March 22nd, 2004

Line Color
By James Castwell

So there you sit, relaxed, hand on the mouse, checking the bulletin-board for anything interesting and you spot this one.

"I'm new to fly fishing, just bought a five weight rod and reel, and want to know if it makes any difference what color the fly line is. What do you guys think?"

You figure that one is not too tough and you click on reply. An cute little box magically appears and you in all innocense start typing in your answer, never knowing where the string may take you or how it might wind up.

"Hi new guy, welcome to our sport, you will love it. It probably doesn't make any difference at this time in your career as a fly-fisher what color the line is, get a pretty one, a color you like. By the way, what are you going to be fishing for?"

Now that doesn't sound like you could get into any trouble with a simple answer like that, but hang on.

"I'm going to be fishing for trout, using mostly dry flies I think. Some nymphs later I guess."

Before you can respond to that, here comes one of the guys from 'down-under' with his ideas on line color.

"Hey, new guy! Don't you believe it! Unless you are prepared to buy another fly line real fast or only use that pretty pink string you just bought for lawn-casting, you better find one the fish can't see." Down here we only use very drab lines and we even sand off the shine from them so the fish don't spook."

Good grief, you didn't plan on an argument, you were just trying to be helpful to a new fellow fly fisherman. Now you have bugged a veteran from another continent. This thread is headed for trouble and you are right in the middle of it now. You must try to get out of it fast.

"Ok, sorry, I only meant that since new guy is new, he might do well with a fly line he can see. See not only on the water and for mending and nymph strikes, but for watching his loops in the air too. Geeze, gimme a break!"

"Well, our trout down here are very sophisticated and with the extremely clear and shallow water, even if they see a fly line in the air they are gone in a heartbeat."

Now you have been engaged and again need to defend yourself. You think about mentioning that when a trout is down about a foot or so his vision window that he can see out into the air is not much bigger than that. He can see the bottom, ahead and a reflection of the bottom upside down on the underside of the surface except for the window.

"Thanks down-under, but up here we try not to plop our fly lines on our trout. They also do not like that. If the line is outside of his window he can't see it anyhow."

"Look Yankee, trust me, ours are very selective and they can see the line when it lands on the water outside of your 'window-thing' and the line must be drab or it sends them off."

You think about that for a bit and wonder what a drab fly line looks like from below, as it is now part of the reflection of the bottom. Or is it the splash of it landing that puts them off.

"Is it the fly line landing or just in the air that causes the problems?"

"Hey Guys! Hold it. Remember I am new here, can the fish see the line or not? What about the leader?"

You remember reading somewhere about two guys, one using a hot pink line and another casting a dull green one. The dull line out fishing the pink by a lot. But, did they switch back and forth, how fair was the test? Did they change places? Who knows. You take another shot at it.

"If the line is in the air and outside his window it shouldn't make any difference what the color is. If it passes over the window then it should be a light color, bluish or such resembling the sky. If a fish is looking up he will see a dark thing against the sky easier than a light colored one."

"Ya, then why doesn't that work down here? We all use drab lines and they are the best."

You are getting a bit tired of all of this, after all you only were trying to help the new guy. The fellow down-under is sure convinced and there must be something to it and you have never been there. Might be a good idea to leave that idea alone. So back to your original thoughts on line color.

"New guy, up here in the states, we mostly use two colors of lines, bright for floaters and dull or clear for sinking. The bright colors make it easier for us to see the lines and that seems to be what most of us want. Try not to cast your line directly above the trout, try to keep the line from landing on him and try to cast so the leader is the only thing that gets near him.

And one more thing.

Buy what ever color line you want; I have no damn idea." ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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