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Fly Lines for Stillwaters

By Phil Rowley

Phil Rowley gives some tips on the vast array of presentation options for stillwater trout fishing.

Stillwater fly fishing offers countless rewards. If you like ‘matching RIO fly lines - there are opportunities and challenges to motivate you for a lifetime; an affliction I have suffered for many years. Trout in productive lakes grow large, and you have the opportunity to hook into the fish of a lifetime as stillwater trout tend to be measured in pounds rather than inches.

Due to the diversity of presentation options and the varying depths angler’s face on lakes there is a large assortment of fly lines to choose from. As an angler gains skill and experience, their selection of lines grows too, but if you are just venturing into stillwater fly fishing where do you start? Which lines should you consider and why? Here are my suggestions.

Most fly anglers already possess the first line on my list; a weight forward floating line. From my perspective a floating line is an absolute necessity for fly fishing lakes. Floating lines are highly versatile and can be configured in a number of ways. You can fish long leaders and Stillwater fly rods rigged up with the proper line and ready to fishteams of nymphs. In water up to 20 feet deep you can suspend chironomid larva, pupa, leeches and other patterns under strike indicators and of course you can target rising fish with dry flies. I carry at least two floating lines whenever I hit a lake – a dedicated Indicator Line and a line such as the RIO Grand or Gold for long leader nymphing and dry flies.

My second recommendation would be a clear intermediate such as an Aqualux or the Camolux. These lines sink between 1.5 and 2-inches per second and are ideal for pulling flies through the water such as leeches, damsel nymphs or scuds. In clear water situations the stealth factor is a welcome benefit masking crafty presentations when targeting wary trout. Don’t let the slow sink rate of these lines mislead Pontoon fishing in a lake for Stillwater Trout - RIO Fly Linesyou to believe they are for shallow water. I often use these lines when probing deeper reaches in excess of 10 feet. The slower sink rate of the clear intermediate allows you to move your flies in a slow, natural manner, reducing the risk of dragging your fly or flies through the weeds. It is important to remember, select a sink rate that doesn’t overpower your retrieve pace.

My last recommendation is a fast sinking, density compensated line. Depending on your local waters this could be from a Deep 3 through to a Deep 7. Most of the stillwaters I visit I tend to target regions less than 25 feet deep so I favour a Deep 3 or 4. Besides enabling you to explore deeper reaches fast, sinking lines can be used to skip and trundle buoyant patterns just above weeds and bottom debris. If you choose to fish from a drifting boat – “loch style” – the faster sink rate helps compensate for the boat moving towards the fly line as it sinks. Trout and other game fish don’t always take our flies as food. At times they need coaxing using attractor tactics. Fast sinking lines get your fly down where Trout with Underwater reflection - RIO fly linesit is stripped at pace, taking advantage of the trout’s natural predatory instinct. No matter the sink rate, use fast action six or seven weight rods. These rods have the necessary backbone to carry dense lines without wearing you out by days end.

As your stillwater experience and enjoyment grows, add other lines to this initial list to round out your assortment. I carry a variety of lines so I am prepared for whatever Mother Nature and the trout she governs throw at me. Supplementary choices include the Outbound Short series of lines for ultimate distance, and RIO’s award winning Midge Tip, which is a fantastic tool for fishing nymphs and chironomids just below the surface.