1. Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics SP Lazar Line MSRP: $31.95 OPST’s Pure Skagit Lazar Line is a specially formulated monofilament running line that zings through rod guides like greased lightning. Experienced Spey casters know that nothing will increase distance like mono running lines, and OPST’s Lazar Line is of much higher quality than the bulk monofilament our tester used in the past. Yeah, it’s more money. But the quality, shoot-ability, lack of memory or kinking and its ability to tie compact triple surgeon’s loops make it worth the price. Check out a video here.
2. Seaguar STS Salmon Flourocarbon Leader MSRP: $11.99 to $13.99 This fluorocarbon line is tough, abrasion-resistant, has superior knot strength and comes in a 100-yard spool in 20-, 25-, 30-, 40- and 50-pound tests. We used it to catch explosive coho fresh from the sea in several Lost Coast rivers, as well as for giant Dolly Varden north of the Arctic Circle. This has become our leader material of choice for salmon, trout and char.
3.Tuf-Line TUF-Leader MSRP: $4.49 to $6.49 We were looking for a leader to use in high-abrasion conditions this year, and the best we found was the TUF-Leader, an advanced stainless-steel leader engineered and designed for toothy fish. The unique construction allowed our testers to still tie standard knots rather than needing to crimp, and the knots cinched cleanly and held firm.
4. RIO InTouch Midge Tip Long MSRP: $79.95 This new fly line from RIO features a unique, 6-foot-long clear camo intermediate tip for fishing in the top layers of the water column (it’s a longer version of the Midge Tip line previously released by RIO), and our tester found it easy to cast, sensitive to the take and great for solid hook-sets.
5.Airflo Flo Tips MSRP: $24.99 Flo Tips have advantages over the other tips on the market. First, the coating is polyurethane. Polyurethane is much more durable and long-lasting than PVC-coated tips. Second, Airflo’s state-of-the-art welded loops are the best in the industry. Flo Tips are 2 ½ feet of intermediate and 7 ½ feet of T material in several different densities. Our tester used T-10 Flo Tips to great effect on the river’s outsized sea-run Dolly Varden.
6. Ande Monofilament Ghost MSRP: $6.99 (¼-pound spool); $13.99 (½-pound spool); $25.99 (1-pound spool); $45.99 (2-pound spool) As its name suggests, Ghost disappears under the water, making it our first line choice in 2014 whenever we found the water low and the fish finicky. Ghost comes in a matte white finish in 12- through 50-pound-test.
7. Cortland Precision Salmon/Steelhead Floating Line MSRP: $75 This WF9F (weight-forward, 9-weight floating) line is olive green, a good choice when sneaking up on a wild salmon or steelhead. We appreciated long drifts and easy mends while drifting egg patterns to salmon and steelhead. When we switched to a ’Wog pattern and skated it over fresh silvers piled up in a Lost Coast estuary, it was game-on. The line incorporates a welded front loop, so changing out leaders is quick. The weight-forward salmon taper loads quickly and covers water well.