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Thread: Fly lines, price VS quality.

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  1. #1

    Default Fly lines, price VS quality.

    As most know I'm green to most thing fly fishing, last Friday I bought me a cheapo Eagle Claw 3/4 wt fiber glass rod just for something to tinker with, also picked up some Rio 3wt WFF line, the store had (what I would think to be) a decent selection of lines from several brand names & prices varied quite a bit, got me to thinking (scary huh) about bang for the buck, I dont have a problem spending the extra frog skins for something thats actually of better quality and would rather buy quality products, but theres quite a price gap in some brands of fly line and for what I know most are of nearly the same material.


    QUESTION : Just how much difference is there in lines, does the extra ammount spent equal better quality,durablity,casting ease...what ??


    Thanks in advance. ( And now back to your regularly scheduled program...)

  2. #2
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    BR-549

    In my opinion, yes. There is a difference between lines. I am sure some will say not and that is their opinion, like they say, everyone has one, an opinion that is.

    Durability, casting ease, floatability (for floating lines), sinkability (for sinking lines), you name it. For a newby to fly fishing we often suggest they buy a fly rod/reel/line outfit. Those often consist of middle of the road rods/reels/lines but that is all a beginner needs to get started. Down the road as you branch out into other fly rods and reels you will want to go with other lines as well.

    Rio is a very good company. As long as the line matches with the rod you can't go wrong with Rio. The majority of my fly lines are Rio brand.

    Larry ---sagefisher---

  3. #3

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    Don't underestimate that Eagle Claw..... I use the 5/6 weight model 95% of the time. They're very nice! Great bang for the buck.
    The Green Hornet strikes again!!!

  4. #4
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    I agree with Larry, that there is a difference between lines. Especially when it comes to price. I have used some of the less expensive lines/cheaper lines, and have been less, pun intended, impressed. The more you pay for a fly line the more you get. Larry mentioned what those are.

    I think if you stick with the well known companies such as Rio, Scientific Anglers and Cortland, you can't go too wrong. Even some of there less expensive lines perform well. An example would be SA's Headstart. I use it on my 6wt for warm water and it not only cast well, but also turns over larger flies well.

    Normally, what I have found in less expensive lines is that they just don't float as well, or cast as easily as some of the more expensive fly lines. Beating around a bluegill pond may not make those qualities that big of a deal, but it does, at least to me, when I am trout fishing spring creeks, or throwing top water poppers to smallmouth bass.

    Dave
    " If a man is truly blessed, he returns home from fishing to the best catch of his life." Christopher Armour

  5. #5
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    I've used so many fly lines over the years I've about lost tract ... and with the "new" marketing strategy, there have been all kinds of whistles and bells and claims ... and PRICE! And with today's corporate pea and shell game, you have to keep an eye on who sold what to whom and who owns what brand.

    Let me take a couple of old brands that have been around for years and I have used for quite awhile (there are others, too, but let me just pick these two) - Cortland and Scientific Anglers. I have used Cortland for so many years I cannot remember when I first bought their line. Presently for my favorite 9' 5wt (Stillwater fly rod), I use a DT5F Cortland 444 "Peach" line. Love the line, love the color of the line, love how it casts. And quite often this is my dry fly rod.
    O.K., also have a 8 1/2' 7wt rod that I refer to as my "windy river rod" (and two different rivers I use the rod on are just that) - since I can get that line ensnared on the river, plus I'm using more streamers, nymphs (and even poppers), and here I use Cortland's Fairplay line. The 444 Peach runs about $62.00 and the Fairplay $19.95. Is there a difference(?) Absolutely - but three times as much in cost(?) Open for debate. I suppose if the 444 Peach was twice the Fairplay, I'd concede, however three times as much ...?
    Found the same thing with Scientific Anglers - my first S.A. fly line was an "Air Cel" - today that line would be in the neighborhood of $25.00. They also have a Mastery Series that sells for three times as much. And I would compare these lines with the Cortland Series.

    Bottom line, if money is no object in your life and you got the bucks to splash around, nothing like the best. However, if I was strapped for cash because of demands for other things, that Cortland Fairplay and the S.A. Air Cel both are damn good fly lines for the money (I speak from experience). And I'm comparing them with the other lines I presently have, the Cortland 444 Peach and the S.A. Mastery.

  6. #6
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    Good info and opinions, as usual here. Not everyone can spring for a $70-100 line, especially for multiple rod weights. DaleW made some good suggestions about that. I would also suggest looking into the Hook and Hackle lines. They are quite reasonable, and many folks have been very pleased with them. I'm one of those, BTW. Equivalent to a Sharkskin? No. Very useful for 80-90% of my fishing? Absolutely.

    Chuck

  7. #7
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    BR,

    Sorry I was late to the party. Let me tell you about my experience with fly lines, since I got into flyfishing in 2011. I bought a mass-produced 5/6wt kit similar to the one you did, and it came with level-taper line that was absolutely worthless. I replaced it with $12 weight-forward 6wt line from the local Walmart and that made a tremendous improvement. Although my casting improved immediately, I still couldn't figure out how to shoot line, or at least not very much. Later experience would show that this was more due to the rod guides than to the line. I still use this line on my old department store rod as a backup outfit, and sometimes just to remember old times when I was learning to cast.

    As my skills and interest grew, I splurged on a $50 store-brand line with a color demarkation at 30' and a welded loop, marketed for trout fishing. I could not have been happier with this line, and it progressed with me as I bought first a better reel and then a more expensive rod. During my first year and a half of flyfishing however, most of my casting was on grass, and I was practicing 3-5 times a week for 30 or more minutes. That's thousands and thousands of casts, mostly at my maximum range, and the line has cracked completely around near the welded loop. About 1/8" of braided nylon is showing where the cracked line coating has come off, but the loop still holds. I now only use this line for practice.

    Meanwhile, I bought a clearance 4wt outfit from St. Croix that came with a budget-model reel and a budget flyline. I wish I knew what it was, because it casts great and performs as well as any of the other lines I've used. Maybe it's the rod, who knows. It doesn't have the welded loop or the color changing transition, but otherwise I love it. The entire outfit was $80 (half-off clearance), so I'm guessing the line was what might otherwise sell in the $20 range.

    Not too long after buying the St. Croix, I also bought an expensive $80 name-brand line marketed for Smallmouth bass fishing with my 6wt outfit. This line also has the color change and the welded loop. On the whole, this has been a disappointment. I think the line can cast larger flies than my cracked trout line, but the difference is hardly noticeable. The tip of the smallmouth line sinks worse than any of the other lines, although they all sink to some degree. I've found myself using my 4wt instead of my 6wt outfit just because the setup is so much easier to cast, shoot line, roll cast, etc.

    To summarize, I have enjoyed my store brand mid-priced line more than any of the others, although I wore it out with very little fishing because of my heavy casting practice. I was most dissappointed with my expensive $80 specialty line, although I do still use it. The big surprise was the budget line that came with my St. Croix outfit, although it may be the rod is that great and results with any line would be similar.

    What would I recommend for you? Replace whatever line came on your Eagle Claw with a budget-priced line if features don't matter to you. If you like knowing when you are at 30' and want a welded loop to change leaders, store brands can be comparable to the more expensive lines and cost a fair amount less. High-end lines may not be a panaccea, but I'm sure they aren't all bad either. Know that casting on grass can damage the coating on a flyline, and getting a budget line and reel is not a bad idea if you will be practicing much. As some have said, don't be afraid to keep that Eagle Claw, it's probably a very underrated rod.

    EDIT: Just to be clear, my 6wt rod is not a St. Croix (I don't want to badmouth the brand, it may be me). I have NO COMPLAINTS regarding my 4wt St. Croix, and would recommend it to anyone, if it weren't discontinued 2 years ago. I can't speak for other St. Croix models. This edit is in response to AnlgerDave's helpful tips.
    Last edited by waskeyc; 07-29-2014 at 07:46 PM. Reason: Clarify that 6wt is NOT St. Croix
    And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. Ezekiel 47:9

  8. #8

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    Sorry for not getting back sooner, went back to the over the road trucking thing & didnt get in last weekend, the things we do for money....

    Anywho, big thanks for the big turn out, never expected 3 pages of input, but would bet my paycheck on every word of it being true & honest, think I'll stick with a middle of the road line for now, as bad as my casting skills are spending the extra cash aint gonna make a differnce. (HA !!)

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by waskeyc View Post
    BR,

    Sorry I was late to the party. Let me tell you about my experience with fly lines, since I got into flyfishing in 2011. I bought a mass-produced 5/6wt kit similar to the one you did, and it came with level-taper line that was absolutely worthless. I replaced it with $12 weight-forward 6wt line from the local Walmart and that made a tremendous improvement. Although my casting improved immediately, I still couldn't figure out how to shoot line, or at least not very much. Later experience would show that this was more due to the rod guides than to the line. I still use this line on my old department store rod as a backup outfit, and sometimes just to remember old times when I was learning to cast.

    As my skills and interest grew, I splurged on a $50 store-brand line with a color demarkation at 30' and a welded loop, marketed for trout fishing. I could not have been happier with this line, and it progressed with me as I bought first a better reel and then a more expensive rod. During my first year and a half of flyfishing however, most of my casting was on grass, and I was practicing 3-5 times a week for 30 or more minutes. That's thousands and thousands of casts, mostly at my maximum range, and the line has cracked completely around near the welded loop. About 1/8" of braided nylon is showing where the cracked line coating has come off, but the loop still holds. I now only use this line for practice.

    Meanwhile, I bought a clearance 4wt outfit from St. Croix that came with a budget-model reel and a budget flyline. I wish I knew what it was, because it casts great and performs as well as any of the other lines I've used. Maybe it's the rod, who knows. It doesn't have the welded loop or the color changing transition, but otherwise I love it. The entire outfit was $80 (half-off clearance), so I'm guessing the line was what might otherwise sell in the $20 range.

    Not too long after buying the St. Croix, I also bought an expensive $80 name-brand line marketed for Smallmouth bass fishing with my 6wt outfit. This line also has the color change and the welded loop. On the whole, this has been a disappointment. I think the line can cast larger flies than my cracked trout line, but the difference is hardly noticeable. The tip of the smallmouth line sinks worse than any of the other lines, although they all sink to some degree. I've found myself using my 4wt instead of my 6wt outfit just because the setup is so much easier to cast, shoot line, roll cast, etc.

    To summarize, I have enjoyed my store brand mid-priced line more than any of the others, although I wore it out with very little fishing because of my heavy casting practice. I was most dissappointed with my expensive $80 specialty line, although I do still use it. The big surprise was the budget line that came with my St. Croix outfit, although it may be the rod is that great and results with any line would be similar.

    What would I recommend for you? Replace whatever line came on your Eagle Claw with a budget-priced line if features don't matter to you. If you like knowing when you are at 30' and want a welded loop to change leaders, store brands can be comparable to the more expensive lines and cost a fair amount less. High-end lines may not be a panaccea, but I'm sure they aren't all bad either. Know that casting on grass can damage the coating on a flyline, and getting a budget line and reel is not a bad idea if you will be practicing much. As some have said, don't be afraid to keep that Eagle Claw, it's probably a very underrated rod.
    Just a couple of thoughts.

    1. The $50 line that is now cracked behind the welded loop. You could always cut that off and either make a new loop, there are plenty of tutorials on the net on how to do this, or just cut the loop of off your leader and nail knot it directly to the fly line.

    2. As far as that Rio Smallmouth line not casting well on your rod. It could be that it's not properly matched to your rod. I don't know what St Croix rod you bought, but I have a handfull of them from Legend Elites, down to a couple of Imperial 4wts and some lines work better on them than others. That Rio line has a 200 grain head weight which as you noted is designed to cast larger flies. Most of the folks I know who use that line are using it on a faster action type fly rod.

    3. With regards to you tip sinking. All line tips, sooner or later will sink. Just put some line/leader past on it when it does and make sure you clean you line after each use.

    Hopefully this may or may not help.

    Dave
    " If a man is truly blessed, he returns home from fishing to the best catch of his life." Christopher Armour

  10. #10
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    Just to continue the thought ....

    I've never had a fly line of any brand that that the tip end would not be sinking after some use. The solution as already posted is (#1) line cleaning (#2) line dressing. I know there are many, many fly line dressings available today and no doubt many variations used my members of this board, but let me say that I came across one some time back (I think at a fly shop) that has worked so well ... brand name is Accardo - which I know will cure the fly line tip sinking.

    I keep my fly lines cleaned with line dressing applied, and I get long life out of them.
    Last edited by DaleW; 07-29-2014 at 02:13 PM.

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