Jump to content
Fly Fusion Forums

You all kidding me!!

Recommended Posts

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.

Further notes:

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.






  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Don, 

I’m not sure who was the first to manufacture lines that were a half size (or more) heavy, but the first time I became aware of it was when I came across a Rio Grand line, and they have been around since about 1997.  They were largely in response to the very fast action graphite rods that started to become more mainstream around then, but around the same time the modern two handed rods started to become popular.  This further confused things because a two handed 8wt can throw a line that would be suitable for a 15 wt single handed rod.  Since then, I think most manufacturers use rod weights as an indication of an appropriate application vs actual line weights.  I recently assembled a streamer rod that is designated as a 7wt, but when it comes to matching a line to it I used the blank builders grain weight window and compared it to various line manufacturers specs to get an idea of what would work.  It’s a pain, but the trade off is that if you want a specialized tool to do a specific job…

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clearly, the fast auctioned graphite rods are really underlined with the line manufacturer aiding in the deception as demonstrated by the information presented.
Obviously the BS stops when the line manufacturers mark the packaging correctly. This would drive the rod manufacturers to also mark their rods correctly.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the end of the day, the marketing machine wants to sell you a line that will just make you a better caster. Easiest way to make the average angler a better caster with zero worry about technique is to put a heavier line on the same rod. Its not going to change..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don check out 406 Fly lines. They are true to weight and DT. You might like them.   I've gone down the fly line rabbit hole a couple times and bought a few too many fly lines because there is nothing like testing them yourself.   I'm an average caster and when I'm having a bad day casting I like a weight forward line . I have a 5wt royal wulff bamboo fly line and I cast much further with this line than my other 5 weight lines but it's not a very forgiving line.  I cast further with a 4 wt 406 line than a 4 wt Rio Gold WF line. I'm thinking the popularity of weight forward, 1/2 size bigger line is they are easy to cast?   Fly lines are all over the place now for weights and tapers so it's hard to know what to buy for a graphite rod and even harder for a bamboo rod with out actually testing a few lines.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They used to mark the grains on the box and each line weight had to fall within a standard range to correctly marked. I guess, like most things these days, flashy marketing spin and fancy names trumps quality.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This past winter I tackled Ernest Schwiebert's biblical epic Trout. Near the end of volume 1 (800+ pages!) there are many tables illustrating the relationships of line weights and definitions. As early as his writing, (it was published in 1978), it was evident to the eminent Mr Schwiebert and his peers, that fly line definitions and rod weights' traditional criteria were becoming distorted.

I am not a technical fly fisher in any traditional sense. I have fly fished for 48 years and am self taught (except for two great days with one of Jim McLennan's instructors in summer 2019 to help me finesse minor errors), and I do a couple of things which are unconventional and would make a purist weep. However, as old Dylan wrote all those years ago, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and I do have a good feel for things. My professional life evolved to take advantage of my proprioceptive and kinaesthetic abilities which I implicitly trust. A dear friend, now passed, once gave some profound, gentle counsel to his daughter who was struggling with relationship issues. Dirk wrote to her, trust your organism. In context it was a very thoughtful bit of advice. This is all a roundabout way of getting to the idea that for better or worse, and this is not just true for fly fishing, but established criteria for a great many things in our present era have been mightily eroded. A prime personal example for me, that I have considered in depth and consulted expert writing on is the old idea that a rod must be balanced by it's reel mass. The old school idea was that with about 30 feet of fly line out the business end, the rod should balance in level equilibrium, at a point somewhere on the forward grip. (Purists please forgive my philistine ways). Anyway, on a long rod, the mass gets large very quickly and you need a darned heavy reel to achieve that balance. As rod materials got lighter, so did reels and the idea of basic weight (mass) became pre-eminent. So, trust your organism. Casting a modern hyper light alloy reel on a composite rod is waaay easier than any old balanced set up. If one fishes for a few hours, the difference in muscle effort is gigantic. Against all this intuitive information I have stored inside my brain I still have a pressing issue with a new/old rod I bought last spring. It is a 12'6" switch rod. I have not cast it yet because I cannot make my mind up and all the information, as Don has aptly and succintly demonstrated, is highly confusing. There is also the problem that a huge amount of stuff made in the USA is in short supply. My present plan is to wait a bit longer. I have some fishing arranged with a friend who had a huge number of reels fitted with a large array of rod-weight-suitable lines and I am going to experiment with a selection and let my organism decide.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


There are few that have the numbers of lines that I own. 1>9 wts. In floaters and <>10 sinking lines which don’t include various shooting heads. 
The cost to try a bunch would be cost prohibitive for most. A starting point where the manufacturers provided the truth would certainly simplify the search for the line to match your casting style and equipment. 
I weighed,with a RCBS powder scale,  my 6 wt. lines the other day which are mostly Cortland and found them dead on to standard. A Sci. Ang. Ultimate Trout and a DT Mastery we’re also dead on. The results paralleled the information published in the manufacturers web sites. 


  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/11/2021 at 1:04 PM, Taco said:

Lefty is bang on. For specialized conditions, increasing or decreasing line weights helps.

However, for the bulk of angling, using the line matched to the rod is the best choice. 

To use Lefty’s advice with six lines, three floaters, three sinkers plus reels likely would add $300>1500 in reels and $400 at least in lines. 


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...