Make no mistake about it, this is an important decision. You want one that matches your personal preferences as a fly angler –Line thickness, texture and whether or not the line makes a sound on the way out of the guides should all be considered.
You also want one that has a high level of performance- how seamlessly it passes through the guides and how well it picks up off the water are both, very important. After all, you want to have the ability to cast the most amount of line with the least amount of effort.
Running lines that are of a slick texture and thin diameter will shoot the furthest. But, these can be difficult to hold onto during the cast. If you are not adept at pinching such a skinny and slippery line to the cork, the line will often slip out of your grip on the forward stroke, or even on the initial set up for that matter… (Some folks will actually wrap grippy tape around the top of the cork to help keep it pinned)
For most people starting out, I recommend a thicker running line that has more of a “Fly Line” feel because they are easier to hold on to. Airflo Ridge Line is a perfect example of this and it comes complete with a large welded loop on one end so that fly line heads can easily be switched out.
A growing number of advanced anglers actually use straight, heavy gauge 40lb monofilament line. Your basic Trilene spool will work – used by many conventional gear anglers to spool their entire reel. This stuff is slick, so it passes through the guides quite effortlessly. It doesn’t float as well as thicker Poly or PVC lines though and it is tougher to grip. Another thin, slick line that has properties similar to mono is Rio’s Slick Shooter. But like a few other mono style lines, it can hold memory, and at times, want to coil up on you which makes line management kind of a pain.
Then you have the braided lines. There are a lot of braid fans out there. It does make a distinct sound as it shoots. Personally, I have found that they get twisted and knotted up. It’s a bummer when you have to spend time untangling a bird’s nest in your line before every other cast! When they are new, they don’t tangle as much but they will, eventually…
I have to say, that the running line that I am most impressed with is the SA Monocore Shooting Line. Up until buying a spool of this I had tried them all and had been sticking with your basic, heavy gauge mono running line for quite a while. I was pleasantly surprised.
It floats well. It’s somewhat slick but not difficult to grip. It is memory free – doesn’t coil up on you. It doesn’t get knotted up on the cast, and it sails through the guides effortlessly. It is rigid enough to hold its integrity on the way out, but supple enough to discourage memory. It is thin, but noticeable to the hand… It doesn’t have a tendency to tangle. It’s yellow color keeps it visible in low light conditions. It seems to me, that it covers all the bases.
Love the stuff. But, there is one problem: you have to make your own loops on this line. When you fasten it to your backing you cannot use an Albright or a Nail Knot. These knots will sever the line! Also, on the business end, you cannot make a large Double Surgeon’s Loop. This too, will break. You must make loops on either end by doubling the line over and placing a series of Nail Knots (10lb Maxima) to cinch the loop. I have not tried to melt poly with a heat gun to cinch the loop on this particular line so I’m not sure on this one (Let me know if you have tried it). I like to use a needle to set the Nail Knots and then pull the knots tight with two pairs of hemostats (that you wrap the tag ends of the mono around). Make a large loop on the fly line-end so you can pass the entire head through when connecting…
So there is some initial set-up required, but once you have some sturdy loops in place, I think you’re really going to like this shooting line. This stuff goes!
SA Monocare Floating Shooting Line