and a durable coating, it can handle anything the salt or GTs, tuna, and billfish try to throw at it. Running through coral, heating up on the deck, being pulled are ridiculously high drags are all things it can handle.

The short 3 ft front taper helps turn big flies over, the 31 ft rear taper makes loading your rod simple, and you can send a 70+ ft line with minimal back casts. All things you need to do when the fish of a lifetime cruises past at speed!

The coating is also slick for reduced friction and comes with Grip Set technology. This allows you to set hooks and control your line easily. When combined with the zero stretch braid core, that hook is going nowhere but in!

There isn’t a better saltwater fly line for big saltwater species in my eyes. This is the exclusive line we used for GTs in the Seychelles, and that says a lot!


  • 50+ lb core for handling big fish.
  • Ideal for GTs, tuna, billfish, & tarpon.
  • Split color for easy taper ID.
  • Zero stretch braid core.
  • Incredibly tough.
  • Grip Set tech. for ultimate hook sets.
  • Turns over big flies.
  • Slick coating reduces friction.
  • Loads quickly while pushing long distances.


  • None I know of.


If you are going after serious saltwater species like billfish, tuna, and GTs, this is the line for you. It is built for long quick casts, casts like a dream, has a 50+ lb core, is tough as nails, and has zero stretch. There isn’t much more you can ask for!

RIO Mainstream Striper Sinking Fly Line

The RIO Mainstream Striper Sinking Fly Line is specifically made for fly fishing for striped bass but is an excellent saltwater fly line for all cold water environments.

The coating and core are made to ensure the line lasts while staying loose and free of memory in cold water. Cold water can often induce memory and tangles, but not with this line!

It sinks at 1.5 to 2 inches per second, perfect for keeping your fly in the zone for stripers shoaling up offshore or sitting deep on coastal ledges.

The heavy taper makes turning over weighted flies easy and it works great for smaller patterns too. Being 100% clear the fish can not see it making perfect for stealthy approaches.

It casts very well too. Being quick loading with a 30 ft head and powerful taper, taking long shots quickly in heavy winds is made easier, something stipers need a lot of the time.

This fly line is also very affordable compared to all the others making it excellent value for money!


  • Made to last in cold water environments.
  • Very little memory.
  • Heavy forward taper for larger and smaller flies.
  • Sinks for fishing deeper areas.
  • 100% clear for the ultimate stealth.
  • Loads quickly for efficient casting.
  • Very affordable & great value.


  • No information about stretch.
  • Slick coating not included.


This is the ideal saltwater fly line for going after spook species that live in cold water. Built to hold its form, reduce memory, and with a heavy taper for casting accurately on windy days, it is an asset.

Add in the 100% clear design for ultimate stealth plus the sink rate, and it is perfect for both inshore and offshore.

Things to Look for Before Buying a Saltwater Fly Line

saltwater fly fishing flies and fly rod and reel

Do You Need a Different Fly Line for Saltwater Fishing?

Yes, you have to use a saltwater fly line, not a freshwater one. This is because they are built differently.

Saltwater lines are made to last in a saltwater environment, whereas freshwater fly lines will quickly decay and fall apart, even if you clean them.

What Color Fly Line is Best for Saltwater Fly Fishing?

The right color fly line depends on whether the species you are targeting is spooky or not.

Most saltwater fly lines come in two or three colors. These show you the forward taper, head, and the running line, or just the taper + the head and running line

This system is there so you can work out where to start casting from – with the head inside the top eye of the rod.

Since most fish will only notice the tip of your fly line, it is usually blue. But for spooky fish like permit, you can find fly lines with clear tips, or that are 100% clear.

If you know you are fishing in an area where the fish are very line shy, use a clear tip line. If not, a normal line with a blue or other colored tip is fine.

What Density Fly Line is Best for Saltwater Fishing?

Fly lines come in a range of densities including floating, sink tip, intermediate sinking, and fast sinking.

90% of saltwater fly fishing requires the use of a floating line, as usually you are fishing shallow areas or are casting to fish on the surface.

But, sometimes you need your fly to sit a little deeper to keep it in the feeding zone. This is the case with tarpon, deep water permit, stripers, and roosters in the surf.

Sink tips are great for keeping your fly deeper in the surf and flats. Intermediate and sinking lines are perfect for fishing off rocky ledges for stripers.

Be sure to match the right density fly line for the right situation which requires some forward planning.

saltwater fly rod and ocean

What Weight Fly Line Should I Buy for Saltwater Fly Fishing?

You should match your fly line with the weight rod and saltwater fly reel you intend to use for a particular species.

An 8 weight set up is perfect for stripers, bones, and redfish. With an 8 wt line, long delicate casts with the smaller flies these fish eat are easy, but you will have enough power to handle the wind.

Permit, snook, triggerfish, and roosterfish should be fished with a 10 wt. The line is powerful enough to throw heavy and big flies long distances but still allows for quiet presentations.

If you are going after big fish like tarpon, GTs, and sailfish, a 12 wt is best. These have a stronger core so handle these larger crates and they are made to cast the big flies they like to eat.

Is the Length of a Fly Line Worth Thinking About?

Most saltwater fly lines are either 90 or 100 feet long, depending on the manufacturer. Length isn’t really something you need to be concerned about.

I don’t know many people who can cast 90 or 100 feet of fly line, and a fly line’s length isn’t going to affect this. Only practice can help you here.

The only thing to be aware of is leaving enough space for the fly line to fit on your reel. With a 100 ft fly line, you will need to put less backing on your reel to accommodate it compared to a 90 ft fly line.

two fly fishermen fishing on beach Seychelles

Low Memory is Important

Fly lines, like all fishing lines, have memory. So, what does that mean?

When a line has a lot of memory it remembers the shape it was last in. This is usually the shape of your reel spool. A line with a lot of memory will stay coiled as it comes off the reel and this causes tangles, and a lot of frustration.

This is why it is important to find a fly line with little to no memory. The last thing you need is for a tangle to appear when you are casting to a fish.

Check the Core’s Breaking Strain

The core of a fly line comes with an lb breaking strain just like all fishing lines. This is usually around 30 lbs for most saltwater fly lines in the 7 to 10 wt bracket.

But, when it comes to 12 wt fly lines, you can find cores of 50, 80, and 100 lb breaking strains.

If you are going after serious saltwater species like GTs and tarpon, then choose a fly line with a core to match. A 50 to 80 lb core is usually enough.

fly fisherman in ocean fishing

Low Stretch is Very Useful

You will have read about low stretch a lot in my reviews and this is because it makes a big difference.

Low stretch provides more of a direct connection between you, the fly rod, and the fly line. This transfers more energy to the rod for more efficient casting. It also transfers more energy into your hook sets, helping you hook fish more consistently.

Once the fish is hooked, a low stretch line gives you more control in the fight, and a lot more lifting power if the fish is being stubborn a few feet under the surface. Get a fly line with low stretch, you won’t regret it.

The Coating

The coating of a fly line is very important. It not only provides durability but also floatation, and it helps with casting too.

Look at what the coating provides. A lot of the newer lines featured above come with a slick coating which provides both durability and less friction for better casting.

These lines do come with a higher price tag, but the benefits are worth the money.

What Taper do I Need in Saltwater?

Almost every single saltwater fly line comes with a weight forward taper. This allows you to turn over big flies, create a lot of line speed, and therefore cast the longer distances needed.

Some of the fly lines featured come with a longer taper, like the Rio Elite Tarpon line. This makes picking up your line and recasting a lot easier.

Others come with a heavier front taper which makes quick short shots with heavy flies easier, something you need for striper fishing.

Try to match the taper with the fishing situation you are going to find yourself in. But, you will always be good with a weight forward taper if you don’t want to get too technical.

sea fly fishing rod and reel in spring season


What is the best saltwater fly line for a beginner?

If you are just starting out saltwater fly fishing, you want a fly line that makes life easier. I would recommend the Rio Elite Flats Pro featured above.

The tri-color system shows you where on the line to start casting from. Its taper makes casting easy, and it comes with slick coating to ensure your casts go as far as possible.

How long does a saltwater fly line last?

How long a saltwater fly line lasts depends on how often you use it, what happens to it when you use it, and whether you look after it.

Generally speaking, 250 days of use is about all a saltwater fly line can handle due to the sun, salt, and strain it goes under catching fish.

Can I use a freshwater fly line in saltwater?

Yes, and no. If you want to fish in saltwater for just 2 days and don’t want to buy a new fly line, you might just get away with it. But, be sure to clean your fly line thoroughly after each use.

If you use a freshwater fly line consistently in saltwater, then it will fall apart. The coating is not made for heat or salt, and will degrade quickly.

Are expensive saltwater fly lines worth it?

In a word, yes. Expensive fly lines come with a special coating that makes them last longer. They also have a ton of extra features that help you catch more fish and that is worth the extra money in every case.

Winding Up

Saltwater fly lines have come a long way in recent years, and there is a lot to think about. Just make sure the one you choose matches the species, the environment, and makes life easy. That way, you’ll end up with the best saltwater fly line for you.

If you have any questions about saltwater fly lines, or have some stories to tell, please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

Jamie Melvin

Growing up fishing on streams and lakes in Kenya and the UK, Jamie has traveled the world in search of fishing nirvana. From his time managing bonefish lodges in the Bahamas and running fishing safaris in East Africa, all the way to guiding on the flats of Seychelles and offshore, there are not many species or environments he hasn't experienced firsthand.

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