The 3 Best Fly Lines for Beginners in 2023 – Buyers Guide

best fly lines for beginners

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When you first start fly fishing it’s important that your gear is set up to give you the best chance of learning and catching fish. Often a new fly angler will dive in with the wrong setup and usually find using it a little frustrating, and it could put them off for years.

The key is to have a rod and reel that match, and the best beginner fly line on the spool to make those first few experiences a little easier and less frustrating.

Image Product Details  
flyfisherpro-table__imageBest All-RounderOrvis Clearwater Fly Fishing Line
  • Integrated Slickness
  • Durable Core
  • Reliable Welded Loops
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Freshwater Fly LineScientific Anglers Air Cel Floating Line
  • Amazing Price For Quality
  • Durable
  • Welded Loops
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Trout Fly LineRio Mainstream Trout Fly Line
  • Heavy Front Head
  • Tapers Off Quickly
  • Self-Lubricating Coating
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Our Best Fly Lines For Beginners

Orvis Clearwater Fly Fishing Line

Orvis Clearwater WF Fly Fishing Line

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Best All-Rounder

Key Features

  • Integrated slickness for longer low friction cast
  • Heavy head to help load the rod for a beginner
  • Transfers energy well to turn over your leader
  • Durable core for long-lasting performance
  • Reliable welded loops for quick leader change
  • Loads fast action rods well

Tech. Specs

  • Taper: Weight forward
  • Weight: 3-12 weight
  • Length: 80 feet
  • Color: Yellow


The Orvis Clearwater Fly Fishing Line is an entry-level fly line that performs well, is affordable, and is tailored towards people starting their fly fishing career.

The fly line has been designed with a heavier head to help load your fly rod with ease and is quite forgiving to cast with. It’s not just for beginner anglers though and is also used by amateurs and pros on the water.

The line transfers energy well for a solid casting distance and the front tapers off gently to turn over leaders and flies with ease. The line also features an integrated slickness that provides a low friction surface so it doesn’t get held back on each guide when shooting the line.

These fly fishing lines come in every line weight from 3-12 so you can use them in small streams on a 3 wt fly line and in saltwater on a 9/10 wt if needed. If you have a fly fisherman in your life that’s only starting to learn everything about fly fishing, then this is one of the best fly fishing gifts you can give.

Scientific Anglers Air Cel Floating Line

Scientific Anglers Air Cel Floating Line

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Best Freshwater Fly Line

Key Features

  • Amazing price for the quality
  • Bump into the fly line to show a beginner where to cast from
  • Durable and has excellent floatation
  • Weight forward for easy casting and good presentation
  • Great for trout fishing and other freshwater species
  • Welded loops for easy leader changes

Tech. Specs

  • Taper: Weight forward
  • Weight: 4 – 9 wt
  • Length: 80 feet
  • Color: Yellow


The Scientific Anglers fly line Air Cel is another affordable fly line that performs excellently, especially in cold water environments.

It’s a weight-forward fly line meaning it has a heavy head to help novice anglers load their rod easily for easier casting. It’s a forgiving line that casts well and turns over leaders and flies with ease thanks to the taper at the end of the line.

The line also features a bump in it to show you where to start your cast from. This really helps when on the water, as your mind can get caught up in the excitement of seeing a trout rise and you can forget what section of the line should be in the guide before you cast.

The fly line is durable too thanks to the protective coating that also ensure great floatation. The core is also designed to have a low memory to reduce any coiling and tangling when casting in cold water.

The line also comes in a sink tip or double taper version depending on the type of fishing you’re doing and the water you’re on.

Rio Mainstream Trout Fly Line

Rio Mainstream Trout

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Best Trout Fly Line

Key Features

  • Heavy front head for easy rod loading
  • Tapers off quickly for a good fly presentation
  • Low memory fly line for minimal tangling in cold water
  • Good for short or long accurate casts
  • Self-lubricating coating for long low friction casts

Tech. Specs

  • Taper: Weight forward
  • Weight: 2-9 wright
  • Length: 80 feet
  • Color: Lemon Green


The Rio Mainstream Trout Fly Line is made to make casting easier. The front end features a heavier head that loads rods with minimal effort, while the front taper will turn over your leader with ease so you always have a good fly presentation.

These lines are great to progress your casting with. The slick coating ensures minimal friction as the line runs through each guide on your rod and you can make small short casts, or big longer ones accurately once you get a feel for it.

This also comes with a low memory core which is important as you’ll generally experience less tangles with it. Instead of finding a coiled line by your feet when you’re casting, the low memory core will usually keep this from happening so you can focus every bit of attention on your cast instead of the frustration of a tangle.

This sinking fly line comes in a sink tip, full sinking, and double taper version plus a range of weights for all fly fishing situations, bar saltwater. So you can generally find the right weight and type to suit the fish you’re after and the water they are swimming in.

What size rods are best for beginners

What size rods are best for beginners?

I’d recommend starting with a 5wt 9ft rod. It’s not too light or too heavy and will make learning how to cast as forgiving and easy as possible. That being said, a 4wt and 6/7wt will also be fine. So if you have any of those lying around at home, use them instead of buying a new one.

Do your rod, reel, and line need to match up when fly fishing?

Years ago, when I first started to fly fish, I’d often rummage through my dad or grandpa’s fishing tackle and put together a rod, reel, line, and some flies and go fishing. I had no idea about matching the weights, and the day learned about it, my fishing got a lot better.

To make learning as easy as possible you need to match the rods, reels, and lines to have the easiest setup to cast with.

For example, a 5 weight rod needs a 5 wt line on the spool of a 5wt reel to work properly. By matching, the line is heavy enough but not too heavy to fill the rod with enough energy to make casting easier while the reel balances the overall weight and doesn’t make it bottom-heavy at one end.

How to match your gear

How to match your gear

No matter whether you’re holding a reel, rod, or line, it will be marked to identify its weight. On rods, you’ll see a number above the handle, reels on the seat, and on lines on the package or at the end.

These numbers denote how heavy each bit of gear is, and matching the numbers up is all you need to do to make sure you have a balanced setup that will make casting as easy as possible.

So a 5wt rod should use 5wt lines and the reel will often be marked as 4/5wt or 5/6wt, both of which will work just fine.

For more options, check out our post here on the best 6wt fly line in the market.

Types Of Line – Which one to choose

Once you have your rods and reel sorted, you need to pick a line type and you have two to choose from; double tapered (DT) or weight forward (WF).

WF lines are more common and more popular as they have a heavy head that goes into a running line that makes them easier to shoot line with and fish at longer distances.

DT lines have a front and rear head without a running line. They work just as well as WF lines over distances of up to 50 feet, which is your normal trout or freshwater fishing distance. They are handy because by having a front and rear head, you can reverse the line once one end is used giving you a new line.

I’d recommend starting with a WF line as you can progress to larger distances but using a DT won’t hold you back.

Starting Out

Starting Out

So that’s our flyline reviews. Which is these fly lines would you like to start your fly fishing career off with?

I’d buy the Rio Mainstream. This line will power up your fly rod without much effort and turn over all flies with ease. Plus you can fish with it as you progress thanks to the slick coating and low memory features. It’s a fly line you can really keep using forever, even once you’re a pro.

The runner-up is a hard call but the Orvis Clearwater line stands out as you can fish with it across all rod weights, even into saltwater. So when the reel size and rod weights change, at least you’ll be familiar with the line.

Thanks for reading my article I hope you enjoyed it and found the right fly line to buy and get you started on the water. We cover everything in fly fishing from destinations and the gear you need for most species, so if you’re ever in need of some gear or inspiration to catch some new species, don’t forget to check here first.


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