3 Types of Fly Lines and When To Use Each One

3 Types of Fly Lines and When To Use Each One

Finding the perfect fly fishing line is a process. Unlike traditional fishing, which has sinkers, weights, and a different casting method, fly anglers rely on the line and fly they use. The lightweight allows you to cast easily, especially when you have the right line in your reel.

There are various options to select from when it comes to fishing lines. Like most sporting ventures, the more you want to get out of it, the more money you have to put into it. However, considering the importance of having a quality fly line, you will have to fork over a little extra dough to give you the goods.

We’ll cover the three types of fly lines and when to use each one. Plus, you’ll need to consider other elements for selecting your ideal lines, such as the weight, length, and taper. After reading, you’ll feel like you are in the right direction of becoming a master angler.


No matter the type of line you select, all of them have different weights associated with them. The lines have a number (1-14) attached, with 14 being the heaviest available. Here is a quick guide on what fish you should target with the various weights:

  • 1-2 will reel in some bluegills and smaller trout.
  • 3-4 allows you to handle windier conditions with a larger fly to catch other smaller fish.
  • 5 is the magic number for capturing any trout.
  • 6-7 is where you can expand your horizons. This weight can handle the bass, salmons, and other tiny saltwater fish. If you want to get a line and rod that can do it all, opt for a 6-weight.
  • 8-10 is where the fun begins for your more giant grabs, with 9-weight being the safest bet. Fish you can catch with this weight include tuna, large striped bass, and large salmon.
  • 11-12 are rods for the big game to give you a chance against the heavier fish.
  • 13-14 are essential for the heftiest of the saltwater fish, including marlins and sailfish. This line is so thick it can double as a rope.

You don’t have to freak out if you use an 8-weight line for a fish you can typically reel in with a 5-weight. This overview gives you a general idea of the type of fish you can expect with the various weights. The type of weight and fish you want to aim for is entirely up to you. There isn’t an optimal answer because everyone is different.


With a basic understanding of the weight of the line in tow, it’s now time to hone in on the length of your fishing line. Most fly fishing lines are around 100 feet, which is less than what you desire. However, you don’t need to buy 200 feet of line since half of the line consists of backing. Additionally, you don’t need to cast for distance when you are fly fishing. Touch and accuracy are far more important than how far it goes.


Weight Forward

The odds are overwhelming that the first taper you’ll use is of the weight-forward variety. The weight-forward line provides you the thickness required throughout the line, changing its level of consistency depending on the end or front of the line.

Where you put the weight depends on your fishing style. If you enjoy the long-distance casts, you’ll want a weight-forward taper that’s more aggressive. Whereas, the less forward option lets you fit in casts in tighter spots. If you are new to the game, choose one that’s balanced. This strategy gives you a better idea of your preference after the first go around.

Double Taper

The double taper is a line for the finesse angler. It shares several commonalities with the weight forward, but the thickest part is in the middle. The main reason to use this taper is not to scare any fish away. However, you will lose some length on your casts, but it will more than make up for it if you hold a steady hand.


The often-forgotten taper choice is level, meaning its thickness is the same for the entire line. If you think to yourself “Wow, this is a great deal,” it’s likely level taper, especially if it’s in bigger retail stores that don’t specialize in fishing gear. This selection is cheap in price and quality, so it’s in your best interest to avoid this at all costs.

Types of Flies


You got your weight, length, and taper figured out by now, so let’s discuss the three types of flies at your disposal. The first and likely best choice to utilize is the floating line. One would use this type of fly because it is suitable for virtually any fish.

Using a floating line is excellent for beginners but also benefits the experienced angler alike. The floating moniker stinks because these flies float on the water’s surface. Typically, you will use floating lines for dry flies, but you can also attach other options.


There isn’t much creativity behind the actions of these flies, considering the sinking fly does what its namesake says—it sinks. The question up for debate is the speed and depths in which it can fall.

For those who enjoy rapidly flowing rivers and deeper lakers, you’ll want to use a sinking fly, considering you need it to reach deeper depths to lure in those fish who are zooming around near the water’s floor.


If you like having the best of both worlds, we suggest the sinking tip line. This fly can reach deeper depths while staying afloat simultaneously. The fallback of using this fly is trying to recast, seeing as it’s challenging to recast when it’s in deeper waters. There is a strong possibility that your line will snag on obstacles if you aren’t familiar with the techniques one requires to become an expert at the craft.

As you can see, a lot goes into finding your perfect companion for your fishing ventures. It’s not as easy as choosing one of the three types of fly lines and when to use each one. Regardless of what you select, check out the fly shop at Ed’s Fly Shop before you hit the waters again. Our experts will help you figure out the best choice for your next adventure.

Back to blogs