Quote Originally Posted by waskeyc View Post

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.