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Old 09-04-2010, 07:54 AM
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Default Thoughts On Fly Line Length

Over the past couple of days, I've seen a few references to the fact that most fish are caught within 30 ft of you. Some of those references were recommending Noobs (like me) shouldn't worry about getting the fly out long distances, because of the fact above, and it's obviously easier to cast smoothly and accurately with 30 ft of line than 60.

So, if that's the case, why are most fly lines (maybe all) 90 ft + ???

If you're very experienced and throwing an 8 wt line or higher, OK, maybe I can see that standard length.

I can also see the "economics" side of a 90 ft DT line, taking my own use into account, where on a good day, I'm actually using ~ 1/2 of the fly line length. 1/2 gets used, and then turn it around when that part is worn and you basically have a brand new "useable" length of line.

But realistically, how many people using fairly light weight tackle (let's say 5 wt and lighter) actually use the full 90 ft?? Is it even possible for the vast majority of fisherman to even get that much line in the air with light gear? I would guess that SOME fisherman with exceptional skills using double-haul in benign conditions can do it, but what percentage can?

I'd enjoy reading the thoughts of others on this subject. Also feel free to tell me I'm full of $#!+ on any of the assumptions I've mentioned above.

Cheers!

Jamie.
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:21 PM
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Default Re: Thoughts On Fly Line Length

Jamie,

You are right on with the DT assessment. If a line were not 80 - 90 feet long we would be needing to use running lines and compared to a nice vinyl coated fly line running line would not be my choice. You can look into shooting heads and runners if you really need distance but I would look into a good quality spinning rig first. I say that because once you start reaching out past 60 or so feet it becomes more like a test of endurance that a fun time fishing. All that stripping, hauling, (whew!) it makes me tired just writing about it. Although I cringe every time I see another distance casting thread I would guess the desire to learn to cast far is as old as fishing. I learned how to distance cast but I also took the time to learn how to control loop size for fishing in wind or getting a fly into a tight spot. The Shepard's Hook, The Steeple Cast, Slack Line, and of course proper line mending and control have all proven very useful through the years. There's a lot more to being a good caster than sending backing through the guides with a four weight rod.

As you know I live in Alaska now and sometimes distance is prerequisite in many places where I fish. The lessons of the past were very valuable because I was prepared for whatever I found when I got on new waters. Here I fish wet flies and eventually I determined that rather than wear myself out trying to launch out 70 - 80' of line on some occasions moving up to a long rod was the way to go. I bought a 13' 8 wt rod and here you will find no escape from the distance dogma. Many of the lines designed for Spey rods are 120 feet or longer and many are the fellows who live only for the day they can shoot the backing out the line guides like the guys who make fishing movies. I really liked Clint Eastwood movies but they never had any great effect on my real life practices and I think as a fisherman a fellow has to separate fantasy from reality. Yes those long flowing casts are a beautiful thing to witness and no doubt it would be great to cast like that. But then this can be related all the way back to when Moses brought those stone tablets down off the mountain, thou shalt not covet was in there somewhere right. We need to take a proper path to learning all of the components that will build us a foundation of learning and provide a better experience when we fish. Being able to cast to the next zip code is not always the best tool just as your sledge hammer is not needed every time you make a household repair. Having a good selection of tools and knowledge will get the kitchen faucet to stop dripping.

Although I take pride in how well I have learned to make fly lines do what I need it is true that 95% of the fish I catch are somewhere between 30 & 50 feet away when I drive in the hook. When dry fly fishing things were pretty much the same distance unless I was on a really small creek. What did all this mean? I am saying move ahead and learn all that you can. There will be a day when you will be very glad you can make a double haul cast to a salmon 60 or 70 feet away but don't measure your skills by the length of your casts.
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:46 PM
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Default Re: Thoughts On Fly Line Length

Well said, Ard, very well said indeed.

Fred
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:44 PM
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Default Re: Thoughts On Fly Line Length

Casting aside, there is a technical merit to line length. It has to do with line control. After casting about 30 feet, what does one do to control the drift? One has to mend it. If all that is there is a 30 foot head and line backing after that, trying to make a controlled mend will be next to impossible. In the big waters that that are common in the West, short to medium length casts with long mends are very common.

MP
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Old 09-04-2010, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: Thoughts On Fly Line Length

You're right with that MP, I tend to go a little deeper than I intend when I start and sometimes forget what was the question
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:00 AM
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Default Re: Thoughts On Fly Line Length

Quote:
Originally Posted by MoscaPescador View Post
Casting aside, there is a technical merit to line length. It has to do with line control. After casting about 30 feet, what does one do to control the drift? One has to mend it. If all that is there is a 30 foot head and line backing after that, trying to make a controlled mend will be next to impossible. In the big waters that that are common in the West, short to medium length casts with long mends are very common.

MP
OK MP, good point. To debate that (and take into account my inexperience and light wt gear), if you have 30 ft of line out from the rod tip, how much line will actually be used in a good mend in a fast stream with let's say 30 ft of line out? 10 ft?? 20 ft??? Big fast moving waters aren't common close to where I am, so I don't really know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyreels View Post
You're right with that MP, I tend to go a little deeper than I intend when I start and sometimes forget what was the question
It's all good Ard. Your posts are always informative and and after reading nearly every post you put up, I say to myself "I didn't know that". It always seems to give me a reason to Google something and find out more about that fact or statement.



Back to the light weight gear points, by far most of my fishing time is still water, or moving fairly slow. Around here, I'd be challenged to find a decent spot to even practice "mending" a line with the exact conditions where it would be required. I haven't been on a salmon river yet, probably nor will I be with my current "budget" 5 wt setup. That will be another nearly vertical part of the learning curve early next year

Personally, I'm pleased with my progress with what I have and where I go. I'll admit that still water is probably easier (mechanically) to fish than streams, and in my humble opinion, a better place to learn the mechanics of the cast. In reasonable conditions and surroundings, I can consistently and with decent accuracy get between 30 and 40' of line out from the rod tip. When you add the length of the rod and leader, that's placing the fly 45-55 ft out, and that's plenty of distance for me and for where I fish. Again, I'll probably never have this outfit on big water. I'll leave the salmon rivers for the 8 wt kit I'll put together for myself over the winter, and will revisit distance capabilities next spring.

All that being said, I'm still not convinced 90 ft+ is required on 5 wt or lighter lines.

As always, thank you folks for the great posts.

Jamie
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:22 AM
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Default Re: Thoughts On Fly Line Length

"All that being said, I'm still not convinced 90 ft+ is required on 5 wt or lighter lines."

I would have to agree, save for one item: Almost all lines are at 90', 120' for 2-handers, (some out to 150'**) because of the machinery used to make the runs of a given line. Who/how were these lengths chosen? Not a clue, but someone picked the length as a 'standard' and everyone else followed suit. An AFTMA thing?

** Even at 150,' all your competition level 2-hander casters have to splice on extra running line. That's the only 'alteration' allowed.
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Old 09-05-2010, 12:20 PM
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Default Re: Thoughts On Fly Line Length

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamieof View Post
OK MP, good point. To debate that (and take into account my inexperience and light wt gear), if you have 30 ft of line out from the rod tip, how much line will actually be used in a good mend in a fast stream with let's say 30 ft of line out? 10 ft?? 20 ft??? Big fast moving waters aren't common close to where I am, so I don't really know.
Last week I was fishing a small stream that I quartered downed a 25 foot cast and mended out up to 25 feet of line. The fish were holding against that bank. I was situated in a place that I could not move for better position. That allowed me to drift my hopper 25 feet. I was able to get two from that position. To answer your question of how much line, one can mend out as much as one can control.

Let's go back to the original question about why 90 feet. My guess is that there are some people who utilize a good majority of the line. Some cast 25 to 30 feet effectively. Some cast and fish 60 to 70 feet. Some never have more than 45 feet out. Some will have a trout run them into their backing. Having a thick running line to retrieve is much faster than reeling in backing that would be attached to a head. With running line being thicker than backing, the thickness will stack over itself making a larger reeling diameter for faster retrieval.

I will agree that most light lines do not need to be 90 feet. Maybe an 80 foot line?

MP

Last edited by MoscaPescador; 09-05-2010 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 09-05-2010, 02:11 PM
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Default Re: Thoughts On Fly Line Length

This is kinda nice, our own privet thread

That is a prime example MP, I use a lot of line stack mending when fishing deep. Jamie, think on it this way; when a fella gets started he may wonder what all that line is for. By the time that same person is casting for a year he would be hopping mad if they had only sold him 50' of line. There are all sort of situations that use up the available fly line. By now you guys have figured out that I don't spend a lot of time writing about how far or how well I can cast. I will tell you that if you keep at this you will appreciate the whole line. Yep, most fishing will be short range but sooner or later you will need your distance.
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