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Favorite Trout Fly Lines 2024

Favorite Trout Fly Lines 2024

We have been busy at work testing all of the new lines, rods, reels and more.  

Lets start with the fly line basics.  The two major brands are Scientific Anglers and RIO.  These two brands make up 95%+ of our line sales and for good reason.  Both make quality lines in a variety of styles.  Matching a nice line to your rod is the best way to improve your situation.  It has saved many anglers hundreds of dollars.  Many folks give up on a rod because they don't have a nice line matched with it.  Remember, a shiny new sports car will drive like sh!t if you have the wrong tires on it, and your rod will cast poorly if you don't match the right line to it.

RIO and S/A are not the only game in town.  Airflo, Cortland and a few others make good quality fly lines.  These secondary brands do account for some sales, but overall the percentage is so small that we don't tend to reach for those brands unless folks ask specifically for them.

RIO or S/A?

Its like Ford v Chevy.  Its all  about personal preference.  Both RIO and S/A of them make great lines.  I find S/A lines to be more durable with a harder exterior, while RIO lines tend to be more supple and soft to handle.  They both cast well.  I typically choose an S/A line when I need one, but there are plenty of RIO lines (and a few Airflo lines) in my office. 


Both RIO and S/A make their lines in different "tiers" or platforms.  Both RIO and S/A top out at $129 for their premium lines.  In both versions, the $129 line offers some texture, a stiffer, more durable coating, and 3 colors to help you know when and where to pick up and start your cast.

They also both offer most of their lines in a $99 version, and S/A makes many of their lines in a $79 version.  Both brands make more affordable lines than $79, but you do start losing features that are helpful once you drop below the "Mastery" $79 level with S/A and the "Premier" $99 level with RIO.  We highly recommend going with a $79 fly line as that is where the performance level is peaking.  More money equals more features, but less money equals lower performance with fly lines...

Purchase the line that will fit your budget.  The $129 lines are great, but if you are selecting a less expensive rod just because you want to put extra money into the line, then please think again.  Put the money into the rod first, then get the best line you can with whatever money is left.  The $79 Mastery series lines are more than adequate if that's what you can afford.

Matching a line to the rod

I think of a fly line like a set of nice tires.  While you can use different types of tires on your car, there are some that will perform better than others.  You don't need mud tires on your sports car and you don't need racing tires on your jeep. Matching the rod with the line will get you the best performance and maximize the usefulness of your rod.  Also, like tires, the do need to be rotated and replaced more often that you want.


We tend to describe lines in terms of how "aggressive" they are.  How much weight is piled into the front of the line?  Heavier, shorter lines are more aggressive than longer, more gently-weighted lines. More aggressive usually means less accuracy, more spooking of fish...  Your perfect trout line will be a balance.  Fast rods cast more aggressive lines better than slower rods.  Matching the line to the rod, your casting style and your fishing style will result in more pleasurable experiences. 

Our favorite 2024 trout lines.  We will only discuss the taper design.  Choose the series that fits your budget.  The taper design is what really makes a line cast well or poorly.

All Around:  

1.  Scientific Anglers Infinity Taper:  Whether you choose the top-end Amplitude Textured, the mid-priced Amplitude Smooth or the basic Mastery Infinity, this taper is really fantastic as an all-around nice trout line.  It handles dries and nymphs well, and it casts well on a variety of rods, especially medium-fast rods that are so prevalent in the market.  If I only had one line for trout fishing, it would be the Amplitude Textured Infinity.

2.  RIO Gold:  Still fantastic after all these years!  This is my preferred line for casting lessons.  It practically casts itself.  It has more weight up front than the Infinity, this line will throw nymph rigs more easily.  It roll casts really well and is my preferred line for lake fishing as it is really nice and accurate at longer distances.  It is available in the "Premier" $99 level as well as the "Elite" $129 level. 

Best for Beginners

1.  Scientific Anglers MPX:  Beginners are still our bread n butter.  We sell tons of combos that are someone's first, and its what we like to do.  We have found over many years that the Scientific Anglers Mastery MPX is often the best line for newbies.  It has a bit of extra weight (more aggressive), which gives the angler a bit more load on the rod, which in turn helps the angler perfect their cast.  While its a bit "splatty" with dry flies, its not difficult at all manage, and that should not stop you from choosing it.  It can still be delicate and accurate, it just needs to be slowed down for those situations. The MPX excels with nymph rigs, short casts and providing the caster with good feedback to make the next cast better.

2.  RIO Gold:  Like I said above, this is my preferred line for casting lessons.  It has a nice bit of weight in the front, but it offers more control over long distances due to a longer back taper.  Very easy to cast, this line will improve your cast if that is what you are looking for.

 Best for Dry Flies

  1.  Scientific Anglers Trout Taper:  Our overall favorite line to cast in the parking lot.  This thing sings!  It does struggle a little with nymphing, wind, larger flies and faster rods.  While we say struggle, it mostly just doesn't do it as well as other lines.  I have this line on my main trout reel and use it for most of my trout fishing.  If you are looking for a line that will provide good accuracy for dry fly fishing with a nice and easy cast, this is a great choice.  If you are an advanced caster and want a line that will excel at dry fly fishing, then here it is!

2.  RIO Technical Trout:  A fantastic choice for throwing dry flies.  Its less of an "all around" line than the S/A Trout Taper.  While you can definitely throw nymphs, it really just does OK with them.  It does however, throw a dry fly onto a dime at 30'.  Deadly accurate, very fun to cast.  Not recommended for fast action rods.  


Best for Nymph Rigs

1.  RIO Elite Indicator - If you find yourself casting a big indicator, a couple of split shot and some big stonefly nymphs, this is the line you want.  It is not a pretty line to cast; its heavy and splashy and sorta awkward, but it will roll cast a huge indicator rig with ease. Its got a lot of weight over a long area.  It is clunky, but you can easily mend an indicator rig that is 40' from you.

2.  Scientific Anglers Andadro Nymph -It does a great job with streamers too.  This is my preferred line for Alaska.  It throws everything from Mice to Dolly Llamas to indicator rigs.  I use it around here for fishing poppers for bass as well.  Its very heavy, so it will bog down some rods and does not throw dries very well, but that's not why you are looking at a nymph line.

 Best for Glass/Bamboo Rods

1.  Scientific Anglers Mastery Double Taper - There is nothing like a nice double taper line.  If you have a glass rod, but haven't tried a double taper line on it, you are missing out.  They go together like macaroni and cheese.  

2.  Cortland 444 Sylk - The only Cortland line to make the list, we prefer this line when casting slower rods like the Douglas Upstream or Echo River Glass.  Its really a nice choice, seriously, its a nice line.  Try it out, you won't be disappointed. 

Best for short Casts/Creek fishing

Is your local river only 20 feet across?  Then you might not want or need a line that lays out nice long casts.  Here are a couple of lines that are perfect for small streams.

1.  RIO Perception - This is a great line if you fish dry flies on small streams.  Its meant for short presentations, and it does a good job.   Definitely better with smaller flies and accurate casts, its better for small spring creeks and slower streams. 

2.  Scientific Anglers Amplitude Smooth Creek - Similar to the Perception only in that you are using this while fishing small water.  This line casts bigger patterns well like hoppers and stoneflies. Its better in fast, boulder-strewn streams where you might be making several quick short casts as opposed to one long cast that needs the upmost accuracy and delicacy.  Perfect for canyons, also very similar to the RIO Creek line.  I honestly have not fished them side by side, but they both serve the same purpose. 


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