A question I often hear is “how do I choose a sinking fly line?”, and it’s a fair question.
Different fly fishing scenarios call for different fly fishing tools and this is why Airflo sinking lines cover all bases with a number of profiles and taper designs across all sink rates. In this piece we’ll attempt to give you a succinct overview of the Airflo sinking fly line range so you can quickly select the line that best suits your needs. But beware, it’s likely you’ll need more than one.
THE AIRFLO SIXTH SENSE FLY LINE
The timeless Sixth Sense range is the true all-rounder sinking line, and the line all others aspire to. If fishing calmer lake edges and bays where precision and unrivaled control is the key, or covering the options while drifting, then the Sixth Sense, full sinking line is for you. Density compensation means it will sink tip first, keeping you in direct contact with your flies. With 10’ coloured bands you’ll know exactly how far out your flies are and when to ‘hang’ your flies, prior to lifting to the boat to give the fish one last chance to eat.
According to Rob Vaz, North Island fishing guide and all round legend, "Airflo Six Sense lines offer the best contact, directly keeping you in touch with fish due to the non stretch technology. I use a range sink rates in the Sixth Sense lines and I understand where my lines are in the water column with the easy colour differences. By far the smoothest lines to cast and retrieve. You simply catch more fish when you’re in better contact."
THE AIRFLO CLEAR CAMO INTERMEDIATE FLY LINE
The Airflo Clear Camo Fast Intermediate is my most regularly used sinking line, perfect for working the shorelines, across weedbeds or for simply getting below the surface chop on windy days. With a 1.5 inch per second sink rate it can be immediately stripped to fish just subsurface, or counted down for a little more depth. It’s also my favourite stillwater nymphing full sinker.
THE AIRFLO SIXTH SENSE SWEEP FLY LINE
The Airflo Sweep is a great searching line which sinks belly first. What this means is that your flies will dive on the retrieve, before levelling out and lifting back to the boat, travelling in a large curve shape throughout the column, which is great for working out at which depth the fish are feeding. We asked one of Wales’ most successful competition anglers, and now Southland river stalker, Dean Kibble on his thoughts:
“As opposed to density compensated lines that sink tip first, Airflo Sweep lines sink belly first. The idea behind this is to accentuate the sinking of the fly as the line sinks and the belly pulls it down. The sinking profile of the sweep is like a semi circle with the tip being pulled down by the belly then sweeping back towards you at the end of the retrieve. The flies change direction as you retrieve diving down then levelling out before sweeping back up. Fish will follow a fly for ages without taking but make it dive, rise, or change direction and bang, fish on. It’s a great line for searching as it fishes well right throughout the water column. They’re great lines for fishing the hang at the end of the retrieve too. They come in di3,di5 and di7 and I wouldn’t be without any of them.”
THE AIRFLO SUPERFLO SINK TIP FLY LINE
Airflo SuperFlo Sink Tips are a long bellied floating line featuring either a 6’ slow Intermediate, or 12’ mid intermediate sinking tip section and are the perfect tool to improve your stillwater nymphing game. Whereas full sinking lines will continue to drop through the column, the sink tip will suspend your flies static at up to 20’. With their sinking tip section they will resist surface drift, and are perfect for cast and slow retrieve tactics when midging, or fishing damsel nymphs across shallower weedbeds.
THE AIRFLO 40+ FLY LINE
Airflo Forty Plus shooting heads are an integrated shooting head designed for quick, effortless distance and covering maximum water with ease. Top Central Otago guide and stillwater guru, Ronan Creane, is never without a Forty Plus or two close at hand:
“My favourite of the Airflo range of sinking lines has to be the 40+ di7. It’s easy to cast for starters. Once the sinking part of the line is out of the rod you can hit some real distance with ease. It’s pretty effortless to do this all day. It’s an ideal line for prospecting deep water near river mouths over the winter months, either drifting or land based. Also great over drop-offs to get deep quickly. It’s worth noting that it can also be used in relatively shallow water by starting the retrieve right away or by speeding up the retrieve. This makes it a surprisingly versatile line.”
THE AIRFLO STREAMER MAX FLY LINE
The Streamer Max is often thought of as a sink tip for river applications however with its floating running line, intermediate, quick loading head, and fast sink tip it’s also the perfect line for our larger Southern Lakes where you need to get deep quick, yet not hook up amongst the sharper rocks along the drop off.
THREE TIPS ON HOW TO USE SINKING FLY LINES
USE LINE TRAYS
In the boat, or along the shoreline excess running line will become problematic. The use of a line tray to keep it off the ground and out of the water and organised will maximise your fishing time.
KEEP YOUR FLY LINES CLEAN
Regular cleaning of your sinking line will ensure surface scum and dirt will not affect the handling, and shooting abilities of your line and damage your rod guides. Simply soak them in warm soapy water and pull them through a clean rag. Sinking lines will still benefit from an application of Airflo Whizz Lube, keeping them slick and longer shooting.
GETTING BORED OF THE SAME CAST & RETRIEVE PATTERN?
Well the fish probably are too. Mix up your retrieve regularly from the countdown to different depths to the speed of the retrieve, length of each strip and the smoothness of your flies movement. Play around and see what gets the grab.
Check out this video I put together on how to best use the slow sinking fly lines around lake edges, it’ll add another string to your fly fishing bow.
ABOUT CHRIS DORE
Chris Dore is a battle tested fly fishing guide with over 15 years of professional guiding experience, battling the demanding, ever changing conditions that our New Zealand rivers throw at us.
In 2006 Chris became one of the first New Zealanders to successfully pass the internationally recognised Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructors examination and has since taught many thousands of anglers to up their skillset.
For more in person and on river fly fishing advice and upskilling why not book Chris for a day or three?