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Old 09-21-2011, 02:51 PM
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Default Fly line ratings?

I just had a talk with a technical guy from a major fly line company. I hit him with the question "Since fly lines are rated by the weight of the first 30', if you have say a 5 wt. line and a 60' head, by the time you get the head out you are tossing twice the weight your rod is designed for. In fact because there are so many different head lengths, doesn't it to some extent make fly line ratings irrelevant?" He basically agreed with me. It makes about as much sense as calculating a persons weight by weighing one leg. In Spey lines you weigh the whole head regardless of length. Spey rods have a grain window and the makers know what that is. I seriously doubt you can find the grain window information for any single hand rod. In spey rods/lines you know the both the grain window and the head weight. Simple. This is a system that makes much more sense to me.

I think the reason some people like a certain line and others hate the same one is because of this 30' vs. whole head weight thing. If a person does not cast more than 45' and has a 60' head, he or she is likely not going to have much more if any than the 30' the rod is rated for out when they shoot. They will like the line. If they are trying to hit 90' they might not like it as much because when they get the head out, they have enough weight out there in the air to load a 10 wt. rod. This is with just the head out.

Am I the only one that thinks that we would be better off using a head weight system like spey lines rather than the 30' weight that has no (and I mean absolutely none) relation to the weight of the head? I think the there would be far less confusion and debate about line weights if there was a less arbitrary measuring system. How can you call a line that has a 60' head and a line with a 35' head, both of which the first 30' weigh 140, 5 weights? I think the only reason this is not a worse problem is that the grain window for single hand rods is very wide.

If there is a moral to my rant here it would be that you shouldn't look at the rating of a fly linewithout considering the head length, the distances you plan to cast, and probably the construction of the head taper.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:29 PM
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Default Re: Fly line ratings?

Dan, Which line was it that has a 60' head, I'm curious. Often they will include the rear taper as part of the head length which can be as long as 25' in RIO Gold, Airflo Rangefinder or SA Mastery Expert Distance Taper, for instance. The supposedly accurarte weight of the first 30' is intended to load a supposidly accuratly rated 5-weight. Often we (including leader) make a shorter cast; a well designed rod should be able to tip cast accurtaly and with feeling in-close. When we want distance we might be holding a bit more than 30' maybe 40 - 45' of line in the air. This extra mass helps us load the rod further down into the butt part of the taper for more power (assuming the rod, as most good ones do, posesses suitable reserves down low). Rarely would one actually airealize 60' of line so why, you ask, attenuate the head of the line in some "long-belly" or (as I prefere) "extended-head" designes? NOT FOR CASTING! The intent is for elaborate presentaions inclding reach casts, in air and and on water mending and feeding of slack into downstream dead drifts. If a design goes from thick head to thin running line abruptly over a 3 or 5 foot length (as in typical weight forward tapers) a poor transfer of energy is the result and the line "hinges" badly deminishing the anglers' ability to execute elaborate post-cast line manipulation thus impacting the ability to drift ones' fly optimally.

This is not to say that there is not room for improvement in line ratings. In an earlier posting I tried to make a case for rating lines in 1/2 size increments. I also would like mfg's. to post charts on thier web-sites featuring thier lines ' divergence from AFFTMA standards including the mass beyond the first 30'.

The more information we can get from the makers and the more we educate one-another in forums like this one, the better rod-to-line match-ups we will make and the more effectivly our tacke will serve us astream.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:38 PM
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Default Re: Fly line ratings?

Any fly line rating system needs to be simple and easily understood. There also has to be a reason for that length based on fishing. That is the reason there is the 30' rule. Even with that very simple and basic system, you get questions about over or under lining a rod with 3 pages of opinions on it.

No system that limits a rating to a certain mass, whether it is for a given distance or for a head can quantify what the line actually feels like. All 6 wt lines have approximately the same mass, but we know that the profile of that line and the mass distribution over the 30 feet is as important on how the line will cast.

The advantage of the 30' system is that it is established. The reason 30 feet was chosen was because that is about the distance you can approach a trout without being seen in it's window. 30 feet was not chosen at random.

At 30 feet from the edge of the window, the 10 degree line hides the angler. The result is that anything shorter than 5 feet tall is hidden in the optically compressed 10 degrees at the windows edge. The added leader and rod length then gives the fisher the opportunity to cast above the holding point of the fish and stay out of the window allowing a dry fly to drift into the window.

See the illustration below. At a distance "d" = 30 feet from the window, "h" = 5 feet for the 10 degree distorted image.

Click the image to open in full size.


The 30 feet was an approximation of how far the average angler had to be from a spooky fish without being detected visually and yet being able to cast to the fish with a "balanced" rod/line outfit.

I see no advantage to the head system because you still need to quantify the length of the head and the profile over that length. That is the same thing we now have now. You can get that same technical information. Whether you have a 30 ft system or a head mass system, you need to quantify the length of the head and the taper to really understand the line profile.

It is still the same line with a labeling system that is still incomplete.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: Fly line ratings?

I did not know that 30' thing with Trout. Good info.


Quote:
Originally Posted by silver creek View Post
The advantage of the 30' system is that it is established. The reason 30 feet was chosen was because that is about the distance you can approach a trout without being seen in it's window. 30 feet was not chosen at random.

See the illustration below. At a distance "d" = 30 feet from the window, "h" = 5 feet for the 10 degree distorted image.

Click the image to open in full size.
However, I have the complete tecnical specs for a pretty good number of lines and there are things missing, like the weight of the head. If everyone was fishing for Trout at 30 this would be a great system, however not all of us do. I almost never get to fish anything as close as 30'. I think it might be good to include the entire head weight somewhere in the label because it would help in making a choice for the kind of casting we plan to use it for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver creek View Post
I see no advantage to the head system because you still need to quantify the length of the head and the profile over that length. That is the same thing we now have now. You can get that same technical information. Whether you have a 30 ft system or a head mass system, you need to quantify the length of the head and the taper to really understand the line profile.

It is still the same line with a labeling system that is still incomplete.
Which is what you are saying here right?
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Old 09-21-2011, 07:06 PM
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Default Re: Fly line ratings?

Yes.

Fly line manufacturers should provide more information for the technical fisher.

But a new system will create problems of its own.

Here's the thing. The line is only 1/2 of the rod/line system. Changing the line rating system means that somehow the rod rating system now has to be changed to match. How do you do that when the the head lengths will vary and the mass for these lengths will vary? It must also be compatible with DT and WF lines.

There is also the problem of what the angler with the rods rated under the old system will do with the new line system. It will create the same problem that occurred when the system changed from old style A to H letter designations. now we get questions about what lines a angler should use for older rods. A chart is needed. Can there be such a chart when the head lengths and weights vary?

Fly line conversion to old-style letter

Any change causes confusion and at the end of that confusion must be a system that has an overwhelming advantage over the current system.
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Last edited by silver creek; 09-21-2011 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:16 PM
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Default Re: Fly line ratings?

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver creek View Post
Yes.

Fly line manufacturers should provide more information for the technical fisher.

But a new system will create problems of its own.
Ok, a new system may be unproductive but we could use a bit more information. By only giving you the weight of the first 30', having a who knows what weight for the rest of the head, the system as it stands now paints a very incomplete picture that most people are probably not aware of.

I think it would also help a lot if rod makers would actually rate the rod as what it really is. That is probably a bigger problem than the lack of, in my opinion, required information on fly lines. Look at the list of rods and compare what they are rated as to what they really are. Even good makers are guilty of it. Look at the 10wt. G Loomis crosscurrent. It is actually a teeny bit more than a 12 wt. rod. Now compound that by thinking "I want to underline this" and stick something with a short head on it. How happy do you think you are going to be with that line? Would you blame the rod? It's a Loomis after all. Now if you stuck a 10 with a really long head on it you may like the setup. You would still be technically underlined, but with the long head when you got it out you would be right in the ball park with what is in reallity a 12 wt. rod. Do you begin to see why the plethura of line/rod threads?
sexyloops rod data base

What we think of as standards are shakey at best.
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Old 09-22-2011, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: Fly line ratings?

This is a great topic to "unpack" (as some love to say).

For example, if you compare as SA's "Magnum" taper (aggressive front heavy line with a very short belly) and their XXD/Distance lines (long front taper, long belly, EXTREMELY long rear taper) by the time you aerialize 50-60' of line you may be dealing with totally different numbers than were used to sell you those lines.

The Magnum is supposed to be a half weight extra heavy, but when you factor in the full head of the XXD line, the "Magnum" might be the lighter of the two!
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Old 09-22-2011, 01:33 AM
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Default Re: Fly line ratings?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigCliff View Post
by the time you aerialize 50-60' of line you may be dealing with totally different numbers than were used to sell you those lines.

The Magnum is supposed to be a half weight extra heavy, but when you factor in the full head of the XXD line, the "Magnum" might be the lighter of the two!
Yes! This is exactly what I was talking about. What the first 30' is and what the effective rating is when you start aerializing a bunch of it, can be radically different things. How do you know that from what is on the box when you are shopping at the fly shop? Or looking in a catalog? Look at all the Rio lines with tapers that are compound. Where does that head change at? How long is it? What is the total head weight? I have the line specs for Rio, SA, Airflo and Cortland. All of them will show what the head lengths are, what the first 30" weigh, the line length, and even the colors. Not one of them tell you what the head weighs. In cases where they have a compound taper, they don't even tell you where that taper change is in some lines. In the Trpoical F/I Saltwater it's at 13'6" in the WF8F, but in the I/I Saltwater line it's in a mystery spot past 9' and somewhere before 40'.

Some of us need short casts, and some of us need to bang one out into the next zip code. Without far more information on both the lines we are looking at than comes on the box, and without a proper understanding of what our rods are, because they are often not what they call them, how are we to go get just the right tools for the job first try? Or even second?
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Old 09-22-2011, 10:25 AM
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Default Re: Fly line ratings?

I agree that fly line information is incomplete and more information is better than less information.

Why then do manufacturers not provide that information? If we examine it from their perspective, there are several possible reasons.

1) They want to keep other manufacturers from duplicating the design of their fly lines.

But more than that, they want to keep other manufacturers from knowing what changes they are making to their fly lines. Product changes are just as, or more important as design because, it indicates what the manufacturer is doing to improve their product.

Rather than giving that proprietary information away, they want to make their competitors deconstruct the fly lines and in the process, they may miss something or even worse, take a wrong turn.

2) What is a manufacturer to do when it does make changes to a fly line to tweek it?

Constant improvement through change is a process that all manufacturing undergoes. So what if a manufacturer wants to introduce a change to a fly line that already has all of its specification listed? It has to order new boxes and packaging and the change notifies it's competition of a better way to design the line.

So additional complexity, cost and competitiveness are the result.

3) What is the perceived need for more information vs the risk of providing that information? This is the $64,000 question. What is the benefit vs the risk?

How many consumers actually ask for more information, and will providing that information actually result in sufficient increased sales to negate the extra cost and risk? The answer is really better asked in the negative. How many sales do they, or will they lose, by not providing that information? The answer is very few because no company is providing that information.

It is very similar to the situation that rod companies faced before Sage introduced the no fault lifetime fly rod warranty. That caused other fly rod companies to follow suit, and now Sage wishes they never had introduced that policy.

In summary, I believe that when one examines any situation from the other side, the decision may not seem so unreasonable. When anglers demand more information, and one of the fly line companies begins to provide this information which leads to greater sales, then we will see change.

Having said the above, it does not seem too great a risk to provide that weight/mass of the head.
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