View Full Version : WF or DT?
07-20-99, 06:26 PM
I've had some interesting discussions with some experts from NGTO and elsewhere lately concerning WF & DT lines on light rods (2,3,4,5wts). I thought I'd share an enlightening article someone sent me. It's lengthy, but worth the read.
FLY LINE THOUGHTS
"I'm often surprised at the justification I hear for selecting a weight forward taper versus a double taper fly line. Many anglers have some strange ideas as to why they should be using a particular taper, and a lot of their reasons have no basis in fact. Let's examine our choices and explore the virtues of each.
Say we do all our trout fishing with a 5-weight line and never cast over 40 feet of line. Which taper would make the most sense? Well, to most people's surprise, it makes absolutely no difference; both lines have exactly the same taper design to the 40 foot point. In fact, the front taper design is the same for line weights 2-12 from one well know manufacturer, regardless of the line type being weight forward or double taper. No more comments about one taper being more delicate than the other, please. And no more complaints that a double taper won't cast a bulky fly as well as a weight forward, because it certainly will. And, in the same vein, I hear that some rods need a weight forward line to load them properly; obviously, if the tapers are the same this is not true.
What if we need to cast sixty feet? The theory, of course, goes that a weight forward will do this easier. Maybe, if we were using a very heavy line weight this would be true. But in a 5- weight, I submit that the difference in diameter, and hence weight, between the belly and the running line isn't substantial enough to be a real benefit. The belly simply doesn't outweigh the running line by enough to actually assist in pulling a substantial amount of line out. And in a 2-, 3- or 4-weight line this concept applies even more dramatically. So, while we still may be able to cast the 60 feet with the weight forward, the price we pay isn't worth it, for the following reason.
While it might not aid our casting, the difference between the belly and running line on a 5- or 6-weight forward line is substantial enough to effect how much line we can carry in the air and pick up off the water, and this can cause serious problems. The taper of a weight forward limits us to carry only the head in the air (approx. 40 feet); beyond this distance we would have to rely on the thin running line to support the heavier head, which doesn't work well at all. So, to hit the 60 foot mark we have to shoot 20 or so feet, which is almost always a big problem. If we're sitting in a float tube gulper fishing but we miscast and end up just behind him, then what? Can we pick up and immediately try again? No way, because the difference in diameter between the belly and running line won't allow it. We will not be able to carry the 60 feet of line in the air. Consequently, we have to strip in to the 40 foot mark, double haul, and hopefully shoot the 20 feet accurately enough to get back on the fish. This is a miserable situation to be in. A double taper is a more logical choice. We can carry as much line in the air as we need to (or physically can) for a particular situation. We are not limited by the fly line. In our example above we would simply carry 50 feet of line in the air and shoot 10 feet, or maybe just carry the whole works at once if we can, and deliver the cast. If we make a bad cast, instead of stripping in to the head, we just strip in once or twice or not at all, pick up, and re-deliver. There is no need to even double haul, because there is enough weight in the line we are carrying outside the rod tip to pull out our shooting line. Unless you are an expert caster (and therefore a good double hauler), you can almost always cast farther with a double taper line in a line weight of 7 or lighter. Too few people realize this.
Once we get into line weights of 8 and over, the belly on a weight forward is heavy enough to pull out the running line, which can aid our distance, but we are still faced with the problem of having to strip in, double haul, and shoot line to recast a fly that went awry. I firmly believe that with today's slick finish lines, you give up very little distance (none if you can double haul) and get a whole lot more fishability by choosing a double taper.
Many is the comment that a weight forward line won't mend as well as a double taper. This is true, but remember, only for distances past approximately 40 feet, where you are left trying to mend the belly with the finer running line, certainly a difficult task. If we never need to mend past 40 feet both line tapers will do the job equally well.
Same story for those that thought a weight forward line was better in the wind. They can't possibly be, since the front tapers are the same!
A double taper line also lets you reverse ends when one starts to show wear, something not possible with the weight forward taper.
In summary, there are few applications where you are better off with a weight forward line, (absolutely none when the line weight is under 7) and I would certainly recommend a double taper for all trout fishing situations. They are simply more versatile...
Now, if we can just get S.A. to make us a few saltwater double tapers we'll be all set . . ."
--John Juracek, "Blue Ribbon Catalog & News," 1992, p.12.
07-20-99, 08:27 PM
John Waite in his book "Serious Flyfishing" makes many of the same points and is suspicious of the motives behind marketing WF when the advantages over DT are very few, if any.
By contrast, he surveyed many experienced fly fishermen in his book and a majority favor WF (no reasons given in survey).
07-20-99, 08:40 PM
I've been thinking of a new line.
Double taper it is! http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif
07-20-99, 10:52 PM
Phlyster, it's nice to see you are still posting.
07-20-99, 11:05 PM
http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gifI can't resist.
More stuff in gen info.
07-21-99, 10:21 AM
Having never salt water fly fished, nor seen by backing in fresh water, this question is asked with total naivete. How much of a problem is the following. It would seem (wouldn't it?) that with a dt line the amount of backing capacity of a given fly reel would be reduced given the increased diameter of the running line over a wf. In situations where backing is important, the use of dt would require a larger reel or risk hitting the end of the backing. THe article states that WF makes sense in larger weights at times. Is this why? WHen do the benefits of DT outweigh he need for backing (given that you would see it on a regular basis)?
Learning something new everyday
I think Phlyster and Ihave the same " problem" ! http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif No matter what happens here....we both love this site and remain addicted to the info , comedy, stories and fellowship.
07-21-99, 12:21 PM
The backing issue must certainly be considered. Many anglers cut their DT lines in half in order to add more backing on smaller diameter reels. Depending on how important backing is, you can either use a larger diameter reel or cut the line in half.
I think companies like Orvis are really pushing the WF lines in order to sell more, since the life expectancy is half that of a DT line.
07-21-99, 01:44 PM
Although the following is often used as a justification for double taper lines:
"A double taper line also lets you reverse ends when one starts to show wear, something not possible with the weight forward taper."
In actuality it ain't so. By the time many flyfishers use that back portion of the line, the line has so much memory from being stored in a small spool that it is no longer is fit to cast.
Line selection depends on individual casting abilities and predilections and specific casting needs.
07-21-99, 01:53 PM
"Say we do all our trout fishing with a 5-weight line and never cast over 40 feet of line. Which taper would make the most sense? Well, to mos people's surprise, it makes absolutely no difference; both lines have exactly the same taper design to the 40 foot point."
Actually, this statement comes as a surprise, because it is dead wrong. The weight in grains is the same for the first 30 feet irrespective of the initial taper which is usually one or two feet in most makes. However, the TAPER of the line (read thickness distribution) is drastically different depending on the type of line selected. Some fly lines have long bellies, others such as b****bug tapers have short steep tapers. There is a difference.
07-21-99, 01:57 PM
I bet that for most of us this is merely a scholarly discussion. Over half the time I am doing good to keep the fly line out of the rod tip while nymphing our typical smaller water!
Just a comment, keep up the great discussion.
07-21-99, 02:17 PM
To keep it simple- think thin running line for distance, thick for line control (mending, etc.). If you need line control, go with long belly, level or double taper designs. If distance is the primary motivator, choose a shooting head or a weight forward line. This is a gross simplification and there are exceptions.
Many who have tested fly lines extensively including Paul Burgess of AIRFLO are firmly convinced that weight forward are the preferred choice for most situations.
Line choice is a matter of individual preference and conditions. Don't let anyone dictate what is best for you, take advantage of the full service fly shops to demo cast their offerings. Take any opportunity to try other people's tackle, eventually you will form your equally prejudicial attitude on what is best, at least for your needs.
To make my position clear, I'm not advocating
WF only. I actually use level lines, double tapers, shooting tapers and weight forwards for particular applications. I even create my own tapers for specific situations.
I've become quite jaundiced about pronouncements made by commercial interests who might be hinging a financial stake on their pronouncements. I wonder if someone is sitting on a large stock of double tapers out there that they need to unload now that new line technology is available. I'm not saying that this is the case here, but line selection is as individual as rod selection.
If the double taper is cut in half, you are in effect creating a shooting head. Are commercial shooting head cheaper than the halved double taper? At least, that should be a consideration. There are situations where half a dt line is better than a commercial shooting taper. Halved DT lines are used to create a specific type of shooting taper which provides exceptional line control.
"You pays your money and you takes your choice."
07-21-99, 02:30 PM
"Many is the comment that a weight forward line won't mend as well as a double taper. This is true, but remember, only for distances past approximately 40 feet, where you are left trying to mend the belly with the finer running line, certainly a difficult task. If we never need to mend past
40 feet both line tapers will do the job equally well."
Not quite true. Most people can probably mend
that distance regardless of line type, but certain designs are better than others. Consider the weight of the portions of the line dependent on the taper and the energy necessary to mend that weight. Light line will not mend a thick head and I don't care who you are.
So line selection should entail:
line control requirements
An illustration of the final variable listed above is the sudden realization by many big game fly fishers that they needed to use shooting heads to avoid problems with startup inertia caused by the heavy lines used when the fish took off on its first run.
One concern that has yet to be voiced is:
"what is the effect of the line on presentation?" Does a particular taper configuration overpower a presentation option. Is the line too heavy to feel the fly? Is the taper not aerodynamic enough in the water?
There's too much to think about. Use and learn.
There are no perfect compromises.
07-21-99, 02:46 PM
You beat me to it, David- it's all a matter of preference! Another factor is the environment you fish: spring creeks, wide open rivers, etc. I posted the article not to be considered a commandment on fly fishing lines, or to get everyone to trade in their Wf's, but rather to peak discussion. Let me point out that the article was written in 1992 and line technology has advanced since then. The author is obviously biased and as for the "40 feet" comment, perhaps the author included a 10' leader?
Frequent Flyer wrote: "By contrast, he surveyed many experienced fly fishermen in his book and a majority favor WF (no reasons given in survey). " FF, this still seems to be the case with some of the people I've asked as to why they use WF lines.... Anybody out there want to champion WF tapers? Are we all suckers for clever marketing? Or is there premise to WF's? Every time I see a new line introduced, it's a WF or triangle/delta taper...
07-21-99, 03:55 PM
Yeah! I love being extremely confused. I woke up this morning thinking (figuratively) "hmm, my line is starting to wear, I should think about getting a new line. WHat to get? I like what I have (Courtland 444 peach 6wt wf), but it has worn quickly. Was that my fault? I think I cleaned it well... I have heard good things about Airflo on NGTO, but its so expensive, but it does have a 5 year guarantee.... hmm."
Then I get to this discussion, which before lunch was arguing that DT was the way to go. New thoughts: "hmm, DT, I hadn;t thought about that yet, more decisions, hmm."
Then after lunch there are the comments by rollcast (formerly davida I think, if so I always read his carefully) Now my thoughts are: "hmm, what to do now, I'm so confused, tapers, dt, wf, rocket, bass, presentation, distance, overlining, underlining, $20, $30, $40, $50, $60, ARGHHHH!, hmmm."
07-21-99, 04:20 PM
Jonathan, I feel your pain. I need to buy a line for my new 4wt. I have a DT on my 2wt, had a Delta Taper on my 6wt. That's where the whole DT or WF argument started for me!!! And I'm torn between brands... http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
J A Smith
07-21-99, 05:01 PM
In response to the earlier post about the reversibility of DT flylines, I've had quite good luck with it. I do agree that if you simply strip the line and reverse it you do run into problems with lots of spool memory.
The procedure I've used is to strip the line off the reel and wind it fairly snugly around a large coffee can and let it sit for a week or so. This will allow the tight coils to relax into large, loose loops. Make sure you put the new end (the one that was attached to the backing) onto the coffee can first, and then you can just reattach the old end to the backing and wind it onto the reel. As you are winding the line back onto the reel, it is also a great opportunity to clean and dress the line.
07-21-99, 05:01 PM
I'm thinkin about the wulff triangle taper:
Anyone ever tried it? What do ya'll think about it?
07-21-99, 05:13 PM
You folks seem to be doing a great job of discussing an age old issue but here's my 1.5 cents in case anyone is interested in my opinion.
I fish both big and small water, all moving, and use a DT 99% of the time. I can still cast better thanthirty feet with my 1wt so the case for a WF having better ability distance doesn't hold a good drift for me. The issue of backing is real though. On the flip side how many of us have really seen our backing except when changing spools. When we do it's not usually more then 20-30 yards. So is this backing thing a real problem or a perceived problem. I have a friend who likes to have "plenty" of backing yet a couple of weeks ago he lost a nice brown because he tried to stop a run when he hadn't even gotten into the backing.
I did have to cut my 1wt in half but I'm fishing for big wild fish with 6-8x tippets so backing could be a serius issue. If I was using an off the shelf reel I probably would have been okay but i built myself a tiny reel to go on the rod so space was an issue. Hence 45' of line and hopefully enough backing.(so far so good)
Bottom line, it's your call but for the $ I like the life a DT gives me and I don't feel I lose any distance for it.
07-21-99, 09:41 PM
I rented a fly fishing video some time back (don't remember the guy or the name of the tape) and the guy was a strong proponent of DT line. On the reel I lost a couple of months ago, I had a double taper (Climax, I think) that was 5 wt on one end and 6 wt on the other. Interesting options.
07-21-99, 10:01 PM
Whow, I've never heard of that, must be new, ehh! Where'd ya buy it from?
The Ole Man
07-21-99, 11:19 PM
Hook and Hackle sells them. Climax Double/Double-diff. weight on each end. I've got two, the 4/5 and the 5/6. They are not as slick or stiff as a 444 though. Cortland owns Climax now-btw.
Also-if anyone can find it on a search, a student at MIT that graduated this spring wrote an article titled "Physics of the Cast". If you think you are "cornfused" now, wait til you see this. It was beyond me-to the point that I didn't even bookmark it. This has all the mathmatical formulas and animations for the flycast.
07-22-99, 09:06 AM
Phly, Their web adress is www.hookhack.com and theit number is 800-552-8342. They are in Plattsburgh NY.
WDN FLY: You say you built yourself a tiny reel... Do you build and sell small reels? I assume the price for a tiny reel would be tiny, too. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif Seriously, I'd like to hear more. Even if it meant sacrificing something in terms of balance between rod and reel, the tradeoff in weight could be worth considering.
07-22-99, 12:05 PM
"Then after lunch there are the comments by rollcast (formerly davida I think, if so I always read his carefully) Now my thoughts are: "hmm, what to do now, I'm so confused, tapers, dt, wf, rocket, bass, presentation,
distance, overlining, underlining, $20, $30, $40, $50, $60, ARGHHHH!,hmmm."
Davida and rollcast are one and the same.Just changed to something a bit more in keeping with NGTO posters.
Frankly, most modern fly lines will provide adequate casting capabilities to most users.
I do think that getting a wf is ok for most fly fishers. Most tackle is optimized with the expectation that it will be used with a WF taper, but it doesn't hurt to experiment once a need has been ascertained.
If you do a lot of roll casting, then a double taper, or a triangle taper are more likely to suit your needs than a WF. I personally like level lines for fishing small streams where I expect to roll cast all day. I find that it will work best with my particular sensibilities. I also use a 3 wt gl****rod, too, and that may have a bearing on my preferences. There is a bit of a presentation penalty when using a level line but I adjust for it.
I tend to like lines with long bellies because I will often mend to optimize my drift. I like lines that mend easily.
If you like light tackle and small reels, then usually a wf is the best choice, if one requires adequate backing on the reel. Of course, a halved DT will work, but there are still some storage penalties. The other advantage of using WF in this contect is that one can cut 10 to 20 feet of line from the back end without too many compunctions to meet backing requirements.
If your line doesn't do something that you need, then maybe it's time for a change. However, this proccess should come with a frank evaluation of one's casting abilities. Is it the line or the caster?
One final comment, I am a firm believer in fishing short. The shorter the cast the better the hooking percentage will be. Optimum fly fishing distance should be in the 20 to 40 foot range. At that range, any fly line made today will work to anyone's expectation.
07-22-99, 12:11 PM
BeeDub, Yes I build reels. I have a small reel building business. My reels are built from Hardwood. My little reel has a spool diameter of 2.25". I would be happy to discuss this with you further but it should probably be done via phone or e-mail. let me know what you had in mind.
The Ole Man
07-22-99, 01:04 PM
Here it is: "The Physics of Flycasting"
07-22-99, 01:11 PM
I know what you mean, I found that this winter, and maaaaan!
Does hook and hackle have a website? Where are they located at?
Here's that link:
I was fortunate to see a couple of your reels at the recent NGTO Fling. Beautiful pieces of work. I was just wondering what you meant by "tiny" reel. Is it smaller than most of what we see in the shops?
07-22-99, 03:57 PM
07-22-99, 04:01 PM
07-22-99, 09:11 PM
BeeDub, Thanks for the compliment, Yah my little one is pretty tiny at 2.25" draw a circle that size and set your smallest reel next to it. The real treat is I still kept the arbor at more than an inch so it has a great line pickup and of course I gave it nice drag.
07-22-99, 10:46 PM
My 4weight ross reel is exactly 2 5/8"inches!
07-23-99, 08:45 AM
Phly, the difference doesn't sound like much but it is visually because our eye sees the area of the "circle" or spool face. I could have possibly gone smaller but I wanted a decent sized arbor and my drag system has certain requirements in order to stay really smooth. On your reel, how's the backing capacity and what is your arbor diameter. Two and five eigths, that sounds like a nice little reel. Which Ross is it?
whoa. SO which one of these lines will throw 10 ft. of line the furtheressststst.... http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif hehe
enjoyed all the info guys ! good stuff !!!
07-23-99, 05:42 PM
It's a Colorado, CO-0(CO-zero)
The exact measurements are as follows:
Weight: 3.3 oz.
Capacity: WF3+70yrds, DT3+50yrds
Even though it is recomended for 1,2, and 3 weights, I still use it for my 4 wieght.
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