Shooting head fly lines have an exaggerated profile. The head length is connected to a much thinner running line. The shooting head will allow you to cast much further distances with minimum effort, so they are especially useful for those anglers who suffer with tennis elbow, struggle to load the rod easily or when you just want maximum distance in difficult conditions for example, high winds or no wind at all! However whatever the conditions, Presentation is highly compromised, especially when going the distance.
Shooting heads are simple to make; Cast a normal fly line to see how much you can aerialise easily. Mark the line at this ‘loading’ point, then add another eight foot and cut the line at this point. The head length will vary from 25 to 38 feet depending upon the ability of the angler.
Join the running line of the shooting head, to the back of the fly line where you just cut, then cast this set-up again. If it’s too heavy or you can’t aerialist enough of the head, simply cut off one foot at a time from the thicker front end of the line until it’s custom made to fit your ability. But remember you want it to be heavier than normal and load the rod quickly and easily so don’t cut back too far. Finally attach a braided loop and leader and you are ready to fish.
When casting simply get the thicker head line just out of, or just in, your rod tip, then let go… don’t try to arealise the running line more than a foot or so, as it will collapse on your back cast and end up around your head. Casting with these lines will require some practice but the benefits are worthwhile.
Shooting head fly lines can be purchased ‘off the shelf’, here with the Airflo 40+ Extreme and Expert Range of fly lines. The 40+ offers all the advantages of a shooting head, without the hassle of making one yourself, and now without the horrid joint or knot used to attach the head and backing. The running lines are made up out of the Airflo ridge running line incorporating Airflo’s power core technology, giving greater sensitivity when fishing and better casting due to the Ridge PolyFuse XT dual layer system coating.
Manufactured shooting heads can be used with teams of flies, as the forward profile has been specially designed with a front taper, but you will loose some distance because of this slight change to the taper. Better still they are competition legal, as home-made shooting heads are banned in most international matches.
If your a bank fisherman, a shooting head can be a priceless part of your fishing tackle set! think of it as reaching the fish others around you cant, its going to improve your catch rate no end!