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I must preface this question by mentioning that I did a search for this topic, but could not find anything relevant. If I missed a previous discussion, please point me in the right direction.

I am looking for some sort of correlation between the weight of the fly to be cast and the weight of the fly line. Now, I understand that the same rod that casts a 510 Scandi may require a different weight Skagit, and certainly will require a different weight mid-belly. But it seems to me that with all of the expertise on this Forum, someone must have figured out the optimum weight range for a fly, based on line weight, more scientifically than "that fly is too heavy for that line".

My purpose in asking this is that my casting ability is not so good that I can discern whether the problems I have are due to a fly that is too heavy for the line, or simply bad technique. I have taken lessons, and find myself improving after every lesson, however, for those times when I don't having a casting guru at my elbow, it would be nice to start out with a rod/line/tip/fly system in relative balance.

Thanks in advance!

Jim
 

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Just personal observation here Jim, but for me the 'head weight' (eg: mass in grains) has a hell of a lot to do with the size of the fly. Rod weight also comes into play, but it takes 'grains' to chuck a heavy fly. If the flies wet, this becomes more 'important' as non-syntetic materials absorb water so the fly gets even more heavy/wind resistant.

Personal observation here only as I rarely need more than a 6wt 2hander here on the upper Rogue, but a lightly weighted fly is all I ever use. The reason is (more often than not) the water will be 'low and clear' most of the year unless there's a hell of a water dump coming out of the Wm. Jess Dam just above the Hatchery.

The second 'issue' is the bigger the fly, the heavier/stiffer the leader needs to be to accomplish the 'transfer of energy' from the fly line down the leader to the fly. Think Maxima Ultra Green vs. a hair thin Fluorocarbon of the same breaking strength.

This fishing game is just a bunch of frinkin choices....:rolleyes:
 

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I don't have anything scientific datawise, but the taper/weight distribution of the head/line has a lot to do with it too. For example, in the winter, I'm able to cast up to 5/0 Winter's Hopes (19-20grain hook weight) and marabou intruders with med lead eyes with a 7wt Ambush line on my single hand glass rods, the head is 265gr/20'. I think the concentrated weight in a short taper allows these lines to toss more weight bulk than a typical, longer tapered line.

Todd
 

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I agree: It takes both grains (fae) and taper (Todd.)

I've never actually weighed any fly, but I know I can cast all but the heaviest and largest patterns (large tungsten dumbel-eyes and over 5" long (very rarely)) with a short compact head anywhere between the Ambush #7 on a #7 single-hander up to a 510 skagit comp on a 7/8 2HD'er.

From there I rely on tips or sinking leaders and occasionally on brass beads and long leaders to gain depth when casting anything beyond a compact-head.
 

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I don't know of any formula. Finding out what can handle heavy flies seems to be trial-and-error, learning from other anglers, streamside, and here on Spey Pages. Recently, I tried a new combination of lines and heavier sinking tip than I normally use, and found that I could cast just about anything with my Decho 7130. (Back in the Old Testament days, I used 10-weight single hand rods for lead-weighted winter steelhead rods.) I noticed that spey rods introduced this last year for chinook salmon are mostly nine-weights. So unless you're hunting for 60-pounders in the Alta River, is there really any need these days for 10/11 and heavier spey rods and lines?
 

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Hi Jim,

I can tell you one thing that is for sure, a weighted fly be it dumbbell eyes, cone head or other will bust a rod tip or other section if you make a mistake. I do not use weighted flies but some patterns when wet can be quite heavy. My very best advice is that if you want to fish 'flies' with a spey rod, stay within the realm of the traditional patterns and leave the tossing of large and weighted lures to those using appropriate tackle for it. Few things in fly fishing can equal the relaxed pace of casting and swinging traditional unweighted flies.

That will sound harsh to some but I see this style of fishing moving farther and farther away from why I began doing it. The heads become shorter and the flies larger and heavier every year. To each their own but I began with long belly lines and salmon flies and still stubbornly use them.

Just a little preaching, please don't take offense.
 

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Can't disagree with Ard's post above but there are ways to throw heavy stuff, and there are ways to sink without adding weight. It's in velocity, more speed more mommentum. I don't have any trouble throwing 5/0 partridge M's with a 7/8 delta floating or sink-tipped line. You just have to use more energy to increase line speed, the shorter the head the easier it gets. Fishing deep doesn't require weighted flies...
 

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Junkyard Spey
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My purpose in asking this is that my casting ability is not so good that I can discern whether the problems I have are due to a fly that is too heavy for the line, or simply bad technique.
Why not just start on the small side and work up?
 

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Why not just start on the small side and work up?
Dead on Mike, dead on!

"Horses for Courses" as the Brit's would say. Here on the upper Rogue a fly on a size 4 hook would be 'big.' Personally, its rare that I even chuck a size six. No need.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Why not just start on the small side and work up?
Great suggestion, as always.

The reason I am asking the question, aside from what I stated previously, is that my opportunity for on-river experimentation is rather limited, so I am working to reduce the variables to a moderately confusing minimum. I figured that knowing an optimum weight range for flies, based on the line weight would eliminate, or at least limit, one more variable.

Jim

(and thanks to all who have provided some great answers so far)
 

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The optimum weight of fly you can cast will be very subjective based on one's ability, tackle, outside conditions, and maybe location. It will certainly not be the same for every angler.

Hook size really isn't really a good criteria either as both flies pictured below can have the same hook size.

I would just pick something that I knew I could handle and then go up from there as time on the water permitted.
 

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skill level...

you can't cast, stay small and learn..

when you can cast size won't matter anymore...

simple really!

Ard, that's a great post you put up...very cool my friend..
 

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Weighted flies

I use weighted flies or heavy hooks quite a bit. Not super heavy.
My philosophy is that if im fishing subsurface a few feet, I want the fly to get there quickly after it hits the water. I also want to avoid a line profile where the polyleader or t-material is deeper than the fly for the first part of the swing.
It's all personal choice. For me, using a normal #4 bead head fly with a 5 foot tippet and 12 feet of fast polyleader is pretty easy and relaxing to cast on a 7wt with a scandi line. It's not a dredging rig. As I want to go deeper on a given run, I might go with a heavier fly or replace the polyleader with t-8 or smilar. These both make it harder to cast. Even a good cast is more clunky less graceful. Your timing needs to be spot on once you start pushing the limits of your equipment. Fun will diminish at some point.
The advise given to start small and work your way up is good. Trying to work with heavier stuff will test and hone your casting abilities.

have fun jp
 

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I really like you guys,

Every so often I say something heavily weighted with opinionated self righteous blah blah blah and you forgive me. What I could have said was that I have slung led, I was lucky and never whacked my rod, then I quit that.

I know that we gotta get a fly down or we aren't going to get at many fish. I've just tried to find other ways than the weighted flies these days.

Good discussion here,

Ard
 

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fly weight vs fly line

No hard feelings here Ard.

I never mind how others choose to fish, It's whatever you enjoy the most.

JP
 

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Hi Jim,

I can tell you one thing that is for sure, a weighted fly be it dumbbell eyes, cone head or other will bust a rod tip or other section if you make a mistake. I do not use weighted flies but some patterns when wet can be quite heavy. My very best advice is that if you want to fish 'flies' with a spey rod, stay within the realm of the traditional patterns and leave the tossing of large and weighted lures to those using appropriate tackle for it. Few things in fly fishing can equal the relaxed pace of casting and swinging traditional unweighted flies.

That will sound harsh to some but I see this style of fishing moving farther and farther away from why I began doing it. The heads become shorter and the flies larger and heavier every year. To each their own but I began with long belly lines and salmon flies and still stubbornly use them.

Just a little preaching, please don't take offense.
Ard:
I have to agree with your post and being versed in Bill McMillan's dryline techniques, I am drawn to tradition and the relaxed pace and fluid grace of casting and swinging DT/long belly lines with unweighted flies. I've done a fair amount of fishing with my two handers, DT lines, and flies tied on 5/0 Partridge Ms.

However, in recent years, I have made some "compromises". I still fish unweighted flies such as Winter's Hopes and a full floating line all winter. However, at times, I also fish reasonably weighted flies such as bead headed MOALs and barbell eyed marabou intruders as these flies are seen to me as being "disposable" and I don't sweat losing them in snaggy areas. These flies, with their stinger hooks, also provide great hook holding properties. I draw the line when a fly is so heavily weighted that it requires a "lob" cast and cannot be gracefully spey cast with the gear I am using. Another compromise I have made is using the short headed Ambush lines. This departure from longer lines allows me to gain the advantage of easy, effortless spey casting with my single hand glass rods (especially in tight quarters), while being able to cast anything from small foam skaters in summer to larger/heavier wet flies in winter. I am still able to cast and fish gracefully with these compromises and the functional gains I get from them keep me in the relaxed and pleasurable zone that I like.

Todd
 

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The optimum weight of fly you can cast will be very subjective based on one's ability, tackle, outside conditions, and maybe location. It will certainly not be the same for every angler.

Hook size really isn't really a good criteria either as both flies pictured below can have the same hook size.

I would just pick something that I knew I could handle and then go up from there as time on the water permitted.
Mike's 'on a roll' with great answers this week. Gear/fly/line should be appropriate for where/what you're fishing 'for.' Save for a huge storm, high water on the top end of the Rogue only requires a 6wt 2hander 90% of the time. Fishing for Kings, there I'll actually pull out an 8wt.

And unlikely to be a 14' foot rod. Now you go down to Gold Beach (river mouth area), you'd better load up as that's one hell of a big river at that point.

Bummer as they get up to my area, they become 'bottom huggers.' Sink tip of some sort and a lightly weighted fly 'to keep her down' is a must. Personal experience here only, but swinging a 'just' sub-surface fly is a waste of time ... 95% of the time.
 

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Very good question

In my short experience with complex skagit rigs, the most important thing seems to be getting enough anchor on the backcast (D-loop) to load the rod and not so much that it overloads it. As a fly gets larger, it takes less line on the water to load the rod. I manage this issue with a 6 foot cheater I made from an old spey line. If the tip and fly combo I wish to use won't load the rod - I add the cheater. For non-skagit lines I think one could manage their anchor by shortening or lengthening the amount of line used to create the D loop. Basically, when fishing tips, I decide which tip and fly type I will be using and then decide whether or not to use a cheater. When it all lines up - its amazing - but I don't think you can get there without a bit of trial and error.
 
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