What is the best floating fly line color?

Fish Bones

Well-known member
Messages
3,564
Reaction score
3
There are so many floating fly line colors to choose from today. The colors include, but are certainly not limited to, fluorescent yellow, bright red, screaming orange, green, blue, olive, mango, cream, white, purple, pink, camouflage and clear. What color is best for fly fishing for trout? Are trout spooked by bright colors? Do I need a camo or clear line? This is a touchy subject that has created huge debates over the years. Almost everyone has an opinion. To be honest with you, I don’t think anyone knows the answer for sure. No one that I know has actually gone out and asked the fish.

If you’re spooking fish, and think it may be due to your fly line, you must first ask yourself a question. Is it the fly line color or the movement of the line in the air that is causing the trouble? Could be either one or it could be a combination of both.

Generally speaking, it stands to reason that if the line is in the air and outside the window of view of the fish it shouldn't make any difference what the color is. If it passes over their window then the fish will see it. So, it makes some sense that the line should be a light color resembling the sky. If a fish is looking up it will see a dark thing against the sky easier than a light colored one. However, most fly lines will appear darker against the sky because of the shadow on the underside of the line.

Now if you hold a light colored fly line up against a background other than the sky, like a cliff or some trees, the result will be different. A dark line will blend in better and I can see the possibility of a fly line blending into a background and never even being noticed by a fish. I find it difficult to believe that the fish will react to a specific color floating fly line in most instances. The fish will react to shadows on the water and the fly line passing through their window of sight. Movement is movement and it won’t matter what color the line is. So, you should plan your casts carefully and not allow the fly line to fly too high or across the trout’s line of sight. Pay more attention to your casting skills and accuracy than to what color fly line to use.

I suppose that the bottom line is to use whatever color fly line that you feel comfortable with. I am a firm believer in confidence breading success in fly fishing. If you’re confident in your gear and your skills you will catch fish.
 

CutThroat Leaders

Business Member
Messages
1,433
Reaction score
69
Location
Boise, Idaho
I am often asked this very question. I believe Fly Line color is more for the fisherman than the fish. In moving water, i.e. river fishing, I am a firm believer that color of fly line has no bearing on rates of fish caught. If the fly is presented properly, the fish should see the fly before it sees the fly line. No matter the color, the fly-line will create a shadow; this shadow is enough to make fish scatter. Also, in moving water, fish have a short window of time to decide if they are going to eat or let the fly pass. As long as the fly apprears before the fly-line on a 4-6 feet of cleat tippet, you will have no issues. My recommendation is to worry less about your line and spend more time making good deliberate, accurate casts. Fly fishers who cast deliberate but less often, will catch far more fish than a fisher blind casting all over the water. Hope this helped.
 

puravida

Member
Messages
23
Reaction score
0
Location
Costa Rica
I haven't tested out a lot of colors, but I agree with what Mike previously said. Presentation of the fly is more important. Personally, I like something bright that is easy for me to see.
 

woodrivertroutbum

Well-known member
Messages
588
Reaction score
11
Location
Hope, RI
Floating line, the color doesn't make much difference because the line is seen from below, with the light above it. Because of this, the line will look dark to the fish no matter what color.

Sinking lines, I like dark colors or clear. (I only fish sinking and intermediate lines in salt water.
 

Guest1

Banned
Banned
Messages
4,752
Reaction score
70
Location
Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada bor
I believe Fly Line color is more for the fisherman than the fish.
This is another example of where the search feature probably would have worked better than a post. This subject has been beaten to death and you never change anyones mind. The answers run from black to white and every bright and dull color between.

White or light blue is the best color in my opinion because that is the color tha fish will see it against. Black is a great color if you don't want to be able to see the line yourself. Same with olive and other water colored lines. Nature made fish dark on top and light on the bottom for just this reason. Hard to see from underneath and above that way. Nearly 4 billion years of evolution can't be wrong. If you disagree with me, tell it to mother nature, because I'm out.
 

chechem

Well-known member
Messages
1,264
Reaction score
20
Location
northern Mississippi
We need a beaten-dead-horse emoticon.

But to answer: color effect differs with the location (water color, depth, current, fish species).
Anyone who has fished for Permit or Bonefish in crystal-clear water knows that a false cast over a fish will be met with an explosion of water and a lost opportunity. Your line can be white, green, pink, or yellow; won't matter.

Fishing in glacier melt (milk), it makes no difference.

Your experience?
 

noreaster

Well-known member
Messages
862
Reaction score
16
Location
Prince Edward Island, Canada
I'm not sure but I would say any pale natural earth tone would be good. AIm for blending into the background of where ever you fish. The mastery textured is willow, which I think is decent. It is pale enough to blend with clouds in the sky. It has some green in it which could blend with grass stocks, twigs or other vegetation washed into water. Personally, I would avoid bright flourescent colors.
 

chechem

Well-known member
Messages
1,264
Reaction score
20
Location
northern Mississippi
I'm not sure but I would say any pale natural earth tone would be good. AIm for blending into the background of where ever you fish. The mastery textured is willow, which I think is decent. It is pale enough to blend with clouds in the sky. It has some green in it which could blend with grass stocks, twigs or other vegetation washed into water. Personally, I would avoid bright flourescent colors.
I agree, as long as you agree that color doesn't matter if there's a brilliant-orange strike indicator flying towards the fish!
 

mikel

Well-known member
Messages
2,253
Reaction score
40
Location
Ben Lomond, Ca
I agree, as long as you agree that color doesn't matter if there's a brilliant-orange strike indicator flying towards the fish!
woo hoo! We got line color and indicators in the same thread! I think all of the above is true, except when you can't balance your rod/reel and there's no invasives on your felt soles...

search function...where art thou?
 

noreaster

Well-known member
Messages
862
Reaction score
16
Location
Prince Edward Island, Canada
I agree, as long as you agree that color doesn't matter if there's a brilliant-orange strike indicator flying towards the fish!
I would avoid large bulky blaze orange indicators too. Those little sticky foam pads will do in a pinch if bouyancy is needed. They are kinda pale orange. Fish are prolly used to any manner of color or shape object falling from the sky.
 

rccola712

Well-known member
Messages
129
Reaction score
3
Location
Western NC
Ask and you shall recieve.
Hahaha. That's amazing. I think every forum needs an emoticon like that.


+1 on not using fluorescent indicators. Especially on heavily pressured streams I think that fish see a bright orange/yellow/ect. indicator and get skittish. I've started using natural colored indicators because of it as well.

I was fishing with a guide, we had an orange thingamabobber on and strikes were sporadic, we threw on a white and then clear indicator and the number of strikes doubled.
 

South Holston

Well-known member
Messages
123
Reaction score
3
Location
Bristol. Tennessee
I honestly don't think color of line affects trout. If the shadow from the line crosses them , then they are spooked. If we do the cast right, the fly reaches the trout before anything else anyway. I like the optic green. So I can see the line and know when to mend.
 

jsw

New member
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Location
Clinton, Utah
Hey guys this is my first post so I'll try and contribute. In my experience color has no bearing on catching fish, any color seen directly over them be it white to pink will look dark. I use bright orange so it's easy to see and I never have a problem catching fish all day. And with the strike indicator I feel it's the same scenario, I use thingamobobers in every color from white to hot pink, and just the other day I had 3 fish rise and bump my bright pink indacator. I've had them hit my indacator enough that I'll often use a big dry for me indacator, do if they will hit a hot pink ball on top I don't think color of line makes a difference. Those are just my opinions and observations so to each there own I guess. Thanks and keep up all the good topics going it fun reading about all the different areas of fishing.
 

random user

Well-known member
Messages
581
Reaction score
9
Location
S. E. Taxachusetts
In the absence of hard, empirical, unbiased, repeatable data, I will go with the most-appealing-to-me=superstition every time!

I KNOW what the trout sees of the line is mostly a distortion in the mirror surrounding Snell's circle. I KNOW the line appears to be darker to them looking up at it than to me looking down at it. I KNOW the trout see the line color differently than I do due to the difference in our color perception - they see a lot more UV and I see a little more IR. I KNOW a sloppy cast will scare any fish and most animals in the water.

I prefer lighter, earth-tone fly lines because the most-appealing-to-me-superstition is that the best you can hope for is to be seen and not noticed by your quarry.

---------- Post added at 05:05 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:03 PM ----------

The FLIES have it.
 

fishgolf

Well-known member
Messages
69
Reaction score
2
Location
Montana
I am often asked this very question. I believe Fly Line color is more for the fisherman than the fish. In moving water, i.e. river fishing, I am a firm believer that color of fly line has no bearing on rates of fish caught. If the fly is presented properly, the fish should see the fly before it sees the fly line. No matter the color, the fly-line will create a shadow; this shadow is enough to make fish scatter. Also, in moving water, fish have a short window of time to decide if they are going to eat or let the fly pass. As long as the fly apprears before the fly-line on a 4-6 feet of cleat tippet, you will have no issues. My recommendation is to worry less about your line and spend more time making good deliberate, accurate casts. Fly fishers who cast deliberate but less often, will catch far more fish than a fisher blind casting all over the water. Hope this helped.
Agree. I fished several color lines and never noticed a difference in catch rate. It's all about presentation IMHO and 40 years of personal experience.
 

JW51

Well-known member
Messages
159
Reaction score
2
Location
Montana
I tend to think color doesn't matter much, but the New Zealand guys swear it does. Can't believe there is more pressure there than Bighorn/Mo/spring creeks.
 

silver creek

Well-known member
Messages
8,015
Reaction score
1,796
Location
Rothschld, Wisconsin
"Color doesn't matter much" EXCEPT when it does!

Here's the deal. Color does matter in some situations. I am really amazed that folks that have not fished in certain situations will make blanket situations about something that they have not experienced. I have not been to New Zealand, but I have talked to Gary Borger about it and he and Jason have been there several times. Jason spent 6 moths there.

Both Gary and New Zealand fly fishing outfitters say bright fly lines spook fish over there. So if you spend $$$ to fly fish over large trout in New Zealand, would you use a bright orange fly line or dye your fly line? Of course not. The difference between not believing and believing is that those who believe color does not matter have not yet experienced a situation where color matter a lot.

I suspect that in a group as large as the members of the NAFFF, there are some of use who have seen trout move away from bright colored indicators like the day glow yellow or orange Thingamabobbers. I also have seen trout try to eat orange strike indicators during or after a Salmon fly hatch. So color can both deter or attract trout.

How about clothing color? Do those who believe fly line color does not matter also believe clothing color does not matter? Probably not. Most of us have fished enough that we KNOW clothing color does matter in how many trout we spook. So why the disconnect or lack of consistency in our beliefs?

I think it is because it matters little to us whether we wear bright or dull colors when we fish but it does matter whether the fly line is easier or harder for us to see. Bright lines make fishing easier. So if we use bright fly lines, cognitive dissonance comes into play. There is the psychological pull to believe that in this case bright fly lines do not matter.

If you are logically consistent, you will either come to the conclusion that yes, bright fly lines spook some of the fish; BUT the ability to better see the line allows you to catch more fish than you lose. OR your will come to the conclusion that bright fly lines lose you more fish than the extra ability to see the lines allow you to catch, and you will change the color of your fly lines. While making that decision, realize that it is not only about the numbers of fish. The reality is that the spookier fish tend to be the larger fish, and the fish you spook with your line color could have been the fish of your trip. That is the logically consistent position. The belief that bright fly lines do not spook some fish is simply wrong in my opinion.

Nelson Ishiyama is the owner of the Henry’s Fork Lodge and my fraternity brother. He is a lifelong fly fisher and the editor of Mel Krieger’s Essence of Fly Casting. Here is what he has written about fly line color.

Does Fly Line Color Matter

How about what Dave Whitlock had to say in “Lessons Learned and Relearned” published in the Flyfishing and Flytying Journal. He was writing about New Zealand and the lessons it taught him.

”To help prevent alarming other nearby trout when casting to large trout in calm-surfaced, clear water, use a low-contrast colored fly line, such as olive, a small line-to-leader connection and at least a 12-foot leader. It's also better if you can stay downstream and near the stream's shoreline.”

Dave notes that bright line spooking is not only about avoiding casting over the fish you are targeting. You can do that to minimize the effect of a bright line. But how about the fish you do not see and your cast spooks it and that fish spooks the fish you are targeting?

Noted steelhead angler Lani Waller wrote about New Zealand for Rio Fly Lines in New Zealand Fly Fishing Essentials. “Do not bring brightly colored fly lines, they spook fish while you are waving the line back and forth in the air.”

You decide whether these noted anglers are wrong or right and whether I am correct in my reasoning or whether I am wrong.
 
Last edited:
Top