Double taper begins thin at one end and tapers to its
maximum diameter within about 7 meters (25 feet). The
diameter remains the same over the centre 7 meters or
so and then tapers back down to thin at the other end.
The two end tapers are mirror images of each other.
Because of the slow even distribution of weight over
the length of the line, double tapered line allow the
fly fisher to make delicate presentations of the fly
without disturbing the water too much. It also has the
added advantage of being reversible. Since both ends
of the line are tapered the same, when one end wears
out the fishermen can reverse the line and continue
to use it. Double taper does not, however, offer the
caster the option of long distant casts, weight forward
Weight forward taper sacrifices delicacy of presentation
for distance. The line is designed to taper very quickly
to its maximum diameter through the first 10 meters
of line and then quickly taper back down to a thin shooting
line. This distributes the majority of the weight in
the line into the first 10 meters, or head. The first
10 meters is cast by the rod and the shooting line simply
follows the head out onto the water when the cast is
released or “shot”.
There is a specialty weight forward line called a shooting
taper. It is a specialized line about 10 meters in length
that incorporates the taper of a weight forward without
any shooting line. Dacron backing is tied to the butt
and the line is virtually hurled out over the water
much like a spin caster hurls his lure. It is designed
strictly for distance casting and the beginning fly
fisherman need not concern himself with this taper.
That’s all there is to line tapers . . . not too
Line function is a simple thing, the line is designed
to either float or sink, or do both at the same time.
Thus we have three function designations, floating,
sinking and sinking/floating (commonly called sink tip).
Floating lines are the simplest, they simply float
and there are no subdivisions of this function. Floating
line is used when fishing dry flies and can also be
used to fish wet flies or even nymphs if the water is
Wet lines are designed to sink and are divided into
classes depending on how fast they sink . . . their
sink rate. These sink rates vary in name between manufacturers,
but generally speaking are as follows: slow (or intermediate)
sinking, sinking, fast sinking, extra fast sinking,
Hi-D, super Hi-D, and lead core. The actual rate at
which these lines sink varies between 1.5 inches per
second to 6.0 inches per second or greater. To get a
good idea of the actual sink rates pick up some manufacturers’
catalogues. For the beginner I recommend a fast sinking
or extra fast sinking fly line. These two will perform
admirably in most wet line situations.
The floating/sinking combination line combines a floating
line with a front portion that sinks. It works well
when fishing shallow areas in lakes or rivers where
floating line won't get your fly deep enough fast enough,
and where a full sinking line will carry the fly too
deep too fast. There are three classes of floating/sinking
combinations and they vary only in the length of the
sinking portion of the line. A sink tip line has 3 meters
(10 feet) of sinking line at the tip, a sink taper has
6 meters (20 feet), and a sink head has 9 meters (30
feet). The sinking portion of a floating/sinking combination
line comes in all the various sink rates that the full
sinking lines do. For the beginner these lines are not
Fly lines come in all kinds of colours from pure white
through brown, including various fluorescent colours.
Sinking lines are usually restricted to browns and greens
in order to blend in with the weeds and water. Dry lines,
however, need to be seen. Thus there is a great range
of colours. Most fly fishers prefer the tan and bone
coloured lines; they can be easily seen in most light
conditions while not being too flashy. I personally
prefer the florescent green colour. I find that it is
better seen under low light conditions than the other
colours and is not gaudy like the florescent orange.
Colour is a personal choice however, so take a good
look around and pick a colour that you can see well
under the low light conditions of dusk.
All this information can appear a little much to the
beginner, but don't get disheartened. The American Fishing
Tackle Manufacturers Association (AFTMA) has come to
our aid and designed a system to help identify all the
various aspects of fly lines in one simple formula.
It lists line taper, weight, and function on one label
and can be found on every box of line. If you wanted
to go and buy a 6 weight, weight forward, floating line
you simply have to look on the box for a label that
says "WF-6-F". Another example: DT-5-F/S designates
a double taper, 5 weight, floating/sinking line. The
sink rate would be on a separate sticker on the box
as well as whether it was a sink tip, sink taper, or
sink head. Take an hour and drop into your local sporting
goods store or fly shop and ask to see some lines. I'm
sure you will pick up on the labelling system very quickly.
Bill Luscombe has been hunting and fishing for
most of his 42 years. He has been flyfishing for 20
years. He instructs flyfishing, and has done so for
the past 12 years. He also instructs the federal FSET
firearms course and the BC CORE hunter training course.
He is an award-winning outdoor writer and has been writing
freelance since 1987. He has been published in BC Sport
Fishing Magazine, Outdoor Edge, BC Outdoors, Western
Sportsman, Island Fish Finder, and the BC Hunting Guide.
Bill Luscombe was born an army brat and raised in
Ladner (Delta, BC) where he was raised hunting waterfowl
and pheasants. He presently resides in North Cowichan
on southern Vancouver Island where he has lived and
worked full time as a professional forester since 1982.
He presently works in Nanaimo for the BC Forest Service
and continue to write the fly-fishing column for BC
Sport Fishing Magazine as well as contributing articles
freelance to various outdoor magazines in western Canada.
Bill Luscombe is also a BC Director of the Northwest
Outdoor Writers Association. "Catching fish is not hard.
You simply need to understand what makes them tick.
If you think like a fish, you will catch fish. It’s
as simple as that."- Bill Luscombe
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