You All Kidding Me!
Unfortunately, unlike most good stories, this one doesn’t start with a beer.
I build bamboo fly rods and have for the past 40 years. I sell the rods that I make with a recommended fly line weight rating. As I personally use Cortland 444 Peach or SL lines, I was somewhat unaware what has happened to the fly line weights in the past years.
A customer called and said, “This rod doesn’t cast worth *hit! It was overloaded.” Well, I test-cast each rod prior to placing it for sale. The rod cast fine in my hands so I asked the customer what line he was using. “Scientific Anglers Amplitude Infinity model,” he responded. So off to Scientific Anglers web site and I found the model of line he was using. No damned wonder, the line marked 6 weight on the box was really 7 weight line according to the line description from the site.
So that begged the question, how about other lines? A rainy day showed up, so I headed to the web sites of RIO, AirFlo, Scientific Anglers and Cortland looking over their fly line descriptions. I chose 6 weight lines to examine as 6 weight is a transition line between light and heavy trout fishing. Although they all presented the truth on their sites, the fly line box may not contain the line weight and could mislabeled by up to 3 weights heavy. I checked only what I considered trout lines and most of them were floating types.
Scientific Anglers: 23 floating lines checked – 7 of them were rated correctly
5 sinking lines checked – all of them 1>3 lines weight heavy
Rio 18 floating lines checked – 2 of them rated correctly
7 sinking lines checked – all of them 1>3 line weights heavy
Cortland 13 floating lines checked – 7 of them rated correctly
7 sinking lines checked – 5 of them rated correctly -2 were 2 lines weights heavy
AirFlo 13 floating lines checked – 1 rated correctly
1 sinking line checked and it was 1 line weight heavy.
So where does that leave the buyer? You are faced with two issues. Firstly many of the rods manufactured today are oftenrated 1>3 line weights less that what they should be. However, you are saved as the line manufactures have bought into the game and mark most of their line lighter than is in the box.
Secondly the buyer will really be caught if he believes the internet chatter and buys a line one weight heavier for his new rod. Now he’ll have a 5 weight rod as marked by the manufacturer [ really a 6 or 7 weight] and looking for a line weight heavier, he buys a 6 weight as marked on the box and got a 7 or even 8 weight.
Why this happened, I haven’t a clue. There are industry standards for nearly everything in today’s world. Thankfully, the line and rod manufacturers don’t build nuts and bolts or any other of the myriad of tools, equipment, orparts that make the world go around.
1] The standards for several Fly Fishing equipment are maintained by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. See: https://affta.org/page/About
2] Several of the line manufacturers have changed their offerings on their sites since I collected the line weight information in July 2021. However, the lines could still be and likely are for sale at retailers everywhere.
2] The data list for each of the manufacturer is provided on my web site
2] For those doing their own research, here are the web sites from the four line manufacturers.