Marking Fly Lines

Years ago, fly-fishermen usually had one or two rods and a sinking and a floating line — period. Now anglers often wonder, with all the fly lines available today, how to mark lines to indicate their differences.

Since the early 1960s, I have been using a simple system that works for me. It won’t tell you that this is a bonefish, striper or redfish taper, but it will indicate the line’s weight and taper.

Use a permanent marker. To indicate the number five, make a half-inch mark around the line. Use a short mark on the line to indicate a one. So a 7-weight line, for example, would have one long and two short marks. I place these marks about two feet back from the front end, but some anglers like to put them on both ends.

If the line is a weight-forward, I place the long mark at the front and the small marks behind. For double tapers, do the opposite. For sinking lines that are too dark to show any marks, use shrink tubing that you can find at any electrical supply store. At home, cut a half-inch section for a five and small sections for ones, and slide them on the line. Dip the line in water that’s been brought to a boil, and in seconds, the heat will permanently install the tubing.