Picture the scenario: you are standing on the bank of your favourite Trout stillwater, fishing with what you believe is the right fly line for the job - in this case a weight forward floating fly line - but there are a couple of guys fishing either side of you catching fish. You kindly ask what they are catching them on and they happily share this information. 'A Diawl Bach mate,' replies the gentleman to your right, 'about 4ft down.' Confused and frustrated, you realise that you actually have the same fly on your leader as the guys at either side of you, however, being the highly perceptive fly fisherman that you are, you further notice that your contemporaries don’t have a long, bright green or orange fly line in front of them. They are fishing a sinking line. In that moment you realise that you only have one fly line handy, the weight forward floater because you believed that was the only line you would ever need.
This is an all too common scenario, particularly with beginner fly fishermen. As you start out, you are told you only need a 9.6ft for a #7 fly rod, so you go out a buy a fly rod at this recommended length and a nice weight forward 7 fly line. This is perfectly suitable when you are learning to cast and fish for Trout but as you develop as a fly angler, you realise that having minimal kit is restricting. Conditions change, fish behaviour can be unpredictable, there may not be any visible fly activity or there may be conditions unique to the particular water you are fishing. In reality there are a multitude of variables you need to contend with but if you have a range of fly lines at your disposal, you can significantly increase your chances.
Advantages of Having Multiple Fly Lines
When to Switch Fly Lines
'The fishery manager was right,' you think to yourself and you are rewarded with a lovely 3lb Trout in great condition. As you safely return the fish to the water and continue to fish, suddenly the wind drops and fish start head and tailing on the surface of the water feeding on buzzers trapped in the surface film. Your knowledge and experience kicks in and you realise it's time to swap the intermediate fly line back to your floating fly line because it's turned into a classic CDC situation. So you make the necessary change and swap lines, change your fly fishing leader for a long knotless tapered job – which you de-grease - and attach a Fulling Mill Palomino Black CDC. Again, after one cast – BAM! A Trout comes up and gently sips your black CDC off the surface and you quickly respond with a calm, controlled lift of your fly rod. Fish on, again! At the back of you mind you are thinking 'Im so glad I invested in a a few lines.'
|Switching Fly Lines Infographic|
Granted, these are just two typical scenarios: a bit of a wave and a flat calm but having the right lines gives you the ability to adapt and get your fly into the right position, either just under the surface or right on the surface. Ultimately though, not all Trout waters are the same. Sometimes you may find yourself trying loads of different flies and you may have swapped your fly line a few times and still no fish to show for it; sometimes fish are just out-with your casting range; you may be fishing from a boat into the margins with a Sink Tip Fly Line, or from a dam wall with a Di7 fly line; fish may be pre-occupied with a specific fly species and regardless of how many times you present your fly in the right position, you just can't entice them. It's your knowledge and experience, coupled with the right fly fishing equipment, which increases the probability of having what you define as a successful day.
It's not always about just the Fly Lines
Therefore let's revisit our opening scenario, but this time you are prepared: you have a range of fly lines, load of flies, spools of fluorocarbon tippet of varying breaking strains and a little imagination. You switch from floating fly line to a sinker and fish the same fly, a Diawl Bach, and you catch a couple of fish. But after fifteen or so minutes the takes dry up and your fellow anglers are facing the same situation because you've not noticed any fly rods bending for a while. However this time you are more perceptive: 'is it possible the takes are drying up because the fish are sick of seeing Diawl Bachs,' you ask yourself? Another possibility: 'could the fish be spooked by the constant fishing pressure?' Ultimately you decide to move to the opposite bank and fish a sink tip fly line with a single Pheasant Tail Fly. The result? You are looking across at the opposite bank where the anglers have chosen to stay and continue using the same tactics, but now they are looking across and seeing your fly rod bent over 4 or five times. Why? You are thinking outside the box!
It's so easy to be complacent and falsely believe in, too much, what others are using and not willing to break free from your comfort zone. Yes the tried and tested tactics work up to a point but what happens then? How are you going to adapt and start catching again? Don't be afraid to experiment because you may just stumble upon a technique that's unique but highly successful, and having the right fly lines at your disposal gives you that flexibility. Tight Lines.