Fly line color [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Fly line color

03-06-2002, 11:32 AM
I would like to poll the forum members for their take on fly line color.

Since Steelhead are not color blind (or so I believe), does the orange or bright yellow lines, for example, spook the fish? Does the lines added visibility to the fisherman outweight any such concern? Are such bright lines okay on sunny days, yet not so great on ones with a dark overcast?

What about the gray or brown or green lines? Does a fluorescent green line detract or not?

If this has been discussed before, I couldn't find it, so please pardon any perceived duplicity.


03-06-2002, 11:42 AM
A couple things..

1. steelhead are not leadershy.. If they were i wouldn't be catching them in crystal clear water with 10 lb maxima.

2. dark colors are easier to see in the water, thats why we often use black and pruple, so it stands to reason a dark colored line would be more visible to the fish and a bright color less visible.

3. by the time a fish is seeing your flyline it has likely seen your fly swing past at least once. Since most steelhead take a fly on the first pass having them spooked by your line will rarely result in fewer hooked fish.

4. if a sled going overhead doesn't spook them then neither will your flyline regardless of it's color

03-06-2002, 12:12 PM
I routinely fish up at Fortson on the Stilly in the middle of the Summer. The water loses all flow and more or less gains an unlimited visisibilty.

I've fished many differnt lines up there and have never noticed a differance in hook up ratio between the green and oragne SA Steelhead Tapers.

...but I can tell you, the orange Steelhead Tapers are much easier to see!!!

03-06-2002, 12:32 PM
Keep it up guys, I really need to hear this stuff after I recently bought two SA Steelhead Tapers in orange by mistake (having ordered the mist green). Seems to me I once heard a saying to the effect that good fortune sometimes follows the fool.:o

Oow, it's 22 degrees, the wind is howling from the Northeast and I see snow flakes falling lightly. Come on spring, come on spring...


03-06-2002, 12:37 PM
My favorite flyline color for dry line steelheading is white. It's visible, yet kinda melts right in. PNW skies are often just a whiteish grey in the morning and it just seemed stealthy to me when imaging the fish looking up. It's hard to find the lines I want in white so I just go with the flow, and unless you're sinking the bright part of the line into the pool I'm not sure that the fish really care, provided the fly is swung correctly at 'em.


old man
03-06-2002, 03:55 PM
What's the opinoin on clear lines. Going to buy that new Cortland line,the 555 and I can't make up my mind on the Mist green or the clear. Don't say both because I can't. Limited budget. Retired. Going 5wt as it's for summer fishing. Jim P. S. I'll probly buy it where spanky works. I find it's a good place to shop.

03-06-2002, 04:04 PM
What would you be using the clear line for? It is probably not the best line for mending but good for sight fishing as it *may* keep the spook down.
For everyday trout and steelhead fishing I do not think it would give you an advantage at all.I would stick with the green line.

But for bonefishing on the flats the clear line could provide a great advantage.


old man
03-06-2002, 04:58 PM
If I was going to fish for bone fish on the flats I would have to get rich quick. I thought that I would use the line for general all around summer fishing. Like the Yakima,and several other rivers in my general area. The only time I would site fish is at a fish farm. My eyes arn't that good. Jim S.:D

03-07-2002, 12:31 AM
Originally posted by old man
P. S. I'll probly buy it where spanky works. I find it's a good place to shop.

Hey Old Man, its Sparkey, Sparkey, not spanky!! ;) :D

...and thanks for the kind words.

In regards to your line question, no need for the clear. Clears fish well as slime lines in lakes and in other places were line visibilty is not a factor and stealth is. :)

old man
03-07-2002, 12:11 PM
Just in fun Sparky. You seem good natured, so it's just a little jest.

I guess that I will just stick to the regular old fly line. It comes in Olive Sage. I just get tired of all the bright colors.

Goodby for now. Jim S.

03-08-2002, 08:00 PM
Why do fish eating birds have white or at least light colored tummies?

03-08-2002, 08:43 PM
Got a problem here. Yeah, its true with regards the osprey but not any of the Skagit eagles, immature ones are dark all over with the mature ones darker w/white heads and tails. And eagles DO take live fish. $.03

old man
03-08-2002, 08:47 PM
And they love Steelhead.

03-09-2002, 08:04 PM
The exception that proves the rule. Hundreds of species around the world against a handfull of oddballs species. Basic issue is a light color backlit by the sun is more likely to be missed. Nature, and most air forces around the world agree :razz:

03-10-2002, 12:08 AM
I'm not an ornithologist, but I'll bite. A very short list of dark breasted fish eating birds:

The cormorants - many species.

Pigeon Guillemot - Noted for their bright orange-red feet which trail behind in flight.

Frigatebird - Note the very bright red throat.

Adult Brown Pelican, Glossy Ibis, and adult male Anhinga.

In general what you say is true, but give yourself some wiggle room, Philster.;) ...and note the last sentence, second paragraph, on the opening post. Such was the essence of the query.

Oh, and the U-2, SR-71, F-117, B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers. Very dark but not prone to eating fish.:hehe:

03-11-2002, 07:42 PM
Uh.... First of all, you guys need to fish more... My original post was trying to get someone to think something through that would potentially help them in more than just this one instance. Light colors light background, hard to see? remember? But if you want to nit pick, when I worked for NASA (10 years), I spent my time at Moffett Naval Air Station, and at Edwards Air Force base. U-2, B-52s, and B1s have light colored bellies, generally a light grey/blue. Sorry. As to the 117 and the B2 Stealth planes, the dark colors are a matter of function. The stealth materials used are like the model A... Any color as long as it's black. The SR-71s are also dark because of the material. The paint that survives the expansion that plane undergoes, and the intense heat created when it flies (The fuselage doesn't suffer cracks because every time it flies at potential, it essentially gets heat treated and re-strengthened) is also black. You don't want to know how much time and money went into developing the red white and blue paint that is used in the air force "star and bars" on the blackbird... Shall we discuss some of the birds you mentioned? I'm not aware of all of them so I'll only discuss the ones I know about. Cormorants? Most aren't dive bombers, instead swimming at fish level and hunting their prey. A light belly is useless. Frigate birds feed mostly by stealing the food from other species of birds and I have seen them piss of a few dorado and sails by stealing flying fish forced into the aire. They are not worried about being spotted by fish. Brown Pelicans tend to feed primarily on smaller schooling fish, diving into a mass of bait with their big mouths agape getting whatever makes it's way into their mouth. The bait is often being pushed up from below by other predators. They don't regularly stalk a single fish from above. Some fish eaters perch in trees and dive only when prey is spotted and lined up. Other mostly dark birds have light areas which serve to break up the "bird outline". If you've read this far I did see the last sentence of the second paragraph. An overcast sky is still a light background. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm headed to where my time is better spent. Namely impersonating a hot 19 year old named "Rochelle" in a chat room. I might have a guy willing to send me a plane ticket to florida just in time for tarpon season!

03-11-2002, 07:55 PM
Philster -

You had me worried there with that sentence, family program and all - but being a guy with an internet dayjob, you had me rolling on the floor with the chat room bit.

<start squeaky voice> Tell him you have a cute sister :hehe:

03-12-2002, 02:06 AM
Originally posted by Philster
Why do fish eating birds have white or at least light colored tummies?

You didn't qualify those boids further. Bombers, swimmers, bandits; fish eating boids are fish eating boids.:razz:

As for the planes - Those I noted had such color scheme at the Whidbey Island Air Show, excepting the stealth bomber. My resident 14 year old expert concurs. Further, Lockheed pointed out many times to the USAF that shades of gray, black and light blue was far more stealthy for the F-117 but the AF generals rejected their advice stating that such a paint scheme of pastels was not "manly" and didn't fit their image. So much for function.

And I won't even touch the "Rochele" issue. I don't need my hands slapped twice in one week.:tsk_tsk:

I "should" be fishing more...

03-12-2002, 02:23 PM
Go to a lake and catch some 'bows (landlocked steelies). You'll feel better, and you won't overanalize posts... :D

03-12-2002, 03:42 PM

Thanks for taking this discussion good-naturedly.;)

I've pretty much been a believer in the arguement that you advance, yet find the forum "experts" opinion regarding whether or not Steelhead are leader shy, convincing. Seems hard to argue with their collective success.

As far as "landlocked" Steelhead, no can do. I gave up lake fishing when the high-speed boats and fish finders became vogue, expecting proximity fused concussion lures ( a high tech version of the old red TNT plug) to soon follow. I went total FF-C&R on the skinny waters (only to find the techie trend here as well - Jet sleds and handheld side-scanning fish finders).:(

I think I need to find some bolder strewn, ultra-skinny water to fish. Any suggestions on that one?

old man
03-12-2002, 05:01 PM
Watersprite,Come June 1st I'll come up there to get you and take you to some skinny water to try your luck. It has to be luck because your skill leaves something to be desired. Just one old man to another. Jim S.:devil:

03-12-2002, 05:24 PM
Old man,

Ha, my skills indeed. You forget I've seen your febble attempts at casting; you could put down a feeding school of piranha, sir. Seriously, June 1st sounds good. By then you may have finally figured out that you tie your leader to the end of your fly line and NOT the end of the rod.:razz:

03-13-2002, 08:20 PM
Watersprite... I just may even know where there's a small creek or two. They may even have beaver dams on them :smokin: 'Course we're talking hypothetical here. I also know some lakes you might like with no motors (well... the little electric egg beaters are allowed) allowed. Not to mention a slough or two where bass and panfish as big as your hand can be found when it warms up a tad... As non techno as it gets. Heck I'll even bring out my old early 80s fenwick eagle and some Made in the USA Medalists if it makes you feel better :-D FF and C&R aren't just for those salt cured torpedo shaped fish with the shiny silver scales you know!

03-13-2002, 11:52 PM

Now if there is a put in place for my Old Town canoe, you're on. I love to do the lakes with this boat and might be convinced to bring a rod and give the lake fishing scene another try. And beaver ponds with drys are too cool...:smokin:

03-14-2002, 09:25 AM
Beaver ponds with dries are cool... But running a sculpin clouser right at the base of the dam and releasing a 17 inch brookie was pretty cool last year too!:razz: With a little portage help your canoe would rock not only on the lakes, but on the sloughs too!

old man
03-14-2002, 12:06 PM
Philster. Do you do much fishing up in the head waters of the Skykomish river. Jim S.

03-14-2002, 09:18 PM
Nope! I've only lived here a year, and I'm a stay at home dad, so driving that far to explore cuts seriously into my fishing time. And what if I find my dream water that far away... Yikes! I'd be ruined! My creeks are within 20 to 30 minutes of my home in Woodinville, but they do hold wild fish (mostly cutts and 'bows, but some have brookies). How can I complain? Hopefully in a few years I'll be able to extend my range. Heck, I hope to hike in to try to catch some lakes right at ice-out by the year 2005! Right now my moto is "dream big, but fish close":chuckle: Of course I'm currently guilting the wife into a baja trip in October... I've earned it :devil:

old man
03-15-2002, 11:37 AM
Well I live in Marysville and if you ever want to try up there let me know. From where you live it's not that far. Jim S.

03-16-2002, 10:31 AM
Hmmmmm... I'll drive. I would LOVE to try it up there. Is it fishable throughout summer, or is it a June/July and october type thing? I'd also like to hit the small streams up in YOUR neck of the woods. Last time I looked at my topo map, I saw lots of squiggley little blue lines dumping into the stilly;)

old man
03-16-2002, 11:03 AM
I usually start up there in June. But it depends on what the snow pack does. Some of those streams you have trouble getting on in June but not in August. I know that I'm sitting here itching to get out but don't like to fish in the cold rain. Jim S.:D