Introduced a year ago as the “Trout Stalker”, this fly line has had its name shortened but not its taper. A conceptual extension and refinement of the original and seminal extended head and elongated rear taper line, Mastery Expert Distance Taper, this new line features a friction reducing, dimpled textured surface.
When Scientific Anglers introduced “Sharkskin” fly lines in 2009, they were extoled for several characteristics: 1. Their remarkable ability to shoot through the rod guides adding unexpected distance to each cast, 2. The ease with which the line can be lifted off the water to re-cast and, 3. Their seeming ability to shed grime and retain their as–new characteristics. The same diamond-shaped Sharkskin texturing that yields these attributes also sings an audible hissing sound through the guides and in battle with hard running game fish can cut an angler’s fingers…the bigger the fish the deeper these cuts can be. People who are thrilled by the lines superior performance regard the hiss as a monitor of slack-in-the-line casting flaws and wear finger stripping guards now readily available, particularly in saltwater fly shops.
The Textured series of fly lines, which include both fresh and saltwater versions, could be called Sharkskin II, except that they have replaced the sharkskin-like patterning with less aggressive golf ball-like rounded dimples. Perhaps there is more surface area contact with Textured compared to Sharkskin but the performance advantages remain. I am an angler, I am happy to leave the engineering to the experts at 3M/Scientific Angler. A hissing sound, albeit reduced, remains during casting but the potential for cuts is eliminated and, in addition to this Trout version, I have been fishing the Textured Saltwater line extensively in the Bahamas.
Even without the technical aspects of this line’s sophisticated coating, it is advantageous because of its taper design. Using my WF4F as an example, fully 2/3 of the lines 90’ length composes its head. The taper in diagram A (above) illustrates its proportions. What does this mean in terms of presenting a fly? Firstly the 12’ front taper is more than twice as long as many conventional WF floating lines and, as casting energy diminishes as the mass of the line decreases, this front taper assists the best of your technique in delivering a fly with ultimate delicacy. Of course, you have to generate that energy and Trout has nearly 20’ of belly compounded so the front half has a little more mass than the rear portion to help load the rod quickly thus maximizing energy to execute the cast at the distance desired prior to its transference into the front taper. Further, by possessing this now 32’ of head taper, not including your leader, smooth loop formation or adroit roll casting are both facilitated. Here is where a critical design element enters: In conventional WF tapers the termination of the thicker head of the line steeply diminishes over just a few feet to the thinnest portion of the remainder of the line, the running line. This rapid diameter change is an energy blocker and can yield hinging. However, in Trout this rear taper is attenuated over 25’, eliminating this hinge point while simultaneously slowly reducing the mass of the line to avoid over-lining the rod, particularly its tip as happens with a DT design in a longer cast. This is important, not only when the occasional longer cast is required, but also because the longer head transferring into the long rear taper maintains loop stability and control while executing slack line manipulation such as reach casting and in-air and on-water mends. It may be that, as lines of this configuration proliferate, we need a new designation such as WFL(long)4F.
Therefore, when fishing a spring creek or similar technical tail-water environment and you have the fortune to find a super selective brown sipping spinners from beneath the cover of overhanging bankside grasses, you will hope to have Trout spooled on your reel. Utilizing its extended length head generates a tight, stable loop cast parallel to the fishes’ lie. With extra line on the water and keeping your rod tip high, you unfurl the line fully in the air as you sweep the rod tip, reaching perpendicularly to your side. The line unfurls your long leader and the extra-long front taper wafts the fly naturally down onto the stream a few feet above the feeding fish. Your reach cast formed a big “L” of slack, cushioning your line from subtle current vagaries. Immediately, you commence to feed elongated rear taper additional slack into the dead drift; your eyes are riveted on the free floating spinner imitation. With no coils of tippet in front of the fly you struggle to ascertain which is your fly among the naturals it is floating along with. Did that grass just move against the current…that is my spinner entering that bit of shadow…a dark yellow glint of subsurface color is imagined as a push of water with a dimple in its center appears. Intuitively you have drawn the line tight and feel immovable head shaking weight as the fish itself refuses to believe it is hooked…but it is and bursts from cover into the springtime evening light showering droplets of water from its buttery broad flanks as it crashes back into the stream. Get him on the reel and keep side pressure on to keep him out of his lie and away from those beaver sticks. You’d better start to follow him - he is accelerating downstream.
While retelling your story later and basking in accolades of your prowess, you might add what an advantage your new SA Mastery Textured Trout line provided to your success.
Mastery Textured Trout is true to its designated size, not over weighted. It is a pleasantly natural looking tan color, “Willow” SA calls it, and features several feet of an additionally buoyant compound at its tip for extra floatation. As with all the lines in the Textured series, it features SA ID; a permanently imprinted labeling of its model and size on its forward taper so you will never again be confused as to which line did I rig on this reel? Cortland began doing this on some models a few years ago and I would like to see this great idea expanded to all lines, banishing those ugly, gooey little labels that fall off anyway forever.
I fished Trout on an 8 ½’/#4 Hardy Zenith which it loaded perfectly. Using the responsive tip of this rod, the line performed in close presentations easily and with feeling while effortlessly reaching out to any appropriate distance desired. The Zenith is a very communicative rod and feedback from this line was impeccable; its textured surface may have been a further advantage in this clarity of communication. I fished this outfit on the West Branch of the Delaware during low clear conditions, on Silver Creek and several other technical Western waters.