08-17-2009, 11:24 AM
Re: Shooting Lines
Axle, No it's still more of a fly cast- the difference being there is less false casting with a shooting head.
The shooting head is typically just 30' long, compared to 90 feet for a typical fly line. This helps explain the need to go up a line size or more typically 2 line sizes.
Fly line designations are based on the weight in grains for the first 30 feet of a fly line. But it's not uncommon to have more than 30 feet outside the tip when casting a regular fly line- at least if your trying to reach long distances where shooting heads excel. Roughly, for every additional 10' of regular fly line you have outside the tip, the equivalent weight in grains is about an "extra" line weight. So for example with a 5 weight rod, and a "regular 5 weight fly line" you'd be loading the rod with the equivalent weight in grains of a 5 weight with 30' outside the tip. a 6 weight with 40' outside the tip and a 7 weight with 50' outside the tip.
Since a shooting head is only 30 feet long going up 2 line sizes (now usually measured in equivalent grains) would be loading the rod deep into the butt as if you were casting a regular fly line with 50' outside the tip.
Here's an AFTMA's (American Fishing Tackle Association) standard for the first 30 feet of fly lines:
AFTMA Fly line weight ratings (grains)
1 60 54-66
2 80 74-86
3 100 94-106
4 120 114-126
5 140 134-146
6 160 152-168
7 185 177-193
8 210 202-218
9 240 230-250
10 280 270-290
11 330 318-342
12 380 368-392
Grains are weighed over front 30 feet of line.
So to get a shooting head for a 5 weight line you'd probably want to look for one that weighed about 185 grains.
When false casting a shooting head, just the 30 head is outside the tip-- the "shooting line" the skinny stuff Big Cliff referred to, is coiled at your feet (or in a "shooting basket", and rips out of the guides when you release the shooting head for the cast.
Shooting head set ups tend to be less accurate than regular fly lines since you can't precisely measure long distances with a lot of line out of the tip, and as Clff mentioned you can't mend the shooting line so they wouldn't be good for long distance dry fly fishing in most cases. And it can be a pain to manage the light thin shooting line, but they are great when repeated long casts are necessary swinging wets on big steelhead rivers for example, or where you might want to have several different density lines floater, intermediate, slow, fast, and extra fast sinkers. You can carry a shooting head wallet with different density heads and swap them out easily using loop to loop connections to the shooting line (rather than carrying 5 different reel or full length 90 foot fly line spools). I'd consider them 'specialty" lines in the sense that they excel for some purposes, but have less all around application. I use them occasionally fishing the surf often blind casting- a situation where you want to hit distances, cut through wind with large flies, minimize false casts and where the fish can be anywhere from as far as you can cast (or further most of the time) to at your feet (so you usually want to fish out every cast, leaving you little line outside the tip for false casting). The heavy shooting head makes it a bit easier to load the rod and fire it out there.
Hope this answers your question.