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     Modified Gray’s Loop


A question was asked about caring for fly lines that had been stored on a fly reel and ended up coiled when it came off.

Clean the lines (they probably need it, anyway) in hot (tap hot, not boiling), mild soapy water.  Give them a good rub down with a soft dry cloth and hang them up in loose loops for a while.  If you can, loose coils (say 8 to 10 inches in diameter) is the best way to store a line if you aren't planning to fish it for a while.  However, this process lends itself to a certain amount of frustrating inertia when you are trying to get a quick start to go fishing!  (Jason Swan)

PS:  Make sure to mark the proximal end when you take it off your reel (if you use a WF line) or you could mess up your cast.  And, go slow when you rewind the line,  or you could get some major snarls.  I usually string the thing around my house, then follow it along as I reel it in.

I have, in the past, stretched a line that had bad coils in it, between trees in the back yard.  The sun will heat it as it stays slightly stretched and it will get most of the tight coils out of the line... only problem is that this time of year, the sun generally doesn't help much in the cool fall air.  Never tried it this time of year, but it may be worth a try.  (Bob Nunley)

I just stretch them and have no problems. (Bret Reiter)

This is one of those things that I don't think twice about, but for someone who doesn't know to do it, I guess it could be a valuable tip....  The way I do it is to strip out the first 30 feet of fly line and string up the rod.  Pull all 30 feet of line out the tip top, and then starting with my hands almost all the way apart, grip the line and pull your arms all the way apart.  This will straighten about 6 feet of line.  Work your way down the line to straighten all 30 feet.  Then I cast the line to straighten the 30' in front of me.  Strip another 8 to 10 feet off the reel.  Let the loop hang down and put your foot in the loop.  Pull up against the bottom of your foot with pretty good force.  Cast this out in front again.  Keep stripping and pulling against your foot until you have enough to fish.  Works great, and I do it virtually every time I cast or fish.  If you are using one of the high memory saltwater lines, it is a must, or you'll fight the tight coils all day and will not be able to shoot line without making a mess.

Note -- When I am using my carbide cleated felt soles, I don't pull against my foot.  I just keep doing the "hands apart" method.  (Troy Miller)


It seems as if silk lines were primarily used with rods from the Golden Era, and makers of this era would have designed their rods to cast/fish these lines.  My question is, how much different are the old silk lines compared to the modern plastic coated lines of today?  What’s the difference in feel, or fishability?  If there is a noticeable difference, how would you modify a rod’s action, or taper, to account for this difference?  (Kyle Druey)

    I have a few silk lines that I fish whenever possible.  I'm really happy with the way they perform on my cane rods.  As far as I'm concerned, there's no comparison between silk and plastic.  The silk lines go through the guides like a scalded dog compared to the PVC lines of the same "weight".  While I don't have any older (silk) lines, I would recommend getting your hands on one.  If you can't, you won't be disappointed with a new one, even at the rather hefty price tag of modern silk these days.  I believe there are two brands available, Thiebault and Phoenix.  I have both and they cast and fish about the same.  I haven't noticed any appreciable differences in the two other than appearance and the dressing used to treat each respective brand. 

    Anyway...  Give them a try.  I think you'll like the results.  (Dennis Haftel)

      Dennis, You bring up another good question!!!!  I have some old refinished silk lines that I use also. But tell me, what are the subtle differences in line coatings on the 2 brands of new lines that you mentioned? Just curious. I would like to buy a new line myself sometime soon.  (Randall Gregory)

        I don't really know.  I only know that they're a marked improvement over their AFTMA vinyl substitutes (ala Cortland and SA).  If you were to ask me (and you did), I'd tell you to buy the silk regardless of the brand name.  In other words, I think they're both worth trying, and haven't found any appreciable differences in either one.  But isn't that the beauty of what we do?  I have both lines (Phoenix and Thiebault, that is) and think they have few discernible differences, if any, other than cosmetics.  If you're a Chanel fashion flyfishing model (is there such a thing?) you might have a preference.  I don't.  [;-)]  (Dennis Haftel)

        Randall, take a look at the article by Reed Curry. An excerpt regarding what I think you mean when you say coatings (dressings?):

        ... I've found only two manufacturers, both in France - Phoenix and Thiebault. In comparing them, there are several marked differences. The Thiebault lines appear to be translucent, indicating a saturation with an oil, such as was common to old silk lines, whereas the Phoenix has greater opacity, a waxy look. In color both might be considered a shade of pale gold, the Thiebault only slightly darker; but the Thiebault has a slight mottling indicative of some hand work, the Phoenix is completely even in tone.

        The tips of both the Thiebault and Phoenix, in light line weights, are .024", certainly a lot more delicate than PVC lines. The Thiebault line comes with several ounces of a proprietary dressing in a tin container (several seasons worth), the Phoenix comes with a ""tin" (plastic) of the red Mucilin (good for half a season).

        The Thiebault will require some breaking in to take the initial stiffness out, not so the Phoenix. The Phoenix appears to be a more polished product overall, but at a higher price. A new DT4 made by Phoenix runs $180-$250 depending on the US distributor and delivery can be a problem. Thiebault has more modest prices and a greater range, offering 1/2 double tapers, as well as DT and WF.

        I have the Thiebault (from Olaf, which is also I think where Dennis got his) and am very happy with it. Dennis' "scalded dog" analogy is a good description, silk really shoots (probably causes more wear too, but I think it's worth it, there was a thread on this I believe). I think Olaf told me that once I properly coat the Thiebault with the proprietary dressing, I can switch to the red Mucilin (make SURE it's the red, NOT green), but I will just use up what I have of the original stuff. The green has silicone.  BAD for cane and any future revarnishing from what I hear.  (Andy Harsanyi)


I've tried most lines on my cane rods (except the latest Cortland 555 or AirFlo's) and none really seem to float particularly well.  The plastic line I like the most for casting is the Rio Long cast.  It has an nice long taper but still acts like Weight Forward.  I guess it's kind of a cross between a Triangle Taper and the more abrupt SA weight Forwards.   I do, however, intend to try the Cortland 555 and the AirFlo's when I get the chance.  (Bob Amundson)


I have a question that's a bit off topic (only a bit!)

Can someone explain to me the characteristics that make a silk line different from a modern plastic line?

As far as I can make out so far:

  • Silk lines are thinner
  • Silk lines are more dense (for equal size)
  • Silk lines are more supple
  • Silk lines sink unless dressed

Someone told me a silk fly line is like using a modern intermediate that is more supple and floats.  I don't know if this is right  [;-)]

A friend of mine has some contacts in the fly line industry and is talking about developing a modern line with the Characteristics of silk lines - specifically for use on bamboo rods! Sounds good if it can be done, but we need a hand.  (Nick Kingston)

    You need to use a silk line to understand why (a lot of but not all) people like them. Being denser they just feel better to cast and cut through the air better because of the thinner cross section.  They tend to be more positive during the cast too. The line feels like it moves faster and loads better as a result IMHO. A little like the behavior of a sinking line.

    What isn't nice about them is having to dry and dress them at the end of the day. If you're based from home or are set up for it it's no big deal but traveling with one is a hassle unless you just enjoy messing with kit and some do.  Something I noticed when I used one at Grayling at night during the hex hatches which is the only place I ever fished at night very much before is you can judge distance pretty well by listening to the line. When it starts to slow down through the guides you know it's about to be on the water. I know you can do that anyhow with a plastic line but it's much easier with silk.

    Basically it's like pornography. You know it when you see it but can't really describe it without also describing art. Silk and plastic lines are like that.

    As far as making a plastic line that behaves like silk you'd need to find something like lead for the core to make it dense but also make it float without making it too bulky. Tricky.  (Tony Young)

    I would add several other differences:

    • Silk lines do not have memory (no stretching is necessary before use)
    • Silk lines have little stretch (better hook sets and more authoritative casting... unless I'm casting)

As for the comparison to a PVC intermediate, the silk is also an intermediate and both require dressing to float. The PVC line has only a similar diameter to silk (though not as fine in the tip), no other positive characteristics in common, IMO.  (Reed Curry)

I have tried the Cortland Peach 444SL and the now discontinued McKenzie. I felt they were each OK, until I tried the Phoenix silk line I bought from J. D. Wagner.  It really  livened up my Orvis Far & Fine 5 wt! Loops are now tight and neat, distance is greater with less effort!

I am willing to put up with the additional maintenance, it is far outweighed by the improved casting performance (my flawed style needs all the help it can get!  (Eric Barksdale)

      I do a lot of serious navel gazing myself you know. Something I've come to believe is the whole fly fishing scene has been attempting to return to what everybody was using in the 50's. That being in EFFECT the balance of bamboo and silk lines but using synthetic materials.

      Bamboo rods pretty much got as good as they ever can in the days of Dickerson etc. There are hundreds of tapers but you can pretty much say there can be nothing new in taper development. There would be lost classics but there are enough with us to say they can't be improved upon in any meaningful way.  Silk was the line used back then so the rods were tuned for silk. The silk lines were tuned for bamboo rods. They feel like they were made for each other because they were made for each other.

      Synthetic rods arrive. The early glass rods were slow and lots were pretty nice to use so silk was still good but expensive.  Rods get faster mainly because most glass rods were possibly too slow.  Plastic lines become the only viable lines but they are bulky so slow rods are heavy weather so faster rods become popular to speed the line up.

      Graphite and boron arrive for salt use but as they really make lines zip they become the way to go for all rods.  The lines are still bulky and the rods have become about as fast as they can without causing too much tennis elbow in users.  So we've basically developed bamboo rods to cast silk in a relaxed manner and graphite rods to cast plastic in a brutal manner. Art or porn, take your pick.

      Both seem to have reached their apogee and all there is to making a break through is the use of new materials or ideas. A synthetic line that casts like silk would be ideal.  (Tony Young)


I was away in southern Oregon this past weekend and found a DT silk fly line on an old automatic reel.  It is really soft and in good shape, but I not sure what weight it is.  How do I figure out the weight of this line?  (Tim Stoltz)

    This might help.

    Line Diameters

    A  .060
    B  .055
    C  .050
    D  .045
    E  .040
    F  .035
    G  .030
    H  .025
    I   .022

    Then you can use this to convert to "normal" line nos.

                                                Letter Designation
    Line Size   AFTMA Line Weight  DT               WF

    No. 1               60                  NA               NA        
    No. 2               80                  NA               NA
    No. 3              100                 IFI               IFG
    No. 4              120                 HFH             HFG
    No. 5              140                 HEH             HEG
    No. 6              160                 HDH             HDG
    No. 7              185                 HCH             HCF
    No. 8              210                 GBG             GBF
    No. 9              240                 GAG             GAF
    No. 10            280                 G2AG            G2AF
    No. 11            330                 G3AG            G3AF
    No. 12            380                 G4AG            G4AF  (Art Port)

    The only way you can tell the weight of a silk line is to weigh the first 30 feet. Different finishing processes, different braiding patterns, whether or not the first level 6 feet has been cut back or not, etc. all make a difference. The AFTMA chart goes by weight. An unknown line has to be weighed. Nowadays it does you no good to know that your line is a HDH or whatever. The diameter of a silk line does not consistently translate into the modern line rating weights.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      Is that first 30' measured with the front taper or without it?  I've heard both and it will make quite a bit of difference when you're talking about such fine increments of weight.  (Bob Nunley)

        AFTMA charts say the weight of the first 30 feet. I don't see anything in the specs that say without the front taper.  But, if you think about it, it's the weight of line that a fly rod can handle. Why would you subtract any part of the first 30 feet when the rod has to handle the weight of all of it?  (Darryl Hayashida)

          The standard is the first 30' --- not including any level tip section. So you must find the beginning of the taper then measure 30' and weigh only that portion, supporting the level tip and the balance of the line. Why not measure the level tip (which might be 2'-12' depending on the manufacturer), I don't know, perhaps Leon Chandler remembers, he was in the standards committee in 1961.  (Reed Curry)

            Perhaps the level tip was meant to be trimmed away? All of my silk lines I got used, and none of them have level tips.  (Darryl Hayashida)


I have been thinking lately about which plastic lines are most effective with our cane rods.  The three I have tried are the Cortland Peach, SA Ultra, and the Rio Windcutter.  To me, the Rio lines are much more supple and smooth than the other two, they use a special coating that they call slick shooter.

I would be interested to hear other opinions on what plastic lines you like with your cane rods and why.  (Kyle Druey)

    I like the SA. XPS line because of it's long forward taper.  (Timothy Troester)

    The nicest line I've used on bamboo is marketed under the Hardy brand. It's called their Ice Blue line. I forget who actually makes them but these are quite supple without being floppy and cast and shoot pretty well.

    Not overly expensive lines from memory.  (Tony Young)

      I have a collector friend that has several PVC, or something coated silk lines. they are very supple and more resistant to soaking up water. I really like these lines but they have not been made in years I guess.  (Timothy Troester)

      The ice blue line is marketed in the UK as their 'Dry Fly Line' and is made as are all Hardy lines by.......Scientific Anglers. (Paul Blakley)

    This may sound strange, but a the Metolious bamboo event I had several people ask about the line I had on my 6 weight because they really like it.  I sheepishly replied that it was a SA air cell that I dyed gray.  I might have to pick up some more of those lines.  (Tim Stoltz)

    My favorite lines with cane are in order and all DT: Orvis High Flote (I believe now discontinued in DT), Orvis Wonderline, Cortland 444 Peach. The rest I am not crazy about. I tried them all including silk.  (Marty DeSapio)

      I agree with Marty, I love the Orvis HyFlote Double Tapers, too bad they were discontinued (still have some NIB that I was able to find in some Orvis shops and fly fishing shows).  (Bob Williams)

    I have been using the Wulff Triangle Tapers for a few years now and they seem to cast on Bamboo nicely, I don't find they float very well though.  (Shawn Pineo)

    I like Windcutters a lot on my cane. TT are nice as well. (Of course I like my silks, but I am not always up for the hassle of them).  (Bob Maulucci)


What do you clean your silk lines with if sticky? And, if you have an enameled line, what do you strip the enamel with to clean it up nicely?  (Jerry Andrews)

    From time to time I find an old braided fly line on a $.50 reel that is so sticky it will hardly strip off the reel. At this point I find it difficult to tell whether the line is silk or nylon. The only thing that I've found that will strip the old finish off is a good soaking in acetone. I figure, I've got near nothing invested in the line, so if it falls apart, I've not lost much and the line would not have been salvageable anyway. After soaking over night it should be 'stripped' out into a paper bag, through a clean rag (wear gloves) and maybe return it to the acetone for another soak. Once I'm satisfied that it is 'clean', I string it up to dry.  Then, when dry, soak it again in scotch guard and allow to dry.  Then 'strip on' 2 thin coats of QUALITY spar, allowing 2 weeks drying time between coats. I know, I will probably get a lot of flack about the use of acetone on old fly lines, but I have thick skin, and it works for me. (Don Greife)

      Acetone will do the job, but it takes time and is not as kind to the skin as some other chemicals. But one can't argue with success. On the other hand, I've found that soaking a line (on or off the reel) in a gallon of warm (e.g., a hot bath) water with 1/3 box of baking soda mixed in, strips a line quickly (30 minutes) and thoroughly.  (Reed Curry)

        That's a new one for me.  You can bet that my next attempt will be with a "hot, thick baking soda bath. Has to be a lot easier to do than acetone. (Don Greife)

    One of those sonic cleaners that jewelers use to clean jewelry does the job very well. When you take it out of the bath it is really clean.  (Timothy Troester)


I have just been given (ain't I the lucky one) two old (circa 30 years plus) Kingfisher DT No 1 silk fly lines.

These lines  I kid you not  are like new,  very  very supple with a non-sticky oil dressing.  When I asked the philanthropist who gave me them how come they were in such good condition he said it was all down to out of season storage? Apparently at the end of each season he simply flooded the lines (still on the reels) with LIQUID PARAFFIN, dried off the surplus and left them there until the new season.

Have any of you 'Silk Heads' ever heard of this method before.I kid you not these lines that I have been given are like new!  (Paul Blakley)

    What it does is act as a preserver and stops the linseed oil from oxidizing to a sticky mess.  You don’t need much linseed to make a silk line work properly and it just builds up and builds up.  I would have thought that turpentine would have been better, as that is the usual solvent for linseed.  Can you get an old silk line to try this out on though! You are too close for comfort and far too helpful to annoy if it goes wrong!  (Robin Haywood)

      Mmmmmmmmmmm, perhaps one of the chemists on the list can expand on this one?

      As for turpentine I have my guess is  that it would strip off the precious coating ......come in you chemists.....(Paul Blakley)

        Of course, but I meant GENUINE turpentine, the one with the lovely smell!  I might as well add that were I in possession of silk to experiment on I should dope it with beeswax and silicone dissolved in carbon tetrachloride! Carbon Tet will also clean old silk lines like magic, but I have to be careful not to be too revolutionary!  (Robin Haywood)

    By "Paraffin" do you mean Kerosene or wax heated 'til liquid?  (Reed Curry)

      The chap who gave me the lines uses medicinal paraffin that he obtains from a chemists/pharmacy.........hope this helps.....(Paul Blakley)

        We call that "mineral oil" on this side of the pond. It comes in light and heavy...your friend probably used the heavy. I can see how that might exclude oxygen. It should also grease the reel nicely.

        Do the Kingfishers have the long front taper and a long level tip? The Phoenix use only a 4' taper and a 2' tip, so I was wondering how you like the longer taper.  (Reed Curry)

          The lines I have here have a level tip of about 5' followed by a tapered  length of about 2 'and then onto the belly of the line.  One interesting point is that the cross section of the line is square and not circular.  I checked this out with the original owner (now in his eighty sixth year and still fishing!) who has told me that Kingfisher lines that are circular in cross section date to before World War 2 and post World War 2 the cross sections became square.........all eyes are not deceiving me.........(Paul Blakley)

    It's conceivable the paraffin would exclude the air to stop any oxidation. I don't suppose it would do any harm, as Mucilin seems to have a proportion of paraffin wax in it also. I envisage he was using medicinal paraffin oil which occupies that part of the range between kerosene or lamp/sove fuel, and paraffin wax. Note this is just  conversational speculation on my part, not facts!  (Dave Kennedy) is the medicinal variety !..........(Paul Blakley)

      Paraffin is one of those annoying words that has different meanings in different parts of the world.  In the UK and Northern Asia it means kerosene as per the Optimus hiking stove labels but it's also what non beeswax candles are made of which may be the same thing in a different form minus the smell somehow?  Then again I remember as a kid there was a viscous preparation you could get for slicking hair in the days of ducktails and blue suede shoes which had paraffin in it. I remember reading the label and knowing what candles were made from made me wonder which is why I remember it.

      I wonder if there is a way of liquefying paraffin candles and keeping it liquid then removing it without ruining the line?

      Can't imagine kero being very good for line storage.  (Tony Young)

        Paraffin dissolves in paint thinner and I think also in turps. the violin shop I worked at dissolved it in paint thinner and we painted the ends of green maple and spruce to keep them from checking  (Patrick Coffey)

          Remember that paint thinner on a silk line would just about finish it.  (Jack Follweiler)

          I haven't been following this thread, so I don't know if anyone has made this suggestion.  Art Warner, who some of you may know, shared with me his line storage technique and I like it.  You find one of those tin 16 millimeter film cans -- you know, around an inch thick and 12 or 15 inches in diameter, and you dump talcum powder inside.  Loosely coil the line to fit the film tin and seal.

          Art's lines are always in good shape after storage.  I have never tried it myself, only because I have not gotten around to finding a film can.  I loosely coil my lines and drape them over a wooden hanger and put over the line one on those paper covers the cleaners puts over the shoulder portion of a blazer to keep the dust away.  (Chris Lucker)


Back in those awful years when all we had were silk lines, we were warned to do thorough drying  under pain of line rotting and getting weak.

Question: Are any of you silk line fans troubled by weakness on those very old silk lines you find on reels in  flea markets?   (Bill Fink)

    Some just fall apart with the lightest pressure.  Not sure if it was moisture or not.  (Jerry Madigan)

    Yep! bought 2 old reels with silk lines on them, the level F was fine, but the HEH was rotten.  (John Channer)

    Yes, I have gotten some lines with grayish spots or sections. If I pull on the line it breaks at the gray spots, but the good lines have outnumbered the rotten ones. I must admit I don't string my silk lines out to dry and I haven't had any problems. But then I live in a fairly dry climate.  (Darryl Hayashida)


I am restoring an old silk line using Reed Curry’s method and want to try using a furled leader on it when I am done. My question is how to best attach the two together?   (Andrew Chan)

    Try loop-to-loop but make sure both loops are really small.  (Guillermo Magari)

    I attach an 18 inch piece of Amnesia mono approximately 2/3 the diameter of the silk line to the silk with a nail knot.  I put a perfection loop in the mono and the furled leader and attach loop to loop.  Amnesia is bright orange/red and can be used as a strike indicator.  (Dennis Aebersold)

    I was told to use either a nail knot or loop to loop system.  They say the nail knot is stronger.  (Randy Tuttle)

      I personally prefer the nail knot. With a furled leader, a five turn knot is too bulky. Use a 3 turn knot, which will hold perfectly because of the multi strand nature of the leader.  (Tom Smithwick)

      I overlap the leader and line by 1/2 inch and use fly tying thread to whip the furled  leader to the line, finishing with some head cement, makes a nice small junction.  (Danny Twang)

        That sounds like a good idea Danny. does the knot sink after a while?  (Mike Canazon)

          No, I've never had problem with the junction sinking, but then I never worries if the leader sink, I even use "mud" on my tippet. As You might know, all my fishing is in spring creek like streams (meaning crystal clear), with huge, very intelligent trout only accepting ultra life like imitations perfectly presented upstream with no drag what so ever:-)))  (Danny Twang)


What would happen if I didn't take my silk lines off my reels at the "end of the season" (whenever that is), etc., etc.?  Would some pox befall my cattle, grains and family?  I haven't noticed any deterioration so far.  Am I in for a biblical surprise?  Will there be plague, locusts, blood, so on & so fifth?

Knowledge is power and I'm powerless!  (Dennis Haftel)

    So, it sounds like you didn't take the lines off the reel. :^)  A lot of guys are buying old reels to get the silk lines off them. Some of them have been good. The one I got wasn't. I think you should go fishing and see what happens. If your silk line breaks on a world record brook trout that would be like Job's worst plagues wouldn't it. Myself, I am a safety man. I wear both belt and suspenders.  (Timothy Troester)

    I have several silk lines, one new one or relatively, and some well over ten years old.   I never take them off the reel, but yer suppose to.   Just make sure they are really dry before storing, and then clean them once in awhile with turpentine.   So far, no plagues, but then you never know.  (Bob Milardo)

    Chances are that the line will begin to go sticky and then as you unreel it, bits of the coating will adhere to a nearby loop and you have a line that needs refinishing. (Sean McSharry)


Hope one of you blokes can help me here.  I have been looking all over the place for Reed Curry's  recipe for a solution to refinish silk fly lines;  I guess it is on Over my Waders, but it seems to be hiding from me.

Not a  big problem to me , as I made up a bottle of it years ago, but want to pass it on to a friend who has come by a couple of sound but dirty lines.  (Peter McKean)

    How about this here?  (Larry Blan) 

      It may be of interest to the List that I was given a silk line a couple of years ago by an elderly fly fisherman who has since died.  He gave me the history of the line when he gave it to me.  It was a "best" English line, sort of amber in color, and probably cost an arm and a leg when new.  It was owned by a man who tended to buy the best he could afford, and then to look after it meticulously.  This line has been spliced once where it was damaged, and lost only a couple of inches in the process, and I would defy anybody to look at this line and not think it was pretty well new.

      It was bought in 1935, and was fished hard by its original  owner until his death in the early 60's, at which stage it passed to the son of the person who gave it to me, who then fished it and cared for it into the late 80's.  It was wound onto a drying spool then, and was pretty well unused for about 10 years, until interest was reawakened in the old bamboo rods that were in the family, and has since got regular though not intense use.

      So this line has been used and cared for over a period of 70 years.  You just don't get that with plastics!  (Peter McKean)

      Even at today's prices, being able to use a silk line for 70 years or longer makes them a "reel" bargain.  Works out to less than $2.00 US a year for the line.  I'm happy with mine, and look forward to using it for many more years.  (Mark Wendt)


I recently received a silk line and would like to build a rod designed especially for it.  The problem I have is I have no idea what I have. I used Google for a half hour or so and found several references to silk fly lines some of which had interesting charts but I was unable to identify what weight line I have.   It came in a plastic box, is beautifully clean, woven of two colors, tied with two ribbons and has the original metallic paper label stapled to it. Looks new inside box but box is shopworn somewhat.

Here is what the label says: "Finest Quality Silk, Gladding's, saline, special process silk fly line, LEVEL, size G 25 yards, made in USA"

Does "saline" mean it is to be used in salt water fishing? Would this line have any collect able value and would it be devalued by using it? Does "level" mean that there is no taper to it.  Any help anyone could give me especially regarding what weight and what type of use it would best be suited for would be very much appreciated.  (Dick Steinbach)

    A level "G" should be a 3wt.  (Mike Shay)

    I reconditioned a silk line from an old $10 reel bought on eBay.  Umpqua sells a simple fly line scale ($20) that measures the weight of 30 ft of line in grams and tells you the weight rod that probably loads it. (This scale comes in handy if you remove a bunch of lines from your reels and your labels fall off)  The gram scale indicated that my used silk line is is probably meant for the equivalent of a modern 3/4 weight rod.  Indeed it loads well on a 7 foot 4 wt bamboo rod.  (Paul Franklyn)

    A "G" wt silk  line is an AFTMA 3 wt. You can go to "Anglers collectible exchange" they have a chart there.

    If I were you I would build a 4 wt rod, It will probably cast your line well. If it does not, make up a mix of 1/2 Formby’s tung oil finish and 1/2 turpentine, and wipe this on the first 30 ft of your line. Let it dry for 24 hours, then test cast. Do this until the line cast like you want it to. Then use red tin Mucilin on it from then on.  (David Matthews)


I'm almost done with rod number 4 - this one is finally for me.  It's an 8' 5 weight (at least that's what I was shooting for) 3 piece taper.

What kind of line should I look at getting.  Like I've mentioned many times before I'm really new to fly fishing.  I've read lots of stuff about lots of different lines.  Right now I have a DT 5 that I picked up off the shelf last summer for the graphite rod I bought when I started - no idea what brand it was.

From what I've read it looks like Cortland Sylk,  Cortland 444 peach, Royal Wulff TT might be good choices.  Does the brand and style (DT, WF, TT, etc.) really make a huge difference with how a rod casts?  If so, what's the best way for me to go about matching my new rod to a line without buying a dozen different lines?  I'm assuming a 5 weight will be best because that's what the taper called for - but I'm also sure that I'm not spot on the taper.

I'm not really interested in real silk.  I don't have the money to buy a new one, and I don't have the discipline to really take care of one either.

I'm sure this post will get a ton of different responses, but I really enjoy reading everyone's differing opinions.  (Aaron Gaffney)

    Just use the line and see how it goes and when you're around others see how their line goes and what they think with the combinations. The other thing is if you're going to be making different rods with different weights on a regular basis is get cheap lines to try them out. You can get cheap lines from a few places but one good source is John Norris in the UK but be warned the web site shopping experience isn't as flash as you may be used to. A bit archaic but you'll get there. Been getting stuff from these blokes for years.

    Look under Lines-John Norris

    Theses guys have all the usual suspects too like Wulff and Hardy etc but under the Norris brand are mill end at 3.99 UK pounds less  17.5%  VAT  and  intermediate  lines  ranging from 4.99 to 7.99. Even have a spey line at 24.99 UK pounds.

    You have to  add post  of course  but these  lines are  CHEAP!!!! 7.99 UK pounds less 17.5% VAT  = 6.59 pounds  =  about $US 11.60.

    IMHO forget the mill end lines (lines cut from end runs or complete seconds and could be anything) but the next wrung up the ladder aren't too bad at all. They weight about right so you can cast them OK but don't have the nice qualities of the better lines as far as line handling like memory in the line but I've seen worse in lines that cost 3 times the price too. It's a lucky dip with these lines, sometimes they're soft sometimes not but I never got any total junk and I've weighted them all and seem within tolerance. Years back I got one of their spey lines to see what it was like and I still use it. Didn't expect much from it when I bought it but it was fine. Not el supreme but OK. In fact until recently these were the only lines I ever used because when I started making rods I made all weights and couldn't spring for all the lines. I got these cheap lines to test the rods and found they weren't that bad for a mug like me so wound up using them fishing. Finally decided to get some good lines and the stingy side of me made me by silk because they last longer. You don't need anything special to test the rod, a good line shows it's colors when fishing. That's when silk shines (or decent plastic lines too I  admit grudgingly).

    If you buy cheapies to begin with when you know the rod and line combo you really like spring for the silk but save for it in the mean time. A cheap line won't cause bad habits and may teach good ones in that they're not as forgiving. A tip by the way. If you do get one or two of these and do find it coils all the time stretch it mercilessly. Makes all the difference. BTW good used silk lines aren't that dear.   (Tony Young)

      Your treatise on inexpensive lines is probably the first time I remember having a significant difference of opinion from you.  I'm a big believer in buying quality fly lines, both for testing rods and fishing.  Try almost any rod with a $15 line, and then with a $50+ line and the difference seems quite apparent to me.

      If no one has suggested it, Aaron might try his local fly shop.  Many fly shops carry demo lines.  Try several out, making notes as you go.  Make fishing casts, not casting pool casts.  Try mending line in the air and on water.  Pull the entire line off the reel and see what it takes to get the coils out.  Really give each line a thorough look.  Then -- buy the line at the local fly shop !!  Don't try the fly shop's lines, then buy mail order because you can save a few cents.  I think that's unethical.  In find the difference in performance to be great enough to make the extra dollars a wise investment.

      I like the Cortland 444 Classic lines, Scientific Anglers XPS and XXD, Wulff Triangle Taper Lines, and  Orvis Wonderlines.  We each make our own choices.  Just as I think you should never put a $5 set of nickel plated brass ferrules on a bamboo rod, you should never put a $15 line on a $1000 rod. (Harry Boyd)

        Well my thinking is there's a big difference between testing and fishing. What you need to test is something that loads the rod right but fishing's a different matter. I wasn't suggesting these cheap lines are as good as the good ones but are good enough in a pinch and actually  aren't terrible to fish with either. The lines in question are supposed to be British made and likely don't meet specs for the known brands but I weigh them and find they meets specs. Also these ones I have don't have memory problems but I'm not saying these never do.

        I started off with a DT 6 Hardy line on a Hardy reel no less. I then bought a spare spool and a Hardy DT 5 to put on it. There was no way I was going to get away with 3 more $80 lines and when I got a hand full of these cheapies I discovered that they suited perfectly and was damned glad I didn't pay the extra. The only real difference I can tell beyond what can be accounted for and you get variations between the good lines too is in the actual fishing. The point you make re line coiling is where the good lines are way ahead of the cheap ones though in fact these ones I have don't have coil problems at all but that's not important for testing rods and IMHO silk is the very best no matter what the rod material. I'm not being elitist about that I just think they beat any plastic line flat so if you're leaning that way anyhow make do till you get what you want. The cheapies are just an opinion that if you're strapped for cash and will do in the mean time. Incidentally I had one of these on the Hardy reel and lent it to a mate who used it with a Sage. When he returned it told me what a great line it was and that's no joke. Bad wine in a decent bottle situation I guess.

        I AM NOT saying there's no difference between lines, you are right, the good lines are very good. They all beat that bloody line thing Chris Bogart had at Grayling though :-) Hate to seem a complete Ludite but I'm not overly excited about Hardy reels either. Not for the price.   (Tony Young)

          Tony is right!

          "IMHO silk is the very best no matter what the rod material."

          The next best fly line to silk is the $9.95 WALMART Crystal River? It has the thinnest tip of all PVC lines and is very supple! My fishing pal Maynard Olson has been fishing one for four years!

          So save your money and let your second line be silk!  (Olaf Borge)


            I do have a financial interest! But not in the second best Crystal River fly line.  (Olaf Borge)

            I fish small streams a lot, and use level lines, Walmart line or just old lines that work fine. I don't need a $60 line or an expensive silk to cast 20 feet and get beat up on the rocks. I catch plenty of fish, use dry flies, and my rods seem pretty happy :>) Eek! Did I say level lines? What heresy. Don't forget, the cheap lines of today were the leading edge technology not so long ago. People actually caught fish back then. I hate being a sucker for the industry's plastic sales pitch phony baloney arms race that tries to make you feel insecure if you are using last year's model rod,  reel line, waders....

            My favorite combo on small streams is a 7' Cattanach Sir D with a Pflueger Progress (probably $1.50 when new) and a silk level E (4-wt) and a hand-tied 7' tapered leader.  (Steve Weiss)

              That's what I've found too except I have fallen for silk mainly because of the wind qualities and because I tend to nymph a sinking tip's not a bad thing BUT it seems to me the lines made now are all so good even the non expensive ones work perfectly well.  Last season I was fishing with a guide friend, he was using his new Lefty rod and Rio Nymph which is a nice line BTW and I gave him my reel with silk to cast. He did it reluctantly then said a bad word when he saw how far that line blasted out there much farther than the Rio but for all that likes his plastic. You have to keep cutting edge don't you regardless of what you see. Same thing with the rod.  He breaks fish off all the time with those fast graphite rods mainly during the strike and uses 3x Rio flouro which is good stuff while I tend to use 4x and break them off close to hand but I don't use a net. He sees it's all in the softness of the rod but refuses to even consider a slower graphite rod. I forsake him using bamboo.

              Thou must upgrade!  (Tony Young)

              But, BUT, if you're a real doctor, by which I mean a doctor of the sciences, rather than a pill pusher or (with difficulty) worse, you will know far better than most that if your fishing involves casting very short lengths of fly line, which stream fishing often does in my limited experience, then you need all the weight you can get at the front of the line to load the rod. We are on a canerod listserve here, and its very noticeable that most of you fish small streams, which is what cane rods in traditional form are supremely good at. In the example in question greenheart, preferably laminated greenheart, would be even better. The inherent weight of the material provides the inertia against which it is stressed.  In the other extreme, curiously, which is when we want a shooting head to go as far as possible, we deploy the similar expedient of reversing the head so the thin bit is nearest to the reel.

              This business of reducing weight at the sharp end is the cause of many problems.  Good old silkworm gut, for all its eccentricities had the one crucial material property none of its successors have, weight.  With  a floating  line made  of at  least quasi-homogenous materials you cannot reduce the diameter without either reducing weight or density. Which is why we endure tips that sink or which will not even try and load the rod. Since the tip of any fly line can be as far away from any fish as we want it to be when it lands then it follows that its performance in turning over the leader and remaining floating need not be prejudiced by making it needlessly thin. So, if you find you need a #5 on small streams, just cut the silly tapered bit of a #4 and you will probably  find it works a lot better.   (Robin Haywood)

                Why on earth would you want to laminate greenheart, when round tapered solid greenheart rods have a terrific action the way they are?  Do you have some particular glue which flexes and vibrates exceptionally enjoyably?

                I think Dr. Weiss is basically right: for short casts, the line doesn't  really need to be tapered.  A regular double-tapered line is just a level line for purposes of short distances anyway.

                Silk lines are cheap.   In fact, they're usually free, the way I get them.  I just buy old reels with silk lines on them, and fish those.  I bought a new silk line a couple of times.  They were ridiculously expensive.  They were stiff, and had rough surfaces which made noise dragging though the guides. And I found they had turned into puddles of shellac over a winter, despite all the care and fuss they got.

                My conclusion was that silk lines were of unreliable quality, and the safe way to see if a silk line would hold up is to wait until  its 50-100 years old and get it for free on an antique reel.

                When I was young, I had an old silk line, which was said to be a Cortland, that as camo'ed in color.  It went from subtle dark brown to subtle dark green.  It disappeared while I was at college.  I'd buy another few examples of that line if I could.  (David Zincavage)

                No, no, no no no!

                It's because you cannot tell whether a piece of Greenheart has shakes. These spring from stresses caused by the felling of the trees, some old Greenheart rodmakers insisted on being present at the tree-felling so they knew which bits to buy and which to avoid. If you make them, say, hexagonally laminated, you have less to worry about.  And the kit is to hand.

                I don't think that silk lines are correctly treated. Many years ago I acquired one in a very advanced terminal condition.  I chucked it into a pot of Carbon Tetrachloride (Wonderful stuff!) and went away. When I fished it out it was just silk, no ridiculous linseed oil (Which, due to its water absorption, is exceptionally silly stuff to use as a treatment). I dried it, in the open, don't use CCL4 in closed conditions. Next I applied a dressing of paraffin wax and dimethicone dissolved in CCL4, this was a proprietary dressing for flies at the time, and it used an awful lot of it. When I tried the line in anger it did two things:  1) Failed to go all soggy, like silk lines do after an hour or so, in fact it floated like a well doped up Wet cell 1, which was fine for what I wanted it for. 2) Broke on the second fish, I DID say it was well knackered, did I not? I've been trying to find another well shagged silk line  for some years, anyone got one?  (Robin Haywood)

                I've got the answer for you.  Alexander Grant, in addition to being an angler, was a musician and a violinmaker.

                The way a violin works is the faceplate (made of spruce) vibrates sympathetically to the vibrations transmitted from the strings producing sound.   A violinmaker planes that faceplate down with tiny little planes until it makes an A when tapped.

                Grant used a tuning fork the same way, comparing the note the piece of greenheart made when tapped to the note produced by the tuning fork to check the wood's condition and to match pieces.

                I should add, since violin makers use an A tuning fork, I'd start with A. Next, I see what note old-time Grant Vibration rods (usually made by Playfair of Aberdeen) make.  (David Zincavage)

    If anyone said this, I apologize, I missed it.  I find that my rods seem to handle a line size heavier with WF than a DT.  Maybe it's just me, I'm still pretty new to this, not the world's best at casting either.  I was a spin caster until age 60, but the old dog is gradually learning this new trick.  (Neil Savage)

      Lines are defined by the weight of the first 30 feet.

      IF the question is one of seeing how the rod casts (not fishes) it's difficult to see why it could matter provided the line is within tolerances of the line weight and has a proper taper. A nice line feels great but the rod doesn't care.

      This was my original point re cheap lines to test rods. (Tony Young)

        Some of the newer more expensive lines have a slicker coating than the cheap lines. Some people define better as being able to cast further, and the new slick coatings sure do shoot further. When false casting there is a little back and forth movement of the guides over the line, and the slicker coatings have a lot less friction giving the line a lot different feel than the cheaper lines. And since you just paid a lot more for that line, that feel is going to be interpreted as "better". A cheap line with the newer coating technology on it will probably perform the same as an expensive line, but for now only the expensive lines have it.  (Darryl Hayashida)

          That's right. They feel much nicer and that's important overall I guess especially if the client's test casting it.  (Tony Young)

      The difference you are observing should be on longer casts. If you have more than the first 30 ft in the air. The total weight of the WF line will be less than the DT of the same line wt because you have the running line out of the tip top. The DT line is level past the front taper.

      One of the things that seems to me to be important is loop formation. I find that the Wulff TT lines seem to form a better loop with "slow" rods, e.g. bamboo, than either DT or WF lines. Of course as Olaf says, there's nothing like silk and it is difficult for me to describe the difference.  (Doug Easton)

    Not to add superfluous info to the discussion you've started here.  But I really like Airflow lines.  They are on the expensive side, but I find that they are very soft lines, which suits me well.  I know stiffer lines tend to turn over the loop better for long casts, but for working clear water and for roll casting and short puddle jumps, I really like a soft line.  Plus, the lines seem to last a while.

    I haven't used a Cortland line for years, so can't really comment.  However I have an SA Mastery line that is pretty nice.  Very durable, which is good. Also shoots really well.  I have that on my 5/6 weight graphite.

    I have had two Wulff TT lines in the last ten years.  My experience with both lines is that they are fantastic to cast (a little light for close in work, so I would go up a line weight if you are not going to be making big casts).  They offer nice control.  However, both of my lines developed major cracking after two seasons.  Lots of hair-fine cracks/checks for the first 20 to 30 feet of line.  Granted, I fish the lines more than I clean them, but I still think a line ought to last more than two seasons.  In any case, I also found that the tips would sink in swifter water.  Not rushing river water, but fast riffles.  That would lead to lots of drag on dries.  I'm kinda hot/cold on Wulff lines.

    I also like DT lines for bamboo.  I'm not pushing the rod for lots of line speed, so I haven't felt a need for WF lines.  Having said that, if you do choose a weight forward line, I would go up one line weight (if your rod is rated for a #5, try a #6 WF line.   (Jason Swan)

      Another really terrific soft line is the SA Ultra. In the buckskin color it also looks real nice on a bamboo rod. *G*  (Dewey Hildebrand)

        Hey, color is very important in fly lines on bamboo rods. That's why I dye all my fly lines to a buckskin or browntone! This way you can have any line you want and not worry about that pink line or lime green on your nice cane rod. Looks are everything on the river :>) told you I wasn't as crazy as the rest of you.  (Joe Arguello)

          I've been dying the last 10 yards of bright lines for years, there may be advantages,  but there are no disadvantages, except perhaps when deep nymphing at range from the bank, for which a bung works better anyway.   (Robin Haywood)

            I am not to sure that line colors should be selected to match the rod  however in New Zealand most of the guides will tell overseas anglers  they can use any colored line provided it is a shade  between mid  tan and dark tan!

            A guide friend of mine keeps 3-4 lines in his bag and the first  thing he does with a client is replace the line on the client's reel if  it is any sort of bright color.

            All of their experience , and mine, indicates that brightly colored  lines will scare wild brown trout and that a dark tan or dull green  line is the best. Also there are cold mix dies available at the local  chemist to dye lines to the required color without affecting the  coating.  (Ian Kearney)

              If the line is within the fish's window it will see it as a black line on the surface, whatever color it is, obviously I refer to floating lines here. In shallow water it may not see it at all as the cast length will mean the actual line is outside its window. If the line is outside its window, however, it may see it, if it sees it at all, as a reflection of the bottom on pale lines, dark lines do not reflect, materially. But in shallow stream water it will still be at a too acute angle to be seen.  You have to take surface disturbance into account as well, this will break up the image considerably. In deep water, over 10' or so, this is not a problem anyway, as there is not enough reflected light to create meaningful or frightening reflection from the line.

              Then there is the flashing in the air business, dark lines don't flash in the air. All in all, dark lines cause no problems at all, but pale lines might. When fishing Corrib, over depths not exceeding 10' at any time, I feel seriously handicapped with a pale line. These are wild brownies, which come up from the bottom to take the fly, sometimes, so they have a big window when they start off, if they see a large snake on the surface they may not start off. We find this to be bad. Rough conditions are probably favored by their locals simply because of this very fact, IE: the surface disturbance camouflages the line image on the surface. As the Irish like using Peach Cortlands, undyed. Rainbows tend to be higher in the water, in shoals, and they're stupider. When they are on the bottom we use sinking lines anyway. 

              I speak here of stillwaters mainly, for I have more experience of stillwaters, but to use a bright line on my local small streams would have the same effect as throwing a stick in for Merlin the Labrador.  (Robin Haywood)

                Only objects above the surface can be described as "in or out of" the trout's window of vision (which is the angle at which the angle of incidence is greater than the angle of reflection; light from the trout's side outside of that circle is reflected back down into the water, and hence the undersurface to the sides appears as a mirror).

                Objects in the film are directly visible since at least some small part is below the actual reflective under surface of the water and therefore can be seen from a much greater distance away.  This might be why emergers that sit in the film are often taken much more readily than a bug or fly above the film (the trout has much longer to detect and become interested in said morsel).

                I personally am not convinced that pale lines contrasting against the mirror are a bad thing as opposed to a dark line against the mirror.  (Chris Obuchowski)

                  They are not  contrasting  against the mirror at  all, and I never said they were. If they appear as visible to a fish at all then it will be as a reflection of the bottom, or anything that is underneath them.  Which may be blackness, of course. And they will only be visible to any fish low enough in the water to have a field of vision outside its window. It is possible that that fish could be so low in the water, and surface disturbance so acute, that it will fail to notice, or if not fail to be alarmed or concerned, with any reflected image of the line.  Since, as I pointed out, there are no known disadvantages to a dull line then all protagonism for bright lines seems to be Luddism.  (Robin Haywood)

                    Ya know I started  this line color thread, I wasn't thinking about what the fish think, I was thinking about esthetics, more like what I like a fly line to look like on a bamboo rod. Told you I'm not as  crazy as the rest of you.  (Joe Arguello)

                I think I agree with Robin, just not sure which part.  The problem  with bright lines here is very much the flash in the air rather then on  the water. The brownies in back country streams will not wait around  for the fly to land and slowly move off when there is any false casting  in their vicinity.

                A dark colored line , and minimal false casting by using a "powerful" taper like a Dickerson, may give you half a chance.  (Ian Kearney)

                  It's strange you should say that.

                  When I read it through before sending I realized two things

                  1) It would have taken me a series of articles to do the subject justice

                  2) Most of you, because of where you fish, will only be concerned with the line flash problem.

                  I'm a bit unhappy with  the Dickerson bit, when I'm feeling idle, which is usually, and generally when I'm drifting sublimely around Corrib, and I don't want to false cast, I use my rather soft RW7 derived 7'9'' three piece. You would all call it a noodle, but it casts 10 yards without any false casting bar the obligatory roll into the air. The only Dickersonesque taper I have handy, which is not a particularly quick one, and was derived or inferred by me anyway, needs more work!  (Robin Haywood)

                I mentioned in a post just now dying a yellow line. I had to. I KNOW those fish were seeing the line flash in the air. I could tell by the way they'd be in station happily feeding then bolt when I false cast too close.  The newly brown line made all the difference but you should still keep the false casting to a bare minimum.  (Tony Young)

    Try the Hook and Hackle hi floaters. Supposedly they are Cortland 444 peach lines that have been dyed a pleasing olive. 47 bucks, but they have been running a bunch of web specials the past two months so at certain times of the year (winter) you can get them for less. I bought a couple and like them a lot. The reason wasn't price, I wanted original 444 DT lines but never liked the peach color very much. (Jeff Schaeffer)

      I had a bright yellow line a while back and dyed it using plain old hot set cloths dye a few years ago. I was afraid the heat would wreck it but hey it was just $15  :-)

      In the end it was fine and the dye seems permanent. It went from canary yellow to deep brown. (Tony Young)


I went to my local antique/hobby shop this morning in search of a piece balsa when I came across an old fly reel with line on it that looked to be like it would have to be cut off. I looked a little closer and it seemed to be braided. I figured maybe it was silk and the asking price was cheap, so I bought it.

Got home and the line was stiff and stuck on the reel so I got online to an article by Reed Curry on restoring silk lines and ended up soaking it in a baking soda solution for a while.

Cleaned and dried, I took it out to measure it and it's right at around 78 feet long.  Does this  sound about right or is it way short? I don't know. Does it take backing before putting it on the reel?

It's sort of mahogany in color, and the dirty water was brown and filthy. It seems a little stiffer that a new store bought line, and as I said it is braided. In days of old, did nylon get the same treatment silk did???  (Ren Monllor)

    Read Reed Curry's web site a little more and it tells you how to tell a nylon line from a silk line. You burn just a bit of the end, and if it turns to ash it is a silk line, or if it turns black and beads up it is nylon. 78 feet is pretty close to full length, the longest one I have is 84 feet long. Was it tapered? A lot of the old lines were tapered on both ends.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    It'll probably soften when it gets wet.

    It's really not that unusual to find old silk lines on older reels.  If you go to Bob Lang's antique tackle show and auction, or buy old reels at Neil Freeman's auctions in Britain, you'll run across them all he time.  (David Zincavage)


It's time to replace some of my floating trout fly lines, and would be interested in knowing what brands others from the group use for their Bamboo rods.  I live in the northeast, and fish both small  (10'-20'  wide)  streams  and  medium   sized  streams (80-160').  For example, has anyone tried and liked the Cortland 444 Classic Sylk?  (Wayne Daley)

    I have been using Wulff triangle taper lines and Wulff long belly lines and for my casting style and the fishing that I do, which is pretty much what you described, it works well for me. On my short 2 or 3 wt. rods I still like the old standard double taper though.   (Gary Jones)

    I like the Cortland Sylk lines for my bamboo fishing. They seem to do very well for the rods I have made. I know there are others who do not like these lines. They are not as good a floater as the traditional lines, but I guess I appreciate the softness and flexibility of the Sylk lines.  (Frank Paul)


Is there a standard for the weight of silk lines??  (Ren Monllor)

    In a nut shell:

    For modern silk lines, they should weigh out according to AFMTA standards, for old silk lines, they were measured by diameter, but most people totally will disregard the old diameter measurements and weigh  the first 30 feet and use the AFMTA standard to label a line.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    There's a conversion chart here.  (Don Schneider)


I am looking at the article of Reed Curry's web site for restoring and cleaning silk fly line.

There is the recipe of solvent with a gallon of warm water and one third box of baking soda, in order to get rid of the old coating.

Could any one advise me on, How many ounce or gram is one box of baking soda?   Probably, you can buy the box of soda in the same size at super market.  (Max Satoh)

    All we have at home now is a 2 LB. (32 oz ) size, and I cannot be certain, but I think the size that Reed used was a 16 oz.  In any event the proportions are not so critical that 16 oz to a gallon would be far off.  If you are using it on old silk lines, it really works well.  (Ralph Moon)

      Yes, 16 oz is the common size. In what amount and in what sort of container is baking soda sold in Japan? Just curious is all. There isn't a kitchen in the USA that hasn't had that same size Arm and Hammer box on the shelf.  (Timothy Troester)

        The can I found in SWMBO kitchen is for 100 gram of content (about 3.5 oz.).

        The can size is about 1.3" dia and 3" tall.  (Max Satoh)

          I realized the difference between baking powder and baking soda exactly.

          So called Baking Powder is the product which is the mixture of natural pure baking soda and some kind of acid, to make it easy to produce CO2 for inflating pancake by just adding water on it.

          Baking Soda, on the other hand, is natural material, usually sold as "Arm and Hammer" brand. I can buy the "Arm and Hammer" baking soda here too.  (Max Satoh)

            Since baking powder has finally made it to the loft heights of being associated with bamboo rod making I thought I'd mention I believe baking powder was invented by Mrs Herreshoff mother of Nat Herreshoff the demi god yacht designer back in the days when the J Class reined and designer of every America's Cup America's Cup defender from 1893 through 1920 including Columbia which is possibly the most beautiful machine ever built IMHO. I know the life boat for Columbia is a classic I built one once.   (Tony Young)

        Here (UK) the common size is about 4 oz and I find one box in a bucket of water (very scientific all this) works well for me.  (Paul Blakley)


During the last couple of years I have, again and again, been surprised by the rapid development of fly lines.

This is a topic that have not  received a proper amount of attention. Today’s tapers are, IMHO, vastly superior to the old DT lines. I have, for many years, fished Cortland 444 DT and, for lake use, WF tapers. These lines are, I am sad to say, now pensioned off in favor of modern tapers from Loop, Teeny, Vision etc.

Today’s multicolored lines are easy to compare to each other, and so are rods,  when using same line of different rods. You simply pull out line until it changes color, and then throw them thing.

I have, on many occasions, have had the chance of having flyfishermen trying out my rods, comparing them to their own Sage etc. rods. Using their own lines as described above, they can directly compare plastic and cane rods. Just a couple of weeks ago I brought along four of my  rods, to be freely compared with modern high-priced, highly efficient rods. And now I am, finally, going to share the point of my ranting: Using modern lines on cane rods shows us clearly, that modern rods cast somewhat longer than cane. Modern rods needs more work to throw the line, meaning more blind casting. Within the range both types of rods throw, the cane rod deliver the fly with a more subtle landing, the presentation is simply more controlled.

My favorite rod is a close interpretation of Waynes "The Force". This rod is the most sought of rod by my clients, and a rod which is becoming quite famous within circles of flyfishers in Denmark (population 5 million). The combination of certain modern fly lines of the compound taper type, and "my" variation of "The Force" is a combo which is, IMHO, unsurpassed. Many of my clients share this opinion. I use this rod with two types of line: A compound taper and a shooting head. Between them, I deliver #18 dry flies and #10 streamers. I admit the #18 dry flies craves a very long leader, but it can be done, although not with quite the finesse of a PHY Perfectionist.

So is PHY´s Para 15 and all its off-springs the answer to all flyfishermen’s prayers for one single rod, which will master all types of fishing? Certainly not - no rod is. But I feel it is superior to the many tapers, I have fished. Saint Peter will favor PHY for his contribution to rod making, I am sure. But in our praise of the past masters and the gifted rodmakers of today, let us not forget the sci-guys developing the fly lines of today. We owe them our gratitude.

Having this off my chest, I’ll go lawn casting yet another 8 feet #6 parabolic rod, to be delivered next week. Boy do I like casting this taper.  (Carsten Jorgensen)

    I generally agree with your views, but just a couple of comments from a New Zealand perspective.

    The South Island brown trout are all wild trout and any false casting  over there heads will see them slowly slinking off the the deep end of the pool. Incidentally, the first advice any of the local guides will give to a visitor is to strip off the brightly colored line and replace it with a dark brown or dark green line, the bright color flashing through the air at a distance will put fish down very quickly.

    Therefore I find tapers like Dickerson's 8013 and 8014 work very well  here. They will throw a 30 - 40 foot line, which is all you need for the streams I fish, with no false casting. There is no doubt that the  modern rods will cast further, but the need for false casting and line  speed using these rods can sometimes be a disadvantage. Likewise the old double taper lines roll cast well, again very useful for fishing  smaller streams to weary fish. (This view on roll casting is disputed  by a well known guide and expert caster friend of mine who totally  disagrees!)

    I guess it all comes down to different rods for different circumstances.   (Ian Kearney)


I was interested in finding out what differences folks on the list felt there were between silk lines and the imitation silk lines out there. Do they pick up off the water similarly? Do they effect the rod action in the same manner? What are the differences between the two in actual use.

I've got to start saving up for the different weight lines I'll have to purchase to use with the rods I'm making and am interested in finding out more information  so as to make educated decisions.  (Ren Monllor)

    I had both silk and Sylk lines stolen last winter. I've only replaced the silk, though I settled for a Terenzio artificial silk. I liked the Sylk line, but didn't think it had much to offer that you couldn't get in a Hook & Hackle plastic line for less $. It has better presentation, but loads less well. If you cut back the Sylk's tip to cure one problem you've given up some delicacy. I do think it's the most supple of all the plastic lines I've used.

    The expense of new lines (of whatever material) does not justify not making more rods. Kind of like the project is worth doing if you have to get a new tool.  (Henry Mitchell)

    IMHO, they aren't even close. Cortland Sylk (I am guessing this is what you refer too) is a very supple, slightly thinner, and slick DT plastic line. It has a tendency to sink at the tip but a good greased furled leader cures this. It works very nicely and I like it. It still is a plastic line and feels much like any other plastic line.

    Silk is silk. It has a totally different feel than plastic. I know there is an artificial silk out there but I have no experience with it. Silk works very nice but is somewhat "noisy" during use. I haven't gotten used to the noise but it does cast very nice and lifts off the water very well. It doesn't sink as deep as a plastic line. It lies in surface tension instead of floating half in the water if that makes sense. If you want the feel of the 100 years ago, go silk. It just fits bamboo.  (Barry Janzen)

      The down side of real silk of course is the price -- five times the cost of a good plastic line.  If I could get by with only one line, I might go for real silk.  Since I need half a dozen different sizes, plus maybe later getting various sinking lines as well as the floating ones I'm using now, I doubt I'll ever own a silk line.  (Neil Savage)

        I'm assuming, of course, you are speaking of Phoenix lines? Yep, about $250.00. Terenzio's are about 150-170.00. Thiebault, kinda in the middle. A silk line is going to last you at least 20 years with a very little care.  Like a lot of other folks, I fish silks that are 100 years old and good as new. If your plastic lines are running in the 50 dollar neighborhood and you can get two years out of them, you'll spend $250.00 in 10 years, 500 bucks in 20. IMHO...the value is with a silk line. And we have the plus of a line designed to fish on many of our old rods, and the casting characteristics that plastic lines are still trying to emulate.

        Need a sinking line? Don't grease it in the morning. Need a sink-tip? Don't grease what you want to sink.

        We are only talking NEW silk here. It's not hard to find a perfectly good silk on a ten dollar junk reel on the bay. Hell, sometimes you get a decent reel in the process. Now you're talking ten bucks for a silk that could easily have at least 20 more years of life. AND you can resell the junk reel and get your money back LOL. You get a free silk line!

        My head hurts...  (Mike Shay)

    I fish both and you will find that both will make a rod react very differently, one vs the other.  Real silk, IF PROPERLY PREPPED, will float very well but will offer more friction to the water when pulling off the meniscus/water tension. What was once a soft springy rod will now become a fully loaded line blaster. Real silk lines will very in weight and some of the old ones are level lines. This will force you to buy several weights of real silk line and taper them together to make "weight forward" "double taper" "rocket  taper". Since you already own (I assume) a micrometer, you will then be able to "mic" your silk line and build your own tapers. I could go on forever about this and probably end up with a dissertation on just silk lines, but, if you can get your hands on either Wise Fisherman's encyclopedia or Aherton's "The Fly and the  Fish" then either book have some really good techniques for build your own taper.

    Sylk - well plastic is plastic.  (Rudy Rios)


This is a splice I invented in the 60's. I've used nothing else since then and my friends all use it as well. It is the smoothest possible joining, does not hinge, and is dependably strong. It depends on the marvelous properties of Epon.

Step 1:  Sand down an inch or a bit less of your leader  butt end to a tapered needle point.

Step 2: Take a clean sewing needle or dubbing needle about .025 root diameter. Carefully insert the needle into the core of the fly line about 1/2 inch or a bit more. The needle is not to exit the line surface while inserting. Then remove the needle by PUSHING OFF with your fingernails. Pulling off shrinks the hole.

Step 3:  Mix up a dollop of Epon 828-140, wet the pointed leader butt, and the end of the fly line, and insert the pointed leader butt confidently. 3/8 to 1/2 inch insertion is all you need.  Carefully wipe off any excess Epon and let the splice cure. Warmth helps speed the cure.  Give it time. Note that any practice insertions will defeat the purpose because the pulling out action shrinks the hole. The Epon provides an excellent lubricant which  is a great help.

The tapered shape of the leader insert is ideal to prevent hinging with this splice by providing a smooth transition.

Please try this splice yourself before questioning its dependability.

If you are using a particularly large leader butt diameter, then increase the insertion needle diameter.  (Bill Fink)


My girlfriend and I are just finishing a Dickerson 6611.  It is going to be her first rod and she's thinking about starting out with a silk line. I don't have any silk lines myself,  though it would be fun to find and recondition some old ones.  I've been looking in the Portland, OR area and on eBay.  It is tempting to buy a new line, but the expense is great and we don't have a few to try in order to match the right size.  The rod is rated 3/4.  (Gabe Batson)

    Thebault lines are the least expensive of the new silk lines available. If you go that route, I'd suggest a DT4. If you are inclined to refinish a line for a rod that length, you'll most likely be using it on a small stream, you could get away with a level line and then using a furled leader as the front taper.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Dan Brock will have quite a few older silk lines at the Camp Sherman Fly Fishing, and Bamboo Fair in July. I have got a few from him and reconditioned them. Also contact Mike Shay on this list he has done a few for me.  (David Roberts)


I finished up an 8014 last week and took it to the fly shop to cast some different lines on it.  The only problem is, they didn’t have many lines to try.  I was only able to cast a WF6 Bass Bug, a WF7 Bass Bug, and a WF6 Headstart fly line.  The consensus was that the WF6 lines were not enough and the WF7 Bass Bug was OK but nothing to write home about.   The 7 cast good but it made the rod feel soft or over loaded at the distance I would be fishing it.  I am wanting to fish it probably at 50-60 feet throwing small streamers and popping bugs for smallmouth.  How would I go about selecting a line for this rod?  Should I compare the different lines based on the fact that I think I need something heavier than the 6’s and less than the 7 Bass Bug like a straight WF7?  Or would a DT6 work better for me?  I have never owned or cast a DT line so I’m not sure it would be practical for my fishing conditions.  What are you thoughts?  (Greg Reeves)

    I have been using an AirCell WF7, it's the older dry fly line in minty green color,  supple line.  Best part  is they  are  about $25.00.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    I think you need to find a line that 'seems' OK to start, then you need to actually fish it. What I have found is that casting over water and fish is much different than lawn casting! Another factor is that we rarely lawn cast with the fly or in your case bass bug that you would fish with, thus not really getting an idea how much wind resistance/weight will effect the way this rod casts. You really won't know until you do this, and getting someone's opinion on how a particular line feels doesn't really help much because what feels right to me might not feel right to you. I know this doesn't help much but if you want that rod to really shine for you, that is what you will have to do. I am back to not putting a line size designation on my rods because most of us will get stuck on that line size and possible miss the opportunity to fish a rod with the line that feels best and works best on that rod for any given individual. I really do hope this helps.  (Joe Arguello)

      I've had a rod broken before because it didn't have a line wt. on it.  I had overlined it and had a guide, in one case, cast the thing, double haul, and snap.

      Not everyone who gets hold of a rod has a wide range of lines to test with. I think the line wt. is helpful only because it lets you know the makers intention. Yes we can all adjust from there but it's nice to have a starting point.  (Jerry Foster)

    I have not built or tested a 8014, but in looking at the taper I would think it would feel good using a 7 DT or a 8 WF. The taper is a little different than most because of the heavy tip section and the large soft or flex area from 40" to 75". It looks to me as if the rod would be medium slow and although it will throw a long line the timing has to be slowed down to accomplish this.

    If you do a static wall deflection test it should bend most from the handle to the mid tip with the midsection of the tip being strongest, that is bend the least.

    Let me know if you try any of these suggestions and what you think of them.

    P.S. try your local Walmart store, they carry fly lines that are decent and cheep, but they sell out fast.  (Bob Norwood)

      I agree the (my) 8014 is a 7 wt., but I don't think Dickerson marked line wt on his rods, so we are just guessing either way what his intention was. I think it was branded as a 6 wt. because of the skinny mid (14 ferrule). I was trying to make the point, if the rod was marked, you could still use any line you liked, but you would know his design thoughts and have a starting point to evaluate it from.  (Jerry Foster)

        I don't know how anyone could argue with that. Hey, I'll sell you a rod, hope it works out for you, try any line you want on it?

        Oh Okay, it's the guys can argue better than any lawyer, argue away!  (Mike Shay)

          So if I don't put a line size designation on the rods that I custom make for someone who has given me the exact specs that's what it means? That I just put something together and I hope it works out for them? Geez, maybe I should rethink this! And if they really want a line size on that rod I will put one on for them. But I will draw the line at pink wraps, you’re gonna have to have someone else make that one for you.  (Joe Arguello)

            I'd make pink wraps if Paula Creamer asked.

            No Joe, what it means is after that rod has been resold for the 3rd time they can argue about what line wt it was supposed to be. hehee  (Jerry Foster)

        Now you tell  me.  I have been using a #5 on my 014 and wonder why I can't cast.   Thanks guys!!  (Ralph Moon)

          See, It's dealers choice...Do you think Dickerson intended it to be a 5wt. ?  Serious Question.  (Jerry Foster)

            But Jerry, it don't work with a five.  (Ralph Moon)

        I just used my 8014 @ Grayling over the last week & I threw a 6 weight forward with it.  Could it throw a 7?  Sure it will handle that as well.  It has a lot to do with your casting style.  Some guys like a 5 on the Para 15 myself I like a 6.  (Bret Reiter)

    I have been following this thread with some interest, so I pulled my copy of "Dickerson, The Man and His Rods." His 1947 catalog list the rod as 8ft - No. 8014 - C Line - 4 1/4 oz. Dickerson goes on to describe the rod "This is a stiffer dry fly rod, a guide's model"

    I take this to be his description of what is later referred to as the 8014 Guide. I have cast original examples of both and while I feel one is definitely a six and the stiffer one a seven. I can't imagine fishing either one with an 8wt level line. (Tim Pembroke)


I know some of you dye your fly lines.  I was wondering what color you all achieve and how you get them.  I have a half dozen lines that are either lime green or bright yellow.  I am wanting to change the bright yellow lines to  tone them down.  (Greg Reeves)

    I think you need to remember that the fish do not see the colors as you see them. Although the bright lines may be gaudy and stand out like a sore thumb to us, the fish have a different view of it. What is BRIGHT YELLOW is likely perceived as almost white (and shadowed below) to a trout. (They DO see in color, albeit a differently articulated spectrum.) It's more important that the line lay on the water in an unobtrusive manner.

    Unless you're casting over a glass-surfaced lake, the false casting line is virtually invisible to the fish.  (Mike St. Clair)

      Just use hot water clothes dye.  In the UK nylon is what I use. 

      • Let the water become hand warm. 
      • Place the fly line into the water.
      • Leave it over night.  You will need to place a weight on it if its a floating line.
      • Next day wash in cold water.
      • Job done.

      If your line is a used one its a good idea to clean it first silicon will not allow the dye to fix.  I mostly use Chocolate brown dye. 

      Will you catch more fish?  Only you can answer that one, but I have been doing this for over 25 years.  (Gary Nicholson)

        I also always dye my lines a sort of olive color, in some circumstances it can pay to use a dull line, usually when the water is shallow/its sunny/the fish are near the surface.  But, probably, its because I hate bright fly lines!  (Robin Haywood)

    I dye all my fly lines, I realize the fish don't care but they really don't care how my rods look but I sure spend a lot of time getting those just right. So I dye them in a warm/hot bath of Rit dye, I use a dark brown and the color you get depends on how long you leave it in the bath. Put it in there for 5 - 15 mins. take it out and dry it, don't throw your dye out yet, if it's not dark enough put it back in the bath. Works for me. Lots of my fishing buddies comment on the nice line colors. Fish don't talk so there you have it.  I sure don't like the looks of a modern line on a cane rod but there are a bunch of those lines that are really good lines. So dye away.  (Joe Arguello)

    I am a firm believer in darker fly lines and recently dyed a lime green line to a a dark olive  color by doing the following: Two topped teaspoons of mostly brown Dylon powder ( a little golden yellow included) in about 2 liters of boiling water. Stir to make sure the powder is properly dissolved. Let the water cool to between 60-70 degrees C, then place the fly line in the water, weight it down so it is fully immersed. Let it sit till you have desired color. Then rinse in cold water. I had the desired color after approximately 10 minutes. Other waits for hours. Here is a link to a useful page about the subject.  (Tor Skarpodde)


I recently purchased some used silk line, level 5 weight. It is a bit stiff and I would like to know how to restore it.  One person said I should boil it in oil, and then wipe it down with bee's wax... but I didn't want to do that till I checked on this list. suggestions?   (Harold Maxwell)

    Reed Curry has an excellent article on restoring silk lines.  There is other information on silk lines on his web site too. Olaf also has some good information on silk lines too.   (Rich Jezioro)

    I actually think the "boiling in oil and then the beeswax" is the protocol for executing heretics, not restoring silk lines. Not a bad idea to get good at it, though, in case you run into any heretics!

    Reed Curry on "over my waders" has all the good stuff on refurbishing silk lines.  Basically, wash it back to the bare silk with detergent, rinse and dry, and redress with a mixture of a drying oil and an oil-based varnish. Reed gives it all in detail, and I have used his method with great success for restoring several old lines.

    Still, the heretic sounds like fun.....  (Peter McKean)

      And I think this is in Reed's piece on line restoration . . .

      . . . if you have access to a container in which you can pull and maintain a vacuum, the cleaned line is placed in a pan of good boiled linseed oil, the pan is placed in the "killing jar," and the vacuum maintained until all the air boils out of the interior of the line.  Clear vacuum chamber walls obviously are a help, here. When the air has been replaced with the oil, take the line out and hang it to dry, either on a frame or in the rafters of your 90-foot-long attic  :)  , but in any event, so sections of the line don't touch each other as they dry.  Once dry, you can start the lengthy process of redressing.  And don't get me wrong:  it's absolutely worth it (for me, at least).

      When I get home after fishing, I strip the line off, hang it and the reel on a double coat hook and leavc it there 'til the next time I go out.  Dress twice with Mucilin (red tin/label) the night before, reel up, and may the Trout Gods have mercy on their souls!  (Steve Yasgur)

    Thanks guys, line looks GREAT. Started out stiff and dark maroon and ended up rather soft and dark straw or light brown. And that is just washing it in Baking Soda and warm water. Wow. Now for the polishing part. Cant wait to get this on my new Harry Boyd bamboo rod... (and my first)  (Harold Maxwell)


Why use a DT line with bamboo? it seems that that is the most popular configuration, while WF is for plastic rods.  Is it just tradition, or is there some performance advantage for bamboo? In the olden days when we still had lots of silk, you could reverse the line and double your use out of it.  (Larry Lohkamp)

    We're having a similar discussion at the Classic Fly Rod Forum.  In my opinion, other than the ability to swap ends when you wear things out, Double Taper lines have no advantages over today's weight forward lines.  (Harry Boyd)

    On my cane rods I find that the medium and slower tapers appear to work better with DT lines whilst the faster ones will cast the WF lines with advantage.  Only my experience and I am no great caster.  (Gary Marshall)

    There is a place for double tapered lines. Years ago the belly of a wf line was less than twenty feet and there were some disadvantages, roll casting, line mending to name two, because the back end of the belly was out your tiptop around twenty feet. Weight forward lines then were  designed different in another way. The weight forward or rocket type head was much heavier in the first 10' for example than the first ten feet of a dt. Now days most often, I think, the bellies of weight forward lines are much longer. In a 5 wt they can be around 25" to the back taper to the running line, so, with leader added to the line, now days, the first 30' of either wf or dt is identical. So what would be the advantage of a double taper over a wf now days? If you are mending line beyond 30', roll casting beyond 30', roll cast pickup of a dry fly over 30', so it won't pop, picking up line and back casting when you are beyond the back taper of the belly on the wf line.  (Timothy Troester)

      There are almost no premium WF lines with less than 35 foot heads available these days.  That means you're looking at 35' or line, plus 7-10 feet of leader, plus 7 or 8 feet of rod.  That gets you out to at least 50 feet.  And most of us can't roll cast that far anyhow.  Neither can we pick up 50 feet casts.  Neither DT or WF will mend well much beyond three times the length of the rod, so that's a moot point.  (Harry Boyd)

        35"!? well, I have been out of the fly shop for about four years. I always wondered why the bellies weren't longer or wished they were. I do also recall that the belly length was somewhat graduated thru the line sizes. sorry for moot points!  (Timothy Troester)

        Having learned two-handed technique, I now find myself doing a lot of single handed spey casting. The distances aren't what you would get two-handed, but they are great enough that regular WF lines are limiting.  (Mike McGuire)

    I guess it depends on what you fish for and where you do it. I only fly fish rivers and streams for trout now, so I don't see any reason for a weight forward line. I don't generally have to fish much beyond 40 feet, usually much less than that, so a wwf offers me no advantages and i only get one useable end for my money, with a dt I can turn it around when one end gets worn out or boring and feel like I have a new toy to play with.  (John Channer)

      Hmm, I wonder why the dealers aren't too keen about recommending DT lines. I also like them because I can pick up more line and get it back out than I can with a WF where I have to strip back to the belly of the line so it doesn't collapse picking it up. I can easily pick up 50 or more feet into a back cast and put it back out without a false cast. That's useful when casting dries from a drift boat.  (Steve Weiss)

        Personally, I think that's why manufacturers and dealers seem to push weight forward lines; they wear out faster and thus need to be replaced more often.  You get double the life for your money from a double taper line.  It's that simple.  (Bill Ernst)

        Have to agree with Steve... A DT is much better for picking up a length of line and putting it straight back out again.

        For short to middle distance stream fishing I see no need for a WF. To my mind WF's are really most suited for longer casts. I only use them from the banks on stillwaters and in the salt.  (Steve Dugmore)


Has anyone used the Hook & Hackle fly line?

I know a few people that love it on their bamboo rods and the price is sure good.  (Larry Lohkamp)

    I ordered several, and concluded within minutes that they were an olive 444 (peach) Cortland line. The feel was unmistakable. I am glad that somebody else noticed. I love them. Great price, and my Cortland lines seem to last forever.

    I used to order stuff from Hook and Hackle when I was in school and broke. Now that my girls are both in college, I order from them once again.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

      Sorry, Jeff but you are wrong on that one.  I have several of the peach colored lines & they are not the same line.

      I just went & compared them to the one Sylk line I have left.  The Sylk line is sticky compared to the old 444 & it is also definitely a different coating than the old peach 444.

      I also went outside & cast them on the same rod & the Sylk sticks to the guides & does not shoot as well.

      We'll see if they have the endurance of the old 444.  (Bret Reiter)

    They will neither confirm nor deny that is it Cortland Peach 444 colored OD green and re-branded for them. I have one and it is great. Many people on forums rave about it, and many authors have praised the old Cortland 444 Peach line.  (Scott Bearden)

      The old Cortland peach line was/is indestructible.  i still have some that I use from way back in the 70's & they are still going strong.  They just will not give up.  (Bret Reiter)

        Cortland's SYLK is still plastic. Merchandising is correct, and is really a goofy line to cast with any rod bamboo or plastic. Plus don't let it get hot in the sun on your dashboard as it turns into this gloppy unusable taper.  (Rudy Rios)

          Interesting - I have sold a lot of Sylk lines, and I had one customer complain that when he tried to dress the line with some commonly available line cleaner/dressing the line turned black and sticky!  The Cortland line dressing/cleaner works fine. 

          My Cortland rep told me that the Sylk is the old 444 from the 60s or 70s with a different color.  Presumably more supple than the newer 444.  (Larry Tusoni)

            I have some of the first Sylks and though I've read all the complaints, I've never had a problem with them. Mine came a little slimy out  of the packaging but dried right up.   (Jim Lowe)

              Yes I have some of the original Sylk lines and have never had any problems like that. I think there is more to the story that I don't know.  I think they cast fine and I particularly like the color, but as I said, I do prefer real silk, except for when I am lawn/driveway/etc. casting.  (Larry Tusoni)

      While on this subject, anyone use fly lines from Dorber?  (Ron Hossack)

        I have Ron.  They are nice lines for the money.  By way of disclaimer, the Dorber guys are personal friends of mine.  (Harry Boyd)


        They are the same as these.

        Chance’s are everyone on the list has cast one of their entry level fly lines, they make a significant portion of the global prepackaged lines that you would get in a beginners kit (with a rod & reel etc) & I think they probably do a pretty good job of filling this niche.  They sell a ton of backing too.

        They recently bought Pure Fishing’s fly line division in the UK.

        The premium lines are quite good for the money.   The full sinker they are excellent, with a relatively small diameter for any given weight (it’s actually the best one I’ve found).

        Every once in a while I get the idea that I need something crazy like a 3wt shooting head & I pickup a couple of their lines chop it up and glue it back together to satisfy my curiosity and not go broke.

        I’ve heard they are good guy’s but I’ve never met them even though they make the stuff a few miles from my house.  (Jon Babulic)

          Very Pleased with Dorber's lines. They are in the same town I live in.  Very good friends of mine.  (Tony Spezio)

            I still say plastic is plastic, and whether it's a new rod or an old rod taper the bamboo just loads better with silk. Silk does not stretch when you backload it Vs plastic, thus the energy doesn't drain from the line and when you punch forward the drag is less, the loops are tighter, and by nature cuts better through the wind.  (Rudy Rios)

              You're right, I'm sure, that in many cases silk "casts" better than modern lines.  But it does not work nearly as well in many situations.

              I often begin fishing before sunrise, and fish till I am too tired to continue.  A silk line will not float nearly long enough to be practical for a long day's fishing.

              In rough water, modern lines float better.

              Modern lines are less abrasive to guides.

              Modern lines come in an amazing array of tapers, densities, profiles etc.  With silk you basically have DT or WF lines.

              These are just off the top of my head.  Many of the modern lines are so good that the supposed advantages of silk are miniscule at best.  Right now my favorite modern lines are the SA Sharkskin, Rio Selective Trout, and Airflo Ridgeline.  (Harry Boyd)

                Silk lines are thinner, but their surface is rougher and they just do not shoot through the guides as well. If you want a silk line to float, you have to dress it.  Silk lines have handling issues and (new ones at least) need drying and careful handling.

                I was using old, neglected silk lines when I was a boy, which got no maintenance or special handling at all and never rotted anyway.  I still use a couple of silk lines today on the old reels they came on.  I usually do dry those.

                Reading articles in magazines got me to purchase, for big money, a brand new silk line from England about 20 or 30 years ago.  I cared for it, but found it a year later all stuck together the varnish melted and coagulated during the winter on a line all carefully removed and stored in loose coils in a bureau drawer.  I'd never buy another new silk line.  I find old, worn, and used silk lines on old reels all the time.  They probably have no varnish anymore, but they are generally just like the old silk lines I used as a boy, in good condition and perfectly usable.  

                I don't think silk lines are particularly better. Modern lines shoot better, and have a variety of tapers you won't find in silk.  I tend to prefer the old conservative colors of silk lines.  I often use one for salmon fishing, where I'm fishing wet anyway, and there is no reason to worry about dressing it.  I use silk also with a tiny St. George and a couple of other nice, very small old reels, simply because you can't get a whole modern line onto them.  (David Zincavage)

                Although modern fly lines may perform better than silk in many ways and situations, I continue to enjoy fishing my silk lines despite their disadvantages (mainly high maintenance).

                Properly cleaned and greased they float as well as any of my other lines.  They usually begin to sink around lunch time, so they get dried and rejuvenated while I do the same.

                If I had only one or two rods I’d fish plastic all the time.  But I am fortunate to own several and get to choose my toys for a day on the water.

                Next stop tomorrow – Elevenmile Canyon for the Trico spinner fall with the first bamboo rod I made and a restored no-name DT4 silk.  (Lou Martin)

                The single best characteristic I see is their greater density.  That is, a 4-wt. silk will be thinner then a 4-wt SA, leading to easier travel thru the air when cast, similar toa  full sinking line.  I feel they mend more easily with less effort, and probably due to this density factor, although I'm guessing there.  A 4-wt is a 4-wt. though, just like a pound of feathers is still 16 ounces.

                Interestingly enough, it was the sound of the silk braid sawing against the guides that finally straightened out my timing on double hauls.  That auditory feedback was exactly what I needed.  Who knew?  (Steve Yasgur)

                I use both silk and synthetic lines pretty regularly, and have both new, old and bloody ancient silk specimens.  One of the lines I have came from an angler who bought it in the late 1930's, just before the war, and he had fished it pretty regularly from then until he gave it to me when he had to stop fishing about 10 years ago.  It was a top grade English line when he bought it (no expense spared with this bloke for his fishing gear) and he cared for it beautifully.  It is as smooth as glass and I have not had to refinish it, but I do dress it regularly with red Mucilin.

                The sort of fishing tempo that is imposed on me these days by a mix of age, laziness and ankylosing spondylitis suits the silk lines pretty well.  I fish our flat rivers a lot, and just sort of amble along the bank looking for rising fish;  I stop often, for a cup if tea, for a sandwich, for a sip of water or just to watch a pool for a while.  If I have the silk line on, I am in the habit of just flicking the part of the line that is in use onto the bank beside me where I sit, and there it dries nicely while I am stopped. About twice during the day I wipe on a bit (not much) red Mucilin, and using this regimen the line is fine all day.

                But should I be fishing in a stream, or on a really good day, where the action is more or less continuous, and where I want good floatation all day, I use a Rio Windcutter.

                I like them both. The dense, smaller diameter silk line casts superbly, especially in the wind; but the Rio is a brilliant caster too.  I, by the way, am not!

                I am a great admirer of silk lines, but let me say this - if I had to get rid of all my lines except one, and subsequently limit myself to the use of this one line, there is no question in my mind which one it would be.

                It would be the Rio Windcutter!  (Peter McKean)

                And some of actively develop new tapers designed specifically for modern plastic Lines, not silk.  (Chris Obuchowski)

                You know in 26 years of fishing my Orvis Battenkill, I have never had to replace any guides. However, I take meticulous care of my silk lines and don't use junk floatants to keep them afloat. Several years ago I wrote a lengthy piece on the proper care of silk for this journal, maybe the guys can look it up, but one of the comments was to use a quality linseed oil to treat the silk line every winter and summer (or 2X per year) and the line will never falter. Additionally, one MUST stop fishing around lunch time, find a nice spot for a sandwich and can of suds, and remove the line from the reel and hang it up to dry. The 30-40 minutes this takes will bring great rewards for an afternoon of casting and keeping the line floating. Musclin is OK to help the line along but must be cleaned off at the end of the day.

                If you fish with silk you can't be lazy, and just reel in and for get about it! I guess I will open this can of whoop ass worms and say that: "fishing with silk on a bamboo rod is a gentlemen’s way of life and all others are just sport fishing" Quotes are mine.

                Line tapers are like rod tapers. Who cares if you have the right balance when casting on the stream or river your on?

                No one I have ever fished with, in now in almost 3 decades, has ever stopped and said: WOW that 4 wt blah blah taper with the spur turbo weight forward self cast line sure did catch a big fish!"

                Generally it goes like this: OOOOOOH big fish........OOOOOH look he jumped again.....BRING THE NET!  (Rudy Rios)

                  We all make our choices.  While your’s are different than mine, I value your ability to choose.  For what I enjoy doing, and the ways I enjoy doing it, silk doesn't work well.   If it does for you, that's great.  But is it fair to paint with a broad brush and say that all bamboo rods are made for silk lines?  If so, our potential market just shrank by a huge percentage.  (Harry Boyd)

                    Well said Harry. Having fished for more than 50 years, I had the privilege of fishing when bamboo and silk were common. But back then I was young enough to have fewer pursuits and caring for fly lines was more of a passion.  Today I am retired and have all my  time to do as I please, but the number of my pursuits has increased. I enjoy tying flies, and building rods, and driving my sports car in the mountains, fishing and the company of my wife. There is only so much time in a day and I don't have room for playing games with silk fly lines. Uroj and others have a different set of priorities and that is great for them. I'm glad that somebody likes silk lines and is  keeping their use alive. Some day I may want to try one out again and remind myself of the frustration at trying to fish a dry fly during a spectacular hatch with a waterlogged silk line at the end of a long day. There is a reason why I saved my meager allowance and bought a nasty plastic line when I got the chance.  (Larry Lohkamp)

                  My own regime is to strip the entire line off my reel when I return home and hang it in 5-foot coils around a (very smooth) double coat hook on the back of my fly-tying room door.  The double hooks are spaced just right to hold the reel foot.  The following Friday night, I Mucilined it up (used twice), reel it up, pack the reel, and I'm off Saturday morning!  Note to my retired colleagues:  It's as dry as it needs to be to fish the next day, if I had that luxury.  The line sits on the hooks thru the Winter, too.  Further note:  Terrible Winter-fishing line.  Can you say, 'Butcher's twine?'  I thought so.

                  To me, lazy as the day is long, it doesn't seem like any extra work.  (Steve Yasgur)

                  I've read lots of opinions - what about Cortland's Sylk?  (Bob Skoy)

                    Good Cortland line.  I have some.  Nothin' special.  Decent in cold weather.  'Sylk' is merchandising, that's all.  (Steve Yasgur)

                    That is by far one of the worst lines to ever hit the market.  I think I have given away or sold all the Sylk lines I had.  I may have one 5 weight left laying around someplace in a box.  (Bret Reiter)

                      I'm new to bamboo.  I really enjoy fishing my recently received gift of a Needham 8' 2/3 for 5#.    I'll be fishing it for 3-days on the Housatonic in CT; with my Winston 8' 5# for backup.

                      However, there seems to be positive feedback on the Cortland peach-444 (or the Hook and Hackle version).

                      I'm definitely not ready, or receptive at this time, to the effort  the silk line takes.  (Bob Skoy)

                        It's true, both are great lines. At $25.00, the H & H lines are a real bargain, and the color is great for stealthy fishing. I have been a Cortland customer for 40 years, and I hate to pan them, but the Sylk lines are terrible in hot weather, as others have suggested. They are not bad at all  in cool weather, but I don't see any advantage over the other lines mentioned. Olaf will hate me for mentioning it once again, but the Orvis intermediate lines cast much like silk, and if kept greased will  almost float, just like silk:) (Tom Smithwick)

    I have several of them I bought a couple of years ago.  My understanding is that they are essentially the same as a Cortland 333, except for the color.  I think the olive color is a little easier on the eyes than the peach of the 333.  They are perfectly OK, and as you say, the price is very good.  I bought them just to get inexpensive lines in several different weights, but I fish them regularly.  (Robert Kope)

    PS:  Actually, I was wrong.  They are supposed to be the same as the Cortland peach-colored 444 lines.  That error was corrected by some of the later posts on the same thread.

    I have 2 of them Larry and you can't beat them for the price.  (Will Price)

    Use silk silly boy!

    Bamboo tapers are designed for silk, and once you go silk you wont go back to plastic. Ahhh I can smell it now, new bamboo and freshly oiled silk.....  (Rudy Rios)

      I do but not all my customers do!  (Larry Tusoni)

      OLD bamboo tapers are designed for silk. Not everyone copies an old taper.

      Which might bring up a good topic for discussion. For those that have fished and made rods for both, how might an older taper be modified to perform better with new lines or how might a new rod be designed from scratch with this in mind.   (Jim Lowe)

        A lot of people use silk on all bamboo rods (I do) and the reputable silk lines all conform to the AFFTA standards (see here).

        Personally I like how silk casts vis-à-vis plastic and how it cuts the wind better and becomes more supple with use, and of course the longevity of it.  (Larry Tusoni)

          I think it's worth pointing out though that the AFFTA standards doesn't say much of anything about the distribution of the weight in that canonical first 30 feet. To take it to an extreme, it would seem that 30 feet of 2 lb monofilament with a 140 grain shot somewhere along it would be a conforming if perfectly horrible 5 weight line.  (Mike McGuire)

            Well it is obvious that AFFTA cannot dictate what the line taper should be, ergo triangle, long belly and many other line tapers exist.

            My point was that no matter what material the line is made from, it will at least weight the same per a given section, this was not true at one time, and some rod tapers were designed for particular types of lines, for example the Garrison E tapers.  (Larry Tusoni)

          That would actually make for an interesting poll on Clark’s if someone hasn't already done it.

          I know some folks do use silk but the majority of the lines available aren't silk and as you said, there many line tapers.  At 30 feet the lines may weigh the same but how the line turns over will different and how the rod loads might even be affected by the weight of the 5 or 6 feet of additional line sitting in the guides. (I know I'm probably the only one that thinks that last bit. It goes back to the issue of stripper guide placement that I'm always so unsuccessful in bringing up. :) )    (Jim Lowe)

        It's surprising to me to learn that (older?) rod tapers were designed based on the material composition of the line(s) used. Horsehair? If my understanding of the Garrison/Carmichael treatise isn't incorrect, Mr. Garrison based his design calculations on the weight of a predetermined length of the line planned to be cast. It was conceded that silk lines were used in earlier days, but that didn't preclude the use of any other material, so far as can be discerned (by me) from the text. Comment(s)?  (Vince Brannick)

        Everett Garrison originally designed his rods for silk lines.  When plastic lines became popular he converted the tapers for plastic.  His original tapers have just a numerical designation, while the ones modified for plastic lines carry the "E" designation.  For example the 212E is derived from the 212.  In general, the "E" tapers are about 0.002" to 0.003" larger than the parent tapers.  That's nearly a half a line weight.

        I believe that his reasoning was that though the lines have the same weight, the plastic lines are larger in diameter and tend to be stiffer.  As a result, they have more resistance moving through the air, and thus require a stiffer rod to produce a similar action in the rod.  However, there are additional consequences to the larger diameter and lower density.  As a number of others have pointed out, they don't cut through the wind as well for one thing.  They also don't carry momentum as well, so they don't load the rod as well at the end of a false cast or back cast, so the caster doesn't get as good a feel for what the line is doing, and it's more difficult to time your casting

        Of course, this applies only to floating lines.  A plastic type-VI sinking line has smaller diameter and greater density than a silk line of the same weight.  But then, it doesn't pick up quite as well.  (Robert Kope)

          And of course, Robert, the plastic lines of 40 - 50 years ago are nowhere near the same lines available today.  If all I had for plastic lines were AirCel I and Cortland 333, I would give up on plastic lines.  (Harry Boyd)

          Not to be contrary minded or start anything ugly, it seems to me though that silk lines load the rods I make easier than plastic ones do. Would that be because of the roughness of the line when compared to the smooth plastic surface?  (Ren Monllor)

          Well. thanks for that, Robert.  That's the first time I ever heard anybody explain the "E" designation on Garrison rods, and I have wondered about it for years! (Peter McKean)

            You must be flying under the "common knowledge ceiling." The explanation for the E tapers is in The Book, which, as we all know, is required reading for all bamboo rodmakers. I always thought it was hairsplitting in the Nth degree, the E tapers call for a .002" increase in diameter at every station, which means .001" per strip, somebody convince me there is going to be any meaningful difference between 2 rods made of a natural material, even if made from the same culm. I might let you talk me into believing that 2 graphite rods could conceivably be different with that tiny thickness difference, but I doubt that anyone not approaching Steve Rajeff's casting proficiency could tell. If that offends anyone who is driven to obsess over every last thousandth of an inch, my apologies, I've measured too many old rods both cheap  and expensive.  (John Channer)

              Silk or plastic, I fish both. Really like silk. Does it make a difference in my fishing? Don't think so. One of my favorite lines came on a Hardy featherweight I bought on eBay (plastic), don't know who made it, but it was great. Sadly some guy got it hung up on a light fixture and I had to cut it in half (rather than chance pulling the fixture down) at the Denver flyfishing convention this winter. I sure am glad I didn't let that Banker, yahoo cast my Phoenix silk. And believe me he didn't even know which end of the fly rod the handle was on, much less which line was better.

              One more thing all this concern which line is better doesn't really make much difference when you're casting 4 ozs. of lead and a chearleader's pom-pom! Or that so called dry (made of foam) and a dropper rig.  (Joe Arguello)

            It's worth a look through the taper section of the book. It's clear he contemplated up to three tip dimensions for light, medium and regular, and that he preferred the latter. As I understand it the E designation is regular, and the unnumbered is medium. At least that's what my note says, but I can't locate the source just now. (Sean McSharry)

          Thanks for explaining that for me too.  I was wondering also about the "E" designation in the taper archives.  Maybe if I get out with you and Cliff you can teach me more about silk lines.  (Mike Monsos)

            All this talk about silk vs. plastic. At the 2007 Catskills gathering during the Harold Demarest rodmakers challenge, the winning rod that cast the farthest was then fitted with a silk fly line and cast another ten feet further than the plastic line. (Scott Bearden)

              All this discussion about casting better and casting further with this or that line, or this or that guide makes me a bit weary. I fish for trout where a 60  plus foot cast is very rare. Most of my casts are within 25 feet of line. I can cast silk or plastic 60 feet and farther and it's fun to do at a rodmakers' gathering where everyone out there is ripping his shorts trying to cast an entire line even with the little 6 and 7-footers. Out on the stream, it's meaningless. I like to cast silk, probably for esthetic reasons. If the situation is such that I don't want to damage a good silk line, I happily switch to plastic. I have a few older rods with small guides, that were certainly made during the silk line era, and they cast fine with plastic, even to 60 feet and beyond, if I do my part. There's my 2 cent's worth and to each his own.  (Steve Weiss)

                Now that I can agree with! Distance casting on trout streams is meaningless. I can see it for salt water fishing where 80 foot casts are the norm. But on a trout stream, who can see a size 16 BWO at 40 feet, much less 60? I get as close as I can without spooking fish.

                I never said in my earlier post whether I thought there is much merit to distance casting, just pointing out that in a competition, real silk beat out a plastic line.  (Scott Bearden)

              Did they also look at which one folks cast more often with precision and consistency? Which one allowed for better in air mends and curve casts or easier casting under objects.

              I know it was mainly a rod contest but was the better rod simply judged on distance  casts alone?  (Jim Lowe)

                Three false casts, longest distance. Thems the rules. The best rod was judged on how far it was cast by a number of people, not just a single longest cast. The competition is pretty much going on simultaneously to the gathering and it took all weekend to get all of the casters to cast all of the rods.

                The contest itself is a very low total rod weight with a certain line weight. This year the rod has to be an 8 wt that weighs 4.5 ounces or less. The 2007 contest I mentioned required a 5 wt rod with a total weight less than 3.5 ounces.  (Scott Bearden)


I bought an unfinished silk fly line last year and applied multiple coats of Linjola (linseed) oil over the last couple of months and now I'd like to put the line to the test on the bamboo rods.  I've polished the line with 0000 steel wool and applied three coats the Red Tin Muslin but the line is a tad stiff.  I can cast the line but I'd like to make the line softer, more limp would be a better description.  Does anybody have any tricks or methods to achieve this other than time the water with the bamboo fly rod?  (Mike Monsos)

    Find an old sock, put it on your foot, and rub the line back and forth on the bottom of your foot, putting a good bend in the line.  Don't kink it, but rather hold it in a "U" shape while pulling it back and forth.

    This can be accomplished with a good single malt and a movie.  (Mark Wendt)

      That sounds simple enough and will save me a heck of a lot of casting time. (Mike Monsos)

        I did that with my Terenzio silk line and it softened up nicely.  Just don't get the bend in the line too sharp and you should be okay.  (Mark Wendt)

    I purchased a bunch of silk fly lines off eBay a couple of years ago and I ended up soaking them in warm water and baking soda a couple of times. They were pretty supple once done that way. I let them dry a couple of days (hung them off the chandelier in the dining room; we use TV tables in the living room), then used line grease (Red Mucilin). I fish them regularly.  (Ren Monllor)

      I would do the wash but these lines were new, unfinished when I bought them. The finish after application is somewhat stiff on the lines, I'm thinking that your lines were used and pretty limp by the time you did your cleaning and reconditioning. I'm not sure that the baking soda solution soaking would soften the finish, but I could be wrong.   If I need to polish my lines a bit more I'll do the wash routine to remove the Mucilin before I start to polish the lines more.  (Mike Monsos)

    I have broken in a couple of redressed silk lines by running them over a piece of 1/2" HSS rod that I originally got for the purpose of rolling the edge on scrapers.

    I just clamp the HSS rod in a vice and work the line black and forth over it until it is all done.  Not too much pressure, and it does a good job.  I recently broke in a new Phoenix line this way, too, as opposed to refinished ones, and it is fine.

    The ultra smooth hard surface on the HSS rod precludes line damage, or seems to.  (Peter McKean)


At an auction, I bought a box of old fly reels. Three of them are old automatic reels, one Shakespeare, and two South Bends. These appear to have silk line on them. WOW! What a find! NOT! These seem to be Nylon and finished like silk. Is there any information out there for such animals? Are they any good? Can they be refinished like silk? I haven't measured them yet to see if I can figure out the taper or weight. One or two looks promising, the third looks to be a level heavy weight line.  (David Dziadosz

    I believe they made braided nylon lines to imitate silk. I think you clean them and coat them like silk. Several web sites have good info on this including at least I think that is the web site.  (Gordon Koppin)


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