Campbell was referring to something that doesn't happen anymore. The TT is now marketed as a single line weight - WF5 or 6, etc. This still doesn't change the distribution of weight in the line itself though, so in fact I was using what would have been designated a 6/7 on my weight 5 rod. What this says to me is that rod choice with the TT is a tad more critical than you might think. As with similar lines such as the Michael Evans Arrowhead, a good rule of thumb is still to take Campbell's advice and line a 'soft' weight six rod with a WF5 TT. A stiff rod like a Sage TCR690 will like a WF6TT (previously a 6/7), which is exactly what I found.
Ok, so that's out of the way. The TT has a good reputation among aficionados as an excellent roll caster. The continuous taper makes intuitive sense. The thick rear end tapering down to a thin tip looks logical. Common sense would tell us that the energy of the line should transfer powerfully and smoothly to the leader. It also has a good reputation for distance; the relatively long (40 foot head on 6wt and above) makes for a longish carry. I found, however, that my shop bought tapered leader was 'puffing' at the extremity of my cast, not turning over, and falling in a bit of a heap. There was a slight 'wall' of air against the other bank, but nothing that a 6wt shouldn't have handled easily in terms of turnover. I found this a bit puzzling, given the TT's reputation. I put it down to my own deeply ingrained deficiencies as a caster but wondered what a newbie caster would make of it.
The TT, it seemed to me, has an 'out of the box' issue - the front label on the box is marked "TT6F". As we know, Wulff used to call it a "6/7", so it's on the heavy end of the 6weight class once you get the 40 foot head fully extended. In these days of internet shopping, seeking some information on this line - any line in fact - before purchase will pay off. Interestingly, most reviews I've read extol its shooting virtues as a distance line not as a roll caster. I handed the rod to Al Pyke and he had exactly the same impression and results. The continuous taper just didn't seem to be transferring energy in the way we expected. Surprising, because so many excellent casters just love this line, and Joan Wulff, the first lady of fly casting, stands squarely behind it. Fair enough, some adjustments in technique are not unusual with new kit. I certainly got a better feel for the line as the day progressed, but I decided to give it another road test the following weekend, when'd be doing some stillwater fishing. I'd also string it on several different factory designated 6 weight rods, to check out this rod action compatibility issue.
Rod actions and line weights are, as we know, contentious issues. The problem is that casting is so subjective - one caster's technique and taste doesn't work for everybody. Lately, many tackle geeks are using systems such as Bill Hanneman's Common Cents System to try to get a handle on the whole rod weight/action thing. Our own Magnus Angus is a CCS convert. Come to think of it, Magnus is also one of those TT lovers. He also knows a thing or two about fly lines, so, I'm thinking, I better pull my head out and get this thing nailed. Magnus sent me down a bundle of six-weight fly rods to add to a couple of my own, so I reckoned I'd have the TT6 surrounded.
Well, I spent a couple of days using the TT in a real life fishing situation. I strung it on a Sage TCR 691 and by the end of the first day I found I liked the TT much better than I did on the previous outing. It had a nice stiffness but no memory, and the TCR really chucked it out there. After working out some line, I realised I was suddenly looking at my backing knot, so was putting out well over a hundred feet to the fly. My roll casts didn't improve much, though, but the TCR isn't what most people would consider a roll casting rod anyway, so I set that objection aside. What I still didn't like was the way the TT's tip lost energy and my long leader often failed to turn over - especially if there was some headwind, however slight. Because I was fishing from a boat this time, I did have two rods with me, so I switched to my trusty Abel 905 and WF5 SA Expert Distance taper. Disregarding the weight difference between the outfits, the difference in performance was remarkable. Suddenly I was achieving nearly as much distance with what felt like a lot less effort and getting superb leader turnover. Same conditions, same leader set up.
What we have here, I believe, is a paradigm shift. The Scientific Anglers Expert Distance taper, and similar lines from Rio and others, is the result of recent advances in the understanding of fly line dynamics and new manufacturing technology. The Royal Wulff Triangle Taper, on the other hand, is the result of Lee Wulff's intuitive understanding of how a fly line transfers energy to the leader and the technology available to line makers at the time. It works, of course, but what Bruce Richards knows that Lee Wulff maybe didn't is that the rod's energy is transferred more efficiently through a short, steep, convex taper and relatively heavy tip than it does through a long, heavy-butted continuous taper ending in a fine tip. It also turns out that new long belly, weight forward designs are markedly better at roll and switch casting, where we might assume the TT would excel. New technology has permitted these companies to configure line tapers in ways that were impossible for Lee Wulff when he designed the TT, even if he did have a grasp of the physics. Certainly the turnover of such new aggressive tapers might be a bit strong, resulting in occasional splash downs if you don't stop a bit high on the forward throw, but delicate presentation is more of a line control issue for the angler, not the line itself. The point is that the new designs make line control so much less work. With the utmost respect for the pioneering efforts of Lee Wulff, the concept of the Triangle Taper might be regarded as 'early'.
To sum up, the Royal Wulff Triangle Taper has qualities that many anglers will appreciate, especially its excellent shooting capabilities and certainly its feel and handling, but its design is starting to show its age. I'd expect Joan Wulff to have her eye on recent developments is line making technology and, before long, I'd be surprised if some new taper designs from Wulff and Co. don't move the TT down the bench.