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Intermediate fly line selection

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Happy holidays everyone. I'm looking to purchase a new intermediate fly line for my 7wt. I'm specifically buying it for a spec trout trip in a few days, but would like to get something to use year round as well for different situations. Would someone please recommend and explain why one would choose the intermediate tip vs the full intermediate and which one is a better all around choice for saltwater fishing?
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North of you, here on Cape Cod, the Airflow cold saltwater ridged striper intermediate line is very useful. It is a long-headed, true to weight line that handles well in cold water but does fine in the summer as well. I use a 7wt on a 7wt exocett and find that it casts and fishes well. I'm no fan of airflo lines but feel this one is an exception.
 

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The big difference between a full intermediate fly line and a line with an intermediate tip (usually the last 15 feet with the remainder of the line floating...) is exactly where your fly is in the water column when you're fishing it... A lot of sight casters prefer an intermediate tip line since they only want the fly down a few feet - and they really want to be able to pick up and re-cast the line without stripping it all the way back in first before being able to make a quick second cast... but that won't do you much good when the fish are on the bottom....

A full intermediate is a real tool for fishing every depth from just under the surface to all the way down on the bottom in ten feet of water. With an intermediate tipped line the moment you start stripping - no matter how far down you've allowed the fly to sink... immediately it starts to rise because of the rest of the line - which is floating... We normally count down a full intermediate so I have a real idea of exactly where my angler's fly is and at what depth... That's the depth it will stay at until it's almost back to the skiff. Very, very handy for fishing tarpon when they're holding in rivers or bays and not going anywhere... If the fly isn't in front of the fish when he's sitting on the bottom in ten feet of water -that big fish will never even see the fly at all... The big downside to full intermediate fly lines is that once you make a cast and allow the line and fly to sink a bit -you must strip it all the way back to the skiff before being able to make a second cast... The usual routine that I teach my anglers is to roll cast the line to the surface then start your normal forward cast. One big advantage with them is that when actually in the air - intermediates cast better than any floating line - very handy on windy days...

All of my heavy rods (10 to 12wts..) are set up with full intermediate lines. Smaller rods are all set up with floating lines (7 to 9wts)... and we're able to cover all the bases in the interior of the Everglades where I am most days...

The intermediate we like the most? Rio, all day long.. other outfits make perfectly good full intermediates but the Rio has been my go to now for about five years... I have anglers all the time bringing lines with intermediate tips on board... They're not much use when a big girl is holding in a river down deep (where most of the ones we encounter are...).

Hope this helps
 

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I fish mostly intermediate type lines, from Maine to SC. I carry 2 spools, one is a full intermediate (the old school Cortland ice blue) and the Wulff BTT Ghost Tip. I fish some striper flats that are knee deep for most of their area with a slightly deeper channel in the center and the BTT fishes those spots beautifully, whereas the full intermediate would get me hung up as the fly reaches the shallower part. It has been a great line for me. I just took advantage of the Orvis sale to get a Hydros Intermediate to replace the long in the tooth Cortland, but havn't had a chance to use it yet, but the full intermediate has gotten me some decent trout in inlets around Charleston in the winter.
 

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My biggest gator trout was caught on an intermediate line. The fish took a gurgler fished over a deep water flat. I also use a full clear intermediate for Redfish and Snook. Another great catch was a Redfish caught on the same gurgler pattern. The slow sinking line and the floating fly combination has worked very well for me. That fly swims just below the surface when I strip and then pops up when I stop.
I also use intermediate lines offshore for Albies and Mahi. When fishing offshore the drift of the boat in the wind and the current will keep the line near the surface but just enough under.
I am using a Saltwater Mono Clear Triangle taper from Wulff and a SA Sonar Saltwater Intermediate.
 

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My anglers makes the cast (usually across current) and I then slow count out loud until the big fly we’re using is down far enough- and the line and fly have swung into where there’s a big fish holding (the way we’re set up the gear sinks one foot per second). Then it’s time to start a long slow strip - with a quick twitch at the end of every strip- hang on to that fly line...
 

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My anglers makes the cast (usually across current) and I then slow count out loud until the big fly we’re using is down far enough- and the line and fly have swung into where there’s a big fish holding (the way we’re set up the gear sinks one foot per second). Then it’s time to start a long slow strip - with a quick twitch at the end of every strip- hang on to that fly line...
My understanding of a intermediate line is they typically have sink rates of 0.5 - 2 inches per second. How are you setting up your gear to get a one foot per second sink rate out of such a slow sinking line?
 

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The flies we use are not only large (3/0 or 4/0) but also sport very large bead chain eyes.... as a result fly, leader, and fly line sink at the same rate...

I may be off a bit since I’ve never had a means of measuring sink rate. I do know the depth we’re fishing and how soon my anglers needs to start stripping before we snag the fly in the bottom... We find that large lead eyes sink too fast and rarely draw the strikes while the flies with bead chain eyes just get hammered...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Thanks to everyone for your thorough responses. That's why I love this site. I'm going with the SA intermediate sinking for this trip as I think that best fits the situations we'll be in. It sounds like a sink tip option would be beneficial for the flats in the summer though, so as in most cases with fly gear one option may not work for all situations.
 

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A lot of intermediate and sinking lines have a sink rate listed in inches per second printed on the box. Some are rated by class 1,2,3 etc but have an IPS correlation. I really like throwing a sink tip line for speckled trout where I fish. Normally it isn't more than 6' deep so it isn't an issue getting the fly down. I also use Rio Leviathan when I really want to get a fly down deep and stay deep.
 

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Here is a technique I use with full intermediate lines I have not seen it mentioned so I thought I would share.

This will get the line very deep and stay there for a longer period of your retrieve.

I also use heavily weighted flies and the count down method. What I have my clients do is to continue to feed line into the water right at the tip while counting down. If you pile enough line quickly onto the water the line at the skiff will achieve a similar sink rate as the end with the weighted fly. In clear water like we fish in Tampa Bay you can look down and see exactly how deep your end has sunk.

This will leave you with the deepest line at both ends. The middle will belly and sink slower due to the effects of tide, drift etc.

When you reach the depth you desire take your first few strips sharply with the rod tip straight down into the water. This will shoot the belly of the line straight down and eventually give you a rather level presentation across a much longer distance. This is a good technique for keeping the fly in the strike zone.

One last thought on this type of fishing. If you are having to go to the bottom you are most likely appealing to laid up fish during slack tides or periods of colder weather. For me a slower presentation always produces the most strikes during these conditions. Once the line comes tight short strips that pulse the fly signal vulnerability best. Make it dance but go nowhere fast.

Ken
 
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