2016 Scientific Anglers Fly Lines Review

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The Caddis Fly Angling Shop can provide any SA fly line, leader or product on request, even if it is not featured in our online catalog. Just shoot us an email and we will let you know the latest details on availability and time to deliver. As usual, most items will ship within the US with no shipping and no sales tax.

The following review only covers the SA products I have personal experience with or feel comfortable speaking about based on friends who fish the lines. You might notice that I am not reviewing the extensive array of SA Spey fly lines. There are only just so many hours in the day and I have not had an opportunity to test these lines.

The main purpose of this post is to announce that we here at the Caddis Fly Angling Shop fish SA lines, have many favorites in the SA product line, and invite any of our clients to share our confidence and give these lines a thorough field test, if you have not already done so. The post is short on details but long on links to our catalog where you may see more details about each of these  – and more – SA fly lines.

Here goes:

Sharkwave fly lines ________________________________

GPX Sharkwave. The best most advanced SA fly line for fast action rods easily and is super for wind resistant flies and aggressive deliveries. Sharkskin tip with Mastery Textured rear head and running lines provide the best combination of the most advanced SA fly line technologies.

Ultimate Trout Sharkwave. Ultimate SA fly line technologies with Sharkskin tip and Mastery textured rear head and running line. This is a fantastic trout fly line for general conditions.

Anadro Sharkwave. Not my favorite fly line name but a great option for any angler fishing for anadromous fish like steelhead, sea-run browns, Atlantic Salmon, and the like. This floating fly line casts like a charm and is the peak of SA’s traditional fly lines to fish lightly weighted, damp, and floating flies for salmon and steelhead around the world.

Saltwater Titan Sharkwave. This is a tropical rated fly line with a high strength core designed to cast big flies, cast far, load saltwater fly lines, and contains all the features of the highest level of SA technology.

Saltwater Taper Sharkwave. The generalist’s choice for applying sharkwave technology to the most all around effective saltwater fly line for temperate and warm waters.

Wavelength fly line series. Mastery texturing on all lines in this series. ____________________________________________________

Wavelength MPX. Improved GPX taper designed to load fast action rods quickly. Mastery texture on the entire line. agressive and determined presentations at all distances.

Wavelength Trout. The universally functional trout taper that incorporates the Mastery texture to the entire fly line.

Wavelength Nymph/Indicator. The name says it all. If you fish nymphs, eggs, or beads under indicators, this is a great fly line for you.

Wavelength Grand Slam. If you are chasing after Permit, Tarpon, and Bonefish on the same day, this is a fly line you can fish dawn to dark. Moderate to tropic water temperatures, a full wt over line ratings to load your rod quickly up close and deliver flies at all distances, this is a fantastic fly line.

Wavelength Tarpon. If you are heading out to fish laid-up tarpon this is your line. This line has a more moderate taper than the Grand Slam and will perform flawlessly – and yes – it has a higher strength core to take the stress of heavier leaders.

Mastery Series fly lines. _______________________________________

Mastery MPX. This is an upgraded revised version of the old GPX taper. half size heavier to load fast action fly rods quickly and cast heavy wind resistant flies at close and long range.

Mastery Trout. The name nails it perfectly – trout trout trout.

Mastery Anadro. Again, I wish they had used a different name but for the Mastery series, this is your excellent fly line for dry and damp salmon, steelhead, and sea-trout fly presentation.

Mastery Expert Distance. Again, the name says it all, if you want to cast long, this is your line.

Mastery Double Taper. The double taper fly line still has many loyal clients, and this is a very nice line with very modern features of the Mastery series that you will love to fish, especially in small waters. Offered in line wts from 2 -6, this is your small stream light rod trout line to make your heart sing.

Mastery Grand Slam. Excuse the lackluster box, this is a great line for the angler seeking the tarpon, bonefish, and permit on one rod in a single day.

Mastery Redfish Warm. One half size heavy, short taper, looped both ends, this is a great moderate and hot water redfish fly line.

Mastery Redfish Cold. Same features as the warm water redfish fly line but this line coating is best if you will fish cooler water.

Mastery Bonefish. Read the label – if you fish bonefish this is a great line.

Mastery Saltwater. The generalist’s fly line in the Mastery series.

Mastery Tarpon. Again, the box makes me snooze. But this is the SA dependable all around tarpon fly line in the Mastery series.

SA Heritage Ultra Presentation fly line. This is something of a collector’s line or a traditionalists’s line, but will perform on any glass, cane, or graphite rod you own. This is a trout fly line a full floater that will make you smile.

Sonar Sink fly lines_____________________________________

Sonar series fly lines. SA has many winning sink tip fly lines in this series although I’m not at all pleased with the naming conventions their marketing folks chose for these lines.

Sonar Sink 25 Cold. these were our Mastery Wet Tip Express lines prior to 2016. Great fly lines that I fish often especially in saltwater for anything from rockfish, lingcod, silvers and albacore. there are six line wt options from 150 gr to 450 gr and these sink at rates of 4.0 – 8.0 inches per second depending on the line wt. I fish the 350 and 450 offshore almost every time I go out in the dory from the beach at Pacific City.

Sonar Sink 30 Warm. These were the Mastery Streamer Express lines prior to 2016. These are very similar to the 25 ft version of the Sonar Sink, just with a 30 ft sink tip instead of 25 ft. Although rated for warm, I fish these here in Oregon all seasons, because we have temperate as opposed to near freezing temperatures. If you are in Canada or the Great Lakes region fishing pike or musky in the snow, I would avoid this line, but otherwise, it fishes for salmon and albacore quite nicely here in Oregon. The same six line wt options make these lines suitable for any sinking fly presentation from five to 12 wt rods. My favorite saltwater line in this series is the 450 gr line.

Sonar sink 30 clear. This is an intermediate sink rate fly line, with clear tip. This fly line is analogous to the Rio Outbound clear intermediate fly line and both make excellent estuary fly lines for west coast fishing for sea run cutthroat and salmon. My personal favorite is the 300 gr clear tip line and find it especially useful fishing for salmon in Oregon estuaries.

Sonar Sink Tip. with a 10-12 ft tip, these are wonderful fly lines for any species from trout, steelhead, salmon, and you name it – bass too.

Sonar Titan Big Water Intermediate. This line has a 100 Lb core and is intended for tropical settings where you will fish the heaviest leaders and pull the hardest on big fish. Sink rates of a little over one inch per second.

Sonar Titan Big Water Max Sink. 100 Lb core fir monster fish, sink rates of roughly 6 inches per second, this is a tropical fly line that will stand up to the harshest conditions. If you’ll fish heavy tippets and pull hard on tough fish, this a great fast sinking line (roughly 6 inches per second).

Shooting Tapers. The SA line up of shooting heads offers five densities, compared to three offered by most manufacturers. These shooting heads are all 30 ft long and although they have a loop at one end I prefer to add my own braided loop at both ends of the head. As an estuary angler, I obsess about sink rates in my fly lines. The SA offering includes Intermediate, Sink 2, Sink 3, Sink 4, and Sink 6 heads. Depending on the tide, the location, and the fish’s behavior at any moment of the day, I might reach for any of these five shooting tapers to loop onto my running (shooting) line. SA rates these heads at line weights 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 in all sink rates, and offers an 11 wt lie in sink 4 and sink 6. the core on these heads ranges from roughly 35 lbs to 40 lbs. I think you would find that a 10 wt SA head is lighter than a 10 wt Rio Head. I have fished SA shooting heads alongside my Rio heads for over ten years and found both brands absolutely reliable. If you are looking for a shooting head at a very reasonable price, the SA is a line that will perform very well.

Shooting lines. SA offers many shooting line options including a unique product, the floating Dragon Tail Shooting Line. This is a 120 ft line, 25 Lb core, with 15 ft of larger diameter handling line where the shooting head loops onto the shooting line. This larger diameter section makes it easier on the caster and is a real plus. Other SA shooting lines include textured and non textured; fresh and saltwater, floating and intermediate sink; and more. If you fish shooting head lines and want a shooting/running line, SA has an option for you.

Deep Water Express. At 30 ft and weights of 400 , 550, 700, and 850 gr – this is the bad boy that you can use to put your fly deep and dependably so. Comes with a loop on the front end and may be cut for use in any length from two feet to the full 30 ft, this is a specialty fly line worth your consideration.

Closing thoughts:

Product competition. This is as prevalent in the fly fishing industry as it is with tennis shoes (remember Converse tennis shoes and how popular they were back in the 1960s?) and car sales. I’m affiliated with the Pro Team at Rajeff Sports. I’ve helped Rio with field testing various fly lines. As an angler, I fish fly lines by Airflo, Rio. SA, Wulff, and Cortland. I fish lines by all the manufacturers that I consider either favorites or equals for different purposes. As to my expertise, I consider myself very representative of the average enthusiastic fly fishier – by far I am not a fly line expert. I throw on a line and go fishing. I fish a wide variety of single and two hand fly rods and am likely to throw on a line that is lighter or heavier than the recommended rating for the rod. I fish and see if it works or not.

Least attractive packaging award for 2016. I suppose that some marketing genius told SA that these new fly line boxes were the way to go, but personally, the new fly line packaging introduced for 2016 would turn me away from any SA fly line if it were not for the fact that I’ve already fished these lines for many decades and I have come to depend on many SA lines for river, stillwater, estuary and ocean fishing. Don’t let the packaging put you off, these are very good fly lines and I recommend them highly. Perhaps next time SA will consult me regarding their packaging options. I have yet to meet anyone who likes the new fly line boxes.

Thanks for your patience and support. Frankly, you can find excellent fly lines offered by SA, Rio, Airflo, and many others. We live in an era where we are blessed with many options and choices. We all have favorites. Let us provide your next fly line, of any brand or style, and check out our customer service and full product offerings.


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4 Responses to 2016 Scientific Anglers Fly Lines Review

  1. Jim Terborg says:

    JN and CD, what’s not to like about the new colors on the boxes? I see green and yellow and orange and black. And no hint of purple anywhere. I’d buy these lines for the boxes Happy New Year and thank you both for a great 2015

  2. Tony Scott says:

    Thanks for posting this review. I fish mostly cooler areas – North Central Ontario and Maryland when it is not 90 degrees F. I was getting frustrated with the Streamer Express running line getting knotted on the deck and robbing me of some stellar casts. I went searching for a new sinking line but was really frustrated that all my options had floating running line and each different weight had the same color. I absolutely love the idea that each weight class in the Streamer Express is a different color and after 10+ years have gotten used to that. As SA explained to me, the new Sonar Sink 30 Warm is the same as the Streamer Express that was robbing me of casts and the new Sonar Sink 30 Cold has a more supple running line.

    As bizarre as some of their naming conventions are, they now make it clear that there is one sinking line, with intermediate running line, in different colors, and you have options for cold and warm. It was good to come full circle.

  3. Gene Herzog says:

    I am going to Brazil in Sept to fly fish for Peacock bass and have cast the Rio outbound short 9 wt on a Loomis Cross Current. I find the clear tip collapses when it hits water. I am trying to decide between this and the sonar titan tropical line. What is your opinion? I need to buy two of the lines.

    Gene Herzog

  4. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Gene, sorry for the slow reply. The clear tip should not collapse if your line is a proper match for your rod. You might consider the Sonar Sink 30 in the wt for your rod. keep in mind that the Rio Outbound Short is about 330 gr; 375 gr; and 425 gr for the 8; 9; and 10 wt heads.With the SA Sonar Sink warmwater 30 line you choose the line by specifying head wt (150, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450 gr. SA suggests the 300 gr as an 8/9 wt line. The SA line will sink much faster than the Rio clear head. Contact me via the shop if I may help more. JN

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