Fishing line is the most direct connection between you and your catch. Because it plays such an important role, purchasing a great line should be toward the top of your priority list when it comes to accruing gear. You could easily spend hours browsing different types of fly line on the market, especially if you’re not sure what you need.
We’ve collected ten fly fishing lines that are great for anglers in a variety of situations as well as some important information if you’re a first-timer to the sport of fly fishing.
Comparison of the Best Fly Lines
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Do You Need Special Line for Fly Fishing?
Purchasing fly fishing-specific line is very important to your success in the sport. In traditional angling, the power behind your cast comes from the weight of your lure and bait. The line used for this is usually very thin and lightweight so the momentum of the lure and bait carries the line through the air.
In fly fishing, however, the bait is a very lightweight fly. In order to get momentum, fly lines are much weightier and thicker than traditional fishing line and are, therefore, the power in the equation. If you experimented with using regular line to fly fish, you would quickly find that you’d be seriously lacking in casting power.
Types of Fly Lines
There are two major categories of fly lines: floating and sinking fly lines. While neither trumps the other in effectiveness, they do serve different purposes in the sport of fly fishing.
Floating Fly Lines
Just as the name says, this kind of fly line floats. It’s coated with a special material to give it buoyancy and is arguably the most popular choice among many anglers.
There are two common choices in this category: A weight-forward line, which is heavier in the front half, and a double taper line, which has weight in the middle. A weight-forward line is better suited for casting in windy conditions and is also great for long and short casts, making it a super versatile choice. A double taper is great if you’re hoping for a more delicate presentation.
Sinking Fly Lines
There are a variety of sinking fly lines, each coated with variations of a heavy coating which allows them to fall at different rates. Intermediate lines sink at a relatively slow rate, making them great to use on bodies of water with lots of weeds. Fast lines will sink quickly, at a more uniform rate. They are a great choice to use in fast-moving water.
Aspects to Consider When Buying Fly Fishing Line
There are several key aspects to keep in mind before jumping the gun on a buying fly line. Be sure to keep these in mind:
Where Will You Be Fishing?
This is an important thought to keep in mind when you’re browsing for fly line. Many lines are made for a specific range of temperatures. Heat can cause the line to wilt, making it undesirably stretchy in temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re planning on fishing in the tropics, consider purchasing a line that can face above average temperatures with ease. Likewise, a line is prone to tangle much easier in colder environments. Search for a line that is suited for your average fishing spot.
What Are You Looking to Catch?
Similar to temperature range, many lines are created specifically for a species of fish, i.e. bass, trout, redfish, etc.. While this may result in a fly line that is a lot less versatile than others, it can be super beneficial if you know what you like. If you usually stick to hunting for one type of fish, you may want to go for a line that is specific to that species, if it is available.
What Are Your Goals?
Although it may seem self-explanatory, keeping the goal for your fly line in mind while shopping is important. There are so many styles of fly lines; always know if you’d prefer a floating or sinking line, how weighted you’d like it to be, length, etc.. Having these preferred qualities tacked down before shopping will make your choice much easier.
Review of the Best Fly Fishing Lines
Now that we have a little bit of background info to help us make our selection, let's see which lines made our list and why.
Rio Perception Fly Line
When Rio released the Perception Fly Line range, it received a ton of hype and praise from many anglers, and for good reason. Rio is a well-established company within the angling world, known for consistently creating innovative technologies for their products.
With the Perception line, Rio tried something new. While the majority of floating fly lines are created with a stretchy, flexible core, this line skipped that standard and went for an ultra-low stretch core instead.
The reasoning behind this is that it is supposed to make it easier to cast and mend than a traditional line. It’s also made to help give a faster reaction time when setting a hook and better detection of subtle bites.
Another feature specific to Rio is their tri-color distance system. The line has three separate sections with different colors, designed to allow the angler to gauge their cast distances more easily, resulting in better accuracy. Along with this, the line also features Rio’s patented “Agentix” and “Maxfloat tip” technology for added buoyancy on the water.
The Perception line from Rio definitely deserves the hype it received on its first release. The no-stretch core creates a line feel that you may not be familiar with if you haven’t used a Rio line before, but it is super effective. With every line, there are bound to be downsides. Some users have commented on buoyancy failure, which could p
Best Fly Line for Trout:
RIO Mainstream Trout Fishing Line
Unlike the Perception line, the Mainstream line from Rio is geared more towards anglers with a little less experience. It’s a good option for those who are just starting out or for intermediate anglers. This particular line was created specifically for trout fishing.
It comes in a shockingly bright lemon-green color, which you might think would spook the fish, but it actually does a great job at improving visibility and doesn’t seem to bother potential catches. This line was designed with slightly heavier and shorter head lengths than some of their other products, which Rio says is to “optimize rod performance.”
This line is fairly similar to Rio’s Grand line, although the Mainstream is slightly larger and heavier (and cheaper). It features a front welded loop, which is a welded loop on the front of the line designed to help the angler rig quickly.
If you’re fairly new to the sport of fly fishing, the Mainstream Trout fly line from Rio could be the right choice for you. It’s a great value for its price and it performs very well in a variety of situations. While it may be labeled as a trout line, it’s pretty versatile. The main downside of this fly line is its memory. It isn’t the worst, but it can definitely be irritating for a day on the water.
Best Fly Line for Bass:
RIO Mainstream Bass/Pike/Panfish Fly Line
While this fly line from RIO received less hype from the angling world, it is a great, faithful choice for anglers regardless of whether you’re going on your first fly fishing trip or your thousandth.
The bass line of the Mainstream collection is very similar to the trout line mentioned above. While it is designed specifically for fly fishing for bass, it can be used in a variety of situations and is overall a very versatile choice.
It has attributes that gear it a little more towards beginners. Features such as a slightly heavier line to make it easier to cast. It also has a short front taper designed to assist in quick turnover and powerful presentation.
Like most Rio lines, this one features a supple core. It also has a coating that makes it slick for smoother casting along with being self-lubricating and wilt-resistant in warmer temperatures.
For many reasons, having a fly line that is versatile enough to perform in several angling scenarios is a really good thing. It reduces some of the limits, which gives you more freedom to fish where and what you please. Rio has popped up on our list more than once for good reason: they create great products.
While this line does need to be cleaned from time to time, it is made with high-quality materials that won’t wilt or stiffen in cold or hot temperatures. This line is a great choice for newbies.
Best Floating Fly Line:
Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Line with Welded Loop
Another versatile choice that can work in many angling activities, the Piscifun Sword fly line comes in six candy-colored choices that can easily be seen, no matter what the conditions. Its core is braided, which helps with memory reduction and keeps it from wilting or stiffening in varying temperatures.
For ease in casting, Piscifun crafted this line with a longer head and a slightly larger than average diameter. It features a welded loop at the front for easy leader attachment. This helps to transfer energy easily, which can result in a better turnover.
The line is coated with a PVC substance that includes “integrated slickness” which provides added lubrication for durability and great performance in casting. For this line, they offer several different styles for you to pick from, ranging from WF1F to WF10F.
This is a great fly line for the price. Overall, it is very well-crafted with good materials, which make it an attractive purchase. This particular line is a little lighter than the industry standard, so it can have trouble in windy conditions. So be aware of this before buying. Users gave this line points for smooth casting, durability, and quality.
Best Streamer Fly Line:
Airflo Fly Lines Kelly Galloup Streamer Max Long
This is the first sinking line that has made an appearance on our list, but this is a great option for anglers who need a line for fast-moving water. Airflo is another company that puts a lot of effort into making sure their products are technologically advanced and ahead of the curve.
A sinking line is used to get the bait to the target zone quickly and keep it there while stripping line. The line has a full sink to intermediate transition which allows the angler to have more control while working a fly.
The line features Airflo’s “Power Core” which has much less stretch than the average fly line. The stiff core provides better sensitivity, casting control, and hook setting. Other technologies include Ridge Tech, which is designed to reduce contact between line and guides, and climate coatings, which are chosen in accordance with the temperature the line will most likely be used in.
Rather than using a PVC coating like many other companies, Airflo has opted for a solvent-free polyurethane as the base material. This coating is made to resist UV damage and stay durable for longer.
With innovation comes technology and with technology comes ease. Airflo’s line has a bunch of great attributes that make this a good choice for anglers looking for a sinking line. While this limits its versatility, it’s a durable choice that casts smoothly and with great accuracy. The core only has six percent stretch, providing sensitivity and toughness, two very attractive qualities in a fly line.
Best Saltwater Fly Line:
Scientific Anglers Frequency Saltwater Fly Line
Fly fishing is not just for freshwater anglers. It wouldn’t be a comprehensive list if we left out a saltwater fly line, and Scientific Anglers’ Frequency range of line is a true blue choice for those who prefer to set out on the sea for their catches. Like many other fly lines from Scientific Anglers, this is a simple but effective product designed to get the job done.
Because you’ll likely face more wind in saltwater angling situations, this line is a little more weighted to give you more control. Extra weight also assists in turning large flies. To make this a more versatile choice, Scientific Angler created this line with a medium-sized head and a floating compound taper.
If you’re planning on fishing in the tropics, go for one of the 11 or 12 weights. They are created specifically for tropical fishing with a “tropi-core” that resists wilting in hot temperatures. The 7-10 weight is great for any saltwater angling.
If you’re a saltwater angler who was feeling a little left out reading this list, hopefully, your day was brightened with this pick. For those who prefer offshore fishing, this line from Scientific Anglers is an awesome choice that will perform well in a variety of settings, including in super hot temperatures. While other lines may wilt under the pressure, the line’s “tropi-core” keeps it stiff and reliable. The major downside of this particular line is that it doesn’t feature a welded loop.
Best 5 WT Fly Line:
Orvis Clearwater WF Fly Line (WF5F)
The Clearwater WF line from Orvis is marketed towards the inexperienced angler. It’s a great beginner’s pick and Orvis is definitely a reliable company to buy from. The company does all things fly fishing very well, and this line is no exception.
The line is built a half-size heavy in hopes that it would provide a little extra ease in loading the rod. It has a compact head, designed to create positive leader turnover. Along with these qualities, the line also features “Integrated Slickness, a patented additive for reduced friction.” Like many high-end lines, this one also includes a welded loop for easy leader attachment.
The core is created with a braided multifilament. This was chosen as it is fairly versatile and works well in a variety of angling situations. It comes in a pale neon yellow color that makes it easy to identify on the water.
For the most part, Orvis’ quality shines in this pick. Some reviews have complained about its durability over time, but if you clean and take care of your line, odds are you will increase the longevity of the product. It provides a super smooth cast and beginners can trust that this line is pretty forgiving and easy to use and learn on.
Best Fly Line for Redfish:
RIO Winter Redfish Fly Line
If you know what you like, and what you like are redfish, there’s no reason to buy a fly line that’s suited for other types of angling. Rio wanted to cater to the dedicated redfish enthusiasts out there with it’s Winter Redfish fly line. The line was created specifically for those who hunt in cold conditions for big gulf reds.
Because you’ll be using larger flies to target reds, this line was designed to cast sizable flies. It also features a short front taper that makes it easier to turn over these flies. The “winter” distinction comes from its core and coating, which is created to be tangle resistant even on chilly days.
In addition, this line includes a short loading head designed to assist in casting at a short range. For smoothness, Rio crafted this line with “extreme slickness,” a PVC coating that encourages smooth casting and repels dirt and grime that could weigh down the line.
If you fish redfish often, look no further. Rio created this line specifically for anglers who prefer targeting this species, and they did their job well. Because of this, it is not a versatile purchase, but that’s not a huge deal considering you probably wouldn’t purchase this line if redfish aren’t on your target list. It holds up great against the cold, it’s super smooth, and doesn’t need to be cleaned after every use.
Best Inexpensive Fly Line:
Scientific Anglers Air Cel Floating Lines
As their name suggests, Scientific Anglers is a company that puts a great deal of stake into the technology behind their fishing gear. It’s an innovative business that creates sound products that work well and set the standard for many other companies.
While their Air Cel floating line may not have a ton of bells and whistles that go along with it, Scientific Anglers has nailed the simple function of a fly line with this range.
It isn’t a fish-specific fly line, so you can use in a variety of angling situations. It’s made to be fairly general with a mid-length head as well. Scientific Anglers says this is a great line to throw nymphs, streamers, and dry flies.
It also features a buoyancy-coated line for dependable floating, a braided multifilament core, and an indicator to show the ideal place to start a cast.
If you’re on a budget, no worries! The Scientific Angler fly line is a great choice for you. This line is easily comparable to high-quality brands and works almost as well. It’s a no-frills, simple, choice which may be attractive to you. It is buoyant, but some users complained that it loses its float over time, which can be remedied by cleaning it. Though it does add an added task, it’s not a deal breaker for us.
Best Fly Line for Roll Casting:
Bozeman FlyWorks Floating Fly Line
Bozeman FlyWorks is based out of Bozeman, Montana. They created their floating fly line with the goal of making a line that would be affordable while keeping a promise of using high-quality materials in the process.
This company is U.S.A. based, which may be a pro for you. While they are fairly new to the angling market, they’ve received great reviews on some of their products as well as their customer service. When the majority of fly lines around you are upwards of $50, it’s nice to see a quality fly line at a lower price point.
The company tested this line in a variety of bodies of water fishing for a variety of species, and its versatility has proven itself. It comes with a weight-forward taper for assistance with large fish as well as sensitivity for dry flies and rising fish. The line is welded on each end to provide more ease when changing line and leaders. An added plus is that this line comes packaged in a free fly box.
This is another great choice for beginner anglers who aren’t ready to spend a fortune on their fly line. While the price is fairly low, the quality still stands, which is the perfect combination. It’s been praised for its versatility and resemblance to top of the line brands with qualities like dual loops. That being said, users say it often comes a little tangled out of the box, so set aside some time to organize before using.
In the realm of fly fishing gear, the fly line isn’t a product you should overlook. Purchasing a great line that is well-suited for your favorite type of angling is an investment you won’t soon regret. Hopefully, this list gave you some ideas of brands that may be a good choice for you or at least provided you with some things to keep in mind when shopping on your own. Happy fishing!