Fly Line Tips for Beginners
- Written by Fred Haney
Slicker Lines and Lighter Reels Increase Casting Efficiency
As a beginner, you’ll spend a higher percentage of your time casting as you improve your technique. Easier casting line reduces arm fatigue. If you’re arm is less tired, you’ll make more casts in a given session, quickly increase your proficiency and shorten your learning curve. And, as you spend more time actually fishing as opposed to false casting or resting your arm, you’ll get more action. More action – more fun!
Actually, increased casting efficiency is great for all casting levels. A more efficient cast will ultimately lead to a relaxed casting motion. You may begin to shoot line just by experience and feel. You’ll feel the fly line tugs at your line hand towards the end of your forward cast. You’ll develop a feeling for when to release the line in your off hand and before you know it – you’re shooting line and casting farther. As your casting improves, you’ll spend more time fishing and less time untangling your lines.
Wonderline Fly Lines
The slickest line on the market just got slicker – they tell me the new one is 20% slicker than the original. A new, slick line almost casts itself – it slips through the guides with ease, resulting in less casting effort and reduced false casting. There’s nothing like casting a slick line! And, the improved Wonderline Advantage floats even higher than before, making pick up easier and reducing surface water disturbance.
There’s a Wonderline Freshwater Floating Line for any rod and fishing situation. The new taper formulas are designed to efficiently load today’s high-modulus graphite rods for maximum power. For trout fishing in the Rocky Mountain West with a floating line, you have four choices: (link each of these to the appropriate line on site)
- WF (weight forward) Trout
- DT (double taper) Trout
- LB (long belly) Easy Mend, or
- WF (weight forward) Superfine
Which line taper should you choose? WF (weight forward) tapers work very well in most situations, and are by far the most popular lines in the world.
For special situations, consider LB (long belly) or DT (double taper) lines. LB tapers work well on small to tiny streams where casts are short – with line mass biased to the front end, you’re able to load your rod with little line beyond the tip. LB tapers also work well when making long casts in windy situations, or when you need to mend line over several tricky currents. It’s the favorite secret weapon of many western guides.
Because DT tapers have the least amount of mass at the end of the fly line, they’re the preferred choice when stealth and delicacy are the primary concerns. DT lines let you make the lightest possible presentations. Also, as the name implies, DT lines are equally tapered at either end. Simply reverse the line on the reel once one end is worn. It’s like getting two lines for the price of one!
Weight-forward Superfine Wonderline is a special taper for full-and lower-mid-flexing rods. With these rods, delicacy is the name of the game and the Superfine Wonderline takes full advantage of their slower tapers for the ultimate in delicacy.
Fred’s Guide Tips
- Purchase a new fly line at the beginning of each season. And, purchase the best line you can afford. The cost is small in comparison to the benefits. Changing to a new line immediately improves your casting - at any skill level. Be sure to place the line ID sticker on the outside of the spool. Give away your old, but still usable, fly line to a child or friend. And, take the opportunity to give them some casting lessons. Or, better yet, take them fly fishing!
- Clean your lines frequently. The process typically takes less than five minutes. I recommend Orvis Zip Juice Wonderline Cleaner, made specifically for the super slick coating on Wonderline Advantage lines. If Zip Juice is not available, use mild soap and water. Clean more frequently if you fish ‘dirty’ water - stillwater or moving water with lots of organic material.
- Avoid practice casting on hard and/or dirty surfaces, like asphalt roads or dirt lots - it trashes your line. Practice on water whenever possible for realism. Second best is grass or artificial turf if you don’t have easy access to a body of water. Clean the line afterwards.
- Before you begin fishing, take a few minutes to stretch out and smooth your fly line and leader by removing the memory coils. Enlist the help of your fishing partner or secure the end of your fly line to a fixed object like a tree or car. Straighten the leader by pulling several times through your fingers.
Casting & Mending
- Reduce your false casting. Strive for “pick up–lay down” cast - no false cast. There are only three reasons to false cast: 1) change direction, 2) change length, or 3) dry your fly. If you’re false casting for any other reason - it’s just for show.
- Practice casting at home and you’ll enjoy your fishing outing more. Spend most of your time on short (<40’), efficient casts with one or zero false casts. Long casting is overrated, as you’ll spend little actual fishing time attempting maximum distance casts. Keep practice sessions short – no more than 15 minutes. Your arm will get tired and your casts sloppy.
- Practice line mending on moving water. Mending line means throwing a curve into your fly line after the line hits the water. With the rod held low in front of you with a stiff arm, flip the rod by rolling your wrist, usually in the upstream direction. The result is an upstream curve that the current will have to invert before it will pull on your fly. It's best to release some slack line as you make the mend, otherwise you'll move the fly when you reposition the line. Whether to mend upstream or downstream depends upon the speed and direction of the current between you and the fly on the water. Mend whichever direction you need to put in appropriate slack
Fred Haney began fly fishing twelve years ago in Arizona as an escape from the urban sprawl. He’s been fishing for trout with a fly ever since. His professional experiences include working for fly fishing lodges across the country and abroad. Besides plying the waters in and around Arizona, he’s guided for several lodges in Colorado and in the Patagonia region of Argentina. For the past eight seasons, he’s worked exclusively for Spotted Bear Ranch in Northwest Montana, managing their office and Orvis Pro Shop, as well as guiding the occasional guest.
The South Fork of the Flathead in Northwest Montana is a river perfectly suited to beginning fly fishers. And, Spotted Bear Ranch is the only dedicated fly fishing lodge on the river. An Orvis Endorsed Lodge and Expedition Outfitter since 1997, they offer the perfect locale for beginning fly fishermen to try out the new Wonderline Fly Lines. For much of the season, hungry, aggressive wild cutthroat trout rise willing to large attractor patterns – a perfect situation for the novice. Put your line on the water, throw in a little mend, the fly drifts into the feeding lane over the fish . . .wham! There will be no doubt when you have an interested fish. The secluded location at the end of a 55 mile unpaved road virtually assures uncrowded water and a relaxed setting.