Should You Get a Textured Fly Line?
Updated: Nov 4, 2021
There are several aspects to consider when shopping for a new fly line. Let's see, there's grain weight, taper design, and type of core to name three of the major ones, but is the line's surface important too? Specifically, should you get a textured or smooth fly line?
Most fly lines on the market feature coatings that are totally smooth. Not only are these lines pleasing to hold and manipulate all day long, but they are also nice and quiet when sliding in and out of the rod guides while casting or retrieving. These qualities make them appealing to a wide range of anglers which likely attributes to why smooth lines are so popular.
It looked to me like textured lines initially got some lackluster reviews. Personally speaking, the very first one I tried years ago didn't impress which obviously did little to sway me from fishing the smooth lines I had always used. Although I ignored textured lines for a long while after, it later seemed like there was a shift in refinement which also appeared to coincide with an uptick in both product offerings and popularity. I took notice and thought what the heck, I'd give them another shot.
My latest experiences with textured lines have been MUCH better. In fact, I've liked the last couple of textured lines so much that I'm now looking to gradually switch over many of my smooth lines to textured ones. Does that sound drastic? While I'm a believer, textured lines probably won't be everyone's favorite. While I now believe in the performance benefits of them, they do have a few differences that some anglers may not prefer.
What are some pros and cons of textured fly lines?
Less Friction- Since textured lines aren't flat and smooth, they allow for less surface contact with the rod guides. Less surface contact means less friction which makes casting more efficient. I wouldn't say I notice a night and day difference here, but these lines do feel just slightly more "free" when slipping through the guides which is something I like. Who doesn't like some level of increased castability and distance?
They Float Higher- Being mostly a streamer guy this is not something I've really paid much attention to or can really prove, but it's said that textured lines supposedly float higher. This does make sense considering the irregular surface pattern seemingly would make the line sit up a bit higher on the water. A line that floats higher is easier to mend and pick up for another cast.
Noise- One thing I see people complain about is the noise textured lines make when going through rod guides. I agree that the lines make much more commotion, but it's never been an issue for me. The best comparison I can make is that when the line is stripped, the sound is kind of like a small zipper being pulled.
Filth- I mostly bank fish for the time being which means I am often standing on sand, mud, or dirt. I've noticed that fly lines which aren't smooth seem to gather more filth, but curiously I've never picked up on a big performance loss. My biggest complaint here is simply just getting dirtier fingers. For what it's worth, I've read claims that textured lines can actually rid themselves of filth easier, but I can't say I agree with that in my experience so far.
Cost- Textured lines generally cost more when compared to similar smooth versions. For example, Scientific Anglers' Amplitude Infinity textured lines run $129.95, while the Amplitude Smooth Infinity versions cost $99.95.
Are textured fly lines worth it? Although I cited more negative than positive points, I do believe they are worth it if you don't mind the added cost. Smooth lines will get the job done just fine and have done so for many folks for many years, but if you really want to eek out every last morsel of performance, a textured line should help you do just that.
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