Bringing it Home: the Evolution of the Fly Line

Dry by David Decker

Clarence Decker was born in 1900 and suffered most of his angling life without the use of a floating fly line, or for that matter, dry flies. Plying the Little Manistee River with a brace of wet flies was his fate.

Attempts at making a silk, level line float with a slathering of Mucilin had limited success; the whole mess was often not up to par and was rarely worth the fiddling.  On top of that was the issue of silk/tapered/hand tied/soaked-overnight leaders that did not float, regardless of the dressing. Add poor feather quality and patterns adapted from wet flies and what was left was fishing with an intermediate fly line.

Decker Vintage

Since then we have been blessed with fly lines of every conceivable configuration and specific purpose. For dry fly fishing, Airflo Super-DRI fly lines not only have a very fishable casting balance but really float, well, better. Adding to a clean, floating line a leader made of nylon monofilament, with only a fluorocarbon tippet treated with silicone-based line dressing, makes a grand difference in getting a good drift.

Decker 2

A high-floating fly line and leader is far easier to cast and picks up quietly as it leaves the water with less surface disturbance. Sometimes when trout are picky or in a tricky lane requiring multiple presentations to get the job done, having all the parts working together properly is essential to getting any fish at all.

David Decker owns and operates The Complete Fly Fisher on the banks of Montana’s Big Hole River with his wife Christine. He has designed numerous flies for both fresh and saltwater, and is a huge proponent of keeping fly fishing fun. If you’re considering a trip to the Big Hole, be sure to check out

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