An infinite number of lines are available for your two-hand rod, whether you’re chasing trout, steelhead, or salmon. My goal is to help you understand the key distinctions between the core classes of lines: Skagit, Scandi, Hybrid and Mid/Long Belly.
Consider these factors when purchasing a fly line:
- Your fly line delivers your fly. Mass delivers Mass (grains per inch). Thus, the bigger your fly, the more mass your will need in your fly line. The smaller your fly, the less mass you will need in your fly line.
- The fly line is delivered by the quality of your cast. The shorter the line, the easier the cast. The longer the line the more casting finesse is needed.
Ultimately your choice of line is a function of what fly you want to deliver, how deep you need to fish, and your casting skills. Lines can be broken down into two categories. Integrated and the Head System.
Integrated – The head and running line are constructed to be one piece. Example: Scientific Angler Scandi Litw
Head System – Composed of multiple pieces that only perform when used with one another. Examples – Scandi, Skagit and Hybrid Heads.
Three classes of fly lines and leader choices
SKAGIT If your goal is to present a big heavy bulky fly close to the river bottom, then a Skagit style line is your best choice. These are short fat heads with a high number of grains per inch, allowing you to attach a sink tip that enables your fly to sink. You can deliver a small fly with a Skagit if you attach a floating tip. For a 6/7 wt rod, the Skagit head would be approximately 23 feet roughly a ten-foot tip and 2 foot of tippet, your cast would go 35 feet. To cast beyond that you will need to shoot line and then strip this line in before your next cast.
SCANDI If your goal is to present a small fly on the surface or just below the surface then a Scandi Style or Hybrid line is your best choice. These are long skinny heads with a lower number of grains per inch, than a Skagit line. You can attach either a mono leader or a floating to sinking poly leader. For a 6/7 wt rod, the Scandi head would be approximately 36 feet and a 12-foot leader, your cast would go 48 feet. To cast beyond that you will need to shoot line and then strip this line in before your next cast.
Mid to Long Belly Line
These lines have a similar taper to the Scandi. They present a small fly on the surface or just below the surface. For a 6/7 wt rod the mid-belly head would be approximately 52 feet and with a 12-foot leader, your cast would go 64 feet. A long belly head would be an equivalent of cast 76 feet. To cast beyond that you will need to shoot line and then strip this line in before your next cast. The Mid to Long Belly lines mean less time stripping in your shooting line, allowing you to cover water faster. Mid/long Belly lines require more finesse in your cast.
Mary Ann Dozer
Mary Ann was a late bloomer to fly fishing but instantaneously became an avid angler on a trip to Yellowstone Park in 1995. This high energy passionate fly fishing woman has worked hard bringing her love of fishing to women and men throughout the United States. She is a guide for the Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters, Oregon and guides on several rivers and lakes in Central Oregon. Her favorite aspect of fly fishing is casting, and she considers casting an art form. She is one of less than 300 FFI Master Casting Instructors in the World. She is also on the Fly Fishers International Casting Board of Governors and on the Winston Rods Pro Staff Team.