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Fly Line Suggestion for TFO Axiom II-X

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Just bought a 10wt Axiom ii-X and am delving into the world of saltwater fly fishing. I was curious what suggestions folks have for the optimal intermediate grain wt for fishing the surf or occasionally hit flats for stripers? Thanks ahead.

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Can't speak to the Axiom but if it's anything like a Ticrx a Rio Outbound Short in 10wt at 425gn is probably a good starting point. Did you buy from a local shop, they might have something spooled up you could test drive, or at least a good recommendation.

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Asking for recommendations is fraught with peril, what one person thinks is the right line has no relevance to what you may prefer, try to test a few before burning $100 on a mistake.

For a full I line, Airflo Ridge seems to be the consensus favorite, you figure out which size, they’re all way overweight.

JC

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4 hours ago, surfrat59 said:

Can't speak to the Axiom but if it's anything like a Ticrx a Rio Outbound Short in 10wt at 425gn is probably a good starting point. Did you buy from a local shop, they might have something spooled up you could test drive, or at least a good recommendation.

I bought direct from TFO but have been doing a lot of homework on grain weight variations to fulfill particular a niche for the setting. I think very analytically and have definitely gotten lost in the sauce so to speak. Just looking for a line that’s versatile out front in surf but can punch through winds if conditions call for egress into a salt pond. 

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I've got an old Cortland Little Tunny WF-8-i I use with my 7wt Axiom 2X. This combo works well for me - I mostly blind cast likely areas with light clousers redfish cracks and other lightly weighted flies.  I do tend to carry a lot of line in the air and the Axiom 2X holds up well with this habit.  I have a 7wt Sage Maverick with the same line and compared to the Axiom 2X, the Axiom can cast just as far, maybe farther but not with the accuracy of the Sage.  I was working some pilings with both rods with a light but steady breeze - with the Axiom 2X I was applying 'Kentucky Windage'  and casting right at the piling on a 60'-70'  cast - the tip would wobble a bit at the end and the cast would fall off and away from the pilings. Tried it with the Sage  and the cast went right into the pilings and hung up - no tip wobble.  The Axiom 2x has become one of my favorite set-ups ,for me, as good as the old Redington CPS 7wt it replaced.

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Lining a rod can seem challenging, but it's not too difficult a problem that we can't crack the code with some better understanding of what your needs will be:

 

Couple questions:

 

1. Where do you fish & for what?

2. How long have you been fly casting and how would you describe your casting ability?

3. Do fish mostly from boat and or from shore?

4. Do you fishing diverse locations like estuaries, salt marshes, out front where you have waves to deal with..etc.

5. What's the typical water depth that you will be working? Flats? Fishing from jetties into deep rips? Cruising around looking from bird squalls?

 

When you are fishing just about every fishable day during the course of a season certain lines just rise to the top. A good friend of mine has been lining his 10 wt over the past couple of weeks and we have been fishing together every day, so your post is very opportunistic sicrodbends.

 

The friend I mentioned has managed a high volume fly shop for about a decade and is by all regards a very solid fly fisherman.

 

He & I also surf cast & fish from boats as well so we aren't fly fishing all of the time, but we almost never don't have a fly rod with us and we'll break out the fly rods every chance we get. 

 

Because I knew he would be looking to get a fly line or two I brought a spread of different fly lines, from different  manufacturers, rigged up on five different reels & spools and he's been working through them and trying different lines. 

 

As I have been helping him get comfortable with a different lines I have deliberately prevented him from overlining and forced him to work on his cast. 

 

Technically, what this means is that I started by preventing him from throwing lines that had more than 300 or so grains in the first 30' of their heads. We can absolutely start overlining, butt I want his casting stroke to easily load and shoot standard lines first. That way, he will learn how to get the most out of his rod.

 

I want him to rely on his casting stroke to load the rod, rather than relying on the line. A lot of casters never really do this and they wind up automatically overlining which ultimately does a disservice to the growth of their casting ability. 

 

The reason over lining out if the gate is a sketchy these days is because manufacturers are already overlining when they design certain fly lines.

 

If you buy a fly line that is deliberately made much heavier than it needs to be to match a certain rod weight - then you purchase it one or two line weights heavier, thinking you are overlining,  you'll wind up significantly overlined which could cause all sorts of problems and I see a lot of people do this these days. 

 

The improvements my friend has made have been dramatic and now he's got a real good idea of what he likes on this new rod he has, which happens to be one that I recommended for him (only after he did a ton of test casting on his own this spring with a whole different spread of rods). It's always fun watching any caster improve. 

 

Once he settled on the rod that he liked he started to think about the types of fly lines that he might need, based on where he'd be fishing.

 

Watching my friend go through this process reminds me that, for each of us, fly lines are only part of the equation.

 

In fact, Leaders the single most important component to any successful cast & most casters don't think a whole lot about the leader -- and that's the first big mistake they make!

 

The right leader will make any caster no matter what level you are at, a lot happier. Leaders are entirely dependent on the job you are doing. A lot goes into designing a proper leader and you should probably be making your own leaders which is a separate conversation, once you get your fly lines dialed in. 

 

Different rods are fairly easy to adapt to for most casters so in that respect the fly rod is what it is and fly lines tend to match up pretty easily once you get a basic feel for the rod that you are using. 

 

A 10wt fly rod should match up nicely with fly lines that weigh 270 to 290g in the first 30' of their heads. Many lines have longer heads which also have extra weight built in, so you might wind up actually carrying 400 grains or more in the air. Meanwhile, other lines are made with extra weight positioned into shorter, more compact heads. You want to take all this into consideration as you make your selections. 

 

Fly lines are really the more technical component because you're going to deploy them for different situations. I literally fish all over the place so I can't recommend one type of line as being any more important than another. I'm also not loyal to a particular line maker as I observe there are lots of good fly lines available.

 

That said I certainly know which fly lines I'll bring based on where I was going to be fishing. Some fishing locations offer quite a bit of diversity so even if you're going to a particular spot you might have opportunities to fish different types of water and therefore who knows? You might need a few different lines. 

 

Other spots are very clear cut and you very much know exactly which line you're going to need.

 

Things that really should factor into lining a rod are based on your answers to some of the questions I asked you above.

 

You'll also need to consider how much casting space you have, whether or not you'll be dumping a fly into blitzing fish, whether you will need to be a little more delicate in your presentation (such as perhaps sight fishing situations), what depths you'll need to be at and equally important to all that is what kind of flies will you be throwing?

 

Once a lot of these questions are answered we can start to make some general recommendations.

 

I think it's safe to say that every major fly line manufacturer has at least one fly line in a certain "category" that you might want to look at and most manufacturers might even have multiple different lines in each category. When I use the word category, I mean Floating, Intermediate and Density Compensated type lines with sinking heads. 

 

For right now I'd worry a lot less about the manufacturer and line type and I'd focus a lot more on answering the questions that I've asked you. 

 

Ultimately, based on your answers, I would start to give you a couple of different choices for each line category where you might want to start. The goal is to save as much money as possible, and cover all the bases while also being versatile and effective.

 

The Axiom is a fairly fast rod with a progressive, smooth flex. Saltwater fishing often involves casting at longer distances and so I think the fast to medium action fly rods are very good for this sort of fishing. Depending on your casting stroke you will gravitate towards a rod that allows you to do what you want to do comfortably. I'm assuming you got a chance to cast a variety of different rods and that you liked the Axiom enough to make a purchase! The good news is you are backed up by a really nice warranty and you have a rod that should do almost any saltwater job very nicely.

 

We'll get the party started once we learn more about what your needs are okay?!

 

 

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4 mins ago, CaryGreene said:

Lining a rod can seem challenging, but it's not too difficult a problem that we can't crack the code with some better understanding of what your needs will be:

 

Couple questions:

 

1. Where do you fish & for what?

2. How long have you been fly casting and how would you describe your casting ability?

3. Do fish mostly from boat and or from shore?

4. Do you fishing diverse locations like estuaries, salt marshes, out front where you have waves to deal with..etc.

5. What's the typical water depth that you will be working? Flats? Fishing from jetties into deep rips? Cruising around looking from bird squalls?

 

When you are fishing just about every fishable day during the course of a season certain lines just rise to the top. A good friend of mine has been lining his 10 wt over the past couple of weeks and we have been fishing together every day, so your post is very opportunistic sicrodbends.

 

The friend I mentioned has managed a high volume fly shop for about a decade and is by all regards a very solid fly fisherman.

 

He & I also surf cast & fish from boats as well so we aren't fly fishing all of the time, but we almost never don't have a fly rod with us and we'll break out the fly rods every chance we get. 

 

Because I knew he would be looking to get a fly line or two I brought a spread of different fly lines, from different  manufacturers, rigged up on five different reels & spools and he's been working through them and trying different lines. 

 

As I have been helping him get comfortable with a different lines I have deliberately prevented him from overlining and forced him to work on his cast. 

 

Technically, what this means is that I started by preventing him from throwing lines that had more than 300 or so grains in the first 30' of their heads. We can absolutely start overlining, butt I want his casting stroke to easily load and shoot standard lines first. That way, he will learn how to get the most out of his rod.

 

I want him to rely on his casting stroke to load the rod, rather than relying on the line. A lot of casters never really do this and they wind up automatically overlining which ultimately does a disservice to the growth of their casting ability. 

 

The reason over lining out if the gate is a sketchy these days is because manufacturers are already overlining when they design certain fly lines.

 

If you buy a fly line that is deliberately made much heavier than it needs to be to match a certain rod weight - then you purchase it one or two line weights heavier, thinking you are overlining,  you'll wind up significantly overlined which could cause all sorts of problems and I see a lot of people do this these days. 

 

The improvements my friend has made have been dramatic and now he's got a real good idea of what he likes on this new rod he has, which happens to be one that I recommended for him (only after he did a ton of test casting on his own this spring with a whole different spread of rods). It's always fun watching any caster improve. 

 

Once he settled on the rod that he liked he started to think about the types of fly lines that he might need, based on where he'd be fishing.

 

Watching my friend go through this process reminds me that, for each of us, fly lines are only part of the equation.

 

In fact, Leaders the single most important component to any successful cast & most casters don't think a whole lot about the leader -- and that's the first big mistake they make!

 

The right leader will make any caster no matter what level you are at, a lot happier. Leaders are entirely dependent on the job you are doing. A lot goes into designing a proper leader and you should probably be making your own leaders which is a separate conversation, once you get your fly lines dialed in. 

 

Different rods are fairly easy to adapt to for most casters so in that respect the fly rod is what it is and fly lines tend to match up pretty easily once you get a basic feel for the rod that you are using. 

 

A 10wt fly rod should match up nicely with fly lines that weigh 270 to 290g in the first 30' of their heads. Many lines have longer heads which also have extra weight built in, so you might wind up actually carrying 400 grains or more in the air. Meanwhile, other lines are made with extra weight positioned into shorter, more compact heads. You want to take all this into consideration as you make your selections. 

 

Fly lines are really the more technical component because you're going to deploy them for different situations. I literally fish all over the place so I can't recommend one type of line as being any more important than another. I'm also not loyal to a particular line maker as I observe there are lots of good fly lines available.

 

That said I certainly know which fly lines I'll bring based on where I was going to be fishing. Some fishing locations offer quite a bit of diversity so even if you're going to a particular spot you might have opportunities to fish different types of water and therefore who knows? You might need a few different lines. 

 

Other spots are very clear cut and you very much know exactly which line you're going to need.

 

Things that really should factor into lining a rod are based on your answers to some of the questions I asked you above.

 

You'll also need to consider how much casting space you have, whether or not you'll be dumping a fly into blitzing fish, whether you will need to be a little more delicate in your presentation (such as perhaps sight fishing situations), what depths you'll need to be at and equally important to all that is what kind of flies will you be throwing?

 

Once a lot of these questions are answered we can start to make some general recommendations.

 

I think it's safe to say that every major fly line manufacturer has at least one fly line in a certain "category" that you might want to look at and most manufacturers might even have multiple different lines in each category. When I use the word category, I mean Floating, Intermediate and Density Compensated type lines with sinking heads. 

 

For right now I'd worry a lot less about the manufacturer and line type and I'd focus a lot more on answering the questions that I've asked you. 

 

Ultimately, based on your answers, I would start to give you a couple of different choices for each line category where you might want to start. The goal is to save as much money as possible, and cover all the bases while also being versatile and effective.

 

The Axiom is a fairly fast rod with a progressive, smooth flex. Saltwater fishing often involves casting at longer distances and so I think the fast to medium action fly rods are very good for this sort of fishing. Depending on your casting stroke you will gravitate towards a rod that allows you to do what you want to do comfortably. I'm assuming you got a chance to cast a variety of different rods and that you liked the Axiom enough to make a purchase! The good news is you are backed up by a really nice warranty and you have a rod that should do almost any saltwater job very nicely.

 

We'll get the party started once we learn more about what your needs are okay?!

 

 

CaryGreene,

 

First and foremost I really appreciate the time and effort you've put into the post. I've taken up fly fishing in the last two years to present myself with new challenges and  To answer your questions:

 

1. I'm specifically targeting striped bass here in RI, focusing my time right now in salt ponds and areas of slower current.

2. I've been fly casting for about 2 years now. Much of my time has been spent in freshwater streams/rivers and I am certainly a novice when it comes to casting, although, I've finally gotten to the point of forming tighter loops and placing flies directly to my intended targets. Again, this has mainly been in smaller close-quarters freshwater settings with double taper or WF floating lines (4 wt & 6wt).

3. As of now, I am strictly fishing saltwater from shore to hone in on my form before hitting the surf but also have opportunities to fish from a boat.

4. For the most part, I'm concentrating most of my time in salt ponds. I've been using my 8wt Axiom with SA full intermediate 280gr, which 280gr feels very close to overloading on this medium-fast rod. I recently upgraded to the 10wt Axiom II-X with the intention of increasing distance, fishing the surf, areas of heavier current, and fishing bulkier flies. I have not tried the 280gr on the Axiom II-X just yet as work has kept me distracted. This will be my next test.

5. In regard to water depth, on average most of the salt pond areas are ~3.5 - 4ft depth.

 

Again, I appreciate your time and advice in advance.

 

 

 

 

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Hi SRB,

 

I'm glad you appreciated the detail. In fact if you want detail, ask and you shall receive LOL. You might need a cup of coffee to stay awake for this response:

 

The Salt ponds of Rhode Island are pretty good spot to fish! Starting with the worm hatch and moving right through the season there are lots of opportunities. Right now we have meaty Atlantic Sperring which seemed to be drawing the interest of actively feeding Hickory Shad. There are some nice Bass around but you have to work for them on the edges of incoming water and in the cuts at night. Once the tide turns the ponds can get sloppy and if you let it blow out then you also have another opportunity to fish in and around the cuts. 

 

Big fish are present at night and they absolutely frequent the ponds. I had a 41 inch Striper this past Thursday night and had to work pretty hard to get it. Happy to report it was quickly & safely released.

 

The ponds have really good current in their respective Breachways. I mostly fish Density Compensated lines with full sinking heads. A lot of people fishing Intermediate or Floating lines scratch their heads when they see the results but when you think of it the current is extremely fast and these density compensated lines barely get down as they swing. 

 

Imagine a fly line with 7 IPS sink swinging through very fast moving current. In 3 or 4 seconds it's completely straightened out. You might get down between 2 and 3 ft and then you are stripping your fly back.

 

Bigger fish hang in where the hanging is easiest and bottom structure or funnel points around bridges provide phenomenal opportunities for max calorie reward with minimal effort. 

 

A small watercraft or Yak that you can stand from can make life pretty interesting on the ponds. From shore, you have to learn your spots, but there are areas where you have some room for back casts. Therefore, I'd lean away from super short heads and look for a D/C line that offer a 35' head. In these channels, you'll be delivering Deceivers of various sizes most of the season, along with smaller Polar Fiber minnows. 

 

Then you will have to deal with slack tide at which point & very suddenly, Gurglers become phenomenally productive and you might pop a Floating line on for that. 

 

A stealth Intermediate line can also be fish throughout the summer months. You can let small crab patterns and shrimp flies gently drift. This season, large shrimp have been around and that's a bit unusual, though I have seen them during warm summers of the past. The intermediate line might be a clear tip it might be just a stealthy camo varietal.

 

With all three different types of lines that you might be using on a Salt Pond I definitely like a line with a decent head length. When you think about a density compensated line you really don't want to head any longer than 35 ft and the reason for that is that sometimes you want to try to pick up a little line off the water and it's very hard to do that with a density compensated line. Then you just want to take a few back cast and let the line go so 35 ft seems to be the magic head length for these sorts of lines. Kelly Gallup came up with a 50 ft line marketed by Teeny in the 90s and it was interesting from a boat but had very limited practical use for most other situations. Back in the '80s 24 ft heads were very popular and they were super easy to fish and quite effective and so if I was in the market for a density compensated head I would look for something I can get in the air and let go of with confidence. Type 7 is a super sink rate. Type 5 would be too light for most New England fishing in and around current. You are looking for about 7 IPS sink rate.

 

As you move out front around current and certainly from a boat, 95% of your fishing will be D/C. 

 

From shore, you may fish the edges of outflows where an Intermediate line becomes perfect. You might also use that same intermediate line in the Salt Pond like I mentioned and you may even throw Crease Flies at night and get them swimming very slowly. Probably the hardest line to pick is an Intermediate line. In many cases you might want a very compact head because you just want to throw a fly get it slightly under and start retrieving it. However when you're fishing for sure you want the opposite so there's almost a case to carry for two separate Intermediate fly lines & that's what I do. I carry a clear Tip Intermediate Compact Intermediate for blitzes and tight spaces and an Intermediate with a longer head which gets used mostly from shore and is a primary line throughout the season especially for outflows or fishing out front. 

 

Floating lines like I said are very good for slack tide but you can also use them for working sand flats in shallow areas with rocky bottoms. 

 

I really like Floating lines with longer heads unless it's especially true of the Salt ponds because when you're fishing the worm hatch there are times when you want to make a longer cast. If you have to make a 30 or 40 ft cast you can simply aerialize a little bit of head and drop it, which would equate nicely with your experience fishing Double Taper fly lines. A lot of freshwater guys don't realize how gorgeous Double Taper lines are to cast. It's very easy to hold a ton of line in the air and you can drop it on a dime very accurately. The line is also highly responsive and can be mended with ease in current not to mention its reversible so they are generally twice as economical as a WF line. Unfortunately in saltwater we need to shoot the line so we need a little bit of running line. 

 

Therefore I really think I'll Floating line with a longer head gives you a nice advantage in saltwater. The running line floats and it's no problem picking or floating line up off the surface and throwing it in a different direction so from a line management perspective why wouldn't you want a longer head on a floater? 

 

Perhaps when you are throwing giant flies and you're fishing at night in tight quarters like in a small salt marsh during a Herring run or something, we could make a case for one but generally if you have the casting space you might as well go with a longer head on the floater.

 

Getting back to the ponds for a minute if you're generally fishing in three to four feet of water you need to get into the areas where the current is running and the water is deeper. Also you need to find the holes because there are areas that are three or four times that deep and that's where the big bass are hanging out on the bottom mostly, unless it's night time or near dusk or dawn. 

 

Lastly I think an 8wt is actually ideal for the ponds. The 10wt might come in very handy when you are fishing from a boat but you are going to be in good shape with the 8wt. 

 

Dialing down to specific manufacturer recommendations for what you are doing is pretty cut and dried.

 

The most important line in your arsenal will be your Intermediate line. You will eventually move out front and you will start targeting salt marshes and outflows. Intermediates usually won't hang up and they'll get your fly down slightly to the right depth. Keep in mind they sink at very slow rates. Also, you fish at night you will almost always use an Intermediate. My favorite two Intermediate lines for 2021 were Airflo's Cold Salt Intermediate and Sci A's Camo Intermediate. The Airflo line has a head length of 40 ft where is the Sci A line has a significantly longer head that casts great providing you can hold it in the air. 

 

As far as a more compact head, stealthy.line, the Rio Coastal QuickShooter XP seems to be decent. A few of my friends hate it but I think it does the job it's intended to do. It certainly does not cast as well as a line with a little bit longer of a head but it will throw a bigger fly and the clear tip is definitely nice and stealthy. This is probably my number one blitz line and I also use it for Albies.

 

Fishing in northeast involves fishing in a lot of colder water and definitely colder air temperatures and I find that the fly lines that are designed to handle colder water definitely perform better so absolutely check out the jackets on these lines and what temperatures they are recommended to be used in. 

 

Another highly annoying issue is tangling of running line. If you fish a lot you have to remember to rinse your lines in lukewarm water every single time you fish. It's a must. Also try to lubricate not only the heads but the running line with an excellent fly line dressing such as Rio Agent X, which works great on any brand of fly line, acting to revitalize it and keep it slick and shootable.

 

All running lines are not created equal and we don't necessarily want the thinnest possible running line for daily fishing. In fact thin running lines are more for specialty applications. Some companies don't get this and some do. Thicker running lines tend to tangle a lot less actually.

 

For DC Head Lines I think Sci A is leading the pack right now with their Sonar Sink 7.line. there is no doubt that the running line tangles less and shoots better than any line I have seen yet and after a month or two of fishing it every single day you will really begin to appreciate it providing you keep it clean.

 

I also really like the Airflo Big Game Depth-Finder line but you do have to treat the running line with Agent X or it's going to tangle in colder water. I'm pretty sure it's really not made for the Northeast actually as it just does not seem to like cold water.

 

The Big Game line has a much longer running line than any other DC line on the market and that's an advantage when you're dumping your head into current, great for open water current behind structure and also rips. 

 

As for floating lines, I like Airflo Cold Salt the best for Northeast fishing because I can use it all season long. It is an extremely smooth casting line with a 40-ft head very similar to their Intermediate line. It has plenty of girth in order to propel a large popper and it flings gurglers around with ease. You can also check bead chain Clousers and all sorts of smaller shrimp and crab flies very easily.

 

Sci A's floating lines are also spectacular but they're more for medium to warmer water situations so they're not quite as versatile.

 

One thing that is true of all the Sci A lines is that the absolutely handle better and tangle less than all other major fly lines. The technology they are putting into these lines is amazing and the result is a gorgeous, supple, super slick fly line. Unfortunately they don't cater to Northeast saltwater or cold water environments as much as they do tropics and freshwater &! that may be because Orvis owns them?

 

In the past Sci A made their Mastery Series Striper lines which dominated, but I guess the Orvis brain trust convinced them to abandon the beaches so to speak & focus more on ponds, lakes and rivers.

 

If you have the money to burn you might want to try the Sci A Amplitude Grand Slam line, as it is one of the best moderate to warmer weather lines I have seen in the floating category. Soft supple durable and casts like a missile. Like any fly line if you keep it clean it will perform like a champ.

 

I usually take my fly reel to the kitchen sink and just dump the line into a tub full of lukewarm water let it sit for a minute or two and then put it back on the spool, drying it gently with a soft cloth as it goes back on the reel. It takes less than 5 minutes to do this and it's worth the effort because fly line is so expensive these days that it's better to preserve them as long as possible.

 

Hope all this info helps. The Salt ponds are dirty and when you're spanking your line off them day after day after day you're going to need a durable line with a very slick coating that you can clean and revitalize throughout the season. I've taken this into consideration as I've made my recommendations to you.

 

I small to medium to very large flies with each and every one of these lines I have recommended so I know first hand that they will do the job and you will really appreciate them on your Axiom, which is absolutely quick enough to make these lines dance.

 

If you need more detailed info, help with making your leaders or help with other specialty applications then let me know and we can conjure something up for you okay!

 

All my best,

Cary

 

 

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12 hours ago, CaryGreene said:

Hi SRB,

 

I'm glad you appreciated the detail. In fact if you want detail, ask and you shall receive LOL. You might need a cup of coffee to stay awake for this response:

 

The Salt ponds of Rhode Island are pretty good spot to fish! Starting with the worm hatch and moving right through the season there are lots of opportunities. Right now we have meaty Atlantic Sperring which seemed to be drawing the interest of actively feeding Hickory Shad. There are some nice Bass around but you have to work for them on the edges of incoming water and in the cuts at night. Once the tide turns the ponds can get sloppy and if you let it blow out then you also have another opportunity to fish in and around the cuts. 

 

Big fish are present at night and they absolutely frequent the ponds. I had a 41 inch Striper this past Thursday night and had to work pretty hard to get it. Happy to report it was quickly & safely released.

 

The ponds have really good current in their respective Breachways. I mostly fish Density Compensated lines with full sinking heads. A lot of people fishing Intermediate or Floating lines scratch their heads when they see the results but when you think of it the current is extremely fast and these density compensated lines barely get down as they swing. 

 

Imagine a fly line with 7 IPS sink swinging through very fast moving current. In 3 or 4 seconds it's completely straightened out. You might get down between 2 and 3 ft and then you are stripping your fly back.

 

Bigger fish hang in where the hanging is easiest and bottom structure or funnel points around bridges provide phenomenal opportunities for max calorie reward with minimal effort. 

 

A small watercraft or Yak that you can stand from can make life pretty interesting on the ponds. From shore, you have to learn your spots, but there are areas where you have some room for back casts. Therefore, I'd lean away from super short heads and look for a D/C line that offer a 35' head. In these channels, you'll be delivering Deceivers of various sizes most of the season, along with smaller Polar Fiber minnows. 

 

Then you will have to deal with slack tide at which point & very suddenly, Gurglers become phenomenally productive and you might pop a Floating line on for that. 

 

A stealth Intermediate line can also be fish throughout the summer months. You can let small crab patterns and shrimp flies gently drift. This season, large shrimp have been around and that's a bit unusual, though I have seen them during warm summers of the past. The intermediate line might be a clear tip it might be just a stealthy camo varietal.

 

With all three different types of lines that you might be using on a Salt Pond I definitely like a line with a decent head length. When you think about a density compensated line you really don't want to head any longer than 35 ft and the reason for that is that sometimes you want to try to pick up a little line off the water and it's very hard to do that with a density compensated line. Then you just want to take a few back cast and let the line go so 35 ft seems to be the magic head length for these sorts of lines. Kelly Gallup came up with a 50 ft line marketed by Teeny in the 90s and it was interesting from a boat but had very limited practical use for most other situations. Back in the '80s 24 ft heads were very popular and they were super easy to fish and quite effective and so if I was in the market for a density compensated head I would look for something I can get in the air and let go of with confidence. Type 7 is a super sink rate. Type 5 would be too light for most New England fishing in and around current. You are looking for about 7 IPS sink rate.

 

As you move out front around current and certainly from a boat, 95% of your fishing will be D/C. 

 

From shore, you may fish the edges of outflows where an Intermediate line becomes perfect. You might also use that same intermediate line in the Salt Pond like I mentioned and you may even throw Crease Flies at night and get them swimming very slowly. Probably the hardest line to pick is an Intermediate line. In many cases you might want a very compact head because you just want to throw a fly get it slightly under and start retrieving it. However when you're fishing for sure you want the opposite so there's almost a case to carry for two separate Intermediate fly lines & that's what I do. I carry a clear Tip Intermediate Compact Intermediate for blitzes and tight spaces and an Intermediate with a longer head which gets used mostly from shore and is a primary line throughout the season especially for outflows or fishing out front. 

 

Floating lines like I said are very good for slack tide but you can also use them for working sand flats in shallow areas with rocky bottoms. 

 

I really like Floating lines with longer heads unless it's especially true of the Salt ponds because when you're fishing the worm hatch there are times when you want to make a longer cast. If you have to make a 30 or 40 ft cast you can simply aerialize a little bit of head and drop it, which would equate nicely with your experience fishing Double Taper fly lines. A lot of freshwater guys don't realize how gorgeous Double Taper lines are to cast. It's very easy to hold a ton of line in the air and you can drop it on a dime very accurately. The line is also highly responsive and can be mended with ease in current not to mention its reversible so they are generally twice as economical as a WF line. Unfortunately in saltwater we need to shoot the line so we need a little bit of running line. 

 

Therefore I really think I'll Floating line with a longer head gives you a nice advantage in saltwater. The running line floats and it's no problem picking or floating line up off the surface and throwing it in a different direction so from a line management perspective why wouldn't you want a longer head on a floater? 

 

Perhaps when you are throwing giant flies and you're fishing at night in tight quarters like in a small salt marsh during a Herring run or something, we could make a case for one but generally if you have the casting space you might as well go with a longer head on the floater.

 

Getting back to the ponds for a minute if you're generally fishing in three to four feet of water you need to get into the areas where the current is running and the water is deeper. Also you need to find the holes because there are areas that are three or four times that deep and that's where the big bass are hanging out on the bottom mostly, unless it's night time or near dusk or dawn. 

 

Lastly I think an 8wt is actually ideal for the ponds. The 10wt might come in very handy when you are fishing from a boat but you are going to be in good shape with the 8wt. 

 

Dialing down to specific manufacturer recommendations for what you are doing is pretty cut and dried.

 

The most important line in your arsenal will be your Intermediate line. You will eventually move out front and you will start targeting salt marshes and outflows. Intermediates usually won't hang up and they'll get your fly down slightly to the right depth. Keep in mind they sink at very slow rates. Also, you fish at night you will almost always use an Intermediate. My favorite two Intermediate lines for 2021 were Airflo's Cold Salt Intermediate and Sci A's Camo Intermediate. The Airflo line has a head length of 40 ft where is the Sci A line has a significantly longer head that casts great providing you can hold it in the air. 

 

As far as a more compact head, stealthy.line, the Rio Coastal QuickShooter XP seems to be decent. A few of my friends hate it but I think it does the job it's intended to do. It certainly does not cast as well as a line with a little bit longer of a head but it will throw a bigger fly and the clear tip is definitely nice and stealthy. This is probably my number one blitz line and I also use it for Albies.

 

Fishing in northeast involves fishing in a lot of colder water and definitely colder air temperatures and I find that the fly lines that are designed to handle colder water definitely perform better so absolutely check out the jackets on these lines and what temperatures they are recommended to be used in. 

 

Another highly annoying issue is tangling of running line. If you fish a lot you have to remember to rinse your lines in lukewarm water every single time you fish. It's a must. Also try to lubricate not only the heads but the running line with an excellent fly line dressing such as Rio Agent X, which works great on any brand of fly line, acting to revitalize it and keep it slick and shootable.

 

All running lines are not created equal and we don't necessarily want the thinnest possible running line for daily fishing. In fact thin running lines are more for specialty applications. Some companies don't get this and some do. Thicker running lines tend to tangle a lot less actually.

 

For DC Head Lines I think Sci A is leading the pack right now with their Sonar Sink 7.line. there is no doubt that the running line tangles less and shoots better than any line I have seen yet and after a month or two of fishing it every single day you will really begin to appreciate it providing you keep it clean.

 

I also really like the Airflo Big Game Depth-Finder line but you do have to treat the running line with Agent X or it's going to tangle in colder water. I'm pretty sure it's really not made for the Northeast actually as it just does not seem to like cold water.

 

The Big Game line has a much longer running line than any other DC line on the market and that's an advantage when you're dumping your head into current, great for open water current behind structure and also rips. 

 

As for floating lines, I like Airflo Cold Salt the best for Northeast fishing because I can use it all season long. It is an extremely smooth casting line with a 40-ft head very similar to their Intermediate line. It has plenty of girth in order to propel a large popper and it flings gurglers around with ease. You can also check bead chain Clousers and all sorts of smaller shrimp and crab flies very easily.

 

Sci A's floating lines are also spectacular but they're more for medium to warmer water situations so they're not quite as versatile.

 

One thing that is true of all the Sci A lines is that the absolutely handle better and tangle less than all other major fly lines. The technology they are putting into these lines is amazing and the result is a gorgeous, supple, super slick fly line. Unfortunately they don't cater to Northeast saltwater or cold water environments as much as they do tropics and freshwater &! that may be because Orvis owns them?

 

In the past Sci A made their Mastery Series Striper lines which dominated, but I guess the Orvis brain trust convinced them to abandon the beaches so to speak & focus more on ponds, lakes and rivers.

 

If you have the money to burn you might want to try the Sci A Amplitude Grand Slam line, as it is one of the best moderate to warmer weather lines I have seen in the floating category. Soft supple durable and casts like a missile. Like any fly line if you keep it clean it will perform like a champ.

 

I usually take my fly reel to the kitchen sink and just dump the line into a tub full of lukewarm water let it sit for a minute or two and then put it back on the spool, drying it gently with a soft cloth as it goes back on the reel. It takes less than 5 minutes to do this and it's worth the effort because fly line is so expensive these days that it's better to preserve them as long as possible.

 

Hope all this info helps. The Salt ponds are dirty and when you're spanking your line off them day after day after day you're going to need a durable line with a very slick coating that you can clean and revitalize throughout the season. I've taken this into consideration as I've made my recommendations to you.

 

I small to medium to very large flies with each and every one of these lines I have recommended so I know first hand that they will do the job and you will really appreciate them on your Axiom, which is absolutely quick enough to make these lines dance.

 

If you need more detailed info, help with making your leaders or help with other specialty applications then let me know and we can conjure something up for you okay!

 

All my best,

Cary

 

 

Cary,

 

HUGE thanks for sharing such great detail on the ins and outs of fly line applications here in the local area. Again, much appreciated! Over the course of the next several months I definitely want to get settled on the ideal set of lines to cover the water column. Much of my freshwater experiences have catered solely to floating lines and so branching out to intermediate and sinking lines introduced a totally new series of questions and nuances that I simply am not familiar with as someone who is new to fly fishing the salt.

 

I am curious though, how do you typically go about choosing your intermediate fly line? More specifically, what sort of checklist do you have to ultimately determine what line you are going to roll with? I know this sort of question can quickly become convoluted when taking into account niche presentations, differences in rod manufacturing, and weather conditions, but for the sake of keeping things simple, let's just work with a scenario in which I am looking to fish size 1 and 1/0 flatwings, deceivers, and polar minnows on the edges of channels in these salt ponds on days with light winds...

 

With that being said, I am focusing my search on the ideal intermediate line and as mentioned, the SA Full Int. at 280gr seems to be a slight overload on the 8wt Axiom II. I've not tried this line on the 10wt Axiom II-X just yet. With the 8wt Axiom II, I can hit 45-50ft casts but am wanting something that will reach farther (Am I asking too much out of this fly line & rod setup for 60+ feet?) . Granted, I know some of that is a result of trying to dial in on casting form and technique but I am curious if I can anticipate gaining distance by stepping down to say the SA Camo Int at 260gr or 225gr? Thoughts?

 

Many Thanks,

Izak

 

 

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1 hour ago, sikcrodbends said:

Cary,

 

HUGE thanks for sharing such great detail on the ins and outs of fly line applications here in the local area. Again, much appreciated! Over the course of the next several months I definitely want to get settled on the ideal set of lines to cover the water column. Much of my freshwater experiences have catered solely to floating lines and so branching out to intermediate and sinking lines introduced a totally new series of questions and nuances that I simply am not familiar with as someone who is new to fly fishing the salt.

 

I am curious though, how do you typically go about choosing your intermediate fly line? More specifically, what sort of checklist do you have to ultimately determine what line you are going to roll with? I know this sort of question can quickly become convoluted when taking into account niche presentations, differences in rod manufacturing, and weather conditions, but for the sake of keeping things simple, let's just work with a scenario in which I am looking to fish size 1 and 1/0 flatwings, deceivers, and polar minnows on the edges of channels in these salt ponds on days with light winds...

 

With that being said, I am focusing my search on the ideal intermediate line and as mentioned, the SA Full Int. at 280gr seems to be a slight overload on the 8wt Axiom II. I've not tried this line on the 10wt Axiom II-X just yet. With the 8wt Axiom II, I can hit 45-50ft casts but am wanting something that will reach farther (Am I asking too much out of this fly line & rod setup for 60+ feet?) . Granted, I know some of that is a result of trying to dial in on casting form and technique but I am curious if I can anticipate gaining distance by stepping down to say the SA Camo Int at 260gr or 225gr? Thoughts?

 

Many Thanks,

Izak

 

 

I made a lot of typos in that previous reply as I was voice texting, but the gist of what I was getting at hopefully came through. Glad you found the post helpful Izak. 

 

Over the year's I've developed a system for choosing a fly line and my method doesn't descriminate too much between line types. The first thing I'm looking for is a line that resists cracking and has a durable jacket. Saltwater is much denser than Freshwater and if a line isn't durable, it's worthless to me. I fish too much and, though I maintain my equipment very well, all lines eventually wear out. I would like soft, supple, manageable lines that have the head length and grain weight I have in mind for the job I'm doing. The rod is really last thing I think about because I own a spread of all different fly rods, made by various comanies and I can quickly assess what will work best and what won't. This comes form years of working in the industry and knowing rod deflection and line tapers/grain weights. 

 

I don't look at only the AFTMA first 30 feet as being the real info I need. I simply want the frull grain weight of the castable portion of line. With that simple number, I can glance at a taper and understand almost exactly how it will perform my intented applicaitons. Then, I buy the lines I think will work and start using them. Pounding them hard. Fishing them every single fishable day. Day in and day out. If I'm still smiling a few months later, I'll admit the line is doing it's job. 

 

I'm looking for smooth, easy loops. I'd like great shootability and abilty to distance cast. Once the loop turns over and the full head is on it's way to the target, that's when the proof is in the pudding so to speak. Shorter heads don't provide distance casting results. The head turns over, then begins to snake in the air towards the target. Accuracy dilapidates and the line lands with a thud in a messy pile. 

 

Longer heads will give you better reach and are generally better for best results at distance. So we need to consider what we're doing and what depths, typical distances we're going to need to cover. Then we have to look at whether the the head and the running line floats or sinks. Lastly & most importantly, what does the taper look like?

 

Progressive tapers cast smoothly, compound tapers can be very funky at different distances. I by far like smooth, uniform tapers and heads that are at least 35-ish feet for D/C lines and 40' or longer for Intermediates and Floaters. 

 

Regarding choosing an Intermediate, I want to be able to cast 80' to 100' feet easily, throw larger flys, load fast rods, benefit from durablity, handle constant exposure to colder water or air temps, peform decently on warmer days and deal with minimum tangles and also be able to cast fairly quickly at times. A 40' head is pretty baller for this all purpose applicaiton and that's why I love the Airflo Cold Salt WF-Intermedaite. On 90 days in June-July-Aug it's not going peform better than a Sci-A Amplitude Grand Slam or other Medium to Hot weather line, but it will work if take care not to leave it in a hot car to superheat for hours before I fish. 

 

I really appreciate the uniform, predictable, easy casting taper that the Cold Salt line has. 

616d9ff5b3cb5_Screenshot2021-10-1812_24_49PM.png.46571f5b63eb9b3fd49b549adc9c072f.png

One of the reasons this WF Intermediate line casts so nicely is that it doesn't feature a compound cluster-F#$%! taper that is narrower here and fatter there. It's just a nice, even, bulky head that has a quick 4' rear taper and a nice, even, 8' front taper. The reason this taper is outstanding is because the moment you have the head in the air, you can just let it go. It rolls out evenly and straightens out like a rope. The front taper is nice and stealthy and I can use line for almost any applicaiton. If I'm casting inside of 40', the head is very predictable. It functions the same at 20' or 30' or 40', there is no difference in how it performs. Compound tapers don't offer this benefit. They perform completely differently at various shorter distances and they create a weird, hinge effect when their heads are fully arealized, which makes loops much less smooth and easy. There is also plenty of weight built into this line and the full head is within standard, which makes it super easy for people. If you want to overline (which I don't do with this line), you can bump up one line size and not be in reality two or three line sizes too heavy. It is a best seller in most fly shops for a reason and that reason is that you know exactly what you're getting and when you cast it, it performs exactly the same way at any distance. I really apprecaite these characteristics and I'm quite picky about fly lines. 

616da0828be9f_Screenshot2021-10-1812_27_31PM.png.24c29b406357e0da7e177ab0c518ffe6.png

 

Moving along, If I fished primarily outflows, I'd prefer a longer head than 40' and that's where the Sci A Camo Intermediate comes in. I still want a nice uniform taper, but now, since I'll carry a bit more line in the air, I wouldn't mind a longer rear taper as long as we still have a nice, uniform belly and at least 5' of front taper. The Camo Intermediate is what an Intermediate line should be for northeast fly fishing. This line will still cast in a very predictable manner and it will reach max distance is freaking style - gorgeous loops. It's also super supple, super slick and very durable, while also being a little stealthier than your uniformly colored lines. 

616da3ad20235_Screenshot2021-10-1812_40_49PM.png.230600a7d11f228f588c5bf34ed0711a.png

616da339f3a80_Screenshot2021-10-1812_39_03PM.png.46c093179066a98d47f65e8c5c376584.png

Camo Intermediate is also absolutely condusive to overlining with confidence, for those that want a little more oomph. If you do bump up a line size, the increase won't be ridiculously too heavy. 

 

Are there times when you really want to dump a fly quickly, into a blitz? Yes. Therefore, of the two line's I've highlighted, the Airflo Cold Salt WF-Intermediate would be a better choice for that sort of fishing. On the endge of a salt marsh channel the other day, I had blitzing Stripers crashing pods of 3 1/2" Atlantic Sperring. I needed to react quickly and be able to dump the fly wherever the actin was. Cold Salt was pretty okay at that. Would a line with a slightly shorter head be even better for this? Yes. Was the water super clear and was I fishing during the day? Yes and yes. Soooo, I made a switch to a clear tip Intermediate, which IMO would be a specialty line and if it's in the budget, one worth carrying on a spare spool. 

 

Note the compound taper on this line. The head is 32' on an 8wt which is great for the ponds. This is not a long casting line. You'll only get an "okay feeling" loop because the taper is WAY over-engineered. It's really best to get it in the air and let go. Think of it as a pop and drop type line. At distances of beyond 60', performance characteristics begin to erode quickly. Therefore, it's an in close fast casting line best used when you want quick, stealthy casts. I like the XP because it has a bit more girth which means I can also use this line for very large flies in tight quarters and so I wind up using it a lot at night. Unfortunately, XP falls short of what I'd really like out of a night line, it roll casts great but not far enough usually. Therefore, the real reason I carry this line is because it has a clear head and it's a quick loading line. It has limited appeal really. As you can see, they pack a lot of weight into this short head, the reason being so you can get it in the air and let it fly fairly short distances. 

616da6219e547_Screenshot2021-10-1812_51_28PM.png.a75e48d2e9684bd79e79d374f795f65b.png

616da6a455b3d_Screenshot2021-10-1812_52_53PM.png.782411a92b40562f5e68c5ce81110ee8.png

 

The Coastal Quick Shooters are being "phased out" or more accurately, re-marketed by Rio as "Striper" lines. RIO is including compact head WF-Floating lines, compact had WF-Intermediate lines and fairly straightforward WF-DC-Sinking Head lines within the Striper platform. It's an awesome idea, all the lines are coldwater specific. 

 

On the Intermediates, you'll now have a 30' head, a clear tip and a reimagined taper that is rear loaded but much more smoothly progressive towards the front of the line. On windy days, these lines are pretty sweet. The gradually thinning triangle type taper cuts through wind and you don't need a ton of line in the air to punch a short cast.

 

Unfortunately, because the heads are only of the short varietal on the Floating and Intermediate lines, I'm still not a raving fan, but I am really happy to see RIO inching closer to the types of lines we need to Striper fishing.  The folks at RIO are super nice and I love that they're making an attempt, off base still as it ultimately is. 

 

I need an assortment of lines that meet the challenges of the diverse fisheries and conditions we contend with.  RIO's Striper assortment is closer to the mark than Rio has ever been before and they are making Striper fishing easier by marketing a series of lines for a specific applicaiton or shall we say, species. 

 

Below is the spread of Striper lines and the concept taper, which is the best taper they've come up with yet and coincidentally, is very much like the standard Quick Shooter (non-XP) from a taper construct perspective - very similar to a Wulff Bermuda Taper btw. 

 

616db4e60a2f6_Screenshot2021-10-181_02_32PM.png.fab1aa45761fd9d7172914dddb166d63.png

616db56fdc20d_Screenshot2021-10-181_56_36PM.png.9992adef09e1f77aa0f205d95409d6f5.png

 

All of these lines I've outlined above are going to fling any fly you're going to throw in Rhode Island, save for perhaps huge Shad, Mackerel, Bunker or Herring flies. The leader becomes much more what you should be focusing on. If you want me to post what works best in that department just say the word. 

 

Circling back to what Intermediate line will do what you need in the ponds. Sounds like you are using the Sci-A Titan Full Intermediate. I LOVE the quality of all Sci-A lines. Supple, tangle free, easy casting. THIS line however, I don't care for. The funky gob of weight at the front of the head makes the loop feel weird and it lands with a crash. Basically this is a taper that Bob Clouser popularized several decades ago. It's designed for large flies and features a short, chunky heavily weighted head that is front loaded. See diagram below - the Sci-A Titan Full Intermediate. 

616db85428a0b_Screenshot2021-10-182_07_14PM.png.0b4ee880e557f799a0fc0d545f3b60cf.png

 

Disadvanteges to the Titan Full Intermediate are poor loops, lack of stealth and big splashes. Not an ideal line for the ponds. Not a long casting line either. As you are experiencing, 50 feet is pretty much what you get and it's a s@it ton of work to fling it aound. 

 

If you went to the Sci-A Camo Intermediate, it would be worlds better. LONG casting smooth loops, stealthy. Zowy! On the ponds, you have room to cast in some spots. The channels can be much tighter in spots, but generally you have room. You absolutely would get significantly better performance characteristics out of the Sci-A Cammo Intermeidate and I think you'd absolutely love it. That said, I'd try it in an 8wt variety, on the 8wt Axiom. 

 

On the 10wt, I'd focus mostly on a Rio Striper Intermediate line, as the clear tip gives you terrific stealth and presentation on the pond. On windy days or when you're flinging some bigger flies, use the 10wt. On calm days or at slack tide, use the 8wt. 

 

 You might also add white Gurglers, rattling Bunker Crease Flies, olive over white Polar Fibre Spearing, tan Bunny Anchovies, olive Bead Chain Electric Clousers and standard yellow over white Electric Clousers and white Bunnyceivers to your fly mix. Also, Bead Chain Salt Pond Specials (Black) will come into play, especially at night and white ones are lethal by day. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, CaryGreene said:

I made a lot of typos in that previous reply as I was voice texting, but the gist of what I was getting at hopefully came through. Glad you found the post helpful Izak. 

 

Over the year's I've developed a system for choosing a fly line and my method doesn't descriminate too much between line types. The first thing I'm looking for is a line that resists cracking and has a durable jacket. Saltwater is much denser than Freshwater and if a line isn't durable, it's worthless to me. I fish too much and, though I maintain my equipment very well, all lines eventually wear out. I would like soft, supple, manageable lines that have the head length and grain weight I have in mind for the job I'm doing. The rod is really last thing I think about because I own a spread of all different fly rods, made by various comanies and I can quickly assess what will work best and what won't. This comes form years of working in the industry and knowing rod deflection and line tapers/grain weights. 

 

I don't look at only the AFTMA first 30 feet as being the real info I need. I simply want the frull grain weight of the castable portion of line. With that simple number, I can glance at a taper and understand almost exactly how it will perform my intented applicaitons. Then, I buy the lines I think will work and start using them. Pounding them hard. Fishing them every single fishable day. Day in and day out. If I'm still smiling a few months later, I'll admit the line is doing it's job. 

 

I'm looking for smooth, easy loops. I'd like great shootability and abilty to distance cast. Once the loop turns over and the full head is on it's way to the target, that's when the proof is in the pudding so to speak. Shorter heads don't provide distance casting results. The head turns over, then begins to snake in the air towards the target. Accuracy dilapidates and the line lands with a thud in a messy pile. 

 

Longer heads will give you better reach and are generally better for best results at distance. So we need to consider what we're doing and what depths, typical distances we're going to need to cover. Then we have to look at whether the the head and the running line floats or sinks. Lastly & most importantly, what does the taper look like?

 

Progressive tapers cast smoothly, compound tapers can be very funky at different distances. I by far like smooth, uniform tapers and heads that are at least 35-ish feet for D/C lines and 40' or longer for Intermediates and Floaters. 

 

Regarding choosing an Intermediate, I want to be able to cast 80' to 100' feet easily, throw larger flys, load fast rods, benefit from durablity, handle constant exposure to colder water or air temps, peform decently on warmer days and deal with minimum tangles and also be able to cast fairly quickly at times. A 40' head is pretty baller for this all purpose applicaiton and that's why I love the Airflo Cold Salt WF-Intermedaite. On 90 days in June-July-Aug it's not going peform better than a Sci-A Amplitude Grand Slam or other Medium to Hot weather line, but it will work if take care not to leave it in a hot car to superheat for hours before I fish. 

 

I really appreciate the uniform, predictable, easy casting taper that the Cold Salt line has. 

616d9ff5b3cb5_Screenshot2021-10-1812_24_49PM.png.46571f5b63eb9b3fd49b549adc9c072f.png

One of the reasons this WF Intermediate line casts so nicely is that it doesn't feature a compound cluster-F#$%! taper that is narrower here and fatter there. It's just a nice, even, bulky head that has a quick 4' rear taper and a nice, even, 8' front taper. The reason this taper is outstanding is because the moment you have the head in the air, you can just let it go. It rolls out evenly and straightens out like a rope. The front taper is nice and stealthy and I can use line for almost any applicaiton. If I'm casting inside of 40', the head is very predictable. It functions the same at 20' or 30' or 40', there is no difference in how it performs. Compound tapers don't offer this benefit. They perform completely differently at various shorter distances and they create a weird, hinge effect when their heads are fully arealized, which makes loops much less smooth and easy. There is also plenty of weight built into this line and the full head is within standard, which makes it super easy for people. If you want to overline (which I don't do with this line), you can bump up one line size and not be in reality two or three line sizes too heavy. It is a best seller in most fly shops for a reason and that reason is that you know exactly what you're getting and when you cast it, it performs exactly the same way at any distance. I really apprecaite these characteristics and I'm quite picky about fly lines. 

616da0828be9f_Screenshot2021-10-1812_27_31PM.png.24c29b406357e0da7e177ab0c518ffe6.png

 

Moving along, If I fished primarily outflows, I'd prefer a longer head than 40' and that's where the Sci A Camo Intermediate comes in. I still want a nice uniform taper, but now, since I'll carry a bit more line in the air, I wouldn't mind a longer rear taper as long as we still have a nice, uniform belly and at least 5' of front taper. The Camo Intermediate is what an Intermediate line should be for northeast fly fishing. This line will still cast in a very predictable manner and it will reach max distance is freaking style - gorgeous loops. It's also super supple, super slick and very durable, while also being a little stealthier than your uniformly colored lines. 

616da3ad20235_Screenshot2021-10-1812_40_49PM.png.230600a7d11f228f588c5bf34ed0711a.png

616da339f3a80_Screenshot2021-10-1812_39_03PM.png.46c093179066a98d47f65e8c5c376584.png

Camo Intermediate is also absolutely condusive to overlining with confidence, for those that want a little more oomph. If you do bump up a line size, the increase won't be ridiculously too heavy. 

 

Are there times when you really want to dump a fly quickly, into a blitz? Yes. Therefore, of the two line's I've highlighted, the Airflo Cold Salt WF-Intermediate would be a better choice for that sort of fishing. On the endge of a salt marsh channel the other day, I had blitzing Stripers crashing pods of 3 1/2" Atlantic Sperring. I needed to react quickly and be able to dump the fly wherever the actin was. Cold Salt was pretty okay at that. Would a line with a slightly shorter head be even better for this? Yes. Was the water super clear and was I fishing during the day? Yes and yes. Soooo, I made a switch to a clear tip Intermediate, which IMO would be a specialty line and if it's in the budget, one worth carrying on a spare spool. 

 

Note the compound taper on this line. The head is 32' on an 8wt which is great for the ponds. This is not a long casting line. You'll only get an "okay feeling" loop because the taper is WAY over-engineered. It's really best to get it in the air and let go. Think of it as a pop and drop type line. At distances of beyond 60', performance characteristics begin to erode quickly. Therefore, it's an in close fast casting line best used when you want quick, stealthy casts. I like the XP because it has a bit more girth which means I can also use this line for very large flies in tight quarters and so I wind up using it a lot at night. Unfortunately, XP falls short of what I'd really like out of a night line, it roll casts great but not far enough usually. Therefore, the real reason I carry this line is because it has a clear head and it's a quick loading line. It has limited appeal really. As you can see, they pack a lot of weight into this short head, the reason being so you can get it in the air and let it fly fairly short distances. 

616da6219e547_Screenshot2021-10-1812_51_28PM.png.a75e48d2e9684bd79e79d374f795f65b.png

616da6a455b3d_Screenshot2021-10-1812_52_53PM.png.782411a92b40562f5e68c5ce81110ee8.png

 

The Coastal Quick Shooters are being "phased out" or more accurately, re-marketed by Rio as "Striper" lines. RIO is including compact head WF-Floating lines, compact had WF-Intermediate lines and fairly straightforward WF-DC-Sinking Head lines within the Striper platform. It's an awesome idea, all the lines are coldwater specific. 

 

On the Intermediates, you'll now have a 30' head, a clear tip and a reimagined taper that is rear loaded but much more smoothly progressive towards the front of the line. On windy days, these lines are pretty sweet. The gradually thinning triangle type taper cuts through wind and you don't need a ton of line in the air to punch a short cast.

 

Unfortunately, because the heads are only of the short varietal on the Floating and Intermediate lines, I'm still not a raving fan, but I am really happy to see RIO inching closer to the types of lines we need to Striper fishing.  The folks at RIO are super nice and I love that they're making an attempt, off base still as it ultimately is. 

 

I need an assortment of lines that meet the challenges of the diverse fisheries and conditions we contend with.  RIO's Striper assortment is closer to the mark than Rio has ever been before and they are making Striper fishing easier by marketing a series of lines for a specific applicaiton or shall we say, species. 

 

Below is the spread of Striper lines and the concept taper, which is the best taper they've come up with yet and coincidentally, is very much like the standard Quick Shooter (non-XP) from a taper construct perspective - very similar to a Wulff Bermuda Taper btw. 

 

616db4e60a2f6_Screenshot2021-10-181_02_32PM.png.fab1aa45761fd9d7172914dddb166d63.png

616db56fdc20d_Screenshot2021-10-181_56_36PM.png.9992adef09e1f77aa0f205d95409d6f5.png

 

All of these lines I've outlined above are going to fling any fly you're going to throw in Rhode Island, save for perhaps huge Shad, Mackerel, Bunker or Herring flies. The leader becomes much more what you should be focusing on. If you want me to post what works best in that department just say the word. 

 

Circling back to what Intermediate line will do what you need in the ponds. Sounds like you are using the Sci-A Titan Full Intermediate. I LOVE the quality of all Sci-A lines. Supple, tangle free, easy casting. THIS line however, I don't care for. The funky gob of weight at the front of the head makes the loop feel weird and it lands with a crash. Basically this is a taper that Bob Clouser popularized several decades ago. It's designed for large flies and features a short, chunky heavily weighted head that is front loaded. See diagram below - the Sci-A Titan Full Intermediate. 

616db85428a0b_Screenshot2021-10-182_07_14PM.png.0b4ee880e557f799a0fc0d545f3b60cf.png

 

Disadvanteges to the Titan Full Intermediate are poor loops, lack of stealth and big splashes. Not an ideal line for the ponds. Not a long casting line either. As you are experiencing, 50 feet is pretty much what you get and it's a s@it ton of work to fling it aound. 

 

If you went to the Sci-A Camo Intermediate, it would be worlds better. LONG casting smooth loops, stealthy. Zowy! On the ponds, you have room to cast in some spots. The channels can be much tighter in spots, but generally you have room. You absolutely would get significantly better performance characteristics out of the Sci-A Camo Intermeidate and I think you'd absolutely love it. That said, I'd try it in an 8wt variety, on the 8wt Axiom. 

 

On the 10wt, I'd focus mostly on a Rio Striper Intermediate line, as the clear tip gives you terrific stealth and presentation on the pond. On windy days or when you're flinging some bigger flies, use the 10wt. On calm days or at slack tide, use the 8wt. 

 

 You might also add white Gurglers, rattling Bunker Crease Flies, olive over white Polar Fibre Spearing, tan Bunny Anchovies, olive Bead Chain Electric Clousers and standard yellow over white Electric Clousers and white Bunnyceivers to your fly mix. Also, Bead Chain Salt Pond Specials (Black) will come into play, especially at night and white ones are lethal by day. 

 

 

Howdy Cary,

 

Outstanding write-up and thanks so much for taking the time to really breakdown your explanations into thorough assessments of these lines. Needless to say, you've certainly cleared the air on what is perhaps the most convoluted fishing topic I've encountered. Over these last couple of months I've conducted countless web searches to include YouTube to understand the balances of choosing the right fly line for the application but have always come up short until now.

 

Exactly as you've stated, the SA Titan Full Intermediate has presented that very issue you've described with loop formation and big splashes. I do plan to try that line on the 10wt though just to experiment. The 8wt Axiom II had a hard time turning this line over but I think the faster action on the 10wt Axiom II-X will allow me to at least get my money's worth out of the line for a bit. Time and practice will tell.

 

I think I have some experimenting to do this next season. I am definitely going to give the SA Camo Intermediate a shot with the 8wt and will also branch out and try the RIO Striper Intermediate as well if things do not pan out well with the SA Titan Full Int on the 10wt. As I progress onward in skill-set, I will definitely try the SA Sink 7 and expand the repertoire.

 

I'm sure the breadth of knowledge you've just shared is just the tip of the iceberg! I hope to achieve that at some point in my pursuit to become a skilled fly fisherman. If other questions arise I will be sure to reach out again but I think what you've provided me is enough homework for now LOL!

 

I hope the season continues to treat you well as things wind down. Be safe out there and perhaps we will cross paths in the near future.

 

All the best & tight lines,

Izak

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4 hours ago, sikcrodbends said:

Howdy Cary,

 

Outstanding write-up and thanks so much for taking the time to really breakdown your explanations into thorough assessments of these lines. Needless to say, you've certainly cleared the air on what is perhaps the most convoluted fishing topic I've encountered. Over these last couple of months I've conducted countless web searches to include YouTube to understand the balances of choosing the right fly line for the application but have always come up short until now.

 

Exactly as you've stated, the SA Titan Full Intermediate has presented that very issue you've described with loop formation and big splashes. I do plan to try that line on the 10wt though just to experiment. The 8wt Axiom II had a hard time turning this line over but I think the faster action on the 10wt Axiom II-X will allow me to at least get my money's worth out of the line for a bit. Time and practice will tell.

 

I think I have some experimenting to do this next season. I am definitely going to give the SA Camo Intermediate a shot with the 8wt and will also branch out and try the RIO Striper Intermediate as well if things do not pan out well with the SA Titan Full Int on the 10wt. As I progress onward in skill-set, I will definitely try the SA Sink 7 and expand the repertoire.

 

I'm sure the breadth of knowledge you've just shared is just the tip of the iceberg! I hope to achieve that at some point in my pursuit to become a skilled fly fisherman. If other questions arise I will be sure to reach out again but I think what you've provided me is enough homework for now LOL!

 

I hope the season continues to treat you well as things wind down. Be safe out there and perhaps we will cross paths in the near future.

 

All the best & tight lines,

Izak

Izak, there are people who are really worth helping and guess what? You are one of them my friend. Now your job will be to do your experiments and learn and then guess what? You will have to help someone else in turn. Always raise a glass to those who are fished before us and enjoy the process of growing and learning because it never ends actually. 

 

The more we learn the more we realize how much there is yet still to know. Sorry to quote Einstein but he was very right.

 

Also me personally? I throw the density compensated lines most of the time because I'm always fishing in or around current. However I will change a spool lickity split as conditions slightly change. 

 

Double your fly line over upon itself and run it right up through the guides trailing the leader behind it. You'll be able to change a fly line in about 30 seconds or less if you do it that way.

 

Also don't forget your leader is the most important piece of the equation so if you need any help there just say the word.

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13 hours ago, CaryGreene said:

Izak, there are people who are really worth helping and guess what? You are one of them my friend. Now your job will be to do your experiments and learn and then guess what? You will have to help someone else in turn. Always raise a glass to those who are fished before us and enjoy the process of growing and learning because it never ends actually. 

 

The more we learn the more we realize how much there is yet still to know. Sorry to quote Einstein but he was very right.

 

Also me personally? I throw the density compensated lines most of the time because I'm always fishing in or around current. However I will change a spool lickity split as conditions slightly change. 

 

Double your fly line over upon itself and run it right up through the guides trailing the leader behind it. You'll be able to change a fly line in about 30 seconds or less if you do it that way.

 

Also don't forget your leader is the most important piece of the equation so if you need any help there just say the word.

Cary, now that you mention it...LOL. Onward to leaders!

 

A few questions on leader material:

 

1. Monofilament vs Fluorocarbon. Which particular situations might you choose one over the other? Any particular brand recommendations? I'm sure a person would want the leader to be a more supple material for optimal energy transfer rather than something rigid.

2. On leader length, I am curious what you find to be ideal for sinking flies? I'm sure hook size and physical dimension of the fly have an influence in this decision...

3. Are you connecting loop-to-loop with fly line? I watched Flip Pallot's snippet on contact fly fishing in which he cuts the fly line loop and he snells the monofilament butt section to the fly line and builds the rest of his desired taper.

4. I've also read some folks that target striped bass use a single stretch of 20lb mono or fluoro as their leader, with no tapered sections. Thoughts on this?

 

Thanks ahead!

 

 

 

 

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On 10/19/2021 at 11:56 AM, sikcrodbends said:

Cary, now that you mention it...LOL. Onward to leaders!

 

A few questions on leader material:

 

 

Thanks ahead!

 

 

 

 

Hi again SRB, happy to help with the leader questions. 

 

Regarding Monofilament vs Fluorocarbon - A full Fluorocarbon leader is a lot heavier than people realize. If I'm bonefishing or going for Permit in 2' to 5' of water, I have to rule full Fluorocarbon leaders out because I get hung up on bottom structure constantly, to the point where I can't even fish. If I'm fishing for Tarpon in the mangroves in 5' of water, I need my fly to suspend and again, Fluorocarbon doesn't cut the mustard. In both scenarios, I need stiffer, harder monofilament for my butt section and my mid section. Soft mono is terrible for leader butts. 

 

For Freshwater:

If I'm trout fishing in a river, where water is moving from one direction to another, I am extremely particular about my leaders and how they are constructed. The best Dry Fly leaders are used in conjuction with slack leader casts, in which you stop the tip sharply on your final forward cast and bounce it backwards slightly (a few inches). This creates a slack leader, which we task with the job of absorbing shock created by multiple water speeds, caused by structure. A given river may have numerous feeding lanes and our goal as a fly-fisherman is to cover those lanes and achieve drag free drifts. In the photo below, we spot a loation where a trout may be holding. Perhaps we've even seen him rise, though it would be hard to do that in broken water, if we were paying close attention we might be able to notice. Our goal is put a drag free drift IN FRONT or ON the rise ring, and NOT beyond it. The reason being, the Trout will see the tippet and refuse the fly if we cast past a ring, to the side opposite from our position. We need accuracy and shock absobrtion. In situations like this, supple mid sections and butt sections come into play. We want the leader to act as a spring, absorbing the push of drag while the fly drifts drag free, for as long as possible. 

61702c2503866_Screenshot2021-10-2010_47_45AM.png.82970eb3acf873735ac4567ac8201c39.png

There are two ways a fly-fisherman achieves a drag free drift. The first is by using line management. We mend our fly line repeatedly, which buys us a foot or two here and there, of extra drift. The moment the fly moves, due to current, the cast is over. The fly jumps unnaturally and lurches out of the feeding lane, we don't want that to occur. The second way we achieve drag free drift is with our leader. Almost all commercially made leaders and formulas popularized by guys like Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis, use the Tippet to absorb the drag. Tippet is extremely thin diameter compared to Butt or Mid Section, so the thinking is, it will absorb drag better - and it does. Unfortunately, fishing with a long Tippet makes for very inaccurate casting. The fly simply doesn't land where you need it to land and as any dry fly guy knows, accuracy is make or break. 

 

Leaders with longer Butt Sections, slightly elongated Mid Sections and Shorter Tippets are far more accurate and easier to control. George Harvey pioneered this and Joe Humphrey's commercialized his teachings. The Slack Leader Cast was born. A stiffer Butt Section was Blood Knotted to a more supple multi-piece Mid Section and then a shorter Tippet was found to be superior for absorbing drag. 

 

Dry Fly Leaders should absolutely be Nail Knotted to the tip of a fly line. In fact, all freshwater leader can be Nail Knotted with pretty strong confidence. The gain in casting control and energy transfer is noticeable. I even take this a step further and I nail knot my leader butt behind the tip of the line and run it out the line's core. The reason I do this is because the leader is in a perfect straight line with the fly line. Flip Pallot's method leaves the leader butt slightly off center. If I'm fishing Dry Fly's, this actually matters and my leaders cast like a dream. 

6170413b01e0a_Screenshot2021-10-2012_17_46PM.png.e8aeab00de0296d3d590137924b22efb.png

 

For Trout Leaders I use Maxima Chameleon material for Butts and Mid sections. It's very hard to beat. I like Frog Hair Mono for front sections. Mono has a specific gravity that is less than that of H2O, so it floats. It is also biodegradable. 

 

Coincidentally, Flip Pallot uses the term "snell" to describe a Nail Knot. In his videos, he's fishing with a 6 weight rod, for spooky snook. Juvenile Tarpon can also be caught on Nail Knots no problem, so Flip chops off the loop on the fly line and prefers the performance gain of the Nail Knot. 

 

Unfortunately, when you snag substrate, such as a piling, a barnacle cursted rock, a submerged tree branch or wreck, a mangrove root, a large clump of overgrown vegitation..etc, you have to pull out of the snag. Sometimes, we lose our fly. Sometimes we don't. Each time you pull hard on a Nail Knot, the knot compresses even more. Eventually, it will cut through the fly line and reach the line's core. When this occurs, the next time you pull on that Nail Knot, even gently the knot will slide right off the tip of your line and you'll lose your leader (and yes, potentially a big fish). 

 

Therefore, we don't recommend Nail Knots for Big-Game fishing. The knot iteslf is absolutely fine for even slot limit Stripers, big Bluefish, Albies, small Tuna..etc. Snags & the damage they can cause to the knot are the problem. When you have a good snag, you pull infinately harder than any smaller gamefish will ever pull. You can catch a 50lb Striper on a Fly Rod with a Nail Knot. I've done it more than once. But Nail Knots don't age well on a fly line and I encourage people to tie one, then pull on it like you were snagged. Pull hard and evenly and watch the knot pop right off. The knot won't fail. It will simply strip the line. 

 

In saltwater fly-fishing, with finicky fish in very shallow water, we might favor a Nail Knot on a Floating line. Casting Performance will be a bit better. Therefore, by all means use one if you want to make things a bit easier. Just check it after snags and make sure the connection isn't compromised. 

 

For Saltwater:

However, for most Saltwater Situations and with durability in mind, we like Loop to Loop connections a lot better than Nail Knots. The connection is is stronger. Line manufacturers provide a Welded Loop on the end of line. I have never had one fail on a fish, but I have had them fail on a snag. I don't reccomend cutting them off if the Manufacturer provides them pre-made on a fly line - the reason being is that they are very small and usually very well made, so a properly tied Perfection Loop will provide a perfectly good connection for most Saltwater fishing applications. 

61703509721c2_Screenshot2021-10-2011_21_10AM.png.399e672d302e5f1e40c80ef22290d91d.png

 

A Whipped Loop is superior to the factory made Welded Loop because you can double the line over on itself and use a full half inch or more to Whip together, using Flat Mono and a Fly Tying Bobbin - and of course centrifugal force. Here's an image of one I made on the rear of a fly line to attach to my 50# Gel Spun Backing, which I tied a Double-Bimini Twist on. I use this same connection on the front end of a fly line for Big-Game leaders. 

617036794dcb9_Screenshot2021-10-2011_28_03AM.png.73234f174896acb7875ca58edfeefebb.png

 

Another method to achive a superior loop to loop connection is make a Double Catch Loop. These also very reliable and very smooth casting. This method is most often used with Shooting-Heads. They are smooth casting and reliable, and they move through the guides with a clickity-clack that you learn to live with. A drawback to this method is that the braided mono sprays water, which it absorbes and traps, each time you false cast. This makes these connections terrible for Dry Flies or for Finicky fish in gin glear water - so I never use them for a Floating Bonefish or Permit line. 

 

61703507bc1b3_Screenshot2021-10-2011_24_40AM.png.b165fa87defcd5428ef4e0c2d3d0a69d.png

 

For the kind of fly-fishing you are doing SRB, you would be better off with a Mono Butt Section and Mid Section, and then if you want, you could use either Mono or Fluorocarbon for a Tippet. On the ponds, a fly needs to be suspended where the fish can see it. Monofilament leaders are a better choice anytime you require a neutral buoyancy.

 

Best Materials:

There are a couple of monofilament materials I like. Hatch Professional Series Saltwater Leader is one of them. It's a hard/stiff nylon polymer manufactured in Japan.

 

This way, you could suspend flies in shallower water without fear of getting hung up. Nylon CoPolymer lines are far more invisible than their Hard Mono predecessors. The best leader mateiral is either the below Hatch Professional Series or..

617038bb1dd62_Screenshot2021-10-2011_40_08AM.png.3d7d32ceb86b77fa527f5b2b40fdb232.png

 

Another really nice material, which I just sampled recently, is Sci-A's replacement for their older Hard Mono AR - it's called Absolute Hard Mono and it's perfect for Saltwater Leaders. 

617039301f61b_Screenshot2021-10-2011_43_03AM.png.ea0c7056c90c62d145bc08a57050865d.png

The Hard Mono is perfect for saltwater leader butts and mid sections and if you need to, you can use a Fluorocarbon Tippet to be a little extra stealthy. For Fluorocarbon, since it's expensive stuff, you want reasonably priced material that you can carry in your wading jacket. I like Yozuri HD Pink, which seems to be very close to invisible in the water and I always notice how fish lose all shyness when I have an HD Tippet. I swear by this stuff. 

617039e925a4d_Screenshot2021-10-2011_46_34AM.png.fe8dad686150ac4de01919c1c8fb79dd.png

 

A lot of guys also like the Seaguar Fluoro Premier, it's a smaller diameter material that is also very stealthy. Seaguar invented fluorocarbon fishing line so that's saying something, but Premier is a "double structure" fluorocarbon, which means that the exterior is made from a different resin than the interior. That exterior surface helps the knots seat better, giving you a strong connection to the fish. Fluoro doesn't absorb water and it doesn't degrade from UV exposure, so that spool of Fluoro Premier you have in your center console or hip pack is still good one year or three years later. You should throw away your nylon at the end of each season.

61703a8d3ab5e_Screenshot2021-10-2011_49_06AM.png.e5e2f4fddb380c377e38a60c16377159.png

 

Most commercially made leaders are available in .22", .26" and .28", which are all too thin to match the tips on many 8wt to 12wt Saltwater lines, which on average range from .040 to .050. If you want to start with a micrometer, you'll notice tip diameters on fly lines do range quite a bit and are often not listed. 

 

Leader Butt Golden Rule:

Saltwater fishermen think in terms of test # but the diameters are listed on the spools and this helps you match your butt section to ensure it's heavy enough to transfer energy. Fortunately, you don't have to get too technical when pairing a butt section of a leader with a fly line. Also, a four piece Saltwater leader is never needed as it's one piece too many. We use three piece leaders for very good reasons. Energy transfers from the loop to the leader. Maximum transfer occurs when the diameter of the leader is close to, but not as thick as, the line. You want to be .010 to .015 thinner. You can be slightly off here, such as .018, but the further you get from .010, the more energy you vaporize and that energy is 100% completely lost. 

 

As we've covered, In trout fishing, leader formulas matter a lot more than they do in saltwater. Trout anglers often build leaders to create slack. In the salt, we want exactly the oppositea ruler-straight presentation without slack, and right on target so when you start stripping line, you immediately also start moving the fly the way you intend.  

 

Saltwater leaders, in effect, are "streamer" leaders. In salt water, we should build leaders or look for commercial saltwater leaders that don't taper too quickly and transfer power all the way to the fly for that straight-line presentation.

 

Ultimate Saltwater Formula:

Less than 10% of your overall leader should be thin tippet material. When designing the leader's length, use very long butt sections. Instead of 60%/20%/20%, shoot for 70&/20%/10% or 60%/30/%10%. These two formula's are worth their weight in gold. They will take a caster of any ability level and make them grin from ear to ear. They turn over any kind of fly and they straighten out like ropes on ever cast. 

 

If you have a commercially made leader, more than likely the manufacturer made it with crossover freshwater/saltwater appeal, and you'll be hard pressed to find a leader that is thicker than .028", which is simply too wimpy for Saltwater. Therefore, you can add 18" of heavier material that is .010 thinner than your fly line's tip. Usually, on the ponds and in the Northeast, we're using 8wt to 10wt rods. Most lines in this class like 50# or 60# material, depending on the material's thickness. 

 

Leader Length:

As for leader length, I use 9' leaders on most floating lines and in most floating line situations. If I want longer, I simply use my % formula and make one that's longer. Its very easy and the leader will perform great, even out to 15' or more. When I switch to Intermediates and D/C lines, I drop down to 7 1/2' and use the same basic formula. 

 

Selecting Tippet:

Tippet diameter is more about need for stealth and hook size vs what species you have in the mix on a given day. If you have larger Blues around, obviously, you'll need a heavy tippet. If it's mostly smaller Blues or Stripers, you can and should drop down. 

 

I use 8#, 10#, 12#, 15#, 20# and 30# as my Tippet almost always. I will absolutely go as light as I can get away with. I use only Fluorocarbon for Tippet material. 

 

Regarding Single Piece Leaders:

Single piece leaders are a terrible idea for more reasons than I can list, starting with loss of energy and horrendous turnover and ending with being way to heavy usually.

 

When to use Full Fluoro Leaders:

Lastly, fishing in the Channels of the ponds or into outflows or rips or cuts where water is 5' deep or deeper means I no longer need a Mono Leader Butt/Mid. I go right to full-Fluorocarbon leaders in those situations. Fluoro is stealthier and it sinks so it is the perfect choice for sub surface when you have deeper water or current. 

Edited by CaryGreene

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On 10/20/2021 at 0:22 PM, CaryGreene said:

Hi again SRB, happy to help with the leader questions. 

 

Regarding Monofilament vs Fluorocarbon - A full Fluorocarbon leader is a lot heavier than people realize. If I'm bonefishing or going for Permit in 2' to 5' of water, I have to rule full Fluorocarbon leaders out because I get hung up on bottom structure constantly, to the point where I can't even fish. If I'm fishing for Tarpon in the mangroves in 5' of water, I need my fly to suspend and again, Fluorocarbon doesn't cut the mustard. In both scenarios, I need stiffer, harder monofilament for my butt section and my mid section. Soft mono is terrible for leader butts. 

 

For Freshwater:

If I'm trout fishing in a river, where water is moving from one direction to another, I am extremely particular about my leaders and how they are constructed. The best Dry Fly leaders are used in conjuction with slack leader casts, in which you stop the tip sharply on your final forward cast and bounce it backwards slightly (a few inches). This creates a slack leader, which we task with the job of absorbing shock created by multiple water speeds, caused by structure. A given river may have numerous feeding lanes and our goal as a fly-fisherman is to cover those lanes and achieve drag free drifts. In the photo below, we spot a loation where a trout may be holding. Perhaps we've even seen him rise, though it would be hard to do that in broken water, if we were paying close attention we might be able to notice. Our goal is put a drag free drift IN FRONT or ON the rise ring, and NOT beyond it. The reason being, the Trout will see the tippet and refuse the fly if we cast past a ring, to the side opposite from our position. We need accuracy and shock absobrtion. In situations like this, supple mid sections and butt sections come into play. We want the leader to act as a spring, absorbing the push of drag while the fly drifts drag free, for as long as possible. 

61702c2503866_Screenshot2021-10-2010_47_45AM.png.82970eb3acf873735ac4567ac8201c39.png

There are two ways a fly-fisherman achieves a drag free drift. The first is by using line management. We mend our fly line repeatedly, which buys us a foot or two here and there, of extra drift. The moment the fly moves, due to current, the cast is over. The fly jumps unnaturally and lurches out of the feeding lane, we don't want that to occur. The second way we achieve drag free drift is with our leader. Almost all commercially made leaders and formulas popularized by guys like Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis, use the Tippet to absorb the drag. Tippet is extremely thin diameter compared to Butt or Mid Section, so the thinking is, it will absorb drag better - and it does. Unfortunately, fishing with a long Tippet makes for very inaccurate casting. The fly simply doesn't land where you need it to land and as any dry fly guy knows, accuracy is make or break. 

 

Leaders with longer Butt Sections, slightly elongated Mid Sections and Shorter Tippets are far more accurate and easier to control. George Harvey pioneered this and Joe Humphrey's commercialized his teachings. The Slack Leader Cast was born. A stiffer Butt Section was Blood Knotted to a more supple multi-piece Mid Section and then a shorter Tippet was found to be superior for absorbing drag. 

 

Dry Fly Leaders should absolutely be Nail Knotted to the tip of a fly line. In fact, all freshwater leader can be Nail Knotted with pretty strong confidence. The gain in casting control and energy transfer is noticeable. I even take this a step further and I nail knot my leader butt behind the tip of the line and run it out the line's core. The reason I do this is because the leader is in a perfect straight line with the fly line. Flip Pallot's method leaves the leader butt slightly off center. If I'm fishing Dry Fly's, this actually matters and my leaders cast like a dream. 

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For Trout Leaders I use Maxima Chameleon material for Butts and Mid sections. It's very hard to beat. I like Frog Hair Mono for front sections. Mono has a specific gravity that is less than that of H2O, so it floats. It is also biodegradable. 

 

Coincidentally, Flip Pallot uses the term "snell" to describe a Nail Knot. In his videos, he's fishing with a 6 weight rod, for spooky snook. Juvenile Tarpon can also be caught on Nail Knots no problem, so Flip chops off the loop on the fly line and prefers the performance gain of the Nail Knot. 

 

Unfortunately, when you snag substrate, such as a piling, a barnacle cursted rock, a submerged tree branch or wreck, a mangrove root, a large clump of overgrown vegitation..etc, you have to pull out of the snag. Sometimes, we lose our fly. Sometimes we don't. Each time you pull hard on a Nail Knot, the knot compresses even more. Eventually, it will cut through the fly line and reach the line's core. When this occurs, the next time you pull on that Nail Knot, even gently the knot will slide right off the tip of your line and you'll lose your leader (and yes, potentially a big fish). 

 

Therefore, we don't recommend Nail Knots for Big-Game fishing. The knot iteslf is absolutely fine for even slot limit Stripers, big Bluefish, Albies, small Tuna..etc. Snags & the damage they can cause to the knot are the problem. When you have a good snag, you pull infinately harder than any smaller gamefish will ever pull. You can catch a 50lb Striper on a Fly Rod with a Nail Knot. I've done it more than once. But Nail Knots don't age well on a fly line and I encourage people to tie one, then pull on it like you were snagged. Pull hard and evenly and watch the knot pop right off. The knot won't fail. It will simply strip the line. 

 

In saltwater fly-fishing, with finicky fish in very shallow water, we might favor a Nail Knot on a Floating line. Casting Performance will be a bit better. Therefore, by all means use one if you want to make things a bit easier. Just check it after snags and make sure the connection isn't compromised. 

 

For Saltwater:

However, for most Saltwater Situations and with durability in mind, we like Loop to Loop connections a lot better than Nail Knots. The connection is is stronger. Line manufacturers provide a Welded Loop on the end of line. I have never had one fail on a fish, but I have had them fail on a snag. I don't reccomend cutting them off if the Manufacturer provides them pre-made on a fly line - the reason being is that they are very small and usually very well made, so a properly tied Perfection Loop will provide a perfectly good connection for most Saltwater fishing applications. 

61703509721c2_Screenshot2021-10-2011_21_10AM.png.399e672d302e5f1e40c80ef22290d91d.png

 

A Whipped Loop is superior to the factory made Welded Loop because you can double the line over on itself and use a full half inch or more to Whip together, using Flat Mono and a Fly Tying Bobbin - and of course centrifugal force. Here's an image of one I made on the rear of a fly line to attach to my 50# Gel Spun Backing, which I tied a Double-Bimini Twist on. I use this same connection on the front end of a fly line for Big-Game leaders. 

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Another method to achive a superior loop to loop connection is make a Double Catch Loop. These also very reliable and very smooth casting. This method is most often used with Shooting-Heads. They are smooth casting and reliable, and they move through the guides with a clickity-clack that you learn to live with. A drawback to this method is that the braided mono sprays water, which it absorbes and traps, each time you false cast. This makes these connections terrible for Dry Flies or for Finicky fish in gin glear water - so I never use them for a Floating Bonefish or Permit line. 

 

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For the kind of fly-fishing you are doing SRB, you would be better off with a Mono Butt Section and Mid Section, and then if you want, you could use either Mono or Fluorocarbon for a Tippet. On the ponds, a fly needs to be suspended where the fish can see it. Monofilament leaders are a better choice anytime you require a neutral buoyancy.

 

Best Materials:

There are a couple of monofilament materials I like. Hatch Professional Series Saltwater Leader is one of them. It's a hard/stiff nylon polymer manufactured in Japan.

 

This way, you could suspend flies in shallower water without fear of getting hung up. Nylon CoPolymer lines are far more invisible than their Hard Mono predecessors. The best leader mateiral is either the below Hatch Professional Series or..

617038bb1dd62_Screenshot2021-10-2011_40_08AM.png.3d7d32ceb86b77fa527f5b2b40fdb232.png

 

Another really nice material, which I just sampled recently, is Sci-A's replacement for their older Hard Mono AR - it's called Absolute Hard Mono and it's perfect for Saltwater Leaders. 

617039301f61b_Screenshot2021-10-2011_43_03AM.png.ea0c7056c90c62d145bc08a57050865d.png

The Hard Mono is perfect for saltwater leader butts and mid sections and if you need to, you can use a Fluorocarbon Tippet to be a little extra stealthy. For Fluorocarbon, since it's expensive stuff, you want reasonably priced material that you can carry in your wading jacket. I like Yozuri HD Pink, which seems to be very close to invisible in the water and I always notice how fish lose all shyness when I have an HD Tippet. I swear by this stuff. 

617039e925a4d_Screenshot2021-10-2011_46_34AM.png.fe8dad686150ac4de01919c1c8fb79dd.png

 

A lot of guys also like the Seaguar Fluoro Premier, it's a smaller diameter material that is also very stealthy. Seaguar invented fluorocarbon fishing line so that's saying something, but Premier is a "double structure" fluorocarbon, which means that the exterior is made from a different resin than the interior. That exterior surface helps the knots seat better, giving you a strong connection to the fish. Fluoro doesn't absorb water and it doesn't degrade from UV exposure, so that spool of Fluoro Premier you have in your center console or hip pack is still good one year or three years later. You should throw away your nylon at the end of each season.

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Most commercially made leaders are available in .22", .26" and .28", which are all too thin to match the tips on many 8wt to 12wt Saltwater lines, which on average range from .040 to .050. If you want to start with a micrometer, you'll notice tip diameters on fly lines do range quite a bit and are often not listed. 

 

Leader Butt Golden Rule:

Saltwater fishermen think in terms of test # but the diameters are listed on the spools and this helps you match your butt section to ensure it's heavy enough to transfer energy. Fortunately, you don't have to get too technical when pairing a butt section of a leader with a fly line. Also, a four piece Saltwater leader is never needed as it's one piece too many. We use three piece leaders for very good reasons. Energy transfers from the loop to the leader. Maximum transfer occurs when the diameter of the leader is close to, but not as thick as, the line. You want to be .010 to .015 thinner. You can be slightly off here, such as .018, but the further you get from .010, the more energy you vaporize and that energy is 100% completely lost. 

 

As we've covered, In trout fishing, leader formulas matter a lot more than they do in saltwater. Trout anglers often build leaders to create slack. In the salt, we want exactly the oppositea ruler-straight presentation without slack, and right on target so when you start stripping line, you immediately also start moving the fly the way you intend.  

 

Saltwater leaders, in effect, are "streamer" leaders. In salt water, we should build leaders or look for commercial saltwater leaders that don't taper too quickly and transfer power all the way to the fly for that straight-line presentation.

 

Ultimate Saltwater Formula:

Less than 10% of your overall leader should be thin tippet material. When designing the leader's length, use very long butt sections. Instead of 60%/20%/20%, shoot for 70&/20%/10% or 60%/30/%10%. These two formula's are worth their weight in gold. They will take a caster of any ability level and make them grin from ear to ear. They turn over any kind of fly and they straighten out like ropes on ever cast. 

 

If you have a commercially made leader, more than likely the manufacturer made it with crossover freshwater/saltwater appeal, and you'll be hard pressed to find a leader that is thicker than .028", which is simply too wimpy for Saltwater. Therefore, you can add 18" of heavier material that is .010 thinner than your fly line's tip. Usually, on the ponds and in the Northeast, we're using 8wt to 10wt rods. Most lines in this class like 50# or 60# material, depending on the material's thickness. 

 

Leader Length:

As for leader length, I use 9' leaders on most floating lines and in most floating line situations. If I want longer, I simply use my % formula and make one that's longer. Its very easy and the leader will perform great, even out to 15' or more. When I switch to Intermediates and D/C lines, I drop down to 7 1/2' and use the same basic formula. 

 

Selecting Tippet:

Tippet diameter is more about need for stealth and hook size vs what species you have in the mix on a given day. If you have larger Blues around, obviously, you'll need a heavy tippet. If it's mostly smaller Blues or Stripers, you can and should drop down. 

 

I use 8#, 10#, 12#, 15#, 20# and 30# as my Tippet almost always. I will absolutely go as light as I can get away with. I use only Fluorocarbon for Tippet material. 

 

Regarding Single Piece Leaders:

Single piece leaders are a terrible idea for more reasons than I can list, starting with loss of energy and horrendous turnover and ending with being way to heavy usually.

 

When to use Full Fluoro Leaders:

Lastly, fishing in the Channels of the ponds or into outflows or rips or cuts where water is 5' deep or deeper means I no longer need a Mono Leader Butt/Mid. I go right to full-Fluorocarbon leaders in those situations. Fluoro is stealthier and it sinks so it is the perfect choice for sub surface when you have deeper water or current. 

Cary,

 

Thank you again for such a descriptive write-up. I've learned more in this thread than I have over the last several months of watching YouTube and reading fly-fishing articles.

 

In reference to threading leader through the tip of your fly line, are you using a sewing needle of sorts to route that leader through? I have to say that I never would have thought to create such a clean, crisp connection, and I can see how the physics behind that way of rigging will lead to a smoother unrolling of the fly line to the leader. Definitely want to give this a shot!

 

Thus far I've been using fluorocarbon leader and as you've clued in on, I've definitely ran into issues with sink rate in shallow areas. I've also been using 60%-20%-20% when building leader so I'll certainly try the ratios you've suggested as well as those brands of monofilament. And I can attest to the quality of the YoZuri HD fluoro. This is what I use surfcasting and it is my favorite fluoro leader material for the sake of suppleness, abrasion resistance, and ability to form strong knots. Not to mention it is practically invisible.

 

Aside from delving into a conversation on casting technique, I think you've provided me with a lot of material to start doing homework with. You've got me fired up already for next season and I'm really looking forward to getting proficient with fly fishing in the salt. As fall is here, I'm setting sights on trout and landlocked salmon. From what you've shared with me, I'm definitely going to apply these tips and tricks in freshwater as well and will let you know how things pan out in due time.

 

All the best,

Izak

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