Do You Need a Saltwater Fly Line? What You Should Know

If you are a fly fishing enthusiast or have just taken up the hobby, you may wonder if you need a saltwater fly line. Many people think that you can use any fly line when fishing. On the contrary, you need specific fly lines for different fishing environments. 

You need a saltwater fly line when fishing in saltwater, from shore, or from a boat. Saltwater fly lines are denser and handle tropical environments better, reducing the tendency of the line to coil. Saltwater fly lines are also designed to handle larger and more aggressive species. 

This article will look at all you need to know about saltwater fly lines, including what to consider when buying a saltwater fly line and the types of fly lines available. So, read on to learn more before your next fishing trip. 

saltwater fly lines are more dense

Choosing Saltwater Fly Lines 

There tends to be some confusion when choosing the perfect fly line for those who enjoy fishing. For starters, you need to understand how the rod and fly line work together. A good saltwater fly line could make the difference between making a quality cast to a fish or coming up short.

One of the best all around saltwater fly lines is the Scientific Anglers Saltwater Floating line. This is a great floating line that works well for most saltwater species including tarpon, redfish, snook, jacks, and trout.

Hence, it would help if you considered several factors when getting a saltwater fly line. 

Some of the factors to consider when choosing a saltwater fly line include:


It’s preferable to have a weight-forward line when fishing in salty water. Hence, the saltwater line should be thicker near the leader and the fly. It’s essential to have a weight-forward line because it helps shoot the fly for longer distances with less power. 

In addition, when choosing the fly line, ensure that it matches the rod weight. However, your fishing method will also dictate the type of line you pick. It is, however, a bad habit to overline your fly rod. While casting is easier with a heavier weight fly line, it does create bad habits in the cast. 

Depth Coverage

The depth of the water body you’ll be fishing in is also vital when choosing your saltwater fly line. Different fly lines are suitable for specific water depths. Therefore, it’s essential to know what you’re going for since most manufacturers indicate the classification of the fly lines on their packages.

You’ll find the fly lines’ classifications as abbreviations. These include;

  • F – Floating 
  • F/I – Floating intermediate
  • I – Intermediate
  • S – Sinking 

Floating Fly Lines

Floating lines are ideal when you’re fishing in shallow saltwater. The floating line allows your fly to stay higher in the water column, land softer when making a presentation, and re-cast the line easier.

A floating line can still be used to fish the bottom in shallower water. This can be achieved by using a weighted fly or a fluorocarbon leader which will have a faster sink rate.

Intermediate Fly Lines

These lines are ideal when you are fishing in a place with currents. The water current will quickly push a floating line back to shore. At the same time, a sinking line may sink too low under the waves, making the intermediate line best for beach fishing. 

Intermediate lines are great for species who eat in the middle of the water column or when you need the fly to drop quickly towards the bottom.

Sinking Fly Lines

The best place to use sinking fly lines is when you are trying to get your fly deep. Sinking lines are the best fly lines to use if you are dredging flies through deep water columns such as 15 feet or more.

the material of the fly line is important

Fly Line’s Material

When choosing a saltwater fly line, you need to consider the fly line material. Fly lines usually comprise a core and an outer coating. Some manufacturers use polyvinyl chloride (PVC), while others use polymer. The manufacturers use the coatings to make great casting lines. 

The coatings are made to help the line float or sink; some add plasticizers to lubricate and allow the line to shoot well or keep the line elastic. Some of them are braided while others are not. Braided fly lines are best for saltwater as they do not stretch and they do not retain memory. 

The Taper

The taper is another component you need to consider, which many people often overlook. Tapers are mainly specified as redfish or bonefish lines, which refers to the length of the belly, head, and weight. 

The differences in the taper can affect the performance of the fly line. Using weight-forward taper fly lines for saltwater fly lines is better than the double taper. 

Most fly line packages have labels showing the breakdown of the:

  • Front taper
  • Rear taper
  • Belly
  • Running line

The labels help you assess which line is best for your rod. Therefore, choosing the wrong taper may give you the same inadequacies as selecting an unsuitable rod. 

Rod and Reel

When selecting the best saltwater fly line, you must match the line weight to the reel weight to get the best balance and accuracy. Additionally, the fly line should be compatible with your fishing rod. For instance, a saltwater fly line best matches a specifically designed saltwater fishing rod.

Size of the Fish and Fly

It’s also vital to consider the size of the fish and the fly when shopping for a saltwater fly line. Saltwater fish like tarpon are generally larger than freshwater fish. Therefore, selecting the ideal fly line allows you to catch your preferred (or targeted) fish species.

Casting Distance

The distance you need to cast is also vital in saltwater fly fishing. For starters, long-distance casting is imperative in saltwater fly fishing. However, getting the most suitable fly line that meets your needs is preferable. And in most cases, the heaviest fly lines don’t necessarily go the distance. The shorter the fly line head, the easier it is to make quick casts, but for long distance casts, it is preferred to have a longer fly line head.

Fly Line Color

The saltwater fly line’s color may not seem like a vital factor to consider when buying a fly line. However, this underestimated element may be a factor since colored lines tend to spook the fish. 

Clear lines are advantageous since the fish will not see them and won’t swim away. The only downside of using clear lines is that you may not see them in the water, which makes it difficult to know where your fly is.

line color is also important

Final Thoughts

Saltwater fly lines are essential gear when going saltwater fly fishing. Saltwater fish species are bigger and faster. So, you’ll need heavyweight rods, as the distances are longer and conditions more challenging than in fresh waters. Therefore, you require proper saltwater fly lines for a good catch. 

Using the right saltwater fly line improves your casting distance and accuracy significantly. It also helps reduce wind resistance when casting your line. So, it’s best to consider the factors highlighted in this article when looking for a fly line to identify the best one for your saltwater fly fishing needs.