I probably fish a wider variety of fly lines than the average fly fisher—in fact—some of my friends call me a fly line freak.
The range of high quality fly lines available these days is STAGGERING. As an industry associate I never-the-less find myself dazed and confused at times where the entire range of fly lines is concerned.
This blog is my blunt attempt to inject a little clarity regarding what I call integrated shooting head fly lines.
Here is how I would define an “integrated head” fly line: Remembering that a shooting head is usually a short heavy head of approximately 30 ft that we loop onto a slender running line. An integrated head line lacks the loop-to-loop connection between the short head and the running line—these are full fly lines usually of 90 to 110 ft long. Integrated head lines are generally referred to as Weight Forward lines, meaning only that they are heavier in the front portion of the line in contrast to a double taper fly line that is symmetrical in it’s profile.
I distinguish integrated shooting-head fly lines from other weight forward (WF) lines by the relatively short, relatively heavy weight of the front section of these fly lines.
First I’ll compare head length of these lines listing them shortest to longest:
Wulff Ambush float and intermediate
*Cortland compact float and intermediate
* Outbound Short Hover
Now I will distinguish the fly lines with clear heads or tips:
* Rio Coastal Quickshooter and Quickshooter XP
* Rio Direct Core Flats Pro Stealth (6 ft clear tip)
* Wulff Ambush Intermediate
* Cortland Compact Intermediate
* Airflo Beach lines have some clear head alternatives
Ability to deliver heavy flies in wind versus ability to deliver a fly precisely and delicately. Please note that this comparison is based on my opinion and far from expert casting ability.
* I found that the Outbound Short and coastal Quickshooter seemed best lines in wind and casting large flies.
* The Wulff Ambush excelled at casting poppers and streamers with the fewest back-casts at modest range.
* The Rio outbound, Airflo Sniper, Airflo Beach, Airflo Spey Switch Float, and Rio Direct core Flats Pro Stealth line seemed superior at
delivering flies precisely and softly.
Float comparison of these fly lines: All the floaters actually do so, noting that I fish estuarine waters that range from full saltwater to full freshwater.
Sink rates of the intermediate lines: All clear intermediate heads and tips sink at roughly 1,5-2.0 IPS and I could not discern a difference across the brands of lines I fished.
The exception is the slower sink rate of the RIO Outbound Hover fly line, making this a superior line if you want to fish sub surface but rather shallow.
Here are some key features of individual fly lines to consider when choosing an Integrated Shooting Head fly line. Each of the lines listed here are fly lines I fish and recommend highly. As is usually the case these days, I’m expect that other good lines exist that I am not yet familiar with.
37.5 ft head; 330 gr (WF8F/I); tip is not clear; suited to cold & temperate climate; about 1.5 IPS sink
30 ft head; 280 gr (WF8H); head is not clear; suited to cold & temperate climate; very slow Intermediate sink rate
RIO COASTAL QUICKSHOOTER:
32 ft head; 250 gr (WF8I): head is clear: suited to cold & temperate climate; about 1.5 IPS sink
32 ft head; 330 gr (WF8I): tip is clear; suited to cold & temperate climate; about 1.5 IPS sink
38 ft head; 240 gr first 30 ft (WF8F); 6 ft of tip is clear intermediate; suited to tropical to temperate climate;
AIRFLO SNIPER Intermediate:
37.5 ft; 330 gr (WF8F/I); head is not clear: suited to cold & temperate climate; about 1.5 IPS sink
AIRFLO SPEY SWITCH float:
32 ft head; 250 gr (WF8I) AIRFLO SUPER-DRI 40+; Full Floater; head is not clear (I add clear polyleader): suited to cold & temperate climate
32 ft head; 250 gr (WF8I); head is not clear; suited to cold & temperate climate
20 ft head; 290 gr (WF8F); floating head is not clear; suited to cold & temperate climate
20 ft head; 290 gr (WF8F); Intermediate head is clear; suited to cold & temperate climate
CORTLAND COMPACT FLOAT:
26 ft head; 290 gr (WF8F); floating head is not clear; suited to cold & temperate climate
CORTLAND COMPACT INTERMEDIATE:
26 ft head; 290 gr (WF8F); Intermediate head is clear; suited to cold & temperate climate
SCIENTIFIC ANGLERS SONAR TITAN CLEAR TIP:
33.5 ft head; 280 gr (WF8F/I); head is clear; running line floats; suited to cold & temperate climate
I hope you find something of interest here.
Jay Nicholas 2018