Guest contribution by John Van Vleet, Marketing Manager at Scientific Anglers.
Over the past decade, no technological advancement has affected fly lines nearly as much as the introduction of texturing. This techonology was pioneered by Scientific Anglers in 2007. From a performance and durability standpoint, textured fly lines shoot farther, float higher, and last longer than any smooth fly line. This isn’t just marketing speak. The results have been proven time and time again both in the laboratory and on the water. While 2017 marks ten full years since the introduction of textured fly lines. There still exists a bit of mystery and misunderstanding about these lines.
Let’s aim to change that here. We are going to delve into how textured lines are produced and how they can offer benefits that no smooth fly line could replicate.
The Production of a Textured Fly Line
Many anglers have a vague notion about how fly lines are produced. But maybe you don’t quite have the full picture of exactly what is involved in the making of a line. It all starts with a core of some kind. For coldwater applications this is typically a braided multifilament that looks much like the backing on a reel. In warmwater applications, we use a monofilament similar to our tippet material. For tropical lines, we use a braided monofilament for added stiffness.
These cores then pass through a proprietary machine that coats them with a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) blend that we call a goop. The coating machine administers the goops in varying diameters, which allows us to create individual tapers. The coated line then passes through an oven to cure and ends up being wound on a large drum. 50 lines are interconnected on the drum, each line separated by a large bump.
From there, the drums move to our coiling process. A winding machine feeds the lines from the drum through the hands of our coilers, where they feel for imperfections. When the coilers reach the large bump, they snip the lines. Then they wind them with twist ties, and get them ready for the looping process.
In order to produce a textured line, we introduce the lines to an embosser before the lines are fully cured. As the coated lines run through these embossing wheels, our Floating and Shooting textures are imprinted into the coating. Finally they run through the oven and fully cure.
At SA, we use two different types of texturing. You will notice a diamond-shaped pattern that we call Floating Texture, as well as a golf-ball dimple pattern that we call Shooting Texture. Both textures result in higher floating, further shooting, and longer lasting lines. However, the Floating Texture is a bit more aggressive. This feature only appears on the last few feet of a line in order to provide more flotation.
There is a naturally occurring phenomenon known as the Lotus Effect that served as the inspiration for fly line texturing. The Lotus Effect can be seen on the leaves of many plants where a droplet of water beads up and runs off the surface of the leaf. The cause of this is a micro texture on the surface of the leaf. The texturing reduces the surface area. It works to create what is known as a hydrophobic surface, a surface that repels water.
In adapting the Lotus Effect to the surface of fly lines, the same hydrophobic properties became apparent. Fly lines with texturing have a reduced surface area, resulting in lines that actually float higher in the water than traditionally smooth lines. This helps lines shed dirt, reduces water spray on casts, and allows anglers to mend lines much more easily. Smooth lines float lower on the surface of the water, meaning that picking up the line and mending is more difficult due to the surface tension of the water, and the line’s flotation isn’t quite as effective as a textured line.
The additional benefits of texturing on a fly line are two-fold: they shoot farther and last longer. This is due again to the reduced surface area of the line, which in turn reduces friction. This reduction of friction allows textured lines to move more freely through rod guides, thereby creating slicker lines that actually shoot farther than smooth lines. There is a reason the golf industry dimples golf balls; they become more aerodynamic and roll farther on fairways.
With this reduction in friction, we also see lines that last longer and are more durable. Without as much surface area, the lines do not wear down nearly as quickly as smooth lines. Think of the texturing as similar to tire treads. The only points that wear down are the raised parts of the textured surface, allowing lines to increase their lifespan, giving anglers the chance to fish the same line for much longer.
Try Them For Yourself
Over the years, many people have complained about the noise of these lines moving through rod guides, or that textured lines tend to dig into stripping fingers. With recent advancements in our texturing technology, we have addressed both of those issues with our Shooting Texture, the only texture that comes into contact with rod guides or fingers. This rounded, golf-ball dimple shape is not nearly as noisy as the original texturing was 10 years ago, and has a much smoother feel on the fingers.
The best way to decide whether or not a textured line is right for your fishing style is to try one for yourself. The vast majority of the SA team uses nothing but textured lines these days, simply because they perform better and last longer.