I am starting to enter the world of musky fishing on the fly. I need to purchase some fly line and was wondering what my best option would be given that I can only buy one line. I was thinking an intermediate line, like Rio's Pike/Musky line. I will be fishing mainly streamers. Would an intermediate work, or would a 300 or 400 grain sinking line work better? I suppose a floating sink tip is always an option too, but I won't fish topwater much if at all for now..
I have the pike/musky floating on my 8wt and like the line. I've tossed some big bass bugs and flies for smallies and pike in rivers. I think I'm going to get it for my 10wt for musky fishing. Whether you should get that one or a faster sinking line depends on how deep you want to fish. The rivers/lakes I'm looking at are really weedy so I want something that will get the fly down but won't bury it in the weeds too quickly. I go back and forth between getting an intermediate, getting a floating and versileaders, or a floater and a sinking.
I think the key for picking the proper fly line, aside from the rod it is intended to be used on, is understanding the type of water you're going to fish. Are you planning on fishing fast running rivers, slower running rivers, deep lakes, or shallow lakes? What type of structure are you targetting fish in? If you're targeting bank hugging musky with smaller flies, I'd probably recommend an intermediate line. If, however, you're fishing faster mid-channel musky and need to get your fly down, I'd get a heavy sink line.
I'd avoid a floating line unless you plan on spending most of your time fishing topwater, which you indicated you don't. Shoot, even when I am throwing topwater flies, I still use an intermediate line a lot of the time. I get a bigger "pop" with my poppers that way.
Musky flies, especially if you're using any material that is bouyant aren't going to be getting down on their own. They need help via your fly line, and where your rod tip is in the water column. There are some holes, that even when I run a 450gr sink, I still stick my rod as far as I can under the boat to help the fly stay even lower than it would when I strip.
Here are the lines that I personally use. Not that they're the most ideal, or that anyone will agree with my choices but they should give you some ideas.
10 weight rods:
450 SA Wet Tip Express
400 SA Streamer Express (Wet tip, IMO is a better fly line)
10wt Rio Pike/Musky intermediate
10wt SA Mastery Textured Titan Taper
350 SA Streamer Express
9Wt Rio Pike/Musky Intermediate
9Wt SA Mastery Textured Magnum taper
Now, I fish shallow, medium paced rivers with a lot of small rapids. If I had only 1 fly line to pick from, it would without a doubt be a heavy sink line. I use mine about 90% of the time.
Thanks for the response, that answered many questions I had had. I'll be fishing mainly shallow-medium lakes, close to shore most times. The sink line is sounding appealing to me right now, especially since I would be able to fish in some deeper areas that an intermediate wouldn't be practical for. Do you think I'd be able to fish a sink line (like the 450 wet tip) when I'm in a bit shallower, say 5 feet? or would I be dragging the bottom the whole time? Sorry for all of the questions, I have not had previous experience with sinking lines. I guess I feel stuck in the middle between an intermediate and heavy sinking line..
Might be a little heavy for a lake, but that's something to experiment with. A lot will just depend on the type of retrieves your using. If you're stripping real fast, then you won't have any issues. But if you're going slow, then yes, dragging on the bottom will be an issue I would think. If I was going to spend most of my time fishing in >5' of water i would get myself a 350 and see how it goes. If you start throwing bigger flies, and fishing deeper water, then look at getting yourself a different line.
Musky fishing isn't an easy sport, and rarely is there a "right" answer. Everyone has got an opinion on this stuff. From flies, to rods, and to lines it is really up to the individual. It's a sport that want to be properly geared up for too. It's hard enough to catch these fish, not even taking into consideration being under geared. If it was me I'd make every possible effort to get yourself an extra spool and some intermediate line to go with that sink line. I don't think you'd regret having that extra versatility in the shallow water.
One absolute you will need is a taper designed to turn over very large, wind resistant flies. In lakes, don't get too caught up with an ideal sink rate. Since you have no current you have the ability to adjust how deep you get by how long you let it sink. Tho a line that sinks too fast is going to make you commit to fast retrieve which is largely ineffective fishing to cold sluggish fish. The flyline I found that really impressed me for turning over massive flies with ease and had a very acceptable range of sink rate is the Airflo Sniper type III. It has a floating running line with a sinking tip. and I just found this, which nearly made me vomit cause I paid full price for mine AirFlo WF10S3 Sniper Type 3 Sinking Line | Fly Lines | Outlet | Bob Marriott's Flyfishing Store
I'm a big fan of an intermediate line because it allows me to really control what part of the water column that I want to fish in. I fish mostly lakes, but have fished some slow moving streams in iowa. I'm not just talking pike/musky, but bass and other warm water species as well. Ted has been a mountain of knowledge for this. I' have some vision big daddy fly lines on the way to try. Also, some cortland and teeny lines on the way. I could post some reviews on them, if you need some more input. I have an 8 weight and a couple of "big fly" lines. The outbound short has no issue turning over the 12" flies that I have. I have the older pike fly line that is 40' in head length. It doesn't do as good of a job, but I would think the taper of the new pike line would be a lot better.
Anyway, I will post a review of each of these lines, anyway, just to give people an idea of what awesome products cortland and vision are putting out!