Having returned from our mid-March trip to Andros I have been editing my portfolio and collecting my tackle thoughts. Our conditions turned out to not be great, the chilled winds that have plagued us all this past winter followed us down there. OK, far from snow but temps in the 70's rather than 80's and wind from 15 to as high as 30 MPH make flats fishing challenging. But this is what one practices one’s casting for and outfits oneself with rod/line combos that can generate the line speed and loop formation to deal with the wind.
Enter Cortland Liquid Crystal Blue which I learned about at last January’s Somerset Fly Fishing Show. This 1/2 size heavy line with extended rear taper turned out to be an ideal match for my Hardy Proaxis #8. This rod has a steep, fast taper with a very quick recovering tip that likes a long head, long rear taper line for loading and loop stability. Far from being specialized to one rod, my camp mate and expert casting friend liked it equally well on his T&T Solar, a slightly slower, deeper flexing but also powerful rod. Liquid Crystal, which was originally introduced as a totally transparent line, the translucent blue tint is new for this season, is an unusual synthases of an extruded polyethylene coating thermally bonded to a special monofilament core material producing a line unmistakably slicker with greatly reduced stretch compared to conventional technology tropical fly line. I can't quantitatively say how much less friction during the cast and less stretch on the strip and strike but everyone who cast it commented on its slickness and ease of generating line speed. Therefore, extra distance is not an issue with this line. In fact, as a rare compliment to a line manufacture, my superb casting friend while drilling this line against a breeze asked, “How long is this line?” “Ninety feet”, I replied. He took another shot and said, “I sure wish it was twenty feet longer, I don’t like holding backing in my hand while casting”. This line’s forward biased head weight distribution positively and efficiently turned over size 2 bonefish flies weighted with big bead chain or small lead dumbbells using a 14' fluorocarbon leader. I felt the front and rear tapers where perfect, the 26’ rear taper eliminated any possibility of hinging and effectively promoted loop stability at distance, important in streamlining the loop into the wind. I can't really comment on durability having only fished this line for a week and though I suffered a few minor nicks from fish running around mangroves and such, the line shot as fluidly on the last day of the trip as the first. Because of its polymer/monocore technology, I didn't expect it to be a super high floater and, in the wind roiled water surface, it did not act like a cork...but it floated well enough for this sunk fly fashion of sight fishing. Perhaps I had to strip in a few more feet before lifting it off the water but it never felt like a handicap or anything and water hauled excellently. Another thing I can't be quantitative about is its super low stretch characteristics and what they mean to artful bonefishing. I sensed, though, that it did stretch much less than conventional technology fly lines. When stripping the slack out of a presentation, thus moving the fly then pausing, the fly dropped and the fish charged lest the crab get into and hide in the marle. I strip-striked the fly home and the line felt more directly connected, putting me that much more in control. I like it. And the Liquid Crystal is totally quite. The guides at Andros Island Bonefish Club like that too, as, to a man, they are convinced that the new "textured" style fly lines transmit their hiss into the water and spook them bonefish, Mon. I am uncertain if this is true but, regardless, it is a drag to fish a line your guide detests.
It is rare I add a new and fundamentally important piece of equipment technology to my long standing bonefishing arsenal. Ironically, my first bonefish line back in the 1980’s in Mexico’s Ascension Bay was a Cortland 444SL. It also had a longer head design and cast great up North when testing out my gear. In the up to 100 degree Yucatan heat it turned limp and gummy…not so Liquid Crystal. This line maintained is composure with ease and constancy, exhibited a very low tendency to suffer from common memory coiling or twisting and just the right blend of stiffness and slickness. It shows how far specialized fly line technology and design have come. Liquid Crystal is 90’ long, comes handsomely packaged on a re-usable plastic spool housed in an attractive round tin and costs $80. It has earned a permanent place in my bonefish kit, the highest rating I can give.