Line tapers - The Mysteries explained
is now possible to by a fly line for just about any situation you can think of
and then probably a few more you hadn't. There are a huge number of options out
there to choose from and hopefully the following article will help lead you through
this minefield of information (and sometimes mis-information!)
first of all we have two basic tapers. The Weight Forward and the Double Taper.
The diagram below gives the general outline of each line type.
of all, lets get some Urban Myths out of the way. A Double taper is not better
at delicate presentation than a WF line - It's actuallyworse! Delicate presentation
comes from a long front taper. Generally your common or garden DT line actually
has a shorter front taper than the respective Weight forward line! Lets take the
Cortland 444 as an example. From the Cortland Website we can see that the DT7
floater has the following configuration:
the "Rocket" Weight Forward taper has the following:
So the Weight forward line has a 2 foot longer front taper for more delicate presentation.
is a trend you will generally find across the board. There are exceptions (aren't
there always?) The Rio Classic DT line has a slightly longer taper than the WF
Classic but then one only needs to look at some of the other lines in the Riorange
to quickly find many WF lines that have a longer front taper.
one. If it says #5 on the rod it means #5 on the rod. It doesn't mean a WF5 and
a DT6 or a DT5 and a WF6. A 5 weight line weighs the same regardless if it is
a DF or a WF at the AFTMA mark (which is 10 yards of line minus the level tip).
Even if we start to extend line past this point, Most WF lines have a head of
between 12 and 14 meters so you are not going to notice any difference whatsoever
in weight until you are holding up around 18 meters of line (and there aren't
that many people out there who fish like this on a regular basis).
So if it
says #5 or #8 on a rod, it means the same for WF or DT. But then this is sugestive
too. The Line is the standard in all of this (unless you have a line that is "outside
of the AFTMA system"! More below.) if you happen to think a rod feels better
with a different weight line that thats *Your* rod rating. Ther are no rules ouyt
there that stop you using a WF6 line on your #5 rod if it feels better *to you*.
that are "outside of the AFTMA system" are a nonsense. Whats' the poiint
of having a line that doesn't fit into the system that governs the whole thing?
What this basically means is, rods have got stiffer and stiffer and so a beginner
may struggle to load (bend) one using the correct line weight. So what they do
is give you a 9 weight rod with a #7 rating (because Stiff is Sexy) and then give
you a 9 weight line rates as a #7 to bend the thing which is "outside the
AFTMA system". Who's kiding who? Just use a softer rod.
lets look at general tapers. If we take an average WF line, it will be perfectly
able to cope with 99.9% of the tasks required of it during use. It's a general,
all-purpose line. Now this is a very handy line to own if you happen to fish in
the real world where situations and conditions are constantly changing. However,
if you are a fair weather fisherman, you may want to trade in some of the performance
features of a general WF line that deal with wind etc and go for something that
is exactly suited to the fair weather you tend to fish in more often than not.
Alternatively, it may always be windy where you fish so you may want to trade
in some of the delicate presentation features of the line for some better suited
to casting in a gale.
we can choose a line from a vast array of types that are commonly called Wind
tapers. Unfortuntely, there are actually two types of Wind taper. The Elongated
stepped variety and the really short "positive turnover" variety. Both
of which are exactly opposite each other in terms of taper design! How confusing
Below we can see the difference..
these work on two completely different principles. If you are a good caster, you'll
find that the Stepped Wind taper works well for you. If you aren't, you'll struggle
with it and will be better off with the Steep Front taper line, especially when
using big flies.
We can see this difference quite clearly in the Rio
Bonefish (which is similar to the Windcutter
taper) and Tropical
Clouser lines, These lines have the exact opposite taper from each other yet
are supposed to do the same thing. The advanced caster will get on with the Former
and the intermediate caster will get on with the latter.
Rio are not the only
ones doing this. Cortland and many others also have tapers that are at either
end of the spectrum. The reason for this is that they work with different Physics
principles.if you have a good style and hard stop, the Stepped taper design aids
your casting style. If you have a less efficient style the Steep front taper design
will aid your casting.
look at a range of lines and their tapers, from one extreme to another. Below
we can see a range of lines that have radically different profiles.
lines can all be cast by anyone with a fly rod but their design is meant to highlight
particular attributes to help you in certain situations.
the following rules apply to fly line tapers.
Long front taper = gentle
presentation and good turnover. Excellent for roll casting
Short front taper
= very positive turnover, good for large flies.
Stepped front taper
= Good into the wind for advanced casters.
Long back taper = Easy to
overhang (and make long roll casts with)
Very long back taper = Designed
for advanced casters to get the very most from the line.
back taper = Designed to be shot and not good for overhang.
= good for aerialising more line. Good for longer roll casts.
= A shooting head type line, usually has a thinner running line.
we have to realise that the further we get from a standard WF design (12 meter
head, 8-10 ft front and back tapers) the less all round useability we have and
the more we sacrifice in this area. A Distance line might get you 10% or even
20% further but you can bank on the presentation attributes being reduced as the
compromise. A presentation line might get you delicate presentation but it's going
to suffer when it comes to carrying larger flies.
first thing to do when considering your choice of a line is to determine which
areas are important to you and which areas you can sacrifice to get more performace
in those areas. Knowing the above you should now have a clearer understanding
of just what you are giving up when considering an specialist line.
say you are an intermediate caster and want a line that will be great for distance,
Ok in a wind and that you will occasionally want to hold a bit more line up with.
It is for use with medium size flies. You are therefore looking for a line with
a reasonably short front taper, say around 8ft (fine for small and medium flies
in a moderate wind). You also want a reasonable rear taper for holding line up
so look for a 6-8 ft rear taper or longer) You are also looking for a relatively
thin running line. So you can now head off to Google and look through all of the
line specifications so see just what suits you.
lets say you are a relative beginner who wants a line to get a big fly out in
difficult conditions holding up as little line as possible. You are looking for
a steep front taper of around 6 ft, you want the weight in the head towards the
front (to help with your inefficient casting style see the Wind taper part above).
You want a relatively short head because you can't hold up a lot of line and you
aren't really in need of a rear taper as such as you aren't going to be holding
up much line. So you can now go off and find that line. However. It may be worth
remembering that getting a line with a longer back taper will help enormously
as you improve your casting so it may be worth buying a lien like this to help
in this improvement.
lets consider a Mullet fisherman who is looking to cast small flies at spooky
mullet in an estuary. He's looking for a line with a long front taper for delicate
presentation. He's also looking for roll casting ability as the chances are there'll
be running water in the estuary so he can fish Down and Across. He's looking for
a line with a good rear taper in case he needs to cast that but further as the
mullet move around and he's looking for a line that still has good turnover when
the wind comes up. So he goes and finds this line in the specifications on the
line manufacturers web sites.
might have someone who fishes somewhere with a restricted back cast. In this case
he is looking for a line with a short head because he simply cannot make a cast
with a 12 meter head. So he goes and finds a really short head line with thin
running line so he aerialises as little line as possible before shooting. He may
also want to consider making the jump to shooting heads. But he would be wise
to remember that the shorter the head, the quicker the turnover will be and the
less distance he will get.
the most universal line out there is a long belly Weight Forward line. If restricted
to one line for any purpose, choosing a Long belly will see maximum range of applications
with minimum compromise. Something with a 14 meter head and 10 ft tapers back
and front will give most all round usability. This is handy to know if you haven't
got £500 lying around to buy 10 different lines.
Beware! There are some lines out there that are so specialised they become virtually
useless at anything apart from the exact task they are made for. Not only that,
they are labelled in such a way as to disguide this fact. I can think of at least
two lines that are so different in performance from that which the name suggests
they are close to breaking the trades description act! It pays to know what the
tapers do so you can suss this out for yourself.
its worth ponting out that the faster the sinking line you use sinks, the less
effect tapers are going to have on the line as the less difference there is between
belly and tip. This is due to line density Its a lot thinner than the equivalent
floater so you can't build in such a difference between belly and tip.. So the
differences between different manufactuers sinking lines is far less than the
floaters. Becasue of this, you may want to look at other features if sinking lines
such as slickness or durability when choosing a line like this.
all of the above situations a standard WF line will work just fine but a specialist
line might just suit a particular situation a little better. They can't perform
magic though and there's no substitute for learning to cast more efficiently.
Remember, the fly line, rod and leader are only a tool and the more skilled person
will be able to use any tool more efficiently than someone who is less skilled.
50 quid spent on a lesson will reap much greater rewards than 50 quid spent on
As always, if you have any questions Iím over in the Forum
Hutchinson is a qualified instructor with the FFFE and FFFUSA and runs saltwater
fly fishing Mullet with www.corporateflyfishing.com He
is a member of the board of the British fly Casting Club and has fished extensively
in many saltwater locations and specialises in saltwater fly fishing for Salmon