Spey casting fly lines for salmon and steelhead fly fishing.
Weight forward (WF) lines
Lines of this type concentrate the line mass towards the front of the line in a weighty section called the “belly” line after which diameter is reduced to provide “running line” which facilitates shooting line to longer distances. Weight forward salmon lines are marketed as “Spey” lines; they are the same basic design as trout lines but are produced in larger AFFTA sizes. They are also made to different profiles of “belly”, each manufacturer laying claims to the benefits of their particular taper design and many of them adopting a fairly long taper with a lot of the weight concentrated at the rear end of the head. This long tapered profile is not new; it may be over 100 years old. Famous fly caster and fisherman Alexander Grant made continuously tapered lines of 50 yards or more in the 1930’s and was able to cast them huge distances. The AFFTA Standard for Spey line categorizes WF lines in three head lengths:
Short Belly 50 to 60 feet
Medium Belly 60 to 70 feet
Long Belly 70 plus feet
Which belly length you prefer is likely to relate to your fishing destinations, rod length and skill level. For most anglers the Medium Belly lengths are likely to be best and many lines in this category have a belly of between 60 and 65 feet which is pretty much ideal for a 15ft rod in most situations. Efficiently using lines with belly’s longer than 75 feet in conjunction with a 15ft rod becomes difficult for other than the most accomplished anglers and especially so if they are required to wade deep. Furthermore the increased space required behind to contain the D Loop during casting limits their use for constricted spaces.
The use of sinking lines is hindered by the limit on the amount of submerged line that can be brought to the surface and thereafter cast before it has time to sink again. With a 15ft rod sixty odd feet is more than plenty and for most a shorter line is much more easily handled, hence the gaining popularity of shooting heads of shorter lengths for sinking line work.
Floating weight forward Spey lines that I have used a lot for teaching and demonstrating include the Snobee 2D, Rio PowerSpey, Orvis Spey Line and the Lee Wulff Triangle Taper lines which are mentioned seperately. I also use the Snobee, Rio, Lee Wulff and Orvis multi-tip versions for general fishing purposes.