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The debate continues! Bruce Richards of Scientific Anglers replies...


Thanks for passing this along, I do have some comments which I have inserted below, use them as you feel appropriate.

Mr. Sutton makes some good points, but misses some also.


Peter Sutton AAPGAI wrote...

3. The pull of gravity is exactly the same on all bodies ie. 32ft.per.sec.squared. If a 2 stone child and a 20 stone man jumped out of the same bedroom window at precisely the same time which one hits the ground first?

Actually, two objects of the same shape and density but different weights will not fall at exactly the same rate. Wind resistance (or water resistance) is somewhat less for larger objects as they have less surface area to volume. (I have some questions on this... - Paul)

We have seen already that energy is a product of velocity and mass, therefore given a constant velocity a heavier line and just as important a heavier line TIP will deliver more energy and thus give better turn-over of leader and flies than a light line or a line with a thin tip or a very long front taper.

The real question is, how much energy is needed to turn over the leader/fly? If the leader is light and the fly small, not much. A line with a tip that is too powerful (short taper and/or small tip diameter) may turn over with too much force causing the line to "kick" disturbing accuracy and delivery. Certainly lines with long front tapers transmit less energy to the fly, but only if they also have small tips. A line with a long taper, but a large tip will turn over very forcefully. The diameter (mass) of the tip of the line is what is most important.

Given a decent rod, a good casting technique and plenty of back-cast room a double taper fly line will perform very well indeed. It is possible to get a very long rolling loop as there is always thick line pushing from the back turning over the line in front. For this reason DT's are also very good into the wind. There are other advantages with DT's which I won't go into here. I'm sure you all know what they are anyway!

For anglers who can carry a lot of line in the air DT's can certainly be good in the wind. They do not shoot well, into the wind or when calm. The biggest problem isn't so much that the large diameter belly won't go through the guides very well, but that the resistance of the belly in the rod forces the loop to turn over faster. When shooting line it is important for the bottom of the loop to travel as fast as possible. If the bottom of the loop is static, or moving slowly, the top of the loop overtakes it quickly forcing an early turnover and shorter cast, and usually a collapsed leader.

Well the first thing you don't want is a long front taper...
...So I want a front taper of moderate length, assuming we are talking about a 6 weight line, probably of 6' - 8'.

The front taper of a line should be designed to do the task the fly line was designed to do. Lines for bonefishing should be designed with a front taper and head that will deliver bonefish flies in a wind at 30-60 ft., that is what the line will be asked to do most of the time. Lines for pike fishing will have very different tips, tapers and heads. For "general purpose" trout fishing, which is what most of us do, a line of moderate design, as suggested above is precisely what is needed. Long front tapers are difficult for the average caster to use and offer no real advantages even to accomplished anglers. If anyone is able to adjust their cast to compensate for the design of a line or rod it is the experts. Also, it is easy to modify your leader if you desire a more delicate delivery, just make it longer and lengthen your tippet. The leader is merely an extension of the fly line, each angler has the ability to fine tune it to be more delicate, as they wish. What can't be done is to modify an overly delicate, long taper fly line to be more powerful, without cutting the fly line. Attaching a powerful leader and big fly to a delicate line is always a miserable experience, the fly line doesn't have enough energy left to power them.

We know that to achieve good distance we must be able to maintain the casting loop in the air for as long as possible so very short belly lengths are out as are very long ones because we start to run into the same problems as with the double taper. On a 6 weight line I would like a belly length of 26' - 30'.

I prefer to speak of head length (front taper, belly, rear taper). Head lengths should be fine tuned to both the fishing application and angler skill. Good casters tend to prefer lines with head lengths approximately the same length as the length of line they prefer to carry in the air. This gives good line control and optimum shoot. Adding the above preferred front taper length of 6-8 ft. to a 26-30 ft. belly and rear taper from below of 12-15 ft. gives a line with a head length of from 44-53 ft., pretty typical preferred lengths for an accomplished caster. A beginner my not be able to aerialize that much line and might prefer a shorter head. Similarly, an accomplished caster who is wading deep, or fishing seated in a boat, would probably prefer a shorter head also as it is difficult to carry as much line when seated or wading.

Now we come to what I believe is the most important part of the design of the line, the back-taper. This is important because it smoothes out the transmission of power from the rod tip to the line, it allows a good caster to extend the belly a considerable distance off the rod tip whilst maintaining good tight casting loops and finally and importantly it acts as a stabiliser and steadying influence on the line in flight. On my 6 weight line I want the back taper to be in the region of 12' - 15' long.

All correct, back tapers are important!

I am aware of one or two lines which have a long rear taper but these are usually in conjunction with a very long belly, which does your average angler no favours at all and introduces some of the problems afflicting the good old DT.

Scientific Anglers has been making lines with rear tapers of up to 25 ft.(Mastery Distance, Mastery and Ultra Steelhead, etc.) long since 1990. These lines have "normal" length bellies (32 ft,), mid-length front tapers. The front tapers are compound tapers to delay turnover on a long cast and maintain enough energy to turn over standard flies and leaders at the end of the cast. The running lines sized for the optimum performance combination of shoot and non-tangling. These lines win most of the distance contests in the states, and they fish very well. For fishing short to medium ranges they perform much like a DT, but really shine in the hands of a competent caster at long range.

I see no reason to make the line more than about 90' long.

The market determines how long lines should be, regardless of what really makes sense. We make some lines 110-120 ft. long, after receiving complaints when they were "only" 100 ft. long.

I have a feeling that the core of the line should be monofil rather than the more usual braid to provide for a slightly stiffer but memory free line. I could well be wrong on this point and would be most interested in any line manufacturers point of view.

Stiffness is easily controlled in the coating, it is not necessary to use monofilament to make a stiffer line. Along with stiffness comes memory, finding the optimum level of stiffness/memory is what we strive for. Each application, and climate, impacts this. Each core has some advantages and some disadvantages. To date, lines made on braided multifilament cores have proved to be the best all-round trout lines.

There we have it, my ideal all-round WF fly line for general use. Who is going to make one for me?

Although the rear taper is a little longer than you specify, I think the Mastery Distance (recently renamed XXD) is a line you would really like. I appreciate all your comments Mr. Sutton, you are right on the mark.

Bruce Richards
Scientific Anglers

Peter answers

(Now I have some questions for Bruce regarding some of these answers, Galileo, and the leaning tower of Pisa :-) Paul) To which he replies...

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