Fly Fishing Equipment, Fly Fishing Tackle


Fly Fishing Equipment




Cortland Fly Line Specs


Cortland Fly Line Specification

Choosing a Cortland Line Cortland Fly Line Specs Choosing SA  Fly Lines Scientific Angler Specs



When discussing fly line configurations, there are certain terms used. Fly lines embody two materials: the core and the coating. All of our fly lines have a core of braided nylon, braided monofilament or single strange of  monofilament. Cortland Line Company is the only fly line company that manufactures its own fly line cores. 

The core is coated with a PVC in which we impart the taper design. Within the PVC we add hollow glass microspheres (floating) or various density compensating additives (sinking). Variations in the amount of additives used account for some of the differences in the characteristics of our lines, i.e. higher float or faster sink.

Anatomy of a Fly Line

Taper Design

The shape of the line determines the fly line's performance. It's this shape - or taper - that determines how energy is transmitted and dissipated during casting. By varying the lengths and diameters of the various parts of the fly line, we are able to produce fly lines with accentuated performance characteristics for specific types of fly fishing.


TIP: The leader connects to the tip, which is thin and short (usually six to twelve inches). BODY: Most weight is concentrated in this section. It's the longest section of the head and has the largest diameter. Its weight is what carries your cast.
FRONT TAPER: The front taper decreases in diameter from the body to the tip. This gradual change in the line's mass (weight) effects how your casting energy is transferred to the fly and how delicately or powerfully the fly is delivered. REAR TAPER: This section decreases in diameter from the thicker body to the thin running line. This gradual change provides casting smoothness on casts beyond 30 feet. RUNNING LINE: When you make a long cast, the weight and energy in the head pulls the running line out through the guides. Being lightweight and small in diameter, it passes through the guides easily on long casts. 


At one time, taper designs consisted only of a very basic double taper or weight forward design. Levels lines were used, but with virtually no casting characteristics. Nowadays they are used almost exclusively for trolling. As fly fishing has gained popularity it has broadened its base to well beyond trout and salmon fishing. Technical improvements in rods, terminal tackle and flies brought a great variety of fresh water and salt water taper designs. Each design is meant for a range of specific fishing situations.


DT Double Taper ST Shooting Taper
WF Weight Forward S Sinking
F/S Sinking Tip L Level
I Intermediate    



TIP       FRONT TAPER                   BODY                      BACK TAPER                                         RUNNING LINE

Specially designed weight forward line with long front taper for delicate presentation. Weight distribution of body section allows extra distance.


TIP       FRONT TAPER                                          BODY                                                                               BACK TAPER

The double taper is a reversible fly line with an identical taper at both ends. A double taper line is easy to mend.


TIP       FRONT TAPER                   BODY                      BACK TAPER                                         RUNNING LINE

Weight forward line with short front taper to "turn over" heavier, wind resistant cork and hair body bugs. The most practical choice for bass bugs.


TIP       FRONT TAPER                   BODY                      BACK TAPER                                         RUNNING LINE

Weight forward line for casting larger flies during windy condition. Small diameter running line feeds through rod guides with less frictional resistance.


TIP       FRONT TAPERS                   BODY                      BACK TAPER                                         RUNNING LINE

Weight forward design that has a compound taper allows easier casts into the wind.


                    BODY                                                 BACK TAPER                                         RUNNING LINE

Weight forward design that combines a 24 foot sinking head with a six fee rear floating section. Allows mending of line


TIP       FRONT TAPER                   BODY                      LOOP

Specialized for long distance casting. It is a 30' or 40' head with a factory spliced loop for attaching monofilament or running line.


No tapers or belly. Used for delicate fly presentation or when long casts are not essential.

TIP       FRONT TAPER                   BODY                      BACK TAPER                                         RUNNING LINE

Extended tips for pinpoint accuracy and most delicate presentation.


Fish take a majority of their food below the surface. Full sinking and sink tip lines are often the only way to get the fly to where the fish are feeding.

Eventually all sinking lines reach the same depth. However, the speed in which the line reaches the various depths is often the deciding factor in whether or not fish are being caught.

The following chart gives the sink rate for each type of sinking line. variations within each rate are due to the different line sizes themselves. I.e. a 10 weight type 6 is a bit faster than a 6 weight type 6. 



1 slow (intermediate) 1 1/4 - 1 3/4 ips
2 fast 2 1/2 - 3 ips
3 extra fast 3 1/2 - 4 ips
4 super sinker 4 1/4 - 5 ips
5 super fast 5 1/4 - 6 ips
6 extra super sinker 6 1/4 - 7 ips

AFTMA Fly Line Standards

Weight Size (grains) Tolerance

AFTMA (the former American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association- now the ASA- American Sportfishing Association) Fly Line Standards were developed to help fly fishing tackle manufacturers create a system that would match fly line weight to fly rod performance. Cortland Line Company’s Leon Chandler was instrumental in initiating and completing the project. In theory this would standardize fly tackle manufacturing across the industry and enable fly fishers to select and balance their equipment for optimum performance.

The system uses the weight in grains (a very small weight measure) of the first 30 feet of fly line as a standard. The table below shows fly line weight designations and their grain weight. The system also established a tolerance level that is acceptable.

1 60 54-66
2 80 74-86
3 100 94-106
4 120 114-126
5 140 134-146
6 160 152-168
7 185 177-193
8 210 202-218
9 240 230-250
10 280 270-290
11 330 318-342
12 380 368-392


For each weight heavier than 12, add 50 grains to the previous weight.


The line designations are indicated on the front and bottom of Cortland's packages as in this example:
WF6S means weight-forward, 6-weight, sinking line. Another example: DT11F means double-taper, 11-weight, floating line.
The length of the line is given (in this case 30 yards). The label also includes sink rate information. Example line is a Type 2, Fast.


At Cortland, we build our fly lines to provide you with many hours of trouble free use, but it is your responsibility to extend the life of the fly line, and maintain proper performance through routine care.
Avoid excessive heat exposure to the lines by keeping your reels out of direct sunlight. Avoid car dashboards or rear window ledges when transporting. Clean and dry fly line and backing before storing.
Also, use Cortland XL Cleaner before and after each outing to ensure maximum performance and longer lasting lines.
Sharp objects such as roughened reel surfaces and worn fly rod guides will quickly destroy your fly line. Replace defective reels and rod guides as soon as possible.
DO NOT expose lines to petroleum based products or insect repellents. Many of the chemicals found in a variety of outdoor related products are very harmful to your line finish.


Install the backing first.
Most fly fishers fill the spool of the reel with as much backing as possible to allow them to retrieve faster and to reduce line memory. Thereby the line is less likely to tangle.
Read the reel capacity chart to determine the amount of backing needed for the reel.
Find and loosen the end of the backing. Remove a few feet of line from the spool. Run the tag end through the front of the reel, around the spool, and out again. Tie a simple overhand slipknot in the tag end, then a single overhand knot, tighten and trim it. This tag end will be tied to the reel with an arbor knot.
The backing should be installed by pulling it off a revolving spool. If the spool is laid flat on the ground and the backing coiled off (as when filling an open-faced spinning reel), it will twist and become tangled.
Place a bunt pencil through the center of the spool of backing, so that the spool will rotate around the pencil
Place pencil between your knees. With the end of the backing tied to the reel, reel the backing onto the reel from the backing spool preferably through your fingers to apply tension while loading the line and to load the backing evenly onto the reel. Stop when enough backing is on the reel.

Spooling fly line
Open the coil pack holding the fly line by twisting and carefully remove the fly line from the coil pack. Remove twist-ties from the line and replace it on coil pack. DO NOT place the line on the floor, because it will cause the line to twist or become entangled. Put the coil pack back together, leaving approximately a foot of line outside the coil pack. Tie the tagged end of the fly line to the backing using an Albright knot.
Insert a blunt pencil through the hole in the center of the coil pack, so that the pack will freely rotate around the pencil.
Place pencil between your knees and spool line slowly onto your reel. Guide line trough your fingers to apply tension and to load the line evenly onto the reel. The fly line should be fully loaded except 4 or 5 feet.
Attach the butt (thick end) of your leader to the end of your fly line using a nail knot.


 Choosing a Cortland Line Cortland Fly Line Specs Choosing SA  Fly Lines Scientific Angler Specs