Starter’s Guide to Sinking Fly Lines

Starter’s Guide to Sinking Lines

Being new to flyfishing, I would like to try a sinking line. What sort of set-up would you suggest for sinking work? I currently possess 7/8wt 9ft 6in and 10ft rods.
Frank McNeil

Hywel Morgan replies: The rods you have are ideal for sinking line work so there is no need to buy any new ones.

So what sinking line do you buy? This will depend on the depth of water you fish. If it is really deep then I would suggest a Di-7 fly line that sinks at seven inches per second. But if it’s not that deep then a Di-5 fly line, sinking at five inches per second, will be fine.

The other decision is whether to buy a stretch or non-stretch sinking line. If your budget allows I would buy one of each as some days one will far outfish the other. If the fish are in a playful mood they will just pluck at the fly and not take it on its first attempt. This is where a stretch line is best as it gives a little and the fish will pull the fly a few times before taking confidently. A non-stretch line will not and the fish will hit the fly once, feel the resistance and go away.

However, the non-stretch line is fantastic when you want to fish the flies deep as the sensitivity is brilliant for hook setting.

The newest invention is the Sweep Fly Lines. These lines sink in a ‘U’ shape path, with the tip following behind the head and running line. If you could imaging the whole length of a Di7 sinking in a straight line, the line will sink uniform throughout until it reaches the bottom. The Sweep lines differ in that the tip sinks slower than the belly, forcing the flies to follow the retrieve path in a ‘U’ shape.

The one thing to do when you have bought the line and put it on the reel is to whip some floss about 10 foot up the line and secure it with Superglue. This acts as a marker to let you know where the end of the line is so that you don’t retrieve too much line in. It makes you concentrate a little more as you will get a lot of takes just as the fly comes into shallow water.

The best fly to use is a Booby. This buoyant pattern has had some bad press because some anglers just leave the fly out until a fish swims along and picks it up. But there is no better fly to fish deep because at the same time it also stays above any weed.

You can also use two flies – a Booby on the point and a Buzzer on the dropper (see diagram). Fish this set-up slow and with an erratic retrieve, and remember every time you stop pulling the line in the Booby will float up. When you stop the retrieve, watch the line between the rod tip and the water and if you see it move, strike because the fish has just taken the fly as it lifts up.

Reprinted with permission of Trout Fisherman magazine.