Confused about fly lines? Here’s how to pick the best one for you

On the line

Making sense of the countless options for spooling up fly reels

Fly lines used to be simple. If you had a 5-weight trout outfit, you just spooled up a 5-weight floating line and hit the river. In recent years, however, an explosion of specialty fly lines has complicated things. There’s now a numbing variety of fly lines, all with subtly different casting or fishing characteristics. There are lines designed just for trout, bass, muskies, tarpon and even peacock bass, as well as lines for specific techniques such as Euro-nymphing.

Then there are different lines for use in lakes, rivers and creeks, as well as in cold or warm saltwater. Collectively, they promise everything from helping you delicately present flies to spooky fish in a spring creek, to casting farther in the wind while wading tropical flats. So, how do you wade through all the choices? Here’s a primer…

Fly lines used to be simple, but no more. These days, anglers are presented with a dizzying variety of specialty fly lines. Here's what you need to know Click to Tweet

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