I’m always looking for ways to reduce the amount of gear I have to take beach fishing. I moved from a vest to a sling pack several years ago; take only a few flies in a small case; and carry only one or two sizes of tippet material (typically 1X and 2X). So I’ve been intrigued by the idea of using only one fly line along with poly leaders to cover most of the fishing situations encountered on the beach.
My favorite and primary fly line for beach fishing with my six-weight Winston is an Airflo 40+ Floating/Intermediate line. Its 35-foot transparent slow intermediate head settles nicely beneath the water surface. And it nicely loads my 9’ 6” rod and allows me to easily cast out to 50 feet with no hauling.
Still, there are times when I’d like to cast surface flies (e.g., popper) with a floating line. I’d carried a spare spool loaded with floating line for those low-tide low-water situations in which a surface fly excels.
Consistent with my goal of reducing what I carry, I’ve been considering the use of floating lines with poly leaders as a one-spool solution for my fishing needs. Given that poly leaders come in a number of densities (from floating to fast sinking), I thought that might be all I’d need.
Yesterday I went to my local beach on a falling tide (and no wind) and brought along two six-weight fly lines: a Royal Wulff Ambush and a Rio Outbound (OB) Short Floating. The Ambush has a 235 grain weight 18 foot head; the OB Short has a 265 grain weight 30 foot head. I also carried an Airflo Slow Intermediate 10-foot poly leader.
First up was the Ambush. I used the poly leader along with a five foot length of 1X tippet (the fly was a tube fly with a size 4 hook).
The Ambush roll cast very nicely. It provide a nice D-loop and gave a nice crisp cast.
It did also work in overhead casting. With one or two false casts, I was able to shoot line with no problem.
But there was something about it that wasn’t clicking with me. It may be that the line itself is very large and it felt clunky. And I found that if I did a poor cast the line would collapse.
I switched over to the OB Short, including the poly leader / tippet combination described above. Roll casting was near that of the Ambush, but I think the Ambush was slightly better.
Overhead casting was no comparison. The OB Short was a much easier casting line for me. If I made a bad cast, the line still performed and didn’t collapse. I also had the sense the line moved through the rod guides a good deal smoother than the Ambush. I easily was able to get out to 40-50 feet with no effort. In that regard it felt a lot like casting my Airflo 40+ line.
So have I found a one-line solution for the majority of my beach fishing with my 6-weight rod? I’d have to say not yet.
I know if I was dealing with a high tide condition with no room for a back cast I’d want to use the Ambush.
For most of my beach fishing where there’s some wind and surface chop (and I know I’ll not be doing any surface flies), I’ll stick with my Airflo 40+.
But on days where I might want to go either surface or sinking, I think the OB Short is a great solution when combined with poly leaders from either Airflo or Rio.
Could I get to the point where the OB Short would replace the Airflo? I’m not ready to say that. I’d need to cast the OB Short more to say that. And it might take a beach shootout in conditions that favor the use of the Airflo.