In this post, I’ll share the best floating fly line on the market.

There’s a reason so many people use floating fly line. Not only can you fish on dry flies with it, which is considered the epitome of fly fishing, but it’s versatile enough that you can throw just about anything else. Nymphs, streamers, it doesn’t matter.

It may not be great for getting flies down low in deep lakes or in deep runs in a river, but it can be used in just about any other circumstance. This is why so many people have at least one reel with floating fishing line on it.

Our Top 3 Floating Fly Lines

  1. Thistledown² WF Floating Line
  2. Airflo Superflo Elite
  3. Rio Gold

Every angler’s favorite part of fly fishing is seeing a trout take a dry from the surface of a glass-calm lake or swirling river pool. This is why the best fly line is often a floating fly line.

So, if you’re looking for some floating line but you’re not sure where to start, then look no further. Below, I’ll cover five different types of floating line as well as why you should be using floating line.

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What Is a Floating Fly Line?

There are no guessing games with floating fly line. It does exactly what the name implies. The line floats on top of the water and is regarded as the best dry fly fishing line.

Fly Fishing with Floating Fly line & Strike Indicator

Some of the better floating lines will also have a coating on them to help them slide through the guides more easily, which makes for better casting. It also keeps debris and other materials off your line, letting them float better in tough water.

When to Use Floating Lines

Floating line is extremely versatile, and you can throw it in most situations. Of course, it’s ideal for throwing any type of surface fly: poppers for bass, mouse patterns for large nocturnal brown trout, and dry flies during hatches.

Bass Jumping Out Of Water

You can throw a nymph under an indicator or even use the floating line to detect strikes. Streamers can also be thrown. They won’t be able to go very deep, but you’ll be able to throw baitfish imitations when nymphs and dries are having a slow day.

It can be used on lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, and any other body of water. However, if the fish are deep and you’re on a deep lake or run in a river, then it isn’t ideal. It’s best to switch to a sinking line or a spinning rod in that case.

How to Choose the Best Floating Fly Line

There are a lot of different types of floating line, and it can be confusing if you’re just starting out. So, below I’ll go over all the different types so you can choose the best floating line for fly fishing.

Basic Types of Floating Line

Below I’ll cover the different tapers that floating lines can come in. Each of these works best in different situations. So, think about what type of fishing you plan on doing and then select accordingly.

Weight Forward Taper (WF)

A weight forward taper is considered to be the best dry fly line. A WF taper is a fly line that’s thicker in the first 10 yards of the line. Then the rest of the fly line is the same size. It’s also called level. This helps with casting and creating a loop in the line.

Long cast with floating fly fishing line

Double Taper (DT)

The double taper is also considered a good fly line for trout fishing. The first fifteen feet widen while the next sixty remain the same. You use this line when you want a light touch on the water.

Level Taper (LT)

This line is the same exact size throughout. It floats very well and is also the cheapest of all fly lines. However, it’s very difficult to use and isn’t recommended except in special circumstances.

Shooting Taper (ST)

A shooting taper is similar to a WF except the front section is heavier and longer. It’s not really practical because most of your casts won’t be far enough away to warrant this. However, it’s great for casting distance competitions.

Long Fly Cast River

Floating Line Weight

Just like your rod and reel, fly line has a weight too. You’ll need to match the weight of the line to your rod and reel so that you can have a balanced setup. So, a 5wt rod and reel needs a 5wt line.

Now, there are always exceptions to the rules, but the majority of anglers need to be matching their line weight to the rod and reel weight. Matching the weight to your rod and reel as well as your fly size will help your casting.

Smaller weights such as 1-3 are used for panfish and small trout. A size 4 is good for panfish as well as everything but the biggest trout. Size 5-6 is good for all trout and some bass. Seven and up is for bass, pike, musky, salmon, and other large species.

Length of Floating Fly Fishing Line

Most fly lines come in packages of 100 feet. This can change slightly depending on the manufacturer. One hundred feet may not seem like a lot, but you’ll have backing on your reel as well.

Fly Fishing Technique Casting

The majority of your casts while fly fishing won’t be much farther than 50 feet. So, 100 feet of fly line and another 100 of backing will be more than enough to catch most fish.

Saltwater fishing or targeting large fish in big bodies of water could call for extra line. In this case, you’ll usually have a larger reel and have more backing on it.

Features to Look for in the Best Floating Line

Fly lines have many different features to them. Most of them are specialized, and you don’t have to worry about them unless they meet your fishing criteria.

However, there are a few that will affect all fly anglers, and you should take them into consideration when purchasing your fly line. Below some of the most important ones are listed.

Color

The color of your floating line may not seem all that important, but it can play a pivotal role. When dry fly fishing, you may not be watching your line much. However, if you’re throwing subsurface, then you can use it as an indicator.

Different Types of Fly Fishing Lines on Reels

Instead of fishing nymphs under indicators, you could use the line to detect strikes. Any subtle twitch could indicate a strike. That’s why you need something highly visible that shines off the water.

Temperature Control

Most floating lines are used in cool to hot weather. So, you’ll need something that will hold up to both of these conditions without extreme expansion or contraction. These factors can ruin casting and accuracy.

Most modern fly lines have these features, and some even specialize in hot or cold weather fishing. With a floating line, you won’t be fishing in cold weather as much as you would in the heat.

Coating

Fly lines are covered in a coating that allows them to shoot through guides and help repel water and debris. On top of increased casting accuracy and distance, it also helps with buoyancy.

Best Fly Fishing Line

Increased buoyancy will help your floating fly line. It will be able to stay on top of the water for longer and in tougher conditions, allowing your dry fly to stay in the strike zone for prolonged periods.

Welded Loops

It may not directly impact your fishing ability, but it can allow you to quickly change out leaders. If you find your leader is too big or too small for the body of water you’re fishing, then you’ll have an easier time changing it out.

fly line connector loops

No longer do you have to clip any fly line or untangle tough knots. Simply clip away the handshake knot of the leader and easily attach a new one. You’ll be ready to go with your fly back in the water in under thirty seconds.

The best fly fishing lines usually come with welded loops. Many on this list include them, but it’s worth checking to ensure your line has them before making a purchase. They just make the reel setup much easier.

This makes it a lot easier to set up a fly reel.

The Best Floating Fly Lines 2021

Here it is, a list of my favorite floating fly lines on the market today. There’s a wide enough variety of floating lines listed here that you’ll have the right line for pretty much any fly fishing technique, destination, or occasion.

1. Snowbee Thistledown²

  • Taper: Weight forward
  • Available weights: #2-5
  • Welded loops: Yes

The Thistledown² is my new favorite fly line for 2021. This is such a versatile line, and it’s incredibly responsive in pretty much any fishing scenario. 

I was skeptical when I got my hands on the 2-5 weight line because most fly lines are highly specialized for a specific weight and style of fishing. How could Snowbee have made a line that works on a 5 weight rod as well as all the way down to a 2 weight? (Actually, the 2-5 can be cast on a 1 weight rod too.)

Well, they did it. The Core, Primer, and Nano-Tec coating on this line work together to form the thinnest and most delicate weight forward profile I’ve tested.

For a price of under $80, you really can’t go wrong with this line. 

Don’t miss our full, hand-on review of the Thistledown² 2-5 weight fly line to see what all of the hype is about.

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1.Airflo Superflo Elite

  • Taper: Weight forward, double taper
  • Available weights: #2-7
  • Welded loops: Yes

Airflo is regarded as one of the best floating fly fishing line manufacturers in the world, and this is likely the best fly line 2021 has to offer in general.

Airflo are consistently on the cutting edge of new line technology that benefits anglers of different skill levels around the world.

The Airflo Superflo Elite line wouldn’t be considered niche, though. Instead, this is one of the most versatile fly lines on the market. It can be used in most conditions and will be able to put your fly in the spot for success.

Coming in several different sizes as well as tapers, it can be used for just about anything you want it for. It’s great for the angler who has only one reel and needs a line that can handle anything you can throw at it.

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2. Piscifun Sword WF Floating Line

  • Taper: Weight forward
  • Available weights: #2-10
  • Welded loops: Yes

The Piscifun Sword WF Floating Line is a great cheap option if you’re looking for a budget fly line. One of the drawbacks to fly fishing is how expensive it can get. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, and Psicifun proves it with this product.

It’s also great for beginners who aren’t yet ready to drop three figures on a fly line. It’s versatile enough that they can get the feel for a solid floating line without having to spend the grocery bill on it.

The core is also braided, meaning it has low memory and that it can work well in most weather conditions. It’s perfect for someone who enjoys fishing year-round and needs a line that holds up to the elements.

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3. Bozeman Fly Works Floating Fly Line

  • Taper: Weight forward
  • Available weights: #3-8, comes with a free fly box
  • Welded loops: Yes

The Bozeman Fly Works Floating Fly Line is a solid mid-range floating fly line. If you’re looking for something a little bit nicer, but still not looking to spend too much money, then the Bozeman floating fly line will be the one for you.

It comes with a fly box that you can use to store your extra flies in. The line is also equipped with loops on both ends, making it easy to attach backing as well as switching out leaders.

The taper on this line is made very well, allowing you to cast farther and put a great loop in your line. This lets your flies land softly on the water.

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Rio Trout - Best Fly Line for Trout4. Rio Trout Series Floating

  • Taper: Weight forward, double taper
  • Available weights: #3-6
  • Welded loops: Yes

Rio makes a great fly line. The Rio Trout Series Floating Line coming in under $60 is a great price point that all anglers should be happy with. It’s ideal for throwing all kinds of flies to trout of different sizes.

This is another one of the best fly lines 2021 has to offer. With a name like Rio Trout, it’s no surprise that it also comes in as our best fly line for trout.

The line has a long front line taper that allows the angler to present flies in a very delicate manner. It’s perfect for throwing dries, nymphs, emergers, or anything else you can think of to spooky trout and other fish.

The taper of the line allows for long casts that can hit with precision, meaning a fish is never out of your range. It can also turn over long leaders so that you can land a fly near a trout without spooking it off with the fly line.

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5. Rio Gold Weight Forward Floating Line

  • Taper: Weight forward
  • Available weights: #3-9
  • Welded loops: Yes

The Rio Gold Weight Forward Floating Line is the next stepping stone in the Rio trout series. Coming in a wider range of sizes, this can be used for targeting trout, panfish, bass, and most other freshwater fish.

The tapered design gives it great loop stability when cast from a distance while also being able to load the rod at close range. It has the ability to cast flies from a size #22 to a #2. It’s ideal for the all-around trout angler.

The line has a MaxCast hydrophobic coating on it. This helps to repel water, which keeps your line floating higher. It also lets you shoot your line farther, while it also stays cleaner. This means the line will last longer.

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Conclusion

After going over all of this, hopefully you have a better understanding of what a floating fly line is. It can be used to target many different species in many different ways, making it one of the most versatile lines you can buy.

Use the list above to find the right fly line for you. Or, use the list as a jumping-off point to find a better fly line. Improving your fly line will help your fishing and make you a better angler.

Some images in this post are courtesy of Shutterstock.

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