Fly Lines for the Flats
Jim Teeny Bruce Chard Pro Bonefish Floating Line (PRO-BC-B-8). $65 retail. Scientific Anglers Mastery Bonefish. $63 retail. Wulff Bermuda Triangle Taper Bonefish Line, Two-Tone. $64 retail. Jim Teeny Bruce Chard Pro Tarpon Floating Line (PRO-BC-T-12). $65 retail. Scientific Anglers Mastery Tarpon Line. $63 retail.
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irst, let me state that I'm neither a bonefishing expert nor a tropical angling ace. Further, I only used these lines on Winston Boron IIX eight- and a 12-weight rods while chasing bones and trevally on Christmas Island for a week. But in the time-honored tradition of fishing writers, I won't let those limitations stand in the way of offering my opinions.
What Your Fly Line Needs to Do
When you're fishing tropical waters, you need a fly line designed for the purpose. That means it has to:
All the lines I used performed met these requirements. Which one is best? That depends on the caster and his or her rig. I have my preferences, but ideally you should experiment and try different lines.
Unfortunately, you need to sample different lines on tropical waters and not in a downtown Bozeman, Montana, parking lot in January.
Jim Teeny Bruce Chard Pro Bonefish Floating Line (PRO-BC-B-8). $65 retail. This is a 100-foot line, with a 4.5-foot front taper, 19-foot main belly, then 15-foot rear taper to the 61.5 foot running line. It comes in teal color. The Bruce Chard series has generated some enthusiasm among saltwater anglers, and I used it on the recommendation of others. A major asset is that it loads the rod quickly. I liked this line, but not as well as the Wulff Triangle Taper (see below).
Scientific Anglers Mastery Bonefish. $63 retail. A 100-foot line, featuring a 6.5-foot front taper, 20-foot front belly, 15-rear belly, and 4-foot rear taper leading 54.5 feet of running line. Sky-blue color. What can I say? It worked just fine, but I couldn't get excited about it.
Wulff Bermuda Triangle Taper Bonefish Line, Two-Tone. $64 retail. The Triangle Taper lines feature a long continuously tapering head. The idea is that this means that heavier line is always turning over lighter line, yielding some of the casting advantages of a weight-forward line but with a more delicate presentation. The Bermuda Triangle line has a 30-foot head and 75-foot running line. The line changes color as it transitions to the running line.
Astute readers may have noticed something short of wild enthusiasm for the first two fly lines. They did the job that was expected of them. But I quickly fell in love with the Wulff Bermuda Triangle Taper. It cast easily, as they all did, but the presentation was gentler. That's important with easily spooked bonefish. Also, it cast more accurately under windy conditions. That's another big plus for flats fishing. Further, the two tone color makes it easier to judge how much line you've got out, and to know where the head is (vital when making quick re-casts to a moving fish). The running line is ridged, so it offers less resistance through the guides. That also means it will probably wear out faster, since the wear is concentrated on a smaller surface area. But flats lines usually wear out due to coral abrasions and cuts, not casting, so I don't see this as an issue for this line.
The Wulff Bermuda Triangle Taper quickly became my favorite; my guide agreed with me on this, and he sees more gear than I do. I really felt that I caught more fish after I started using this line, mostly because of gentler, more accurate presentations.
Big Fish Lines
Jim Teeny Bruce Chard Pro Tarpon Floating Line (PRO-BC-T-12). $65 retail. Sky blue color. The taper specs for this are the same as the Teeny bonefish line described above. The line performed well and I have no complaints. As with the other Bruce Chard line, it loads the rod quickly when you don't have much line out. That wasn't a big issue for me because by the time I had grabbed the trevally rod and stripped out enough line to cast to a fish, it was far enough away that a long cast was needed.
Scientific Anglers Mastery Tarpon Line. $63 retail. Horizon (blue-green) color. This line also performed well. I felt I could cast farther with it than with the Bruce Chard line, and my guide felt the same way. If I had to choose, I'd pick it over the Teeny line.
Bottom Line: Some are better than others. The Wulff Triangle Taper Bonefish Line is my top choice. Reviewer Rating: 5
5=tops 3=average 1=low
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