Double-Taper Versus Weight-Forward Line For Trout

A casting angler, seen from below.

Here’s something you could probably bet all your fishing gear on: For long as people have been fishing, fisherman have been arguing about the right gear to use. A thousand years ago, some guys must have favored one kind of bone hook over another. And you know they would have argued about why for hours.

Today, fisherman still love to get into over the merits of furled leaders and the pros-and-cons of bamboo, fiberglass and graphite rods. Fly lines come up, too. Some guys swear by Double Tapers (DT) while others stick to Weight Forward (WF) ones.

Most DT lines are used by fisherman who concentrate on dry flies. WF lines are used by anglers who want one line to do it all. But the truth is, at distances up to 30’, there’s no real difference between these lines. Only at longer ranges does one comes out ahead of the other.

Weight-Forward Fly Lines

These lines taper one way with heaviest section near the front. They’re good for all around situations and for reaching out long distances.

  • Their front “head” sections are 35’-40’ long. This makes them better for long-distance casting and for windy days
  • Due to their long head sections, they don’t deliver flies delicately.
  • They load up well on modern rods and have the power to turn over longer leaders.
  • Weight-forward designs with long midsections offer the best of both worlds—a longer belly for big roll casts and mends and a stable loop when carrying 40’ to 50’ of line.

In the past, WF lines featured severe, steep tapers as you moved towards the tip. But as designs have changed. Some newer WF lines can handle delicate presentations and are easy to roll cast.

Double-Taper Fly Lines

These lines are tapered at both ends. Because of this, they hold loops with more stability.

  • Great all-around line if you fish small- to medium-sized streams.
  • Ideal for roll casts.
  • Because they throw big, open loops, they’re ideal for delicate presentations and fishing dries at short distances (under 30 feet).
  • With long midsections, they’re easy to mend.
  • Tend to be longer overall, making them ideal for large-arbor reels.
  • Frugal fisherman take note: When the tip section of DT line starts to sink or crack, simply turn the line around and get back to fishing. You can’t do that with a WF line.

For a lot of fisherman, DTs shine because of the way they mend. In situations requiring long drifts, the mass and more consistent diameter of a DT line can help you position your fly for success.

You, Your Rod and Your Fish

For just about every fly fisherman, Weight-Forward and Double-Taper lines have their uses. While they do have their difference, picking which one to use has a lot do with the type of fishing you do and the rod you’ll use.

If you fish fast rods on bigger water under windy conditions, go the way of the WF. But if slower- and medium-action rods are your choice and you love smaller waters, go with a DT. It will load better, present your flies with more precision, and help make you a more successful angler.

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