What To Look For
Choosing the right fly fishing line is a matter of personal preference, but a lot of factors come into play. Fly fishing lines are ranked by weight from 1 to 15, with 1 being the lightest. Lighter-weight lines should be matched to the weight of your rod. In addition, match the weight of the line to the type of fish you want to catch. Bass require a heavier line, such as 7 to 9, trout a lighter line, such as 1 to 7, and heavier fish 8 to 15.
In addition to the weight, check the line taper. There are five types of taper: weight forward, bass bug, double, shooting and level. A weight-forward taper is popular for beginners and helps with casts, as the heavier weight is in the first part of the line. A bass bug taper is similar, but the weight forward part is not as long. In a double taper, which is more delicate, the line starts thin, gets thicker in the middle, then tapers back to thin. Shooting tapers cast farther, and level tapers are even throughout.
One pitfall can come with choosing the density of the line. Beginners often prefer a floating line, so they can see the results of their casts; these lines also allow you to cast floating flies. A sinking line is for deeper water, and correcting the cast is harder once the line is in the water. There are also combo lines that have a front portion that sinks while the back portion of the line floats, allowing you to get your fly into deeper water while still having line on the surface.
Color is another common pitfall. Beginners often think they should get a clear line, but the leader that attaches to the line is clear. Having a colored line allows you to track your cast more easily and correct any mistakes.
Where To Buy
Fly fishing line is available at fishing and outdoors stores, as well many online dealers such as Sierra Trading Post and Bass Pro Shops.
Fly fishing lines vary tremendously in cost by the type of line and its length, and can be as little as $15 and as much as $100.
Cortland is one of the most popular brands of fly line. Its Fairplay Sinking Line is 30 yards long and retails for $22. The Cortland 333 Trout Line ($37) is popular on the low end, while its double taper 444 for $52 offers a lot of performance. Scientific Anglers has a basic line, the Air Cel Floating, for $25 that is 82 feet long. The Master Trout front-tapered line sells for $70 and is an excellent choice, while its top end line is the Sharkskin Ultimate Trout Taper for $100.