Product Reviews

Classic 444 SYLK
by Cortland Line Company

by James Castwell

I do not expect Cortland to change or discontinue this line for quite a long time. Will it perform exactly like a real silk fly line? The answer is no, at least in my opinion. Will it perform more like a silk than a plastic fly line? That answer is a definite yes. I was thrilled when I found out they had produced a new line, one to enter the market and offer a reasonably priced line for those who either fish cane or at least like to use a silk line. The price of a real silk line is very high.

When I heard the line was only going to sell for $46.00 I was shocked. A phone call got me a few answers. Would the line be of less diameter than a plastic line? Yes, about 60 percent as big, yet would weigh the same. How will you guys make it float if it is slimmer? The answer is obvious, of course. Use enough material on the coating to make it float correctly, but reduce the size of the core. We checked three 5 wt lines here:
5wt. Scientific Anglers 'Trout' tip = .036, head = .046

5wt. Cortland 'Sylk' tip = .030, head = .043

5wt. Phoenix silk tip = .025, head = .039

Now one thing about a silk line is the stiffness, they are pretty rigid. And that's a good thing, rarely will one twist up and jam in the guides on the outgoing cast. They drive through the guides well because of it too. However in cold water, or cold weather that is not always a plus. A little softness, make that less 'memory,' will be appreciated. Who has not had a line with memory coil up in cold weather or cold water? I sure have.

When they told me that the SYLK line had practically no memory and would be great in cold water or weather, I was a bit concerned. I was hoping for one a lot like real silk. The color is a strawish color somewhat like a silk line, the surface is not as hard as silk but seemed alright. The answers would show up in the casting, and they did.

I used a Lee Wulff six foot five weight cane rod for the testing as I have a five weight silk that I have been fishing on it. I took a nearly new WF5F plastic line too. My initial casts on our pond were purposely short. Probably twenty feet of line. How did it load and lay out a loop. As well as any other line, better than many, but it had the delicate feel of silk. As I extended line I was aware of how it was going through the guides. As fast and raspy as silk? Nope, but there was no hesitation. I did a 'deep-water' load, laying out a moderately long cast, lowering the rod tip to the water, and with one motion, drawing the rod into a back-cast and the forward with a shoot.

Some lines will drag in the guides when they are that wet, this did not. It went just fine. It had a very nice presentation. The front loops were formed easily and dropped with finesse. Line control at all times was never a problem. Recoil and curve casts, mends and rolls functioned as did firm and gentle casting. All in all, I was very highly impressed. I would be happy to fish the line all day, certainly for the real feel of silk on a cane rod, or at least darn close to it.

One thing was driving me nuts at first and you have to cast one to notice it. I am used to the feel in hand of a five weight fly line. And casting a five weight rod. Something was wrong. It was the size of the fly line. It just didn't feel big enough, it was in reality, it was just me. I got used to it in short order.

A bonus, an interactive CD is included with each line. The CD is the complete history of Cortland and everything about how flylines are made!

I think they have a winner here, I doubt if your results will differ. ~ JC

Cortland Line Company
PO Box 5588
3736 Kellogg Road
Cortland, New York 13045-5588
Phone: 1-800-847-6787

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