New Sunray clear floating fly line review (1 weight)
October 19, 20203 min read
by Dave Southall
This is a review of a 1 weight clear floating prototype line Sunray sent to me. These lines are available in #1 all the way to #9 from December 2020.
I subscribe to the Italian style of casting which uses a line many times lighter than the rod rating. The 1 weight Prototype Floating line casts easily even on a 4 weight rod!
The widest part of the 1prototype weight line (mm scale), thinner than a conventional 1 weight line!
This is a very unusual line, typical of Tom Bell’s unconventional, innovative approach to tackle design. It is made from a monocore with a transparent, highly hydrophobic material that appears to be very tough. The line is very supple with absolutely no memory. The cross-sectional profile is slightly flattened which in theory should do two things; firstly it should cut through the air better than the circular profile of conventional lines since aerodynamically it should fly with the thinner edge leading, thus reducing air-resistance. On landing it should lay on the water with its wider surface on the water surface increasing the repulsive forces due to its hydrophobicity. Furthermore its transparency should reduce the risk of scaring the fish.
So how does it perform in real life? I tested the 1 weight prototype on rods ranging from a 7’ 6” Orvis 1 weight to a Sunray 10’ 4 weight Microlite SS in a range of conditions from dead calm to a brisk breeze & on rivers & my local small still water, fishing size 30 Buzzer Pupae & dry flies to Euronymphing with a couple of weighted nymphs. My leader setup was a 7’ tapered section tapering from 0.43mm to 0.2mm diameter with a small perfection loop at the end to which I attached 5’ of tippet or a tri-coloured semi-curly indicator& a suitable length of tippet.
Casting was amazing! Even on the 10’ 4 weight it cast effortlessly, even into a brisk breeze with a 12’ leader & size 30 CdC dry fly. It cuts through the air cleanly making long, very accurate casts simple & possibly because of its suppleness there is no problem generating very tight loops when required. Furthermore, there seems to be very little friction between it & the rod rings making shooting spare line simple.
It floats like a cork with not a hint of the tip-sink that some conventional lines suffer from. Also thanks to its lack of ‘memory’ it does not land straight then spring back in nasty coils that generate virtually instant drag on leader & fly. It lands, as cast, either dead straight or in planned curves when trying to avoid drag.
As for its transparency, only the fish could tell us if it is less spooky, but why not take advantage of the possibility.
As for durability see my comments below. It feels tough, very similar to the hydrophobic plastic non-stick baking trays that my wife uses in the oven that withstand cleaning with a mild scouring pad.
With no loop at the end of the prototype I found that the best way to attach a tapered leader was to use a five turn Albright Knot with 2 tucks at the end, coated with flexible UV resin. This made a neat join that passes easily through the tip rings of all of my rods
Tip of line on the left joined to a 0.43mm diameter leader butt on the right with a 5 turn Albright Knot (tucked twice) & coated with flexible UV resin (mm scale).
After nearly a year of vigorous testing my impression is that this is a truly superb line that will nearly certainly prove to be a real game-changer. Despite some very harsh treatment, being used about 3 or 4 times a week, it is still going strong although the surface near the tip is a bit stained & requires treating with Lineslik a bit more frequently than when new. It has become my GO TO line when fishing with my 10’ 4 weight Microlite, my 10’ 2 weight Volition & my 7’ 6” 2 weight Microlite.
Recently Tom sent me the 3 weight Long Head Clear line which I have been using with the 10’ 4 weight Microlite during the very windy weather we’ve had in September. It cast perfectly into the wind, even when it was gusting at over 40mph & on one day with winds gusting to over 50mph I caught 7 trout in 20 minutes from Driffield Beck by casting straight into the wind on a bend where the fish were feeding like mad on a mass hatch of Small Spurwings. The 3 weight line had built in loops at each end but not being keen on them I attached my tapered leader with a nail Knot.
My favourite methods of fly fishing are dry-fly or sight-fished nymphs/bugs, but particularly during the winter, when fishing on spate rivers, the grayling are usually loath to rise to a dry fly and the water is too coloured, or the light too poor, to see the fish for sight-fishing. It is then that I resort to a range of nymphing techniques. Of which Euronymphing is my most used technique
Frank Sawyer and Oliver Kite showed nymph-fishers the value of the induced take when nymph-fishing and stillwater fly-fishers are aware of the importance of applying movement to lures. However, many of the dry fly anglers that I see appear to rarely apply movement to their surface offerings, believing that ‘dead drift’ is the most effective way of presenting surface flies.
In the early 1960s when I first started fishing split cane was still the most popular rod-making material and fiber glass was just starting to become popular. However my first ever coarse fishing rod was made of ash butt & middle sections with a greenheart wood tip. My first fly rod, bought in the early 1960s, was a second hand 9’ cane rod built by E. Kerry of Lockton, a small village near Pickering.
Presentation is another critical factor in achieving success & grayling are just as unpredictable with respect to this. Sometimes they want a fly ‘on the drop’ & often they will travel quite a distance to take a fly as it slowly sinks. So there are times that it doesn’t pay to fish a fast-sinking, heavily weighted fly.