Quick cure for a noisy fly-line

Q: I have an Airflo Forty-Plus floating line that is very noisy going through the rod eyes both when retrieving and on casting. It’s like a grating, scraping rough sound and very noticeable. It’s not the rod because other lines used on it are fine. Should I discard this line?

Robert Clelland


When you first start to cast, your rod rings and your fly-line will be dry. This will mean more resistance as your fly-line is cast through the rod rings, and is often noticeable to the angler as a scraping sound (like metal across glass).

It makes the line more difficult to cast but usually, after eight or nine casts the rod rings and the line will be wet so it will be well lubricated and the noise reduced. You can prevent this noise by dipping your rod (all the way to the bottom ring) in the water just before you make your first cast.

It would also be a good idea to give your line a clean and treatment – this will make the line more slick, improve floatability and reduce friction. I definitely wouldn’t discard the line as the Forty-Plus range offers great performance, especially for a bank angler. Unless you have grit or sand on the line it won’t damage your rod.

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Which leader is best for dry flies?

Q: When dry fly fishing should I use a fluorocarbon, monofilament, or another type of material as a leader? Is the line meant to sink or float? When it sinks, the fly seems to be sinking as well, even if I use a bit of ‘Gink’. I want to fish the dry fly right on the top without disturbing any fish with the flash in the line. How can I do this in both fast flowing rivers and calm lakes?

Gruffudd Edwards


Firstly, a point of clarification. ‘Monofilament’ is a generic term meaning singular fibre/strand. Therefore monofilament is not a material as such, but an expression that applies to all nylons, copolymers and fluorocarbons. Listed below are the aforementioned monofilaments with their properties and some pros and cons.

Copolymer: Copolymers tend to be much finer in diameter than nylon. With a degree of stretch, copolymer materials are also very limp and supple which allows smaller, delicate flies to behave naturally. This makes them the ideal choice for many dry fly situations on rivers and lakes. Do bear in mind it will readily float, so if you prefer the tippet to be submerged then some form of sinkant will be required.

Fluorocarbon: Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), better known to anglers as ‘fluorocarbon’, shares the same low diameter characteristics as copolymer. With a similar refractive index as water, it is also rendered virtually invisible when submerged.

However, fluorocarbons tend to have a harder surface and while this makes them abrasion and impact resistant against the pin-sharp teeth of trout, it renders this monofilament relatively stiff in comparison to copolymers.

Being denser, fluorocarbon sinks more readily than both nylon and copolymers and therefore can swamp more delicate flies.

Nylon: For a given breaking strain, nylon tends to be thicker than both copolymer and fluorocarbon. That said, it possesses excellent knot strength and a degree of stretch, which means unpicked wind knots are easily ironed out, so little kinking occurs afterwards. Nylon is also very abrasion resistant and usually has a matt finish, reducing the odds of flash.

Being that bit stiffer, nylon is ideal for forming dropper legs and remains the first choice for many lake fishers using larger bushy patterns like Mayflies, deer hair Sedges and Hoppers. Unfortunately, nylon will deteriorate through exposure to UV light and therefore can weaken in time. Be sure then to check spools regularly and replace where necessary.

Application of monofilaments: For general use, copolymer has many benefits when dry fly fishing, both on rivers and lakes. Where fast water occurs on rivers, a leader/tippet of copolymer floats and therefore prevents dragging and drowning dry flies.

Don’t fret about this being visible to fish as broken water creates a confusion of creases and seams at the surface that ultimately disguise any leader indentations. In fact, in really heavy, boisterous currents you can promote a floating leader by applying Mucilin or floatant.

On smooth pools, or during a flat calm on stillwater, a floating leader can betray its presence. It’s made worse too as increased surface tension can prevent untreated monofilaments from breaking through the film. For searching water when fan casting then fluorocarbons have a role as they tend to sink readily.

Remember, when prospecting with dries your flies may only be on the water for 10 seconds, before being lifted off to be presented elsewhere. This is hardly time for a fluorocarbon leader to pull any flies subsurface, so there’s little chance of them becoming swamped.

However, as mentioned in your question, if you plan to sit a fly on the surface for some time then try a copolymer/nylon tapered leader with a tippet length only of fluorocarbon. Now you can grease the nylon section to help it float, allowing the fluorocarbon tippet to sink.

Don’t worry about this dragging your fly underwater, as it’s only a short length (see diagram right). With regards to joining different types of monofilaments, this is possible so long as you use a double grinner knot (see diagram below).

Although surrounding the opposing monofilament, two barrel type knots are actually formed around their own material before being snugged up to one another. This secure junction also acts as a barrier, preventing Mucilin from being transferred onto the tippet section and therefore robbing it of any sinking properties.

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