Thu 10 Dec 2009
Airflow Poly Fuse Sixth Sense – Single Handed Line
Fast Glass WF 7/8, Translucent Green.1.5 inches per second sink, with a full length of 105 feet. I make the head 42 feet, leaving 63 feet as running line. Of the head, the front end taper is about 13 feet and the tail taper about three feet. This is a full sink line that to my mind is more like 3 inches per second line than as rated, definitely a river line. It is also a heavy line, so that those of you who fish floaters primarily will find it hard to lift out of the water where it buries itself quickly. I used a 6/7 rod, so that may account for the line feeling heavy for the rod. I have now gotten out with an ultra fast 7/8 rod and can tell you that it picks this line up well and has the beef to send it out. I’d say that if you fish single handed in winter or heavy water, this line will sink.
Airflow has made this with a braided core, resulting, in its opinion, in less line stretch, making it a longer casting line and providing quicker hook sets, as well as sinking ‘flat’ without a dip in the middle of the line. It did not seem to cast longer to me, but it performed admirably on hook sets. It takes more work to cast this line, but its weight gives you an advantage on windy days as this quality allows it to punch through a facing wind and not get too diverted from its path in a sideways wind.
At $64.99, this is a reasonable price for a line that sinks.
Product Review – Airflow Forty Plus – Two Hand Beach Line Intermediate – Updated Dec. 23, 2009
This Airflow Spey line is intended for saltwater beach fishing and specifically for over head casts. With a roughly 40 foot head as well as 110 running line behind, they bill this as an extreme distance line with slickness added by being a ‘ridged’ line.
This line does as Airflow says: it is well put together to do an overhead cast of 100 plus feet. That said, with a 40 foot head, that means using a very large stripping basket or managing stripped in line putting loops over ones fingers to keep the line out of the algae often associated with salt beaches.
With a bit of kick of the rod to form a D loop – I used my 9 wt, 13′ Loop Grey rod and this was an 11-12 line – the line sets up well for a double Spey cast, too. This is a full sink intermediate line, both running and clear head. For Van Isle beaches which are fairly flat and with little tidal movement, this line has too much sink, so it is better adapted to deeper water and faster moving tides. On the other hand rivers of medium fast current and six feet deep this line has good application. In addition, I think it shows great advantage for coho fishing as it will easily plumb the deepest part of the soft water where they like to hold in rivers.
Now the ridge line feature. The line, the running line, has about a half dozen ridges around the line and running the length of the line, with the line recessed between ridges, the purpose being to make less line contact rod guides and result in more shot line. It crossed my mind that this format may make the line gather dirt and grit sooner and be harder to clean, making the line not last as long. I talked with another caster who confirmed this outcome on his line.
The other thing about the ridge line feature is that is is very sharp. I use a spandex finger ‘glove’ on my index finger of my rod hand, ie., the stripping finger. My third finger was cut and bleeding by the end of the first day of use of this line. It may be a good idea to get a glove for your entire hand if you want to use this line. I put a bandaid on my third finger to solve this issue.
I have now tested this line in winter and found that it performed well in winter steelheading. I think that the full sinking feature of this line gives two to three feet penetration on a walk-speed run. So if you fish shallow, medium speed rivers, this will work well for you. I also fished for a week at as cold as -11 C. Ice built on the line, not a good thing for line longevity, but even at this low temperature, there was no line memory and I found it faithfully put out a nice looking cast. I have a quad system Loop line, too, and with the heaviest, honking 10 inches per second extra tip, I picked up, it wrapped the bottom as deep as 4 feet. Grrr. But, in comparison, the Airflow line seemed almost light as a feather.
At $80, this is an inexpensive, dedicated purpose Spey line.
Spey Product Review – Cortland 444 Precision Tri-Colore, Long Belly Spey
I was a bit puzzled when first I used Cortland’s new Long Belly Spey, 9 Weight. I had taken along a Loop 11′ 3″ 9 weight – a rod suited to rivers with little back room and to the Scandinavian interest in shooting heads.
The Tri-colore does indeed have three colours: chartreuse for the tip and taper (19 feet), yellow for the belly (57 feet) and mint green for the running line (60 feet), a long line of roughly 140 feet.
I threw 30 feet of yellow behind the 19 feet of tip and front taper and found that my casts were falling, usually an indication of the rod being underlined. After some frustration, it came to me that if you still have belly inside your line guides, it means you only have to let out more line until you reach the line’s sweet spot, i.e. where the line best reaches out and turns over.
Hence I decided to throw another 20 feet of belly into the aerialized line, and with some vigour, found it reaching out completely but with the fly not turning over as well as I would have liked. As I fish in the Pacific north west where we are constantly thinking: how much heavier a tip do I need for these rain swollen months?, I then changed up to better match line and fly.
I added ten feet of stepped down leader, and a simple Spey fly without the heavy bead eyes and/or lead we typically use in winter. Voila, how nicely this coloured floating line then with delicacy turned over the fly.
To make a better match rod wise, I turned to a longer rod with a stiffer butt, a 14’0″, 10/11 Weight Lamiglas Travel Rod (a 15′ rod would be even better). Then I extended the entire belly, leaving the change to mint running line within the line guides on the rod.
It was very pretty then to watch the line unfurl itself all the way across the river turning the fly to just touch the leaves on the other side before dropping into the water.
All in all, I would say that this Long Belly is suited best to those casters of better skills who can aerialize greater head lengths – in this case 19′ plus 57′ plus 10 feet leader = 86 feet – and fly fishing in the cast and swing style on broad flattish, unbushy rivers for Atlantic Salmon. On the west coast, a similar river would include the South Thompson, BC, for its legendary 20 lbs summer steelhead in those distant lies.
And once the entire head is aerialized, the new Duraslik coating on the running line really helps sizzle it through the line guides for truly outstanding distance.
I would also add a 9 foot salmon sink tip behind the leader to put in a little sink – but that’s because I am from the wet coast.
Next time, I will review the mid-belly line of this new series from Cortland.
Rio Skagit Spey – a 2007 Review
Fly lines have undergone a rapid evolution in the past 18 months and Rio is right on the money with its new formulation. The Skagit has a short (27.5 feet) but very heavy front head followed by 78’ running line. Fifteen foot tips you purchase separately and the T-14 is just right for dredging those rain-filled west-coast rivers in winter – for a full head length of 42’ and 120 foot line.
The clever thing about these lines is their short, heavy, neutralish sink head (it will follow a tip down). Typically short translates into line management problems because you have to carry more length of running line in your stripping hand, but not in the Skagit. The head is so heavy that it will shoot that much more running line and you are not left with loops wrapped around your fingers. In addition, its weight allows far more running line to be lifted from the water below your stripping hand.
In addition, the short head confers a wonderful advantage when in winter, west coast steelheaders are backed up into the trees in swollen rivers. The radius of the loop is so much shorter than with a longer headed line that you can be within 10 feet of branches and still pull off a beautiful cast.
The weight of this head also makes the whole line track much better and in all but the wildest of flows it pulls the running line taut eliminating much mending and keeping you in contact with your fly during more of the swing/strip period.
The Skagit is a good concept and well-executed. The bright yellow head is easy to follow in the river. This line can make the average caster look like a magician.
Line price CDN $96
Skagit tips $36
Rio Skagit Spey with Loop Rods
The Skagit is made for shorter rods, 12 – 15 feet. For longer rods, the Skagit cheater, much like Rio’s former Compensator can be added in.
I fished the 7/8 with a number of rods. First, I switched from a good conventional tip system line (longer lighter head on supple but not slick running line) on a Lamiglas’ 6/7 Weight, 12’6’ travel rod. Immediately the weight difference was apparent on this light rod, but once an adjustment was made, it fired the Skagit out faithfully though the rod was a tad light.
In case you don’t know, Loop has an interesting concept for its rods. It builds the same length and weight rod in five different series delineated by colour, all the following are 9 weights. The 13’2” blue Spey rod is a beautiful match for the Skagit 7/8. It has enough butt strength to lift the tip and make it move. The Loop 13’ 2” Green Spey rod has a faster butt and more muscle to lift the same line in comparison with the blue. I found that the 14’0” blue Loop rod was a good match too, but had the odd sensation of the rod feeling just the same as the 13’2” blue but just a foot longer. The 14’0” Yellow rod, on the other hand, is a traditional action and for those of you who like to feel that rod bend right down into the bottom cork, this is one for you. It will launch the Skagit well and has that beautiful slow, deliberate action for traditional purists.
When I have my grey series (Loop’s top colour) 13’ 2” rod built, I’ll add to this post. The grey rod is a nimble, light strong rod with an intelligent tip. It comes in at $1000 retail, but the blanks are much cheaper.