This is my review of several Cortland fly Lines that I have fished in 2017. My short conclusion is that Cortland in general performs at a very high level, and I have full confidence in these lines.
I have fished lines by Airflo, Rio, Cortland, Wulff, Teeny, and other non-branded lines I have obtained from China. The number of inadequate (crappy) fly lines I have fished in the last fifty years can be counted up on one hand.
* Back in the 1960s, my SA fly lines would crack after a season or two.
* Twenty years ago a fly line from __________ was impossible to cast because the finish was sticky.
* Two years ago a fly line from _______ fished just fine but the finish was incomplete in a few small regions.
I have also stepped on fly lines with cleated boots, nicked them on sharp edges in my boat, pinched them in reel spools, stretched them to their limit, and so forth.
Today, the overall quality and performance of fly lines is quite like the performance of fly rods—very good.
Actually, I think it is more of a challenge to pick a good fly reel than it is to select a good rod and line.
Dick Sagara has helped me home in on several Cortland fly lines to fish and I thank him for his constructive suggestions. My experience with these lines has included the following environments and species.
* Baja – Dorado, skipjack tuna, jack crevalle, roosterfish
* Oregon lakes – trout up to 12 pounds
* Oregon estuaries – sea-run cutthroat, spring and fall chinook, coho salmon
* Ocean offshore Pacific City – black rockfish, lingcod, silver salmon, albacore tuna, chinook salmon, blue shark
With the overall notation that all of these lines performed 100% to my performance expectations – I should also note that I am not a world class caster—I would say that my demands on my fly lines is representative of the dedicated non-professional angler so if a line works for me it will probably work for the vast majority of anglers. The Professionals might want more.
Denny Rickards – this is a trout line that floats but has a short 7 ft camo intermediate sink tip. I LOVE this line when I’m fishing for sea-run cutthroat in rivers and estuaries. This is my line of choice when I want my fly to fish shallow.
Small and Big Game Intermediate – this is an excellent fly line that I use when fishing lakes and estuaries for sea-run cutthroat if I want to fish my fly from the top foot to about three feet deep. This line is offered in clear or camo, and I honestly can’t make up my mind which I prefer. Both are pictured above. The big Game Intermediate is the same line on a stronger core in higher line wts. I fish these lines for salmon in the estuary and again, go back and forth between the camo and clear lines to fish on any given day. These intermediate lines sink at somewhere around 2.0 in to 2.5 in per second, so I would call these fast intermediates.
Precision Compact sink – this has been a great fast sinker I have used mostly when fishing the ocean from dory boats. I have fished the 350 and 425 gr lines on rods from 8 wt to 12 wt. These lines (available from 200 gr to 425 gr) cast very well and sink quickly. Highly rated. The only lines I have found that sink faster are the T-14 custom cut lines by RIO and AIRFLO. These respective lines have a longer sink tip (~35 ft) and are denser, but are not fun to cast because they have no taper whatsoever.
Compact Intermediate Blitz – I have found this line to be among my top choices for fishing estuaries for salmon. I think this would be a great line for stripped bass too. The 200 gr and 275 gr Blitz lines should be a nice clear tip alternate to the RIO Outbound and AIRFLO Sniper lines fished for Puget Sound cutthroat and coho.
Precision Tropic Compact – I fished this floating line in Baja for Dorado, skipjack tuna, jack crevalle, roosterfish in the 350 gr and 425 gr line wts. This is a great casting line that excels when you want to make a long cast with minimal need to back cast. This is often the situation when fish follow close to the boat. You need to retrieve to leader length, then work out engouth line to load the rod to re-cast. This line has a short (~30 ft) powerful head that allows anyone to load the rod quickly. I really like this line for run and gun fishing.
Precision Compact Float – This is a short head, powerful fly line that I prefer when popper fishing in the ocean and estuary, and also when fishing Clousers in the estuary for Chinook salmon. This is a smooth long casting line that will load your rod quickly and maximize the time you are fishing because you will not need to make many false casts before letting-fly.
In conclusion – Cortland fly lines have performed in every measure neck-and-neck with RIO, AIRFLO, and WULFF fly lines. One performance issue I have not found in Cortland lines (for big-game) is a hover line: a line that sinks at perhaps 0.5 in per second. I have only found these lines offered by SA, RIO, and Wulff.
I believe that anyone who is considering a Cortland Line will be pleased with the fly line’s performance.
Jay Nicholas – October/November 2017