Fly Lines. Aaah, now there's another tale. How can one buy a reasonable fly rod for under $100 yet you go into a fly shop to buy a line and the saleman wants $75 or more for it?
And yet one can buy perfectly good fly lines for under #20. Have a look and the new lower end Grey's fly lines which we carry. They are $19.95. And they work perfectly well. There is no way that the cost of manufacturing a $75 line is much more than a cheaper line. There might be a few additives for flavor and a little tweaking of the actual machine to adjust the taper, but its nonsense.
For most basic purposes, there is no need to buy the expensive lines. There are, however, a few observations which are pertinent.
Loops in the Line. If a fly line has a loop on the end of it, don't cut it off unless you don't mind your line sinking. The loop is designed to ensure that the end of the line is impermeable to water. If the loop is cut, water will seep in over time and what was a floating line will begin to sink. Of course one can cut off the damaged end of the line and it will float for a while but the harm will have been done.
The trouble with loops is that if you use a long leader you won't want to have to try and land a fish with the loop tending to get stuck at the tip of the rod. The solution is to cut off the loop, use a nail knot to tie on a butt section of line and then seal the knot with knot sense. It won't be perfect but it will solve the problem of that troublesome loop.
If you nymph, the loop is irrelevant and therefore if you want to cut it off it won't do any harm.
The other aspect of a loop which one might find useful is that a looped end leader can be looped onto the line and then removed later if one wants to change. But frankly, how often does one unloop a leader and preserve it? If you are going from light dry fly presentation to heavy streamers, more than likely you will have 2 rods rigged separately.
In any case, if one ties a butt section onto the end of the fly line, the leader can be tied onto the butt section with a blood knot and then removed and another leader retied. So the functionality of being able to change leaders is not lost.
Line Care?. What about line care? That is probably the most important thing to consider. Washing you line or at least using a line cleaner to take off the grime is wise. It is not done enough so consider it at least once a year. One can also use a product called a wonder cloth which when wet simply wipes off the grime. Then it is easy to closely inspect the line for cracks and faults.
Replacement of a line. When should one replace a line? Clean it and have a close look bending the line as you examine it. If it is beginning to crack on the surface, it is time to consider getting a new line. If your floating line is sinking because water has permeated the end, you can cut off a portion of the line and see if it will keep floating for a short time, but you will affect the taper and therefore you should replace it at your next opportunity.
When should I pay for an expensive line? How often do you fish and how specialized are you? If you look at a catalogue from a fly line company like RIO or SA, you won't believe how many different lines there are. And there cannot be a real market for all of those lines. They are the product of marketing rather than necessity.
Of course, some of the lines are readily distinguishable from others. For short dry fly presentation you will want a line which will float the best and cast well. However the interplay of the physics of the surface tension of water and the effects of wind on a cast line will dictate that what one gains for the purposes of floating, one will lose in terms of casting efficiencies. So the physics will beat your ideal requirement.
And then there will be those who use sink-tip lines. This becomes more specialized and depends on the circumstances in which one is fishing. A line will sink faster or slower according to weight, so that requires some knowledge of the function you want the line to perform in given circumstances.
Saltwater lines must perform a different function in a warm humid climate compared to a trout line which must work in a cold water climate. Try casting a bonefish line when it is cold and the air is dry, and it just won't lay out.
So there are technical aspects of fly fishing which do require specific lines. But until you understand the point don't be gulled into buying something you really don't need. The new selection of Grey's fly lines at $19.95 will be adequate until you can make your own mind up that you want something different or more specialized.
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