Jan 6, 2015

Floating Fly Line Color, Does It Matter????

You can't always pick your family but you can pick your fly line.
Over the last 10-15 years I have watched fly line manufactures building more lines with earth tone colors or even clear and fewer hi-vis or bright colors. Anglers seem to be asking for and buying more and more of these lines that are more camouflaged, but does the color matter to the fish. That is the question that few seem to ask, nor do I think we really know. When it comes to this subject color of a fly line, there are all types of opinions, so here is what I think.

I personally come from the train of thought that being able to see a fly line on the water and in the air really helps an angler’s ability to catch more fish. First off a bright colored line is easier to see while casting, this helps you judge distance and placing a cast in tight quarters. Second and most important is being able to see your line while it is on the water, if you can’t see your line, you cannot control it. As a former guide line control is everything! That brings me to the third reason; if you go on guided trips it allows your guide to see your line and judge where your fly is much better.

I am a steelhead addict and fish dry lines with flies on the surface or in the surface film as much as I can. I fish the brightest line I can, all though these bright lines in good tapers are getting hard to find. Here is why I like a bright line for steelhead angling. When fishing a damp fly in the surface film I am always scanning for a fish that came to check my fly out, but did not eat it, this is a fish I want to work. When these fish come up from the bottom to check a fly out they commonly make a disturbance on the surface as they turn to return to the bottom. It is critical to see exactly where your fly is, once you know where the fly is; now you can scan the area around it for any signs of fishing moving. If you do this you will catch more steelhead, but if you have trouble seeing the tip of your line this task will get much more difficult. Scanning an area 6 foot by 6 foot is much easier than trying to locate the tip of a fin in an area 20 foot by 20 foot.

Trout anglers that are very successful will generally tell you the most important tricks to catching more fish is presenting the fly properly. If your line is not controlled properly than the fly is not presented properly, the result is not very successful trout fishing. Drag on the fly is generally a big NO, NO. Drag is minimized by controlling and correcting the drift or drag of your line. This is much tougher to do with a line that is hard to see. I have never seen a trout spook from what I would say was the color of the line, but I have seen many spook from the shadow of the line. Even a clear line cast a shadow, I have seen many fish spook from a clear lines’ shadow.

Greg Darling joined me this year on our annual trip to the Palometa Club in Ascension Bay, Mexico. We did a rod comparison that Greg wrote an article about called NRX vs ONE...Who rules the flats!  Rio had just released the Rio Bonefish QS Fly Line in florescent orange; this looked like the perfect fly line to take to pop out in photos. A few days into the trip we found some nice bones on a outer flat, guides wanted us to put the permit rod away and get our bonefish rod out. I knew that these bigger single bones were much spookier, so here is the test. When we pulled out the 9’ 7 weight Sage ONE rod lined with this line, I was waiting for the two guides to start scream at me “what did you bring that line for!” As I cast the line 75 feet to a bone, the only thing that our lead guide said was “nice cast, strip, strip, strip. You got him!” I hooked and lost a bonefish in less than a foot of water. We fished the rest of the afternoon searching for permit and sliding into the shallows whenever a nice bone presented itself. Greg hooked and landed several bones that day on the Orange line. We asked the guides about their thoughts on the bright lines. They said that they love them, it helps them see right where the fly is. This helps them read the fish and see the eat. They wished that more of the lines anglers showed up with had these lines.

Sage ONE + Hatch 7plus + Rio Bonefish line = BONEFISH

Here is why I do not think a bright colored line spooks anymore fish than a camouflaged or clear line. Think about it this way, have you ever swam under water and opened your eyes? What does the surface look like? It has lots of broken colors and lines; this is from light being reflected in the surface water. This reflected light is always moving and changing, I would think that a bright yellow, green or orange line would be no different than this constantly changing surface light. Fish spook from the shadow of a fly line, bright or camouflage they shadow the same, even clear fly lines shadow.

Orange is the new Clear
At the end of the day fish what you have confidence in, but if you want to try a really bright line in a good taper they are getting harder to find. Line companies have had to go with consumer demand which is for natural colored lines. Rio does a very nice bright orange in the Rio Gold; this is a great choice for trout. For Saltwater Rio the Bonefish Quickshooter in a hi-vis.


By Travis Duddles
Owner, Gorge Fly Shop



"Fly Fish the World with Us"




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