Last week at Menteith I learned that not all lines – fly lines that is, are created equal. Maybe it says on the box it is is a Grey’s Platinum 7# line but when you go to use it….something has changed.

Going back a few weeks

When I got back from my Islay trip I noticed my much loved Greys Platinum 7# line was all cracked and split at the end. Not sure how long I have had it, I think three seasons and I do use it a fair bit so no real complaints there. It was a perfect match for my Daiwa New Era rod ( which is a 6# by the way) and most people who had had a shot would agree it was a well-matched package along with my Hardy cassette reel.

The Snowbee XS Plus

The Snowbee XS Plus

Ordinarily, I would have just gone out and bought another identical line….but no! They have “updated the range”. Now there is no longer a simple choice of a Greys Platinum line in a 7# oh no, that would be too simple, now you have a Stealth, a Shoot and an Extreme. Also along the way a friend had offered me at a very good price, a brand new, still in the box Snowbee line in a 7#. It was too cheap to turn down and so I parted with the requested sum and became the proud owner of an XS plus line. It is a good weight match for the rod, having given it an airing on my last outing to Pendreich. However it’s a “manufactured shooting head” type line so meant for outright distance casting- which it does well, but is frankly rubbish at anything short-range- i.e. a couple or three rod lengths range, or what could be considered delicate presentation, it lands with a fair old smack.

So there was no question I would be keeping it, but as a general purpose everyday line I really just wanted something like the old Platinum. I figured that the “Stealth” line had to be the vanilla flavour line as it’s predominant feature did not seem to be long distance or extreme distance ( as the other two advertise). There was a special deal on by a well-known tackle retailer and I decided to get myself one of these new lines in a 7# with a fairly hefty discount. When I was out at Menteith last week I realised it was no good, not for “normal casting” anyway. It simply doesn’t load the rod at all and I was continually trying to overpower my casting stroke to get it to go out where I wanted it, with the end result I was casting crap and my shoulder was suffering. With the old Greys line, I could feel the rod load right down to the grip, not with this one.

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Third time lucky

I was going to have to bite the bullet again and get something that would work as I was used to. So on Sunday morning I trotted off to my local tackle shop and had a review of their lines for sale and what would be a suitable replacement. We could not agree on the Greys Platinum range on what was actually the direct replacement for the old normal line. Some of the options offered as being excellent were just stupid money. No one is getting £60 off me for a single fly line. So sticking mid range and applying the cash off my “Loyalty card” I got a Cortland 444 for under £40. They have a long-standing reputation of being good lines but I have never actually tried one. I am pleased to report having been out at Swanswater yesterday afternoon to try it out, that I feel my “old” New Era is back…. this line is a great match. I am also impressed by the coating on this new line which seems very slick.

If a Greys Platinum Stealth line in a 7# interests you, let me know,  have not decided whether to keep it yet. there is nothing wrong with it per se, it just isn’t a good match for my particular rod. I might sell it on on careful owner as they say.

A try out at Swanswater

Swanswater was challenging. As I arrived it was clear both from what I could see; anglers weighing in pretty full bags of fish (what seemed to be predominantly Golden Trout), and Ian in the lodge said they had been catching steadily all morning just below the surface. Once tackled up and on the bank I saw a youngster land a fish on the island, opposite me, I was by the big tree near the dam. A few fish were moving very close in, which was handy as the wind was shearing in a little towards me so getting a long way out was not really an option but the new line certainly worked well and I was able to cast quite adequately into the wind. Spurred on by the rises as close as a rod length from the bank, I put a dry on point and cast over them. I managed to rise one fish but alas it never took the fly and after a few changes decided, as it seemed to quieten off, that it was time to move. There was a calm area just before the bridge to the Island but neither here nor on the island where the wind really got up did I get any indication I was going to catch anything. It is also worth adding that Golden Trout are generally highly visible especially with the water as clear as it was this day and I never caught sight of one in the calm water sheltered from the wind. On the island by now the wind was so strong I nearly came a cropper as a gust caught me mid cast and I only just caught myself from being blown into the water!.

On the island by now the wind was so strong I nearly came a cropper as a gust caught me mid cast and I only just caught myself from being blown into the water! It was hard work, the anglers chat around me was that it had switched off, and so I decided to head around the back of the island opposite the roadside. By now I had a Cormorant, a Diawl Bach and a Cats Whiskers. I had noticed the two fish I had seen caught were by anglers who were pulling. Not something I enjoy but sometimes needs must. My first cast was towards the weedy area and I initially realised I had snagged on something as I was pulling I could see the tips of what I presumed to be weed stems moving in time to my pull on the line, then there was a dull thud. Initially, I really was unsure, did I have a take or was I dragging a weed out by the root? As the line then started to tighten the other way I could clearly feel it was a fish, and not a small one I would reckon either. However I was clearly snagged, the fish was trying to go away from me and I reckon wasn’t making much headway, and I was much the same pulling back against it, something had to give, and it did. My leader parted company with my fly line taking all three flies and the 6lb fluorocarbon with it. Damn!

A nice blue trout

A silvery blue Trout of about 3lb

As it was increasingly gusty I decided to replace the three flies with two but put a new Cat on point. I left the area I hooked the fish for a few casts in case the tussle had disturbed anything then on casting round there again right away I had another pull this time successfully landing a lovely silvery Blue Trout. It took me little time to get it in to close range but it wasn’t for coming to the net but did eventually succumb to pressure on the by now 8lb line I changed to. I had one more pull here before I moved on to try cover some fish I had seen moving by the roadside. However once there I had nothing and spent the last 45 minutes on the Meadow Pond where I had several bumps but no hookups before I headed off.