Fishing for trout is hugely popular amongst fly fishers. It can be done with different setups. Here are the best fly lines for trout.
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Types of fly lines for trout
Most fly fishermen and women will fish for trout sooner or later in their life. Traditionally this type of fly fishing was often done using double taper (DT) lines. Those are fly lines with longer heads that form long loops and are great for delicate presentations.
In recent years weight forward lines (WF) have become increasingly popular. There are two reasons for that. They are easier to cast for beginners since they have a shorter, heavier head that turns over more easily. Secondly, when fishing with streamers weight forward lines are a good option considering the heavier weight of these flies.
Besides these two standard types of fly lines for trout, shooting heads have become popular as well. Especially amongst sea trout fly fishermen and women this type of line has seen an increase in recent years. They are easy to cast and a good option if you are casting into the breeze.
Lastly, trout fly lines for nymphing techniques such as euro nymphing are on the rise. Since nymphing is a great way to catch (big) trout this style has evolved over the last decade. Almost all major manufacturers now produces special nymphing lines that stand out due to their lower diameter to get the nymphs to where the fish are faster.
Last update on 2022-06-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What to Look for in Trout Fly Lines
Before choosing a trout fly line you should ask yourself the following question: where am I going to use the fly line and what style will I be fishing?
This question is crucial because it determines what kind of line you should be getting: double-taper, weight-forward, shooting head, nymph fly line.
If you are mainly fishing dry flies for delicate trout, a double-taper fly line will perform best. If you are into fishing streamers in faster water a weight-forward is a good option. Should you mainly be targeting steelhead in bigger rivers a shooting head trout line or a single-spey line are great choices. In case you are preparing a nymph setup, a dedicated trout nymph line complements that setup best.
Best Fly Line for Trout Quick Answer List
No matter what style of trout fishing you are practicing, we’ll give you our favorites in all categories. We’ll also make sure to include trout fly lines for all budgets. Let’s go.
Best Double-Taper (DT) Fly Lines
In this first part of the review we’ll look at double-taper (DT) fly lines for trout. As mentioned before these are a great option for delicate presentations. DT fly lines feature a longer belly compared to a weight forward line.
After the head they taper off to a lower diameter. At the opposite end of the line they feature the same setup, hence the name double-taper. This means once you’ve used one end of the line for a while you can simply turn it around and will basically have a new, unused fly line.
The Scientific Anglers Frequency is one of our favorite DT trout fly lines on the market. It comes in a variety of sizes from DT3 – DT6 depending on the size of river you are going to fish.
The Scientific Anglers Frequency‘s mid-length head enables you to make delicate presentations for example when fishing dry flies. The fact that this line floats is another plus when fishing dry flies.
Even if you want to fish small streamers for trout the Scientific Anglers Frequency will do its job. Overall a great trout fly line for less than $50. Welded loops make setting up this fly line easy.
The Cortland 444 Classic Double Taper is another excellent DT fly line for trout in a similar price range as the Scientific Anglers. This one comes in sizes from DT3 all the way up to DT9. This means you can also use it to target bigger species than trout such as bass.
The Cortland 444 Classic Double Taper has been on the market for decades and proven its quality over and over again. It’s a highly floating line that is easy to track due to its peach color.
The Cortland 444 Classic Double Taper also features welded loops. If you are looking for a high quality DT fly line for trout, you can’t go wrong with the Cortland 444. It will last you for years.
Weight Forward (WF) Fly Lines for Trout
Weight-forward fly lines are a solid choice if you are still fairly new to fly fishing or if you plan on mainly fishing streamers. The shorter taper design of weight forward lines makes it easier to turn the line over. Especially when you are fishing bigger flies, this can help to make better casts.
The RIO Elite Gold is a fantastic overall weight-forward fly line. By default it comes as a WF5, the perfect line weight for most trout fishing.
The RIO Elite Gold features Rio’s super slick coating for easy distance in your casts. The slightly longer head and back taper make this a great allrounder fly line that almost feels a bit like a double taper. Hence it’s a great line to present dry flies as well. On the other hand, the RIO Elite Gold has no problems turning over a heavier streamer pattern.
The RIO Elite Gold also comes with welded loops for easy rigging. SureFire tricoloured measuring system makes managing your line and distance control even easier. (read our in-depth review of the Elite Rio Gold here).
The “Made in the USA” Orvis Clearwater WF Fly Fishing Line has everything you’re looking for in a WF line. It is aimed at the intermediate caster since its compact head makes precise casts easy.
The Orvis Clearwater WF features a core made of braided monofilament. This technology makes sure the line performs well in a wide variety of conditions.
Shooting heads were traditionally often used in salmon and steelhead fly fishing. They provide a bigger weight to load your rod easier. They are connected to a so-called running line which then connects to your backing. Shooting heads give you flexibility in that you can change them for different types depending on your fishing situation. You might want to exchange a floating shooting head for a sinking one.
The Trout Spey Shooting Head is another great line from Rio. You can either fish it on a two-handed rod or a single-handed rod depending on your preferences.
Other than “normal” lines, shooting heads are measured in grain rather than a weight class. The lower the grain number the lighter the shooting head. Together with the Trout Spey Shooting Head you can use 10ft replacements tips or VersiLeaders to complete your setup.
A shooting head such as the Trout Spey Shooting Head are a great way to swing flies all day long for steelhead. You can easily cover large distances and fish a river very effectively.
The OPST Commando Smooth (Integrated) Skagit Shooting Head is a fantastic shooting head for trout fishing that has gained a big followership in recent years.
OPST (which stands for “Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics”) was founded by steelhead icon Ed Ward. The OPST Commando Smooth (Integrated) Skagit Shooting Head is special because it is a so-called integrated shooting head. This means there is no connection from shooting head to running line, the running line is integrated instead.
This gives you less flexibility but makes retrieving your line more seamless. This can come in handy for example when fishing for sea trout or sea-run cutthroat in saltwater because you can seamlessly strip in your line and can get takes right in front of your feet.
The OPST Commando Smooth (Integrated) Skagit Shooting Head is an excellent choice for that kind of fishing. It is also perfect for swinging flies for steelhead. Make sure to check out OPST’s rods as well. The Pure Skagit Series works beautifully with the Commando Skagit Shooting Heads.
Best Nymph Lines
As we mentioned in the beginning of this review, nymph techniques like Euro nymphing become ever more popular. The reason is simple: you can catch a lot of (big) trout fishing this style.
The RIO FIPS Euro Nymph Line is a fly line specifically designed for euro nymphing. It’s a very thin and light fly line to complement your nymph set up.
The RIO FIPS Euro Nymph Line‘s tip is also highly visible to detect any subtle take which happen often when using this technique. A low stretch core contributes to a direct connection to your tippet to set the hook safely.
The Cortland Euro Nymph Mono Core is another great line for pure nymph style fishing. It comes in a variety of diameters with the .022 one being the most popular.
The DT version of the Cortland Euro Nymph Mono Core allows you to fish other techniques as well. If you are purely into nymphing and want the least line sag and the most sensitive way to detect subtle strikes you should opt for the level version.
Conclusion on the Best Fly Line for Trout
As you can see from our review of the best lines for trout there are many different options to choose from. It really depends on your style of fishing. If you want a line to cover several situations and techniques you should go with a DT or WF line.
Shooting heads and nymph lines for trout are more specialized gear for certain conditions. If fished right, they give you an advantage in these situations and can add a different level to your fly fishing game.
Last update on 2022-06-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Fly Lines for Trout: FAQ
The question of color in trout fly lines has been discussed for a long time. Some fly fishermen believe that colors such as grey, light green and white work best. However, many trout fishermen also use lines in bright orange, light green and even red and catch just as many fish.
The standard fly line weight for trout is a 5 weight (#5). Depending on the size of the river or creek you are fishing you can also size down to a #4 (for smaller creeks and hence generally smaller trout) or up to a #6 for bigger trout species such as steelhead.
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