Beginner’s Tips for Choosing Fly Line

Beginner’s Tips for Choosing Fly Line

By Casey Callison


I remember my first trip to the fly shop to buy new line. I stared blankly at the wall that held hundreds of different types, weights, tapers, and densities. I was completely overwhelmed and had no idea where to start other than knowing that I needed 5 weight line.

“Hey what type of line are you looking for?” Ty, the fly shop attendant, asked.

“Oh, well I’m just kind of looking to see if there is anything new for my 5 weight,” I lied, wanted to sound like I knew what I was talking about. Side note: don’t do what I did. If you don’t know something, ask. Everyone in the fly fishing industry should want you to succeed and will help you in whatever ways possible.

“Ah, well we’ve got these,” he said, sliding me a few packs of line across the counter.

Eighty dollars! Are you kidding me? I internally screamed, underestimating the cost of good line.

“I appreciate it. I was really just looking around. I’ll be back to pick some up later on.”

In order to avoid looking like a jackass on your first few trips to your local fly shop, I’ve compiled some tips that you can use when going in to pick up your first new set of fly line.


Know what you’re fishing for

Your line requirements will vary based on what species you’re fishing for. For example: If you’re fishing for trout, you’ll probably want some weight forward floating line so you can deliver wet or dry flies. For bass, you’re going to want something with at least a little bit of a sinking tip to it so that your fly can get down into the water column. Knowing what you’re going to be fishing for will let you get set up for a good all-around fly line for that species.


Be honest with your knowledge

Don’t make the same mistake that I did. Just be honest with what you need. If you’re unsure, say so. The reason that fly shops employ people is to be experts and help their customers out, and they’ll always point you in the right direction based off of the type of fishing you’re doing. They also get excited when someone takes up the sport. They will give you all the tips and advice that you need to get you on the water and catching fish. Another great reason to be honest with your knowledge is that you want to get on the employee’s good side. If you’re in the fly shop and constantly lying, the employees won’t like you. When an employee likes you, you’ll get more open, honest tips and maybe even get invited along on some fishing trips where you can really get to know the sport!


Don’t be afraid to spend money on the fly line

Yes, spending $80 on a fly line when you’re just starting out can be quite daunting, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Can you get decent fly line for $40? Sure. I actually keep some cheap fly line on an extra reel spool just in case I need back up. However, I wouldn’t use that as my primary fly line. The more expensive line will have better features (such as coating, better core, etc.) that allow you to cast better and more accurately. If you are on a budget and can only spend $40 on fly line, then do it, but as you become a better fly fisherman, it will leave you wanting for more.

When you’re starting out be sure to educate yourself as much as possible. Talk to as many people as you can who are involved in the sport so that you can gather their years of knowledge and catch more fish. The internet is also a wonderful source. You’ll have article upon article about fly fishing and more reviews for fly lines and other products than you could ever imagine. Eventually you’ll gather more reels and spools so that you’ll have multiple fly lines for different purposes set up and ready to go. Until then, learn the basics and get out there to catch some fish!

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