Does fly line color matter? - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:02 AM
TxBassAngler TxBassAngler is offline
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Question Does fly line color matter?

I have seen many reels with different color lines (green, orange, yellow). Does the color of line really make a difference to the fish when fishing?

I notice the "beginner combo" reels tend to strung in orange and the higher scale reels are matched with green line, always.

Any relevant info is appreciated.
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:33 AM
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Dble Haul Dble Haul is offline
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I'd have to say that it depends on what type of fishing you'll be doing.

For most fishing, the color of the line really doesn't matter. There are some specialized situations (saltwater flats, for example) where a clear line has a serious advantage with spooky fish, but for many anglers those aren't a normal situation.

What kind of fish will you be chasing?
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Old 07-07-2004, 10:15 AM
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sayow sayow is offline
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I have to agree with Dble Haul, unless you are fishing extremely spooky fish in crystal clear water, the color of the fly line is not an issue. Atleast that's my experience. With the proper amount of leader on (we use 12-14' for Atlantics) it's no problem. We usually use Maxima chameleon leader, and I do think the type and color leader is important. One advantage to the bright orange and green fly lines is they are easier to see, both in heavy water and low light conditions. So that may be something you may wish to consider. Hope this helps some.
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Old 07-07-2004, 12:50 PM
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Dana Dana is offline
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I would say that brightly colored lines are really useful for anyone who is learning to cast or learning to improve their casting as they are easier to see in the air than the more subtle colors. I don't think there are too many freshwater situations where line color is a big issue, although I have heard that the trout in New Zealand don't like bright lines. A friend of mine was down there in the mid 90s and he took along a Wulff Triangle Taper. It was white and he couldn't catch fish. A guide he met said "dye it grey" so he did and suddenly he was getting fish. When I was first starting out I went to the Montana spring creeks and did fine (well, fine for a guy who was just starting out) with a bright yellow line, so I guess it depends on where you are. In practice when you are casting to a fish you shouldn't be rolling the line over them anyways, just the leader on the final delivery cast. Any false casting should be done so that the line is not passing directly over the fish. Make your false casts off to the side of the fish to measure the length, then make your delivery cast so that you show the fish leader only. Jack Dennis has a good video out that shows his approach to dry fly fishing and false casting over rising fish. I forget what it is called but your flyshop my have one in their lending library.
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Old 07-14-2004, 02:40 PM
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flyfisha1 flyfisha1 is offline
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When fishing down stream, bright lines have never been a handicap for me, as the fly and leader reach the fish (when target fishing) before the line passes over head; this is particularly helpful on some of the waters that I have fished in the South where the fishing pressure was quite high. Fishing upstream with a bright line has been tricky for me when there are a lot of fish on the surface and the current is swift, as I end up casting ahead of the fish by some distance to get a longer drift (with practice I imagine I could just get the fly and leader over them and have this be effective, however). In these cases, I've found that a subdued or clear line has been more beneficial. Some of the colors I've used in freshwater are chartruese, bright yellow, white, gray, tan, and clear/camo. Of these, I feel more confident with the gray and clear/camo lines; of course, this means that I fish them more...
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Old 07-15-2004, 04:22 AM
Gardener Gardener is offline
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I'm convinced that line colour can, in some situations, make a difference. I don't know whether John Goddard and Brian Clarke's book 'The Trout and the Fly' was published in the US, but it's well worth getting your hands on a copy, IMO. They have a section on fly line colour, illustrated with some underwater shots. It mainly deals with floating lines, btw, but on the whole sinking lines tend to be dull coloured anyway.

In brief, Goddard & Clarke's conclusion is that while the line is in the fish's 'window' (ie the cone of water immediately above them in which anything is viewed against a background of sky) the colour of line is more or less immaterial, as they will all appear dark. Of course, it might be said that your line should, as far as possible, not enter this zone at all - only the leader.

But outside the 'window' is the area they call the 'mirror', where light hits the water at too acute an angle to pass through the water's surface, and is reflected off it. In this area, which extends considerably further than the 'window', any fly line will be seen against a background of a reflection of the river bed. In this area, a green or brown line is significantly less visible than a white or brightly coloured one.

If you fish places where the water's surface tends to be rippled, I suspect there's sufficient disturbance to the 'mirror' that a line will appear broken up and not make so much impact. On the other hand, if you fish very flat water or are covering very spooky fish, I think line colour can make a difference. Dana has mentioned New Zealand as one place where this view is widely held, and there are other examples. In the World Championships in Aragon last year, for example, one British competitor noticed that his catch rate increased when he switched to a dark grey floater, but that that the most successful teams were using silk lines (which tend to be dull-coloured). They reckoned this gave them 3-4 casts at ultra-spooky trout, where a plastic line generally allowed only one shot.

When a similar topic occurred recently on another board, the most sensible advice given, IMO, was to use as dull a line as you can manage, without compromising other aspects of your fishing. Thus, if you find a bright line helps your casting, or allows you to detect delicate takes at distance, then by all means use one. But if you use a dull line you certainly won't harm your chances of success, and may well actually improve them.
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Old 07-15-2004, 08:05 AM
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Dble Haul Dble Haul is offline
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Gardener, I agree with your points as they apply to trout and other fish in easily spooked conditions (spring creeks, saltwater flats, etc.)

But as applied to other fishing situations, I have to reiterate that the fly line color really doesn't matter. Dana has mentioned bright lines as good learning tools for beginners, and there is plenty of merit to that idea. But for general fishing, there is little bearing on fly line color.
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Old 01-15-2005, 12:33 PM
spruce spruce is offline
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Line Colour

Just think of this.The Heron is a bird that relies on standing in water & catching fish that swim up close with his bill.All the time he is in view of the fish & what colour is his plumage nearest the water? That's right, it's WHITE.So I buy white or light coloured fly lines.If it's good enough for one of natures great anglers, it's good enough for me!
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Old 01-15-2005, 02:14 PM
Hammer Hammer is offline
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a topic to stir up the pot for sure, ,,i DO remember reading a book on Montana or was it Wyoming?,,,the writer's were adamant about dying the line green,i'm certain certain types of leader material can make a fish hesitate to bite,and many times that's all it takes to be refused,i'd say anything that would draw attention away from your offering would cost you fish,but,since i can't toss a camera out to test the theory,we'll just have to fight it out here at least until the water clears before research can resume ,,just kidding!
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Old 01-15-2005, 05:14 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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Line color is something I harly ever think about anymore. Yes, as Gardener so aptly explained there are some situations where a dark colored line is best, these have been rare in my 46 years of fly fishing. During the 12 years I lived in Montana, I never had a problem hooking fish with bright yellow, chartreuse, hot orange, or white fly lines, including on public spring creeks like Poindexter Slough where there is a large number of people fishing on any given day. I also used bright yellow, hot orange, or chartreuse lines on Montana's Big Horn and Missouri, which can hardly be called uncrowded, with no ill effects from having a too bright line.

I also fished Pennsylvania's public spring creeks like the Letort, Yellow Breeches, Penn's Creek, and Little Lehigh without a problem with bright yellow and hot orange lines, as did my father (heck he and my brother still fish these with bright lines).

I also had two very good friends spend six weeks fishing in New Zealand two different years and they fished with bright yellow lines. Guess what? They had no trouble catching fish, despite being told they needed dark colored lines if they wanted to get fish. Granted, they spent most of their time on the south island; but they had excellent fishing with the bright lines, and they did it without hiring a guide. Perhaps if they spent their time on the more heavily fished north island things would have been different.

These experiences have convinced me that in most situations and on most streams, line color is not of much importance. Yes, there are times and places when it might well be important, but 90% or better of the time most fisherman will not encounter those. That is why I don't pay much attention to fly line color.

Interestingly, the least visible colors underwater were found to be white and silver. Black, medium to dark grey, medium to dark green, and brown were found to be most visible. Yet, I've never seen a white sinking line or sink tip in use on a river. And sinking and sink tip lines are also used with much shorter leaders of 3'-6' compared to the 9'-15' or longer used with floating lines.
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