Lines in the Sand

You are about to take a saltwater fly fishing trip and need lines to suit. You’ve searched the net, quizzed forums and read countless reviews. Confusion reigns supreme. Not surprising given there are 100+ saltwater fly lines on the market. Even experienced fly fishers baulk at the dizzying range on offer; trying to piece together clues from (mostly) American scenarios to fit local conditions. This article reduces some of the ‘analysis paralysis’ and proposes a system of FACTS to assist in line selection.

BACKGROUND

Manufacturers categorise lines differently. They use descriptors that observe industry standards (grain weighting) or norms such as water type and ambient temperature, density and sink rate. Some describe proposed application such as target species or environment; others reflect proprietary technology. Brands drive sales with technological advances, backed by clever marketing hyperbole. 

Taper
Lines have a number of component sections. First, a level ‘tip’, usually one foot. Then follows the ‘head’ (made up of a ‘front taper’, ‘body’ aka ‘belly’, and ‘rear taper’) and then a ‘running line’. Modern head lengths vary between 20 and 60 feet. 

The profile of the head and its component tapers is where the magic happens. Each section’s taper causes the line to act in a particular way. How the diameter of the line changes throughout the profile is key. Diameter is also important to sink rate and how a line is affected by wind. For example ‘intermediate’ lines are generally easier to cast into wind because of lower diameter-to-mass ratio. 

Density
Density is poorly understood. There are five different densities (aka buoyancy): (1) floating, (2) sink-tip, (3) intermediate, (4) sinking and (5) fast-sinking. A floater and full sinking line could have the same head weight (350 grains) but the density determines if it sinks or floats. 

Coatings & Textures
Coatings are one area where manufacturers seek to set themselves apart. Some use polyurethane (PU), others polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Tropical lines have a stiffer outer coat so they remain castable in tropical heat. Coating texture ranges from smooth to cross-hatching, bumps and ridges. Whether texture makes a difference to flotation and shootability is endlessly debated. 

Cores
Core construction is usually adapted to temperature range. Braided multifilament is suppler than braided monofilament. Saltwater lines usually have a monofilament core with tropical lines using the stiffest core. Some manufacturers use gel-spun polyethylene. Core strength runs from 25 to 100 lb with a number of whistle-stops between. The amount of core stretch is a delicate balance between avoiding excessive ‘memory’ and improving contact with the fly through the line. 

AFTMA Ratings

AFTMA Line weight Weight in Grains – 30’ of Line Acceptable Weight Range Weight in Grams – 30’ of line
5 140 134-146 9.07
6 160 152-168 10.42
7 185 177-193 11.99
8 210 202-218 13.61
9 240 230-250 15.55
10 280 270-290 18.14
11 330 318-342 21.38
12 380 368-392 24.62
13 450 435-465 29.16
14 500 485-514 32.40
15 550 535-565 35.64

The American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association (AFTMA) published the above table in 1961 as an industry standard for rating lines. They suggest a weighting range measured over the first 30’ – the Head. Their relevance today is hotly debated. Most modern lines do not have 30-foot heads. Only 29 of the 122 considered for this article had a head length of 30’ or shorter.  And most tended to be heavily weighted shooting tapers far and above the AFTMA range. Modern head lengths vary between 20 feet and 60 feet.

Using a #9 Line as an example, AFTMA prescribes 240 grains (230-250) for the first 30’. Looking at twenty-five #9 lines, the 30’ head weight runs from 240 to 375 grains – the AFTMA rating for a 9 to 12 line. 

30’ Head weight for 9 weight fly lines*  

Grains Line
240 Monic Impact, Orvis HD Hydros Bonefish, Orvis Hydros Bonefish, Orvis Hydros Clear Sink Tip, SA Mastery Bonefish
250 SA Frequency Magnum
260 SA Sharkwave Saltwater, Rio Bonefish, SA Mastery Redfish, SA Mastery Saltwater, Orvis Hydros Saltwater All-Rounder, Orvis Hydros Redfish
270 Rio Tarpon, Rio Tropical, RIO General Purpose Saltwater, SA Wavelength Grand Slam, SA Mastery Grand Slam, Orvis HD Ignitor
280 Rio Permit, Airflo Ridge Bonefish, Airflo Chard Tropical Punch
300 SA Sharkwave Saltwater Titan
330 SA Wavelength Titan, SA Mastery Titan, SA Sonar Titan Clear Tip
375 RIO Outbound Short, Airflo Sniper
  * Not all manufacturers publish first 30’ weights.

 

Head Length 
Head length should interest beginners and journeymen alike. It cannot be seen in isolation from taper and weight, and the range of head lengths across types of lines provides insight into what manufacturers make lines to do. 

Fly line Head lengths

Head Length ≤30 feet ≤35 feet ≤40 feet <45 feet >45 feet
General 7 5 12 6 5
Wet Tip 4 2 4 2  
Bonefish     3 3 3
Redfish 3   2    
Tarpon 1   7 3 1
Permit         3
GT     1   1
Intermediate 1 2 1 1  
Sinking 13 7 10 3 2
  29 17 39 23 15

 

Taking general-purpose lines first, 12 of 35 were shorter than 35 feet. These lines are made for all round conditions and have that “just right” taper to suit myriad scenarios. They have to throw small and large flies across a range of distances and conditions.

Tarpon lines are a good example of a relatively consistent cohort – 7 of 12 fall in the 35 to 40 feet range. The ones outside this range are at the extremes (<30 feet or >55 feet) are designated as essentially specific short or long lines. Based on head length, the sweet spot for tarpon fishing is between 35 and 40 feet. More on species lines later.

 

TYPES OF SALTWATER LINES

General Purpose
Herein lies an easy choice if you are looking for a floater. Look at price point, taper profile and anything else that takes your fancy. Most general-purpose head lengths fall between 35 and 45 feet. The short-headed lines tend to be punchier, long-headed lines less so, but there are plenty of happy mediums in this group. The range is generous at 30-plus choices. Temperature suitability tends towards temperate environments. They won’t act like a noodle in the sun, nor will they resemble fencing wire. Some are tropical rated. 

Remember that the floating lines’ principal applications are shallow water and top water. They may not actually represent ‘general-purpose’ in many cases. The best choice may be an intermediate line if you need to get deeper.

General Purpose lines

Line Manufacturer Description Length Range Temp. Range
RIO Tropical General Purpose 39′ 7 to 10 Tropical
Tropical Outbound Short 30′ 8 to 12 Tropical
Mainstream 35′ 7 to 12 Temperate to Tropical
Avid 39’6″ 7 to 10 Temperate to Tropical
In Touch Outbound Short 30’ 8 to 10 Cold
In Touch Outbound 37’6” 6 to 10 Cold
General Purpose Saltwater 39’6” 6 to 10 Cold
CORTLAND Liquid Crystal Flats Taper Clear 41′ 6 to 9 Tropical
Liquid Crystal Flats Taper Sky Blue 41′ 6 to 12 Tropical
Tropic Plus Saltwater 41′ 6 to 12 Tropical
AIRFLO Chard Tropical Punch 41′ 8 to 12 Tropical
Ridge Tropical Clear Tip 50′ 6 to 12 Tropical
Ridge Tropical Clear 50′ 6 to 12 Tropical
40+ Sniper 28’ 8 to 10 Cold
Cold Salt 40’ 7 to 10 Cold
SCIENTIFIC ANGLERS Sharkwave Saltwater 38’/48′ 6 to 12 Tropical
Sharkwave Saltwater Titan 38’/41’ 6 to 12 Tropical
Mastery Textured Grand Slam 40′ 6 to 12 Tropical
Mastery Saltwater 45’5″ 7 to 12 Tropical
Mastery Titan 33’6” 6 to 9 Temperate
Wavelength Titan 33’6” 6 to 11 Temperate
Wavelength Grand Slam 40’ 6 to 12 Tropical
Frequency Magnum 35’ to 43” 5 to 9 Temperate
ORVIS Orvis Hydros Saltwater All-Rounder 50′ 6 to 10 Temperate to tropical
Orvis Access Saltwater 33’6″ 6 to 10 Temperate
Orvis Hydros HD Ignitor 40’ 8 to 12 Tropical
MONIC Impact 36′ 3 to 12 All
GPS Skyline 36′ 3 to 12 All
All Weather Covert Clear 36’ 3 to 12 All
ROYAL WULFF Bermuda Triangle Taper Saltwater Floating 30’ 6 to 12 Tropical
Bermuda 2 Tone 30’ 5 to 13 Tropical
Bermuda Shorts 22’ to 24’ 7 to 15 Tropical

 

Intermediate Lines
Many intermediate lines are essentially general-purpose lines. They sink at a rate of between 1 (Hover lines) and 2 inches per second (IPS). Depending on current and weight of fly, the line will sink about a foot every 6–12 seconds. These are very effective because the line draws the fly through the water column at a rate that still gets bites on the drop. You can count-down these lines so you know when you’re roughly at a desired depth. They cast very well, especially into wind. Their clear or opaque coatings also make them rather stealthy. 

For many heading north, say Weipa or Hinchinbrook, an intermediate line will meet most of their flats and pelagic fishing needs. Heavy headed versions (e.g. Titan and Outbound) are also made to throw heavy flies in bigger rod weights. The primary downside of intermediate lines is that, compared to floaters, they are harder to pick up and recast quickly without stripping line in. 

Clear lines, Clear tips & Wet Tips 
Here we find some confusion creeping in. Sink tips aren’t all clear and clear tips don’t all sink. 

Full clear floating lines are made by Airflo, Monic and Cortland. They come in a range of weights from WF6 to 12, covering all bases from bream to giant trevally. They suffered from excessive memory in the past but each generation seems better. The stealth benefits of these lines cannot be understated. Many serious flats anglers in the States use them. Your leader effectively becomes a whole lot longer and stealthier. However, tracking the line in the air can prove difficult. On landing, the angler can easily lose sight of the front taper against the surface of the water, thereby losing track of where the fly is in relation to the fish. These lines can also be very slick, causing the haul to slip in the fingers at times. 

Clear tip floaters are least common and are made to provide improved stealth over a coloured floater. Like full clear lines they allow shorter leaders. They provide better tracking than full clear lines and are very versatile when fishing for shallow-water fish such as barramundi on banks and drains. You can overshoot but not spook. 

Sinking tip lines (often called wet tip or intermediate tip lines) have a floating running line with a head that is part floater, part sinking tip. These lines typically have a clear or opaque front taper or tip that sinks at the rate of an intermediate line. Depending on manufacturer, sink rate can vary from 1 to 2 IPS. The length of the sinking part of the head also varies from 10 to 15 feet. These lines have a far bigger following in Australia than in the US. They represent the best of both worlds in many ways. They are easier to pick up and recast than a full intermediate, but the sinking tip allows the fly to get below chop and wave action and get down deeper more effectively and quickly than a floating line. The tip provides stealth and also helps anchor a fly in current. Their downside is they can be trickier to use when wading very shallow waters, where the sinking tip is a hindrance.

Sinking Tip lines

Manufacturer Description Length Range Wet Tip Temp. Range
Length Sink Rate IPS
RIO Saltwater Tropical FI 42’ 7 to 10 10’ 1.5 Tropical
Tropical Outbound Short Clear Tip 30′ 8 to 12 10’ 1.5 Tropical
Tropical Outbound Short 15’ Clear Tip 30′ 8 to 12 15’ 1.5 Tropical
In Touch Outbound Short FI 30’ 5 to 10 10’ 1.5 Cold
In Touch Outbound FI 37’6” 6 to 10 10’ 1.5 Cold
CORTLAND Tropic Plus 9’ Ghost Tip 41’ 6 to 12 9’ 1.25 Tropical
Tropic Plus 15’ Ghost Tip 38’ 10 to 12 15’ 1.25 Tropical
AIRFLO Ridge Flatsmaster 38’ 8 to 10 12’ 1.25 Tropical
SCIENTIFIC ANGLERS Sonar Titan Clear Tip 33’6” 6 to 9 15’ 1.25 Temperate
Sonar Titan Big Water 33’ 9 to 12 15’ 1.25 Temperate
ORVIS Orvis Hydros Clear Tip Sink 37’6” 6 to 10 10’ 1.25 Tropical
ROYAL WULFF Bermuda Triangle Taper Lost Tip 30’ 7 to 12 12’ 2 Tropical

 
Shooting Tapers

Called everything from Outbound (RIO), Sniper (Airflo), Ambush (Royal Wulff), Titan (SA) and so on, these lines feature a short (25–30′) aggressively tapered, heavy head. The head is often weighted two or more times higher than its labeled size. A WF9 could be as heavy as a WF11 if using the AFTMA tables. Shooting tapers are used to cast big flies quickly with minimal false casting. The compromise is that their heavy, splashy heads affect ‘presentation’ style casts. They work well casting big flies especially over extended distances.

Sinking Lines
Sinking lines come in a vast array of styles. A whole piece could be dedicated to them. Many run to saltwater sizes and grain weights but are not designated saltwater lines. There are some common misconceptions about them, for example, that a high grain count equals a faster sink rate — again, the density issue. They come in a range of sink rates, anywhere up to 10 IPS. They sink to a specific depth more quickly than an intermediate. They are often called ‘fast sinkers’ for this reason. Sinking lines are for fishing deep edges, plumbing deep snags, rock bars and reefy areas. They also get your fly underneath schooling fish quickly if larger fish wait below.

Click here to view a handy video demonstrating line sink rates and depths

Sinking Lines

Manufacturer Description Head Length Head Weight /Range Temp. Range
SCIENTIFIC ANGLERS Sonar Sink 25 Cold 25’ 150 to 450 gr Cold
Sonar Sink 30 Warm 30’ 150 to 450 gr Temperate
Sonar Sink 30 Clear 30’ 150 to 450 gr Temperate
Sonar Sink Tip 35’ to 47’ 140 to 240 gr (5 to 9) Temperate
Sonar Titan Intermediate 33’6” 198 to 430 gr (6 to 11) Temperate
Sonar Titan Intermediate 3 33’6” 198 to 430 gr (6 to 11) Temperate
Sonar Titan Intermediate 5 33’6” 198 to 430 gr (6 to 11) Temperate
Sonar Titan Big Water Max Sink 31’ 500, 600, 700 gr (11 to 15) Tropical
Sonar Saltwater Hover 37’9” to 40’9” 200 to 415 gr (7 to 12) Tropical
Saltwater Intermediate 38’ to 41’ 200 to 415 gr (7 to 12) Tropical
Sonar Hover 36’6” to 44’6” 150 to 260 gr (5 to 9) Temperate
Frequency Intermediate 40’ 140 to 240 gr (5 to )9 Temperate
RIO Tropical Intermediate 30’ 210 to 450 gr (7 to 12) Tropical
Leviathan Intermediate 33’ 500 gr Tropical
Leviathan 26 Sink Tip 33’ 250 to 750 gr Tropical
Tropical Outbound Short 30’  8 to 10 Tropical
In Touch Outbound Short Intermediate 30’ 200 to 510 gr (6 to 12) Cold
In Touch Outbound Short Sinking 30’ 225 to 435 gr (6 to 10) Cold
In Touch Striper Intermediate 30’ 8 to 10 Cold
In Touch Striper 30’ sink tip 34’ 250 to 450 gr Cold
AIRFLO Ridge Tropical Bonefish 38’6” 7 to 9 Tropical
Ridge Tropical Tarpon 38’6” 10 to 12 Tropical
Ridge Tropical GT 38’6” 12 Tropical
Cold Salt Striper Intermediate 40’ 8 to 10 Cold
Cold Salt Striper Sinking 7 40’ 8 to 10 Cold
Cold Salt Sniper Intermediate 28’ 8 to 10 Cold
Cold Salt Sniper Sink 3 28’ 8 to 10 Cold
Cold Salt Sniper Sink 7 28’ 8 to 10 Cold
Cold Salt Sniper Sink 9 28’ 9 to 10 Cold
Depth Finder 30’ 175 to 400 gr (6 to 11) Cold
ORVIS Hydros HD Depth Charge 30’ 150 to 500 gr (5 to 12) All
Hydros Class V Sink Tip 41’6”to51’5” 120 to 240 gr (4 to 9) Cold
Hydros Coldwater Intermediate 5 to 10 Cold
ROYAL WULFF Triangle Taper Saltwater Intermediate 30’ 7 to 12 Tropical
Triangle Taper Saltwater Sinking 30’ 7 to 12 Cold
Saltwater Monoclear 30’ 7 to 10 Tropical
Striper Fast Sinking 30’ 200 to 400 gr  Temperate

 

SPECIES SPECIFIC LINES

Bonefish Lines

Line Manufacturer Length Range
Airflo Super Dri Bonefish  38’6″ 6 to 9
Cortland Bonefish  41’ 6 to 9
Monic GSP Skyline Bonefish  54’ 8 to 11
Monic Tropical Clear Bonefish  37’ 6 to 9
Orvis HD Bonefish  43’ 7 to 10
Orvis Hydros Bonefish 42’ 7 to 9
RIO Bonefish  49’6” 5 to 9
RIO Bonefish Quickshooter  35’6” 7 to 9
Scientific Anglers Mastery Bonefish  45’6” 5 to 9

 

Most manufacturers have a Bonefish line but the label and the picture on the box is where similarities end. Kaufmann and Fernandez agree that the 8-weight is the ideal rod for bonefish. Indeed a WF8 bonefish line suits many applications in Australia and is a good general-purpose line for southern species. 

Bonefish lines come in floating and intermediate versions, making them a versatile choice for light saltwater.
Head lengths vary from short (35’6″) through to long (54′) but all but one are 38′ or longer. Most bonefish flies are relatively small by saltwater standards (#10 to #2). Our own application for these lines follows suit: small flies, long casts, stealthy presentations, wind and predominantly skinny water. Think whiting and bream in lower weights; salmon, flathead, trevally in higher weights, and a range of flats opportunities with smaller flies. Remember, they are tropical rated and this may affect application.

Redfish Lines

Line Manufacturer Length Range
Cortland Redfish Taper 27′ 27’ 6 to 9
Monic Tropical Clear Redfish 29′ 29’ 7 to 10
Orvis Hydros Redfish 30.5′ 30’6″ 7 to 9 
RIO Redfish 35’6″ 35’6” 6 to 10
Scientific Anglers Mastery Redfish Warm  26′ to 28′ 6 to 10
Teeny Redfish Line 37.5′ 37’6″ 7 to 9

 

All manufacturers have a Redfish line. While we don’t have redfish, we have plenty of use for their lines. Redfish tapers are chunky (27′ to 37′) compared to the longer heads of bonefish lines. They are made to throw heavy or bulky flies at short to medium range and to load fast-action rods well in-close. They are also made to handle topwater flies such as poppers and gurglers. 

Redfish lines match well to our fisheries where we are fighting wind with WF8–10 outfits. These lines are all full floating lines made for shallow water fishing. They work superbly well for tropical species that eat big flies, such as trevally and queenfish. Some are cold water rated also. Some have used dual designation over time like Airflo’s Bonefish/Redfish.

Permit Lines

Line Manufacturer Length Range 
RIO Permit 49′ 49’ 8 to 10
Monic Tropical Clear Permit 49′ 49’ 8 to 11
Monic GSP Skyline Permit 54′ 54’ 8 to 11

 

Surprisingly, only RIO has a Permit line though others like Airflo include them in dual species designations. In many ways, these lines typify what Australian flats fishers need. Not only for permit but for other potentially spooky species like golden trevally, tuskies, bastards, etc. Head lengths are long (almost 50 feet) and in many ways Permit lines resemble supercharged Bonefish lines. 

Tarpon Lines

Line Manufacturer Length Range
Airflo Super Dri Tarpon  38’ 10 to 12
Cortland Tarpon Taper  41’ 10 to 12
Cortland Tarpon Taper Clear 41′ 41’ 10 to 12
Cortland Tarpon Taper Sky Blue  41’ 10 to 12
Monic GSP Skyline Tarpon  39’ 10 to 13
Monic Tropical Clear Tarpon  36’ 10 to 13
Orvis Hydros Tarpon  38’3” 10 to 12
RIO Tarpon 39’6” 9 to 12
RIO Tarpon Quickshooter  30’ 10 to 12
RIO Tarpon Quickshooter F/I  30’ 10 to 12
RIO Tarpon Technical  60’ 10 to 12
Scientific Anglers Mastery Tarpon  37’ 10 to 14
Scientific Anglers Mastery Textured Tarpon  37’ 10 to 13
Scientific Anglers Wavelength Tarpon 37’ 10 to 12

 

Tarpon lines account for a huge portion of the saltwater market in the US. Accordingly, there are many choices. These lines are made to do it all – throw long, throw accurate and carry flies on long leaders. Head length is mostly between 35′ and 40′ with a few very short (30′) and very long (60′) exceptions. Tarpon flies are not huge but wind can be tough on ocean fisheries. Obviously these lines lend themselves to fishing pelagic and larger saltwater fish like queenfish, trevally and tuna. These lines can be found from WF10–13 size, making them a great choice for big fish. They are also found in floating and intermediate versions.

Striped Bass (Striper) Lines

Line Manufacturer Length Range
Airflo Ridge Striper Floating 40’  8 to 10
Airflo Cold Salt Striper Intermediate 40’ 8 to 10
Orvis Hydros Striper 38’6” 8 to 10
RIO In Touch Striper 30’ 8 to 10
RIO In Touch Striper 30ft Sink Tip 30’ 250 to 400 gr
RIO In Touch Striper Intermediate 30’ 8 to 10
Royal Wulff Striper Fast Sinking 30’ 200 to 400 gr

 

Striped Bass lines are invariably cool or cold water lines. They have typically short, punchy heads that are made to throw large baitfish, topwater and weighted patterns. Striper flies can be huge and heavy. They also form the predominant cold-water species specific lines for salt water. Think colder water brutes like kingfish, mega salmon and southern tuna.

Bass & Warmwater Lines

Line Manufacturer Length Range
Airflo Super Dri Bass/Musky 41’ 6 to 10
Cortland Big Fly 30’6” 5 to 10
Orvis Hydros Bass 35’6” 6 to 9
RIO In Touch Pike/Musky 29’ 8 to 11
RIO Mainstream Bass 35’ 6 to 10
RIO Smallmouth Bass 36’ to 38’ 6 to 8 (173 to 225 grains @30’)
Royal Wulff Triangle Taper Bass 27’ 6 to 10
SA Aircell Bass 40’ 7/8 (185 grains)
SA Frequency magnum 35’ to 42’ 5 to 9
SA Sharkwave Siege 21’6” to 23’4” 5 to 8
SA Wavelength Titan 33’6” 6 to 11

 


Bass and warmwater lines warrant some attention here. They include freshwater lines for big trout and bass (US) and those for the apex predators pike and muskellunge. Of all species-specific lines, Bass lines directly transpose to our bass fishery. Musky lines are more what we would use for Murray cod.

These lines can work very well in temperate and colder environments and are made to throw big flies. Any fishing done in rivers, against banks or amongst structure may suit these lines. As they are also found in lower weights WF5–6 they present an option for throwing bigger flies to species like estuary perch, bream and mangrove jack.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER 

The range of lines is broad and there are many areas of crossover and duplication. Lines WF8–10 attract the most attention from manufacturers and are represented in almost all general and species-specific lines. Lines in WF9 are found in all styles of line. So what methods do we apply to sift through all these choices?

Fly Line Coverage

Line Weight General WetTip Intermediate Sinking Bonefish Redfish Permit Tarpon Striper Bass Musky GT
5                        
6                        
7                        
8                        
9                        
10                        
11                        
12                        
13                        
14                        
15                        

 

The Brand Goggles
For some, brand will drive choice. And hey, there is nothing wrong with that. However, there is no reason why one wouldn’t still use some rigour to cross check choices within chosen brand offerings. So, once you have chosen a brand, use the other methods to narrow the field.

Line Size 
Using the Line Coverage Table (Table 1), some choices will be quite narrow (typically at the ends of the spectrum – super light and super heavy). Obviously if you are tackling marlin on 13/15-weight rods, then the size of the outfit will almost certainly narrow the field. But, if you were looking for a WF12 then General and Tarpon tapers would come into play. Obviously thought needs to go into density as well.

Species Extrapolation
There are cases where species-specific lines fit our needs and conditions, but we must be careful about assumptions. For example, Bonefish and Permit lines are not ideal for our local fisheries. In Australia, bonefish and permit are targeted with wet tip or intermediate lines and rarely with floaters. The species-specific line that best suits our bonefish and permit fisheries are probably the Tarpon lines, with most preferring tropical wet tip and intermediate lines. 

Applying species-specific lines to our fisheries can be done, and the table below provides a ready reckoner for line selection if you prefer a quick method. It should be noted that some species-specific lines (Bonefish, Tarpon, Striper) come in floating and intermediate iterations.

Northern Saltwater Species

Line Type Barramundi Mangrove Jack Grunter Queenfish Golden Trevally Giant Trevally Bastards Permit Tarpon Tuna Mackerel
Bonefish                        
Redfish                      
Permit                      
Tarpon                      
Striper                       
Bass                      

 

Southern Saltwater Species

Line Type Bream Mullet Perch Whiting Flathead Salmon Tailor Kingfish Mulloway Tuna Snapper
Bonefish                        
Redfish                      
Permit                      
Tarpon                      
Striper                       
Bass                      


Temperature Choices
Choosing lines based on temperature is most effective where choices are limited. Coldwater lines are the most stark example of this because of the limited range. However, many temperate, even tropical rated lines will still work in cold conditions. Tropical lines will not be optimal in cold though. Rarely will it work the other way at the extremes: coldwater lines will likely be a disaster in tropical heat.

 

 

Applying the FACTS

 

To help narrow the field, I propose a line selection system based on considering the FACTS — Flies, Action, Casting, Temperature, and Situation/Species

Flies: It is very useful to think about the size of the flies you will be using. Are they small like bonefish flies, medium sized but heavy like flats flies or pelagic Candies and Deceivers, or large, wind resistant or very heavy?

Action of your rod: Is your rod of moderate, fast or very fast action? Does it need a particular style of line to load? Do you need help from a heavier line or will it respond to a lighter line?

Casting: Skills, Distance and Presentation. What are the casting requirements where you are going? Is the distance going to be short to medium shots, or long fast casts to busting schools? Does presentation matter: are the fish spooky or nervous? Will it be windy?

Temperature: Is it cold, temperate, warm or tropical?

Situation or Species: Are you fishing for a species or in a situation that has specific requirements such as water depth, or where a line already exists that addresses any specific requirements?

 

I trust the four examples I give below will help you on your way: 

FOR TUNA

Flies will be Candy style flies.
Action: rod will be a stiff #10 or #11.
Casting will be long casts at fast-moving fish.
Temperature will vary.
Tuna require a fast delivery intermediate line or intermediate head.
Lines that can be cast quickly at distance include Tarpon, Striper, and shooting taper style wet tips and intermediates. 
Temperature/latitude may dictate choice.

 

BLIND CASTING FOR BARRAMUNDI

Flies will include heavy 2/0 to 4/0 Pink Things and Barra Bombs.
Action: moderate to fast #8–9 rod.
Casting will be short to mid range.
Temperature is tropical.
Situation involves ambush predators lying deeper in snags or rock bars.
Depth and current may warrant a sink tip or intermediate line to get the fly down.
Lines with chunky front tapers like Redfish and Tarpon lines or Shooting tapers will assist with casting heavy flies, especially in the 4/0 range with large dumbbell eyes.

 

FOR BREAM

Flies will be relatively small but may include some bulkier surface flies.
Action: medium-fast #5 or #6 rod.
Casting will be short/medium accurate shots in tight to structure.
Temperature: temperate waters.
Situation/Species: spooky and fussy fish requiring good presentation.
Suitable floating lines will include Bonefish (5–6), Redfish (6) and Bass (6) tapers. 
Redfish and Bass lines will better suit larger surface flies.

 

FOR WEIPA AND HINCHINBROOK

Flies will be Surf Candies, flats flies and barramundi flies. 
Action: fast #8–10 rod.
Casting will be at all ranges.
Presentations may need to be mid to long and stealthy at times on the flats.
Temperature will be tropical.
Situations and species favour a full intermediate line.
Best options will be tropical saltwater intermediates and intermediate Bonefish lines.

 

From FlyLife Issue 85