A weight forward by any other name… – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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A weight forward by any other name…

Category_Education -

A weight forward by any other name…

Our most common request when someone comes in store to purchase a new flyline is for a “weight forward floating”. The most common lines we sell here in Bozeman, MT are in 5 or 6 weight. (The 5 or 6 denotes the AFTMA rating of the first 30 feet of line – A “5” equates to approximately 140 grains of weight and a 6 is only 20 grains heavier.) Generally your line weight should match that of your rod. This is a great line wieght for our western rivers.

For the sake of brevity I am not going to discuss double tapers, “best” brands, or sinking lines. Rather I am going to quickly cover why you might choose one floating WF taper over another and what factors you might consider – next time you are in a fly shop and deciding on a line purchase.

Not all WF Floating lines are created equal. The first thing to consider is that premium lines do last longer and have more technology incorporated into their construction. They will be more supple (Read easier to use), float higher last longer and may actually be self lubricating - ensuring easier casting and handling. They may be textured or not and come in a myriad of colours. Of course, there are no bad lines any longer and all good fly shop staff will be able to walk you through the options.

Tapers – This is where it gets interesting!

Even though the first 30 feet of the line should weigh the same – no matter brand or model, the shape of the flyline can differ depending what the line was designed for.

Consider – the following design features (From the scientific anglers website)


Tip diameter and front taper length determine how a fly is delivered.

  • Longer front tapers mean more delicate presentations, as energy is dissipated over the length of the taper
  • Shorter front tapers mean powerful turnovers because more energy is transferred from the belly to the tip


The section with the greatest diameter, the belly also carries the majority of the weight and, therefore, energy.

  • Longer bellies increase casting distance and accuracy
  • Shorter bellies shoot better and cast faster, but sacrifice accuracy


Rear taper length determines how smoothly the energy is transferred to the belly.

  • Longer rear tapers transmit energy smoothly to the belly for increased distance and control
  • Shorter rear tapers put the running line in the guides more quickly for faster casts

What does this mean for you?

Pick a line which is going to deliver the fly in the manner in which you like and suits the fishing you will do. A nymph taper will deliver bobbers and weight – a “selective trout taper” will finesse dry flies and turn over with better presentation.

If you are mainly fishing a nymph bobber rig – there is a flyline designed for you! It will have a shorter front taper and perhaps a longer rear taper for mending and in the air control – especially when casting a lot of weight. It will roll cast like a dream and be able to cast a mile. – Think aggressive – sometimes these lines are also weighted slightly heavier too.

If you are mainly fishing dries and have to deal with long casts to spooky fish – a long forward taper – Great presentation… and super long belly and rear taper to assist with carrying line in the air for stealthy casts and long reach mends. Think presentation and trout fishing distances… (Under 60 feet)

Of course there is the all rounder and they do a great job in any situation – These are the most popular lines…because over the course of a day – we are likely to fish dries, nymphs and streamers at any time right!? Presentation, control and distance.

Our most popular lines are the Rio Gold and the Scientific Angler Amplitude Trout. Both these lines suit all methods of fishing. Come in and see us to renew your line or upgrade for next season.

Check out further blogs this winter – we will discuss line weights, how a fly line is made and the world of sinking lines.

Shop All Weight Forward Fly Lines Here