Choosing a fly line can be a mammoth task and many anglers get it horribly wrong.
Below I am going to cover the best fly line for a range of different purposes.
For the purpose of this article, I will list the fly lines suited for trout but this is not to say they can’t be used on other species.
There are many different variations of fly lines available today, below are the basic breakdowns.
Floating, intermediate and sinking lines. DT- Double tapered, WF- Weight forward lines with sink tips, strike tips, and rocket tips. With all the different variations it’s important to know what you need from the fly line before purchasing one.
In my opinion, it’s better to invest in a good quality fly line, it makes the world of difference when casting and the subtleties of these fly lines are very noticeable on the water.
Best Fly Lines
When you have factored all the highlighted features, it’s time to choose the best fly line for trout. Here are five products you can choose from.
Orvis Clearwater WF Fly Fishing Line
- WF line built half weight heavier for easy casting for a beginner
- Compact head design
- Welded loops on both ends
- Integrated Slickness for improved casting
- Braided multifilament core
- WF 3 weight – WF 9 weight
- Great line for its price
- Improved slickness to prevent sticking
- Works well in warmer waters
- Half weight heavier allows for quick loading at short distances
- 100% recommended for beginners and seasoned pros alike
- Can start to sink slightly after many uses
- Becomes harder after extended use
- Loop weld not the strongest
The Orvis Clearwater fly line is a great beginner’s fly line or a backup for a seasoned pro. It has welded loops on both ends allowing quick line changes and leader replacements.
The improved slickness of the fly line ensures minimal tangles and smooth delivery.
The fly line is made half a weight heavier in a WF ( Weight Forward Taper). This is great for beginner casters, it also loads the fly rod faster at shorter distances which is a great advantage to have.
At $45 it’s a great value for money fly line that you can use for a few seasons.
This is a great fly line for trout, bass, and most freshwater species.
RIO Mainstream Trout
- Available in DT and WF tapers
- WF has a short, powerful front taper for good presentation and turnover
- Designed to optimize rod performance
- 3weight – 8weight fly line weights
- Lemon green Colour
- Overall length 80′
- The DT fly line has a great lengthened taper
- Great value for money
- Slightly heavier, easy casting lines for a multitude of situations
- Doesn’t come with welded loops
- Some packaging issues
RIO’s Mainstream series fly lines have been developed to meet the overall needs of the average and novice fly fisher.
These Rio fly lines are designed to optimize rod performance with slightly heavier and shorter head lengths.
These fly lines come in both DT( Double Taper fly line ) and WF( Weight Forward fly line) tapers and are specifically designed for trout fishing. That said they can be used for other species so please don’t read too much into that fact.
These trout fly lines have shorter tapers which turn over easier. This is a great bonus for a beginner fly fisher who is learning to cast.
The DT ( double taper fly line) is a great entry-level fly line for dry fly fishing. It provides a smooth presentation allowing the leader to land very subtly.
AIRFLO Super-DRI Elite Fly Line
Available at: Amazon
- 100% PVC free
- Super Dri
- Welded micro-loops
- Power core
- Line tag
- Works well in waters 40 – 80 F
- Micro welded loops for easy joining of leader and backings
- Balanced taper improves casting and loading
- Great overall fly line
- Great for Trout fly fishing
- Welded loops part at the seam
- Tends to sink after a while
The Airflo SuperDri technology helps the fly line to ride the surface better and gives a great smooth delivery without snags. The gliding line gives a few extra meters to your cast.
The Zone Technology is an interesting addition to this fly lines technology, it basically has a lower compression compound around the parts of the fly line that are exposed to tension thus preventing any hangups or sticking to the rod blank when casting or hauling.
This is a great trout line but as I’ve mentioned previously it can be used for most freshwater applications, I wouldn’t use it on saltwater although.
RIO Fly Fishing Euro Nymph Line
- Euro nymph design
- Overall 80′ length
- 15′ slight taper either end
- Chemistry formation slickness
- Front and back welded loops
- 2 weight – 5 weight line weight
- Low stretch
- Slight front and rear taper
- Designed for nymph rigs
- Very light and super sensitive
- Highly visible tip
- Competition standard
- Low stretch core
- Can break under a high tension
- Doesn’t work well in colder waters
Designed by Steve Parrot to satisfy the needs for a one-fits-all European style nymphing fly line. It has all the needed and legal markings on a Euro Nymph fly line.
The great thing is that this Rio Nymph fly line is accessible to all and can be used for all nymph rigs and even for short-distance dry dropper fishing when needed.
It’s a quality floating fly line that fishes well and should be in every Nymph fly fisherman’s reel bag.
Scientific Anglers Frequency Trout
- A variety of tapers made
- Versatile taper excels with most flies and conditions
- Excels in all weather conditions
- Mid-length head
- Formulated with Advanced Shooting Technology
- Braided multifilament core
- WF3 – WF 8
- Turns over large dries and weighted streamers with ease
- A versatile line for all trout fishing conditions from nymphing to dry fly
- Highly visible
- Great value for money
- Floats well
- May start to crack
- Has more of a memory when compared to other fly lines in its class
Scientific Anglers make great affordable fly lines. They make an array of different lines for saltwater and freshwater.
I think the Frequency is a great freshwater fly line for its price. When compared to other fly lines in this price range the Frequency performs well in all aspects of use.
It has a great weight range of 3weight up to 8weight which will cover all your trout needs. It has a great floating ability and doesn’t memory stack, causing line tangles. If it does, it could be that the fly line isn’t suited for the cold water temp iso you may need to change to a cold water fly line.
A well-balanced 30′ bulkhead taper for turning over the line at a distance and quick loading for short casts.
Overall it’s a great versatile fly line.
RIO Products InTouch Fly Line
- Full range of sinking lines
- Non-stretch technology
- The Lake series is specifically designed for still waters
- Mainly freshwater fly lines but they do make a saltwater line and Spey option
- Unique three-color “surefire” color System
- Designed for fast-action fly rods
- Ultra-low stretch performance
- Enhanced detection of subtle takes
- Rio’s “MaxCast” technology actively repels water
- Full line size heavier than the industry standard
- Lack of stretch also means enhanced detection of subtle takes
- Colour coded
- Can be too direct, causes tippet to snap
- Throws a little heavier than normal
RIO fly lines are great fly lines, they make a large selection for multiple conditions.
The Intouch series is a great fly line for trout still water sessions. the Connect core technology gives you direct contact with your flies. There is little to no stretch in the line so you can detect every small bump and take.
This may be tricky for a novice as the light tippets may pop but you will soon get used to it. Direct contact with your flies and minimal slack is imperative to converting each take.
As mentioned the RIO Intouch series also caters to saltwater and Spey options which is always good to know.
Scientific Anglers Amplitude Trout Fly Line
- Features the revolutionary AST Plus slickness additive for superior shooting ability and increased durability
- Floating Texture on the tip section for the ultimate in floatation
- Shooting Texture running line delivers longer casts
- Revised compound taper for delicate deliveries
- Excels in medium-to-long distances with dry flies and smaller nymphs and streamers
- Designed specifically for chasing trout
- Braided multifilament core
- Floats high
- Improved visibility
- Performs well in medium to cool waters
- Great for Nymph and Dry fly fishing
- The smooth option not as sensitive
- On the pricer side of fly lines
The Scientific Anglers Amplitude fly line is a great fly line for trout. It has all the necessary features that make it a very efficient fly line to fish across varied conditions.
The slickness additive helps you cast further and gives the fly line a few extra years of life.
This is one of the smoothest trout lines you will fish.
It has a gradual weight forward taper giving the fly line a beautiful balance when casting.
Its three-tone colors are great as well to help you judge how much line is out at any given time.
Cortland 444 Classic Floating Fly Line
Available at: Amazon
- Easy Casting
- Floating fly line
- Ultra Supple
- High Floating
- Highly visible
- Braided Nylon Multifilament
- DT 3-DT 9
- Super easy to handle
- Great all-purpose floating trout fly line
- It also comes in a weight forward taper
- Features a welded- front loop for easy leader rigging
- A subtle fly line that turns over well
- Can have floating issues
- Tip sinks
The Cortland 444 is one of those floating fly lines that has been around for a while but still competes with the more modern fly lines.
Available in weight forward and double taper, the double taper is the more popular choice. The double taper gives a beautiful delicate presentation when fishing dry fly fishing but has the power to turn over a light streamer as well.
The classic peach color is easily visible and has become a popular fly line color for modern fly lines.
At $59 you can go wrong and you will battle to find a fly line of this quality for much cheaper.
Cortland has done well with this fly line and it will continue to be up there with the best.
RIO Creek Fly Line
- Designed to load at close range
- Perfect for small creeks, streams, and brooks
- Ideal for nymphs, dries, and small streamers
- Supple coldwater core for tangle-free performance
- Weight Forward Taper
- 1 weight – 3 weight
- Loads rod quickly
- great on fast action rods
- Tight loop
- Ideal for trout anglers who fish smaller, skinny waters
- Max float tip
- Cold core technology for colder waters
- Can have distance issues
- slightly pricy
The RIO Creek flyfishing line is a great fly line for a fly fisher that predominately fishes small stream s and creeks.
The fly line loads the fly rod quickly and is great in small tight spaces but has sufficient taper to throw a longish line without any issues.
The RIO fly line makes for a great dry fly line, providing a very delicate presentation.
Each line is built with a coldwater core that results in tangle-free performance and features RIO’s MaxFloat Tip that ensures the line tip does not sink.
Guide to buying the best fly line
The best fly line is one that will serve your fishing needs well and that gives you the best value for your money spent.
There are a few things to consider before purchasing a fly fishing line. As I mentioned in the first section the tapers and weights are important to understand before choosing.
Fly Line Weights
Fly line weights range from 1 weight up to 14 weight with 1 weight being the lightest and 14 weight being the heaviest.
The best fly line for freshwater would classically range from 1 weight up to a 7 weight line. From 8 weight and above you are entering the saltwater sections of fly lines.
- 1 -3 weight fly lines are great for small creeks and rivers
- 4-7 weight fly lines are typically used for your larger freshwaters
- 8- 14 weight fly lines are for saltwater heavy use
For more our full selection of the best fly line weights, see our reviews here:
- Best 3 Weight Fly Line
- Best 4 Weight Fly Line
- Best 5 Weight Fly Line
- Best 6 Weight Fly Line
- Best 7 Weight Fly Line
- Best 8 Weight Fly Line
Fly line tapers
There are two classic fly line tapers, Double Taper (DT) and Weight Forward (WF).
Double Taper fly lines are fly lines that have the thickest section in the middle of the line and tapers off either side to both ends. These fly lines are ideal for small skinny waters or for when you need very delicate presentations.
Weight Forward fly lines have a heavier front end and taper off to the back end of the fly line(running line). These lines are used with more modern faster action fly rods and are the preferred choice by modern fly fishers.
The forward weighted head helps beginners cast easier and gives you an extra push when you need to turn over those heavier bulky flies
The more experienced fly anglers may want something specific from a fly line and thus the above tapers have been subcategorized into more derivatives.
The same is for the saltwater fly lines, these fly lines have been specifically developed to chase bonefish, redfish, and tarpon.
Floating and sinking lines
Floating lines do what the name says and float, they are used when you generally want to fish the first two-thirds of the water column. In the case of rivers and streams, a floating line will be more than sufficient to target all water columns.
You get some modern fly lines that may have a sink tip or rocket taper these are all just modern progressions for specific scenarios.
Sinking Lines are used when you need to get down through the topwater columns and down to the bottom levels.
The lines sink at different rates and are classed accordingly. You also get an intermediate fly line which is a nice fly line to use when the fish are in the mid to upper water columns in a deep lake or dam.
The sink rates of the sinking lines range from 1 inch per minute (Di1) to 8 inches per minute (Di8).
With all the above information it can seem a bit much but I recommend deciding on what you need from the fly line first.
Will you be fishing dry flies, nymphs, or still waters this will help narrow the selection down.
From here take a look at what fits your budget and move from there. Remember if you can spend a little more on the line it really does make a difference.
My choice for the best fly line would be the Cortland 444 with the Scientific Anglers Frequency in a close second. These choices are based on what my fishing needs are and these two lines will function very well.
I hope the above will make your life a little easier when choosing your next fly line.
Tight lines and happy fishing.