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