What's the best fly line? Illustrated Pros and Cons Guide

Updated: Mar 23

What’s the best fly line? With so many lines on the market, it can be tough to determine which one's the best. The reality is, it depends on what type of fly fishing situation you're in. We've create this guide to help you select the fly line that best fits your situation so you don't have to break the bank using trial and error.

In this article we’ll cover:

Different fly lines for different situations

Each make and model of fly line has differences in the mass, length, and taper for each of its sections. These specific differences determine how the fly line will perform, and which fly fishing situations the line is best suited for.

Click here to see our article about understanding fly line tapers

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Best All purpose fly line

RIO Gold:

An all purpose fly line works especially well for newer anglers or anyone who fishes in several different situations. Our top pick is the Rio Gold. It has a well balanced design that almost appears "symmetrical". There're no dramatic taper changes or exceedingly long or short sections that would prevent someone from being able to use it effectively in the vast majority of fly fishing situations.

Rio has added in their proprietary “slickness technology” that we’ve noticed reduces “gunk” building up on the line. Less gunk equals less friction. This translates to smoother line shooting, better floatation, and less drag on the water.

rio gold fly line taper design diagram
Rio Gold Fly Line

Pro: It's this uniform design that allows for predictable energy transfer throughout the line and makes it a great choice for all purpose fly fishing. This predictable energy transfer makes it a great choice for someone using/learning the basic fly fishing casts.

Con: With this being a "generically" tapered fly line, it doesn't shine above others that have been customized for specific situations.

Click below to see pricing on Amazon:

Best Fly Line for Short Casts

SA Amplitude Creek Trout

SA Amplitude Creek Trout Fly Line

Scientific Anglers Amplitude Creek Trout is our first choice for short casts because of its short front taper and a shorter/heavier belly and rear taper section.

This line is designed a full line size heavier for quick loading. Example: if you’re using the line on a 4 w rod, the line will weigh the equivalent of a typical 5 wt line. This does NOT mean you should deviate from using the line with the same weight as your rod. If you’re using a 4 wt rod, it would be best to use the fly line designated as 4 wt.

As part of their "Smooth" line series, SA states that this translates to 5 times less drag and 8 times more durability than traditional fly lines. I don't know about those extremes, but I can definitively say that it creates less drag than many other fly lines on the market.

Pro: The short belly and heavier rear taper create more mass and weight in the front of the line (first 25 feet), which helps create and maintain significant energy on the forward cast and allows for the line to load and shoot at short distances.

Con: The energy created by the heavier belly and rear taper dissipates somewhat with the shorter front taper, but if the forward cast is overpowered, there's often too much energy transferred to the leader and fly. This causes the line and leader to "crash" on the water instead of landing with a delicate presentation.

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Best Fly Line for Delicate Presentations

RIO Trout LT

rio trout fly lt fly line taper diagram