Fly line colour - should they all be dark?

meyre

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A Kiwi on seeing my Carron Jetstream staggered - too orange ! Then collapsed when shown an ivory/white Rio Longcast. In NZ those would send fish back to sea or cause them to scatter at least. Even over broken , turbid water they spook fish, before one smacks them onto the surface.
''Bin 'em or dye 'em……they stand out like Liberace at a Goth concert!''

He left worried by my rubbish field craft.

Apologies if this 'obvious' question has been beaten to death already but should we use unobtrusive lines ? Are we frightening fish? Can we dye those excellent costly garish lines …?
How do you dye a line? Can you use a permanent marker pen on Rio's best goods?:shocked:
 

Rrrr

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I use marker pens to mark the loading points on all of my lines with no issues, it does come off over time though.
Ive also heard of people dying lead core lines when they were banned years back.

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AlanT

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Most of my lines are light grey, I figure that if the fish are looking up the line is camouflaged against the sky. Never had a problem with light lines
 

charlieH

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Robert Pashley, the so-called Wizard of the Wye who caught an awful lot of fish in his time, remarked how many salmon fishers appear to ignore basic fieldcraft. He said that all to often someone who will willingly get down on hands and knees to approach a rising trout will, when given a double handed rod and put beside a salmon river, blunder straight into a pool without thought for a fish which is every bit as wild (and these days almost certainly a lot wilder) than a trout. In Pashley's day lines were made of silk and were more or less all dark green or brown in colour, but he certainly believed that a fly line could scare fish, and habitually used trout-sized lines for summer fishing.

Those of you who read T&S may recall an article last year about another hugely experienced Wye fisher called Maurice Hudson. I've known Maurice since I was a boy, and he has influenced my fishing thinking in lots of ways. Much of the water he has fished (over a great many years) on the lower Wye is very flat and gliding, rather than having the rippled surface which many of us probably think of when we picture a typical salmon pool. In summer conditions, Maurice follows Pashley's lead and not only fishes with very light lines (usually a DT trout line), but he also dyes them a dull colour and is quite adamant that this approach makes a difference. It's also worth looking at John Goddard and Brian Clarke's book "The Trout and the Fly" for some pictures of fly lines taken from under water. I'll spare you the treatise on angles of incidence and refraction when light meets water; suffice to say the book illustrates quite clearly that, when seen overhead against the sky, all fly lines (even light coloured ones) appear as a dark silhouette. But further away, the line is seen against a background of a reflection of the river bed - which is usually dark. Here a white line is far more visible than a dull, natural coloured one.

I have dyed lines, both for trout and salmon fishing. It's some years since I've had to do it, but as I recall, it's easy enough to do; I have used RIT dye which I bought in the US, but I have heard of other people using Dylon. Give the line a good swill round in a bowl of detergent to degrease it first, and just follow the instructions; I seem to remember that the dye takes very quickly. Make sure the dye mix isn't too hot or you can ruin the line.

I would never use a bright orange or fluorescent yellow line by choice. There may be situations, particularly on nice ripply pools, where the colour may not make much difference, but I'm also convinced that there are times and places where a visible fly line can and will put fish down. Of course it's hard ever to know for certain how much difference it makes, but I think we can say for certain that there is very little to be lost, and there may well be something to be gained, by practicing a bit of stealth.
 

ACW

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Just too muddy the water a tad,way back when I did the Falkus course ,he and one of his accolytes laughed at the confused look on my face when i tryed casting what seemed to be the white aircel ,as we all used in those days .The bloody thing sank .
Falkus seemed very keen on the white sinkers!
Come to think of it i do like my blue carron inters and when i could have them the Kelly green aircel inter .
 

T7

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Seen some underwater footage of fly lines viewed from below and if I remember correctly they all looked the same. Could be mis remembering though
 

Neil W

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I think the issue is maybe greater fishing for trout as it’s the false casting where the line is above the water that the fish may see the line. One advantage of fishing a Spey line is the lack of false casting. That said I do like the Rio scandi outbound as it’s a nice subtle dark olive colour. I think we maybe do get too focused on what lines cast well, not what the fish can see
 

meyre

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Good stuff all...I'm with Charlie H and Pashley...camo makes sense.
I've noticed or perhaps been able to see that a spaniel in a fluro 'rain' jacket puts up birds faster and at a bit more range than one w/o said bright coat. Salmon aren't birds.. and the line ain't a spaniel....I know but I am of the opinion that there's a parallel there .It seems , perhaps, logical.
What I do wonder is how best to tone down new lines like Rio's with their hydroscopic ultra slick surfaces?
Do dyes work on 'new' lines or is a permanent marker best? Possibly matt with a broad chisel edge to the 'nib' through which one can tow the line?
 
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From what I've read on the NAFFF thread the hydrophobic coating on newer lines is the issue with dying. I certainly wouldn't abraid a line to gain penetration.
Not a new one, anyway. ;)

I like the idea of a camo line but the question remains what colour combinations? Army greens and tans? The greys and blues of the underside of military aeroplanes?

As permanent markers aren't actually permanent on lines (so I read!) perhaps one option would be to experiment with them, changing or re-applying depending on results? One could quite easily blend a camo line with a few colours. I'd guess that only the head would need attention if a whole line is too much bother.
 
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Rennie

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I think Salar is at times aware of the colour of our lines, the flash from them in the air, certainly the shadow from them on the water, they hear them on touchdown as we cast and at all stages of our casting and I certainly know they feel the weight of them when they take the flee we fish from them.
Amazingly my best Tay day on the flee came with a fluro. Orange floater during low water,I'd 5 fish and missed as many more!.I've 3 floating heads that are bright(fluro.!) Orange, and yes there are certain conditions I'd never get them out the bag!, but other times I think its not such a huge deal!.
I've seen Salmon almost bolt away from badly cast lines, melt away into the background when the shadow of a line has passed over them, even leave the pool when a line has been cast near them!.Then there's the other side of the coin and I've seen a Salmon nail a flee almost instantly when a very badly cast line and flee has dropped like the proverbial ton of bricks, right on top of it and the flee was no where near fishing, I've seen newbies(me included) making more noise and disturbance than Niagra in times of flood taking the only fish of the day!.
However, I'd say a common sense approach all round ones Salmon fishing is no bad thing at all, there are probably other factors that will impact your results greater than a more detecable line, but if one takes the view that matters and you can act on it and if you approach your fishing with positive thought then that should reward you in the greater term.If one behaves and fishes like a complete pratt, then the pratt's share is what one will catch!.
I know this because - - - -, I've had my share of the pratt's times too!.
Yours with a sense of humour and 3 fluro lines for sale, Pedro.

PS, can we have some clear floating lines then please, that does seem a good idea!.Ist company to sell a good one, will clean up!.
 
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ibm59

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My prime consideration with floating fly lines , for trout or salmon , is that I must be able to see it on the surface.
Might sound obvious , but perhaps not given the colour of some floating lines. ;)
 

Zamora

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Hmm.. when the weather is so clear, that the fish would notice the line, it will look dark from its point of view. I mean the shadow of the line. Hence i don’t think the colour means so much. Also, the 14-15ft tippet would leave the line quite far from the salmons point of view, which makes the colour of the floating line as well quite meaningless. I bet that salmon is also more concerned about the wiggling fly than the possible line four meters behind it, so I think it is quite hypotethical that it gives any notion to the line. I’ve been fishing in NZ and there the presentation of the fly is much more important than the colour of the line.
 

MCXFisher

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Vision make a clear Ace floating shooting head and a Float/Inter head with a clear 15' tip section. I haven't tried them but their man Antti Guttorm swears by the clear heads (on the other hand, that's his job).

I concur with Charlie in that the line is a more important factor when the surface of the water is smooth. This is because the underside of smooth water presents the salmon with a consistent mirror image in Window 2, in which straight lines of any colour stand out as a very visible anomaly. In rougher water the Window 2 mirror is more like a rapidly changing kaleidoscope of bright and dark 'tiles' in which the linear image of the line is broken up, and so it's colour is much less significant.

I'm also with IBM on the need to be able to see your own line, especially in poor light conditions, to assist fishing and casting.

I've never worried too much about the colour of my salmon lines, but i am a stickler for good field and water-craft, especially in low water conditions when gentle presentation is paramount. However, I've generally found salmon to be quite stolid, especially when compared to trout, provided that you are careful and quiet. I cast to one on the Carron for half an hour without upsetting it (full story here). But I see far too many people charge into pools, go straight onto the wading line and then extend to full casting distance without clearing the water in front of them first, more often than not scaring the wits out of the salmon gathered in the quiet pocket at the head of the pool. Those fish then scatter all over the pool, discombobulating all the others, leading to a pool full of nervy salmon, who won't revert to stolidity for at least an hour.
 
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I agree that noise is a major factor in putting fish down and suspect it may be more important that line colour. I remember standing with a beat gillie on the Spey watching a guest work down a pool casting his Skagit down and across with a loud 'slurrrp' as he formed the loop and a splash as it landed. Each time this happened the fish would drop back downstream bit by bit. He never caught up with them!
All attempts at stealth are worthwhile and I guess that if you can wade quietly, cast quietly and keep your wading stick schtumm then line colour, rod flash and camo'd clothing come next.
 

ABK

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This issue of fly line colour has gone on for decades. The question though is does it matter to the fish, probably not. Generally the closer to the surface a fly line is then probably a light coloured line is less noticeable when viewed against the sky. The argument against this used to be that because the line is solid then it will still be seen in silhouette when viewed against the sky. Nature provides the evidence to suggest that this believe does not hold true. Anyone who has ever shot Wood Pigeon when they are perched on a branch and viewed against the sky are all aware they are very difficult to see. Not impossible, but difficult. Most, though not all, sea birds also have a white belly. They are this light colour for a reason.

A sinking line is mainly dark, because it is usually viewed against the topography of the river bed etc. Again nature provides us with the answers to both locations the back of fish are dark, while the bottoms are light in colour. These adaptations of fish or birds through 100,000's of years of evolution do not make them invisible, it just makes them stand out less. Therefore why not use a system which nature has produced to advantage when selecting a fly line. Personally I prefer a white or light blue coloured floating line and a dark green or brown one when for a sinker. Again to the fish it probably makes no difference to fish. Some anglers nowadays use a bright coloured braid when spinning. They still catch fish. Would they catch more fish, if they used a clear mono. Perhaps. Who knows. At the end of the day just use what you are happy with.
 
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It's an issue I've heard often relating to boat hull colour, too.
Not too sure about using a blue line all the time in Scotland, though. Surely lead-grey/guy dreech would more often be appropriate?
;)
 

meyre

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Your article - Just one from 2013 is excellent. Until a salmon drifts away it may be caught.

Perhaps the issue with bright lines is just a very small one in convincing fish to come bankside?
Tho' a sunburst orange head wafting over a pool may be a disadvantage over a dreich grey brown item.

Many thanks
 

Loxie

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I think Salar is at times aware of the colour of our lines, the flash from them in the air, certainly the shadow from them on the water, they hear them on touchdown as we cast and at all stages of our casting and I certainly know they feel the weight of them when they take the flee we fish from them.
Amazingly my best Tay day on the flee came with a fluro. Orange floater during low water,I'd 5 fish and missed as many more!.I've 3 floating heads that are bright(fluro.!) Orange, and yes there are certain conditions I'd never get them out the bag!, but other times I think its not such a huge deal!.
I've seen Salmon almost bolt away from badly cast lines, melt away into the background when the shadow of a line has passed over them, even leave the pool when a line has been cast near them!.Then there's the other side of the coin and I've seen a Salmon nail a flee almost instantly when a very badly cast line and flee has dropped like the proverbial ton of bricks, right on top of it and the flee was no where near fishing, I've seen newbies(me included) making more noise and disturbance than Niagra in times of flood taking the only fish of the day!.
However, I'd say a common sense approach all round ones Salmon fishing is no bad thing at all, there are probably other factors that will impact your results greater than a more detecable line, but if one takes the view that matters and you can act on it and if you approach your fishing with positive thought then that should reward you in the greater term.If one behaves and fishes like a complete pratt, then the pratt's share is what one will catch!.
I know this because - - - -, I've had my share of the pratt's times too!.
Yours with a sense of humour and 3 fluro lines for sale, Pedro.

PS, can we have some clear floating lines then please, that does seem a good idea!.Ist company to sell a good one, will clean up!.
Airflo ridge clear.

I think it's probably a very bad idea to look at salmon as all the same. They are all individuals and will behave differently to any given stimuli. The length of time they have been in the river will also have an effect. In addition different temperatures, overhead, water colour and height will also affect fish behaviour. Suffice to say it's probably safest to assume that they are all spooky and act accordingly: there is nothing to loose after all and maybe a few extra fish to gain.

Another aspect is confidence. If you are confident I'm sure you fish better. If you believe your line could be scaring fish you may not fish so well as if you think the opposite. I generally use clear lines because they work for me!
 

Rrrr

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I used to swear by the cortland ice blue inter lines and so did many others, i rekon the fish have to be able to spot those a mile off and they used to be the go to lines for seatrout.

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charlieH

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Suffice to say it's probably safest to assume that they are all spooky and act accordingly: there is nothing to loose after all and maybe a few extra fish to gain.
Spot on. I think most of us who have been fishing for a few years understand that there are moments when salmon can appear not only pretty stupid, but also more or less bulletproof. But just because you encounter a few that fall into this category one shouldn't conclude that they're all, always, like that. And when fish are scarce, can we afford to lose a single opportunity? The difference between one fish and a blank day is huge; the difference between catching four in a day and five less so!

Unlike a feeding trout which may cease rising, you don't always get a visible indication that a salmon is spooked. It's also worth remembering that, unlike trout, salmon will often not bolt for cover when scared; they sometimes just sink down a bit or drift into slightly deeper water. So it's easy to think, because a fish doesn't appear to have reacted, that it is unperturbed by our presence.

Vision make a clear Ace floating shooting head and a Float/Inter head with a clear 15' tip section. I haven't tried them but their man Antti Guttorm swears by the clear heads (on the other hand, that's his job)....

I'm also with IBM on the need to be able to see your own line, especially in poor light conditions, to assist fishing and casting.
I confess I don't find that a line needs to be particularly visible when it comes to casting; inasmuch as I need to see the line at all, I've never encountered a problem with seeing darker lines during a cast. When it comes to seeing what's happening when fishing, different lines may be more or less visible depending on the conditions. A white line may show up well when the water appears dark, e.g. when you have the reflection of tall trees on the opposite bank. By contrast, when you have 'shiny' water, perhaps with the sun shining up the river, a dark line may in fact be easier to see. But I do think that a clear tip could be a good compromise. Similarly, the old AFS floating heads, which have about 15' of yellow at the rear end before going into a nice dull mid-green colour (like the colour of a Wetcel 1, if you're old enough to remember them) for the front portion of the head, seem to me a good idea.
 

NEbody

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I don’t think the colour of a floating line will make much difference to the fish. It’s going to be seen in silhouette anyway and the change in angle of the water surface in the meniscus around it will be a bit of a giveaway, even if the line is clear. It probably helps if the leader is as inconspicuous as possible so that the connection between the fly and the fly line isn’t obvious. A bit of stealth and rivercraft is never bad.

Line colour probably makes more difference with a sinking line which needs not to contrast hugely with its surroundings.
 

offshore

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Just too muddy the water a tad,way back when I did the Falkus course ,he and one of his accolytes laughed at the confused look on my face when i tryed casting what seemed to be the white aircel ,as we all used in those days .The bloody thing sank .
Falkus seemed very keen on the white sinkers!
Come to think of it i do like my blue carron inters and when i could have them the Kelly green aircel inter .
Its going off the subject of the thread, but do you have any more tales to tell about your Falkus experience? It was watching a Falkus documentary on Seatrout that got me interested in all this game fishing stuff; it is his fault basically.
 

Neil W

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I have to agree that water craft and being stealthy is the most important factor although I have never liked really bright fluorescent fly lines for trout or salmon. The old AFS lines were excellent and a nice olive colour however the newer model Rio scandi’s are also excellent and a Sort of tan colour which is brighter than the AFS but still ok.
Slightly off subject I also don’t know why some clothing manufacturers make bright orange jackets for fishing which stand out like a sore thumb. Each to their own I suppose
 
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