Northeasters | How many different fly lines do you REGULARLY use?

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No need to apologise. It worked for me to in the past because that was my approach also for nigh on 15 years. That approach has now changed radically based on new thinking ,well new for me.  It has worked well so there could be two strings to the bow. But right now exploring the new one is holding my interest a tad more. I think having two perspectives is useful for others to chew over. I do believe in overcoming technical difficulties is useful rather than defaulting to a gear solution that might not be our proferred mo. The challenge is the drug.




Edited by Mike Oliver

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Steve moral or immoral the decision to return has to rest with the health of your fishery. I hear that large fish are being caught but that the population of small is reduced. That is very much like the pattern of the previous collapse.       
We are going to be fishing surf beaches in pretty much the same way now. The only use I can think of for my fast sink lines ow  is when plying  fast deep inlets.

This season until I changed over to floaters my friend was out fishing me at least three to one. We were fishing side by side. It’s all good. The difficulties in discussions like these is avoiding upsetting guys and often ones you know through Sol rather well and have respect for. The complexities of human life.:howdy:




PS I have a very new 1.6 L Stainless Steel Kelly Kettle. So no more meltdowns as in the past with the aluminium version. 1 L = 2.2 Pints so it can provide hot water for four tired thirsty Anglers at 02:00. Biscuits and fruit cake optional.

Edited by Mike Oliver

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This thread demonstrates that we are completely ungovernable and George III was actually right.  For me, 8 Wt every day.  Primary line, WF Floater.  Spare reel in the bag with an intermediate. Upsize rod weight to 9 or 10 if you want to throw bigger flies.  I'm 64 years old.  I've been fly fishing since I was 14.  I'm totally bewildered by the line choices offered today.  And I still love it just as cluelessly as I did at 14.  

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I'm not a Northaster (any more) but it is VERY interesting to me to see the views of certain people here change dramatically over time, w.r.t.their preference for floating, sinking and/or intermediate lines.  Mike O. has changed his tune, but so has Squish (welcome back Squish).  I seem to remember that Squish used short intermediate heads with (intermediate) tips in the surf (on a two hand rod).  Now he's primarily a sinking line devotee.  Mike and Steve in the past arguing the merits of full float, and now there's a truce (or maybe a concession?) on that issue. 


I also remember Bonefish Dick (RIP) who swore by the supremacy of an intermediate line above all others.  I feel bad that I argued with him. I wonder if he's paying attention to this thread.  It's all good, IMO.  I don't feel like there's any need to argue with anyone ever again over their preferences, especially now that it is apparent that many have changed our tunes based on learning new tricks or methods that work even better for them.

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I've never fished anything but a floating line because I only ever fly fish from the shore so even when not using a dry fly the leader allows for sufficient depth.


Beginning to think I should get a second spool and load it with a sinking line and see what the difference is.

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1 hour ago, Killiefish said:

that many have changed our tunes based on learning new tricks or methods that work even better for them.

I get the sense that the tactics are all still evolving on shore fishing with a fly rod and it is very likely that what is happening with this change of tune you are observing are people settling on **dominant** tactics for them **for the conditions they fish*....there is definitely much more that can be done in terms of being more specific about the specific conditions specific tactics, and setups are better fitted we can actually move closer towards codifying all of the learnings from this great group of very thoughtful enthusiasts......if not to codify but to provide those coming in with useful experiments to run on their own outings....

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Some of us have been "evolving" for 40 or more years.  When I first started, I was using mainly a double taper line (floating) and using a separate Pflueger or similar click pawl reel (not extra spool, b/c who ever thought of that?) with a sinking shooting head.  There were no rods made out of this thing called carbon fiber, and many of the rods were two piece, and not exactly 9ft.  There were no intermediate lines, no compound tapers, no graduated density lines or heads.  There were no two-hand "surf fly rods" so designated because all the two hand rods were really long (> 13ft) spey rods with a very deep loading, bendy nature. 


In my opinion, some disagreements or arguments we have had here have been due to an abundance of options, which at first we don't really know what to do with...until we experiment.  And here's the rub - nobody experiments in exactly the same way or in the same exact conditions.  We are idiosyncratic creatures.  There's no such thing as a "control" or replication.   I admire Cary Greene's efforts to try and make sense of the craziness, but we are still prone to personal prejudices and lack of consistency in how we apply these new tools.  YMMV.


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Serious saltwater trips-Intermediate clear line. 9wt on 9’ graphite. Cuts wind and waves nicely. I don’t have a single saltwater popper. 


Messing around my local docks and inlets-7 wt sink tip on 7 wt glass. I often miss this rig when I leave it home. 


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Yes nice post makes sense. Mostly I believe we all handle our views and prejudices in a pretty reasonable way. Even when strongly attached to them. Hell I battled tooth and nail with Steve for many years on the floating verses Intermediate lines for surf beaches. Until one day I saw how they could be fished and how effective they are mainly due to the control we can exercise on our flies. I had success on my Intermediates also but I did not measure it against other lines and their capabilities. What an idiot and you could say bigot to and you would be right. Evidence based logic I find very powerful and yet in this case I studiously ignored it because of my entrenched position until this eureka moment on a very special day. Within reason there are no wrongs or rights just a very personal way of doing things that float our boat. Not everyone is looking for the most effective way but a way which they enjoy more. But then we get those individuals who are interested and who are focused on the most effective way to fish a given set of conditions in the ocean and then the discussions can get way more polerised to the point of a bit of belligerence. I can recall some of my early exchanges with a couple of SOL members way back when I kicked off  with TH posts. Those at times were such that you could positively taste the vitriol. Shamefully I enjoyed the fray as well as trying to share my passion for being able to battle the ocean still when she forced me off the beach with my single hander. Maybe as we age we mellow a tad I don't know only that time is short and we need to be on it.



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Posted (edited) · Report post

"Not everyone is looking for the most effective way but a way which they enjoy more."


I am 100% in agreement.  Always looking for a way to have more fun, more excitement with less fatigue, less joint pain...  That's kind of my mantra.  And: not compromising anyone else's enjoyment is important.  I wish there was more understanding and tolerance sometimes between people with different methods.  I can remember some altercations in the past with bait or gear fishermen who thought I was insane or worse trying to catch a fish on fly.  What I could have done (or at least attempted) is taken the time to try to explain why my strange (to them) methods were important to my having more fun, or even more "success" in the way that mattered to me.  Possibly a waste of time, or worse, an opportunity for more trash talking and disagreement?


Sorry, off topic.  I use whatever lines seem to be the right application at the time.  I'm lucky to have many options and also great information at my disposal, at sites like this and a couple of others.

Edited by Killiefish

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On 8/10/2022 at 5:52 PM, Mike Oliver said:

 I don't know.... only that time is short and we need to be on it.

And there it is.

Edited by C. Regalis

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Lot's of interesting viewpoints in this thread - they seem to add up to a single conclusion: Fly-Fisherman use whatever lines work best for them for where they fish and how they fish. 


One Salt Marsh may have tall seaweeds just a few few feet under the surface and may be unfishable with anything but a floating line,


another might have deep undercut banks which the bunker hug as they cruise back and forth filter-feeding. 


In fishing - and Fly-Fishing isn't unique in this regard, its about perspective. First, how are you looking at the fishery you're accessing? Let's say it's a Jetty. What's the Tide doing? One side of the Jetty may be 3 to 10' deep and flat calm, but other side may be 20' deep and moving steadily due to it being an outflow. Think the same line is perfect for both sides of the Jetty? It may be. Depends on the Jetty. One guy might fish the Jetty below with an Intermediate line and do just fine. Another might ifsh it with a floating line and sinking flies and hang with the first guy (at times). Another guy might just attach this Jetty with a D/C line and he could do fine also - maybe even consistently better than the other two guys. But - "doing better" depends on the tides they are all fishing, and the light conditions, and the presence of Stripers (or lack thereof). 



If you think one line will work best from a Jetty, you may want to think again if that's your belief. 


It's all about perspective and the tide really.


That's what compells fly-fishermen to select a line. 


Then there's the matter of where the predators are staging? Are they cruising the wall or are they taking advantage of an easy meal by just sitting near structure, letting the current deliver the forage? Or, are they moving around a large rock pile where water depths can reach 30'+ very sharply? Tide can start ripping in places like this. Think a Floating line with a sinking fly is the way to go? Think again! How about a D/C line with a naturally buoyant fly? Outfishes the "floater" in this environment 10:1 all day any day, when the water is moving. When it's not though, any line and strategy will catch fish. 


Saltwater channels are places predators like Stripers and Blues move into and out of. they work one end of a channel, then the middle, then the other end. They're basically following bait and it's all related to tidal conditions. In most areas where there is fast current, DC lines can be uses with great success from the shore, even in spots where you wouldn't think the water depth necessitates a D/C line. In this channel, the water is only 7 to 10' deep max, but the current is surprisingly strong at times. Here, a D/C line will outproduce all others - providing the current is moving strong. However, it can slow at slack tide and then, Floating or Intermediate lines can be be used more successfully. The problem is, at low slack tide there are few fish actually in the channel, they've moved out to open water. Then, at hight tide, the fish have moved out into the salt pond. Therefore, the D/C line is really the optimal way to target this and most channels that boats pass through. 



When we fish, we often use various tools - Fly Rods are one way to access reachable fish. Sometimes, conditions dictate a change in tactics though. Flip Pallot carried two rods down to the pier every morning for a reason. One was a fly-rod, the other a spinning outfit. The very same piece of water that looks fairly calm one day can become a rip hours later. 1' to 3' surf one day can become 5' to 7' the next day. Wind can pick up. Bait can blow in or out. There's always a best place to fish, given the tide and the conditions. On any beach where 3 to 5oz is required just to hold bottom, it's a safe bet that a D/C line is by far the best way to approach the sand structure. Bait hugs the bottom and so too do Stripers. Blues may be more willing to patrol the surface and at times, so too will Stripers do the same, but not if they can get an easy meal. 


Often, success depends on getting patterns below Bluefish becasue when you find them, you almost always have Stripers loitering beneath, looking for an easy meal that the Bluefish has prepared for them. Again, a D/C line is often the best way to nail big fish. Obviously not so over a shallow boulder field or a gentle, sandy beach - especially not so when current is minimal (as pictured below). That's when we break out a floating line, by all means. 



Expert surf-fishermen know all this and they move. They find the right spots based on factors that they have to pay attention to. In many of the spots I fish, I can find ripping water at dead low tide and surprise, surprise, big fish can also be found in these spots! Go figure!! 


As far as carrying a few extra lines, it's not that difficult. They make these things called "spare spools." If you fish a varied geographical area, sometimes by shore, sometimes by skiff, or center console, sometimes by bike, other times by rock hopping..etc, then why would you ever fish a single type of line? Not a bright idea. How do you carry these strange devices with you when you fish? Well, figure it out! They're extremely light and fit into a lot easy to carry bags and packs. 


If you have a few lines on you at all times, you can go anywhere and do anything and you can stay out a long time and be more productive throughout a tide, as it ebbs and flows from stage to stage.  You can do this because you can adjust. You might start out in one spot, move to another, move again, then again, then receed back to where you started and then possibly move again. You should be fishing that way. As you move and as the tide changes, you might need to adapt your tactics in order to be productive throughout a full shift. 


If you dink around the same areas all the time and you just do what you do, then perhaps one line suffices. It doesn't mean you should recommend this line blindly to other people though, becasue WHAT IF they might be fishing in completely different ways and in completely different spots than you tend to? Hmmmmm?


This whole subject really doesn't require much thought. It think this thread is proving most people have a view that centers on what they do most.  Who cares? How are YOU going to fish, whre are YOU going to fish, WHEN and FOR HOW LONG are you going to fish, what are the conditions like, what bait is present, what will the tide be doing...on and on it goes. That's all that matters. 


Picking a line isn't about what other people do most. It's a very simple process really. Where are you fishing today? What's the tide stage? Are there fish around? And if so, then you likely will have a window of opportunity. It's about where to set up and how to stay on the fish as long as possible. It's always good to take a moment and think to yourself, "What will I be doing today." 


Fish move because they stick close to current. Current delivers micro nutrients that baitfish feed on. Baitfish move because of current, so too do predators and current changes. One side of a rock might be productive right now, but other side is going to be better in a few hours.


Open beaches have structure too. It's there. There are sand bars further out and cuts inbetween them - this creates a maze of sorts. Bass cirlcle the sand bars. They move into the cuts with the waves, then they circle out and come around again - all the while, they pick up helpless bait that is manipulated by the pull of the waves. 


I could fish for a week straight, from shore, and mostly use a D/C compensated line. I could fish for another week straight and only use an Intermediate line and I could do the same for another week and only use a floating line. It's not about what I like. It's about which line is best for what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. 


Lines I Recommend for Saltwater Fishing:

SHORE BASED: Carry 3 of these lines with you based on where you'll be fishing on a given day. Which ones do you need? If the plan is to say out only a few hours, maybe you only need a single line with you? If the plan is to fish for several days here or there, you'll need a few spools and a strategy.


If I was forced to recommend ONLY ONE SINGLE line for shore fly-fishing, I'd ask: Where will you be fishing the most. Then I'd answer. Anyone who doesn't recognize the need to do this needs to work at the customer service desk in a fast paced, high volume fishing/fly-fishing retail environment for a few weeks. "The guy in the flyshop said a floating line was what I needed becasue that's what he uses, but a few guys in the club and I were out last night and they all caught multiple fish and I just couldn't get down deep enough with this line...etc" 


If the person answered, "I don't know whre I'll be fishing mostly, probably all over the place." Then I'd sell them two extra spools and three lines. The line most shore fly-fishermen USE the most is an Intermediate line. It's the bread and butter line, so to speak, so yes - by all means, start there! But be sure to pick up a few spools an try expanding out of "what he said to do" and into "what you do." Learn, grow, develop, improve and try fishing lots of fun spots. The more time on the water you spend, the more you'll see the need for at least three different types of lines. 


Nice to Have: WF Intermediate Line with a 50'-ish head. (Great when there's back-cast clearance. Great for fishing outflows. Great for open beaches)

#1 Must Have: WF Intermediate LIne with 40' Head. (more of an all-purpose "daily-driver" type line. This would be the best choice for a person who only wanted a single Intermediate line)

Nice to Have: WF Intermediate Line with 30' Clear Head(Great for when stealth is an issue, great for blitzes, can also be great for flats fishing, when you're targeting channels in ponds or other spots that require a bit of uniform sink)

#2 Must Have: D/C Line: (THE choice for strong current and deeper water. Surf-fly-fishing is done from a fixed position. Cast out and acrross in fast current and how far does your line sink? A few feet maybe? Depends how fast it's ripping. Maybe more. Maybe 5 to 7 feet, maybe even up to 10 feet? Who knows. Who is to say. It's about the current. Great line for channels, excellent for open beaches where sweeping current is present. If you're not using D/C lines from shore, you're simply either missing the boat completely or you're fishing in areas where you don't need them. 

#3 Must Have: WF Floating Line with 40'-ish Head. (All purpose use and ABSOLUTELY NOT just for surface patterns. Nice line for numerous applications, one that's perhaps underuitilized by fly-fishermen a bit too.)

Nice to Have: WF Floating Line with 50'+ Head(Great for worm hatches - providing you have backcast clearance, great for open beaches, works very well with sinking flies, awesome for salt-marshes of course surface flies when desired, obviously a great distance casting line)

Nice to Have: WF Floating Line with 30' Head(Specialty line for fishing around structure, good for quick-casting and dumping a fly shorter distances. Nice line for people who move a lot)


Boat Based: Fishing in current is a big part of the game. Boat fishermen hang around rips, they move with the tide and set up in different spots (often down-current from structure), they flats fish, they hunt for bird squalls, they even encroach on the shore and cast tight to the beach at times. You name it, they do it. They always have backcast clearance too, unlike shore based surf-casting, which can obviously vary. 


#1 Must Have: D/C Line(Currents can be strong and when D/C lines swing, they don't get down deep at all. You can also not count down and just start retrieving, which means you basically stay at or near the surface. For this reason, these lines are far-and-away the most versitile and most used choice. Absolute MUST for boat based fly fishing. Deadly if used right.)

Nice to Have: Intermediate Line with 30' Clear Head(Can be great for chasing Albies or when stealth matters)

Nice to Have: Floating Line with 50' Plus Head(Flats-Fishing is all about being able to reach spooky fish and Salt Marshes, Ponds and Back Bays can be great for a Floating line at times)

Nice to Have: Floating Line with 30' Head(Great for surface patterns and blitzes, can also be good for working tight to shore). 

Nice to Have: Intermediate Line with 40' Head(All-Purpose uses include slithering Crease Flies, working around structure, Back Bays, Salt Ponds, Channels that are close to Flood Stage and where otherwise strong current is slowing down for a bit)


Lastly, as far as what weight rod to use for surf fishing, that question is answered in much the same way as I've answered above? Where are you going to be fishing? What species are you targeting? From shore or a boat..etc. 


In the Northeast, in general, shore based fishing can be best covered with a 9wt. Some guys like to go lighter when it's mostly schoolies around, in which case, an 8wt is a lot of fun. Some guys would rather be ready for big fish at all times and so they like to use a 10wt. 


Most fly-fishermen end up with more than one rod, in which case, if you bought one rod recently or are planning on buying one, what might your next rod be. Skipping a rod size makes sense and so many will get an 8wt, then a 10wt. 11wts have a place when boat fishing, but 10wts can cover that base fairly well. Therefore, if you want a few rods, consider an 8wt and a 10wt - especially if you're a casual Salmon fisherman, because 8wt are good for ligher tackle solutions (not for Atlantic Salmon obviously). If you really just think you're going to go with only one rod, a 9wt is a great choice. Again, it's a matter of what you'll be doing. If you think you're going throw big flies and want to target large fish and heavy current, then you absolutely go to a 10wt. 


I love to fish off the jet ski and chase bird squalls around and all season long, an 11wt is pretty baller for that. But from shore, it's not a lot of fun. Even the 10wt is more than I need from shore usually. There's nothing a good 9wt can't handle and a 9wt really is an excellent overall "do-it-all" choice. 


From shore, I personally mostly use 8wts and 9wts - fishing all over the place too - not just the same spots repeatedly. When I'm working a beach in Belize or Costa Rica, 10wts are too light, so I mention this because rod choice really correlates to the fish you're after and the flies they eat. 


8-10-12 is one way to go. 9-11 is another. If you fish a lot and it becomes a lifestyle, its quite possible you'll have two of ever size, a daily driver and a backup. 


Boat fishing opens up the ability to leave rods strung up and ready to go. With shore fishing, mobility is highly desireable and so transporting a spare rod is a nut to crack - or not bother with, kind of depends on your polarity as many posters here have already worked through very nicely. 


It all comes down to the terrain and where you're fishing. Sometimes, lots of spare gear is highly undesirable. Other times, it's easy enough to bring. Each person just figures this stuff out. Whatever works for you is all that matters. "Platforms" like a Fishing Dolly, a Bike, a Truck, a Boat, your Back (lol) are all in play sometimes. The right Platform can carry a bit of gear. I LOVE fishing out of the truck or off the boat for this reason, but a cool thing about Surf Casting - whether conventional, spinning or fly, is that if you want to, you can travel very light. 




Edited by CaryGreene
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