By Kieran Conlon – Guideline PowerTeam Ireland
Which shooting line ? Well for me that depends on the head in use and the conditions in play but these days either TSL or Compline cover ninety nine percent of my fishing requirements. It is important not to overlook a shooting lines function when it comes to making your choice. Firstly it allows us to achieve distance by shooting line, obvious I know but often taken for granted. It forms a connection & control between the shooting head & the rod providing feedback as to what is happening at the business end – The Fly.
Shooting lines also serve a vital function when it comes to casting in that they create resistance in-turn providing tension as they go through the rod guides and air, ensuring turnover and stability. Try attaching a length of shooting line to your favourite head, just enough that you have your preferred overhang length back down to your hand. Now try making a cast and see what happens to the loop after the shooting line has left the rod. It won’t be pretty. The greater the resistance (higher diameter shooting line provides greater surface area against which to create resistance) the quicker the head will turnover potentially giving a reduction in distance but providing a positive turnover and good presentation. Vice a versa the lower the tension (low diameter shooting line) the more turnover is slowed potentially giving more flight time and greater distance but a shooting line that does not create enough resistance for the outfit in use can make for poor turnover and a messy presentation.
Ok so we know line speed is generated by the acceleration of the rod tip through the forward stroke but different shooting heads will respond differently to the same acceleration attaining differing speeds depending on their profile & density. In my opinion this differing response should have an influence on our choice of shooting line. !For those interested in loop dynamics, the shooting line creates resistance going through the guides which in turn puts tension into the rod(lower) leg of the loop ensuring the top leg is pulled around the apex of the loop achieving turnover. This process can also be helped by good profile design and weight distribution of the shooting head. If the resistance is not sufficient then ….. Now the variable here is line speed or specifically in this case the speed at which the loop as a whole is travelling through the air when shooting line. Higher speeds (as achieved when using a higher density/lower profile sinking heads – less air resistance) require seemingly less resistance though in reality it gains higher resistance from the same shooting line as it goes through the guides at a higher speed. This is where low resistance shooting lines such as Compline excel.
Larger profile less dense heads such as full floaters, hover etc will benefit from a shooting line with a higher diameter offering a little more resistance such as a coated line. These heads have an inherent lower line speed due to their greater surface area creating friction as they travel through the air. This becomes more evident towards the end of the cast as momentum fades and where a shooting line that does not provide sufficient resistance can affect poor final turnover and presentation. Add a large/heavy fly or head wind to the mix and this issue will be compounded further. Remember good final turnover with the leader straightening out full is vital to get that fly fishing immediately. One proviso here is that for me its about optimising each outfit I use for it’s intend purpose but first and foremost there must be a good consistent casting technique in use to see results. At short distances the differences are negligible as there should be plenty of momentum in the cast to achieve satisfactory turnover but at medium to long distance or in extreme conditions these subtleties will be far more noticeable and can make the difference between an effective cast that presents the fly as intended or a wasted swing.
TSL is a classic style coated shooting line with some modern touches such as a tapered front section, very neat welded loops, low stretch mono core, reasonably stiff and very slick with the handling benefits of a coated line. This all makes for a great shooting line. I like to use this line with floating heads or any head with a floating belly such as the float sink or skagit heads. TSL’s diameter provides good resistance enhancing presentation with good turnover when using thicker less dense floating heads. The low stretch provides for more instant feedback back both in casting & fishing allowing subtle takes to be detected earlier. A Thicker tapered zone close to the rod tip provides a more efficient energy transfer between the rod and shooting head. My favourite shooting line for summer fishing on larger rivers when a subtle approach is called for with floating lines and smaller flies often at distance.
Compline is oval cross-section, solid, slick & sinks. Just the right characteristics for some serious shoots. Compline offers much less resistance as it goes through the guides making it the perfect match for higher density full sinking heads which for the same effort generate higher line speeds. Compline offers some serious fishing benefits for cold water presentations when a full sinking head is in use. Early season can often mean cold water and requires us to present the fly deep and slow. Full sinking heads will get below the surface currents to the slower water giving the required depth. The use of a classic coated shooting line in this situation(and these are often floaters) with its higher diameter/surface area makes it difficult to maintain a nice slow steady presentation as it is more subject to the faster surface currents drawing the line across too quickly. Compline’s lower diameter and oval cross section greatly reduce the surface currents influence on the line as it comes across. It also makes it very easy to lift from the water or hold the line back. Compline has just the right amount of stretch for this type line ensuring any memory is quickly eliminated which is vital for a line that will often be used in very cold water.
The other shooting lines in Guideline’s range should not be overlooked either. LRL is one of the most supple, low stretch shooting lines out there. This makes for a great handling line even in the coldest weather. It’s a great all round line perfect for beginners getting used to looping and shooting line. For those who require a floating low mono style shooting line GL shooter is excellent and offers the advantage of not sinking which is great when deep wading. It availability in high breaking strains make it a good option when theres the possibility for some very large fish about and high breaking strain leaders are being used. !The shooting line is often overlooked with many anglers using a single line for all their shooting heads and varying conditions. There are however advantages to using the different types of shooting lines available for the reasons outlined above and more. Some having characteristics that enhance the fishing experience , some the casting experience and some do both. Make a choice based on your individual requirements and don’t be afraid to experiment. I wouldn’t confine myself to just one shooting head and I see no reason to do so with shooting lines either.
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Tight Lines / Kieran