Picture courtesy of Cortland Line
Back when I started fly fishing in the early 90's, I remember the top fly lines costing around 60$ or so. Were there more expensive lines? Perhaps. As both a kid and a newbie, I wasn't super aware or knowledgeable of the market quite yet, but at that age the cost still seemed relatively high. Well, have you seen what top tier fly lines cost nowadays? I've reviewed a few of them right here on Demystifly. I'll start off by saying that the ones I've tried are indeed outstanding and perform at extremely high levels, but $120 lines are undoubtedly tough to swallow for many anglers on typical budgets. Luckily, good alternatives still exist!
Tested Line Weight: WF8F
Overall Length: 90 feet
Head Length: 41 feet
30-Foot Head Weight: 210 grains
Core Material: Braided Nylon Multifilament
Welded Loops: None
The 333 Classic Trout/All-Purpose series from Cortland embodies old-school simplicity. Priced affordably, these weight-forward floating lines range from 3–10 weight and don't offer anything fancy—not even welded end loops. Each line delivers a pretty standard weight-forward taper profile and a grain weight spot on to "ideal" AFFTA standards, all built on a braided multifilament core.
Image by Cortland Line
All lines in the series are finished in a yellow color scheme and are ideal for cooler to mild climates. The finish of our test line was very smooth out of the box and had a good quality look and feel about it. It might lack all of the fancy colors and features of the most expensive lines, but it's also about 1/3 of the price. It's simply enough to get the job done for many folks in many average situations. I do wish, however, that a more muted color was available–the yellow is kind of loud.
Many current fly lines are made much heavier to help load today's fast action rods. Some of these lines can weigh a full size heavier (or even more!) than the AFFTA ratings indicate. While these lines can certainly help load some of the more aggressively-tapered rods out there, this additional heft has also been the source of many debates among fly anglers. If a line is labeled a 5-weight but actually has the grain weighting of a 6-weight, is it really a 5? That's a topic with all kinds of opinions, but all of these Cortland 333 Classic lines steer clear of that drama.
Rated at 210-grains in the first 30-feet, our WF8F test line is a true 8-weight fly line. Although it lacks both added weight and a complex taper, I found it to still be plenty capable even when used aboard a solid fast action fly rod.
I used the Cortland for bass fishing on both an 8-weight and also while up-lined on a 7-weight and was able to cut through a modest breeze and cast larger streamers without a problem. The line features a 41-foot head and a very straightforward taper which means it casts very smoothly and easily. With this taper and the lack of added weight I didn't feel an overabundance of "punch" nor does it load a fast rod quite as deeply (especially during short shots), but its performance was actually a little better than expected.
The 333 also handled nicely for me. It's definitely on the supple side and I didn't encounter any problems with memory or line management fishing in cool to mild weather. Thankfully, I tested this line here in Florida during the winter because in the summer it would probably become a real headache. Like most fly lines, it's not a tropical line so it would likely turn gummy and be a real hassle when the heat is really on. Durability is best measured over the long term, but over the last several weeks I've noticed zero issues with cracking or peeling.
The easygoing nature of this line makes it a great choice for someone just starting out, but it's also a fine choice for the seasoned angler, too. As noted, this line definitely lacks some features and advancements that other lines possess, but for much of the fishing that people do, those added features can also be unnecessary. I kind of forgot what it felt like to fish with a good, basic, old-school fly line again, and it was rather refreshing. I actually wasn't expecting much here but was very pleasantly surprised in the end. If your fly fishing isn't super demanding or you simply just want to keep cost down (hey, it's only $39.95!), consider the Cortland 333 Classic Trout / All-Purpose. I think you'll really enjoy it!
Cortland 333 Classic Trout / All-Purpose