Shooting Lines

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  Thoughts About Shooting Lines  
A Brief History of Shooting Lines
By: Mark Bachmann

Pete Gadd works the Klickitat River using a Rio Skagit Spey line, which has been modified with PowerFlex Core Shooting Line.

Jim Green introduced monofilament as a running/shooting line for distance fly casting in 1946 at the Golden Gate Casting Club.  That revolutionized fly casting. Suddenly fly casters could reach what before were unobtainable distances because the small diameter monofilament greatly reduced friction between itself and the rod guides. These shooting lines were attached to high density shooting heads.  Lines of this design are still used today by such legendary distance casters as 13 time World Champion, Steve Rajeff.  As a matter of fact, monofilament is still the choice as shooting line for the majority of tournament distance casters today.  Monofilament does have one problem however, after it has been wound on a reel for a while it tends to take on the shape of the reel spool, and to coil much like the Slinky kids toy.  This is called memory.  In the early 1960's Amnesia shooting line was developed by the Sunset company.  It was was developed specifically as shooting line, and could be stretched to instantly loose all memory which greatly reduced the possibility of tangles. This shooting line remained popular for more than forty years. Amnesia is no longer available, but monofilament shooting lines are still evolving.  Rio SlickShooter with its oval cross section is very popular.  Frog Hair Shooting Line is bombarded with gamma rays during manufacturing to make it slicker and more tangle free.  The latest monofilament shooting lines to hit the market are hollow so that they float and not only reduce friction in your rod guides, but also reduce friction when contacting the water. The newest friction cutting shooting line is Varivas AIRS, a monofilament line which had a ridged exterior cause by six hollow interior air chambers. It is incredibly slick and could add many feet to your casts. Although the new monofilaments in hollow configurations are extremely popular, tangle-free, braided, monofilament shooting lines have also found favor. We've tested Airflo Miracle Braid extensively. This is a braided monofilament, which has a core. Theoretically, because the braided line has intermittent contact with your rod guides it reduces friction more than lines which have constant contact with the guides.
Shooting heads and shooting lines quickly migrated from the tournament scene to fishing water.  Anglers found that they could cast much further with this new system.  Suddenly shooting heads were available in many different densities from high floating to deep sinking.  Anglers took these new lines to large rivers for salmon & steelhead and to the saltwater or anywhere long casts were needed.  The Cortland Line Company introduced fine diameter coated fly lines which became popular as shooting lines with anglers during the 1970's.  Larry Schoenborn, while he owned  Larry's Sport Centers, sold hundreds of these lines in the Portland, Oregon area between 1973 and 1980.  These coated fly line type shooting lines remain popular today, having been proven by hundreds of anglers multiplied by hundreds of days of on the water. Scientific Anglers built their Sharkskin Shooting Line with a textured surface in the coating to mimic the friction free assets of braided monofilament shooting line. It does work and Sharkskin may have the least amount of memory of any fly-line shooting line. But, because of the rough surface it is very abrasive on your hands. Another new shooting line that also has friction reducing ridges on its surface is the Airflo Ridge Line. This line is more supple than monofilament and handles really well. Since the friction reducing ridges run lengthwise of the line they are pretty easy on your hands.  Rio Powerflex Core Shooting Line is one of the latest development in a coated type of shooting line. It is exceptionally slick and tangle free because it is built on a monofilament core. Instead of using ridges of other patterns in the coating to reduce friction, Rio built the surface of their shooting lines exceptionally smooth, and they are the easiest on your hands. Last summer, Patty and I were fortunate to catch very many Dorados using Rio shooting heads and Powerflex Core shooting lines. We will use this system while fishing the Sea of Cortez again this year.
Many fly fishers using two-hand rods have switched to shooting head type fly lines, and there is much discussion about which shooting lines work best in that environment. All of the shooting lines mentioned above are adaptable to steelhead/salmon rivers. The interchangeability of shooting head Spey lines allows an angler to instantly adapt to changing weather/water conditions without carrying extra reel spools.
Airflo Ridge, Scientific Anglers Sharkskin and Rio Powerflex core shooting lines all have seamless loops for attaching shooting heads.
Lately there has been renewed interest in shooting lines. As you can see, there are a wide variety of materials available. Designs are constantly evolving and competition between companies is fierce. We're always experimenting and because of it we're always on the cutting edge.

More Thoughts About Shooting Lines
By: Mark Bachmann

Every shooting line on this page ahs been thoroughly tested by our staff for multiple weeks on the water. After all, beyond acquiring better casting skills, reducing friction during the shoot is one of the easiest ways to achieve greater casting distance. For this reason monofilament shooting lines are pretty much universal in the distance casting tournament game. Most experienced steelheaders that use shooting heads also use monofilament shooting lines as well, because monofilament is very durable, comparatively inexpensive, and creates the least amount of friction. Monofilament, especially perfectly round monofilament is easiest on the hands where a lot of stripping is being done. As with all things, monofilament shooting lines sometimes have their down-sides as well. Solid monofilament is heavier than water, and therefore it sinks. Sinking can be an asset when you are working a reef with a fast sinking shooting head, but it is not an asset when you are wading a steelhead stream and trying to control coils that are trailing in your back-wash. Hollow monofilament, such as Varivas Airs or Scientific Anglers Mono SL float because they are lighter than water. Hollow monofilament has more memory during cold weather than solid mono, such as Frog Hair, which has the least amount of memory of any monofilament shooting line we have found. There is a strong case that oval monofilament such as Rio SlickShooter creates less friction in the rod guides than does round monofilament. Monofilament can be hard to hang onto when your hands are wet or cold, and can really drive you nuts if your hands are both wet and cold.
Coated Fly Line Shooting Lines and Hollow Braided Monofilament Shooting Lines are both easier to hang onto than monofilament shooting lines. They tend to have less memory in cold weather too, so they are more predictable when controlling loops during the stripping process. Because they do create more friction than monofilament they tend to be meaner to your hands. A saltwater trip can wear some serious grooves in your fingers. Most Spey outfits for beginners come equipped with a fly-line shooting line because it is easier for beginning anglers to see and to control. Both Rio Powerflex® Core, and Airflo Ridge shooting lines are superb. Airflo Ridge 30-pound is the easiest to see against most backgrounds.
Hollow braided monofilament polyethylene shooting lines such as Airflo Miracle Floating Shooting Braid and Scientific Anglers Braided PE have the least amount of memory of any type of shooting lines. They are also very lightweight, so they float very high and are extremely easy to hold off the water when you need to fish over the top of an unruly current tongue. These braided lines are extremely easy to hang onto when your hands are wet and cold. This makes casting easier because the release becomes more predictable than any line that wants to slip out of your fingers.
I regularly use all of the shooting lines described within this article, and have pretty much relegated monofilament shooting lines to summer fishing with Scandi heads or saltwater trips. Hollow braided polyethylene shooting lines are currently favored for winter Skagit-Head work.

Airflo Floating Miracle Shooting Braid

Marcy Stone fires a line across the North Umpqua using Miracle Braid shooting line.

Recently upgraded with a solid core and s harder, slicker, smoother finish. One of the best overall shooting/running line for cold-water fishing with Spey shooting heads, is Airflo Miracle Floating Shooting Braid. It's incredibly light so it shoots a long way, has NO memory, floats, and doesn't tangle very often. This is a great line to use in combination with Skagit and Scandinavian heads.  Some anglers are even cutting the stock shooting lines from mid-length heads and replacing them with Miracle Braid because it gives superior performance.
Item Description Size Price To Top
MBRAID50G Airflo Miracle Floating Shooting Braid, 50-yard spool 30-pound test $29.95

Airflo Ridge Running/Shooting Line, Pre-looped

The perfect compliment to any shooting head, Ridge technology comes to the fore on our running lines.

Reduced surface friction not only increases distance, but also helps reduce tangles - loose coils of line slide over each other easily to eliminate snarl ups.

A low stretch Power core and an oversized ‘Flexi loop’ complete what we consider to be the ultimate running line for shooting heads.  Color is bright orange.

Item Description Size Price To Top
468415 Airflo Ridge Running Line, Yellow 20-pound

468422 Airflo Ridge Running Line, Orange 30-pound

Frog Hair Shooting Line
GAMMA's proven "Molecularly Altered" Frog Hair Shooting Lines offer all of the casting qualities the big water angler desires. GAMMA's exclusive process builds-in flexibility and virtually eliminates coil memory, which produces lines that will shoot further and handle easier than any other monofilament running/shooting lines. Frog Hair Shooting Lines have the "slickness" needed to achieve greater distances. This processing also helps prevent kinking and allows the line to lay in soft, loose coils that literally "shoot like a bullet" through the rod guides. In the larger diameters, stripping is also easier, more controlled, and provides more secure

hook-sets.  Many shooting/running lines must be presoaked the night before and kept wet right up until fishing time to help make them more flexible. But not Frog Hair! GAMMA's proprietary manufacturing process eliminates this bothersome step to ensure greater suppleness and more flexibility throughout the line.  At home in both fresh and saltwater.
44-yard spools.

This 100+ pound tarpon was caught from the Belize River using a fast sinking shooting head
and Frog Hair FFHSL-11.
Item Description Size Price To Top
FFHSL-13 Frog Hair Shooting Line,
Fluorescent Orange, diameter .019"
40-pound test

FFHSL-10 Frog Hair Shooting Line, Red, diameter .022"
50-pound test

FFHSL-11 Frog Hair Shooting Line, Chartreuse, diameter .024"
58-pound test

FFHSL-12 Frog Hair Shooting Line, Orange, diameter .030"
88-pound test

OPST Lazer Line
OPST's Pure Skagit Lazar Line is the slickest running line out there. This is the line for those of us who love to launch a cast, sit back, maybe eat a sandwich while the line rushes out of the guides and pulls line off the reel as it comes tight. Lazar Line is hydrophobic, extremely durable, consistent over a broad range of temperatures, and virtually impervious to memory. It features a slight, calculated stretch that allows for extremely sleek and strong knots. This stuff will rock with your Scandi head as well. We searched far and wide for the perfect running line and knew we could do better than what was out there. Pure Skagit Lazar Line is quickly becoming the favorite running line of fishermen all over the world. Find out why. OPST Lazer Line has been thoroughly tested and perfected by Ed Ward and Jerry French. If you are into the Skagit scene, you know those are a couple of names you can trust.


Tony Barnes: "OSPT LAZER LINE is very durable. I used mine for about 6-months before finally having to trim a small part because of wear. Tough, tough stuff."

John Christensen: "OSPT LAZER LINE has literally no memory, either in hot or cold weather. Kinks occur seldom, and when they do this line straightens easily."

Mike Varga: "OSPT LAZER LINE is very slick. It reduces friction in the rod guides while casting or playing fish."

OPST Shooting Lines are gaining popularity with Spey folks throughout their range. Saltwater anglers like OPST too! OPST is the right shooting lines for any application where monofilament is preferred.

Item Description Size Price To Top
RL-02 Olympic Penninsula Skagit Tactics SP Lazar Line, Length 50M, Chartreuse 30-pound $31.95

RL-03 Olympic Penninsula Skagit Tactics SP Lazar Line, Length 50M, Chartreuse 35-pound $31.95

RL-04 Olympic Penninsula Skagit Tactics SP Lazar Line, Length 50M, Chartreuse 40-pound $31.95

RIO Shooting Lines

NEW RIO GripShooter NEW RIO ConnectCore Shooting Line
RIO SlickShooter PowerFlex Core Shooting Line

There are a number of reasons for using shooting heads and shooting lines.  Traditionally shooting lines are used to cut down on friction in the rod guides while performing long casts.  A floating or sinking head is used to load the rod, the cast is made and the head pulls the fine diameter shooting line behind it.  First used for tournament distance casting, this system quickly migrated to salt water, and Pacific salmon fishing.  Since then it has been used for many fly fishing applications.  The newest arena where shooting heads and shooting lines are making an impact is in Spey fishing.  Spey line shooting heads have been popular for a number of years in Scandinavia. 

Many west coast steelhead anglers have also found Scandinavian style shooting heads to be very practical for fishing their rivers.  The original Skagit style lines were shooting heads.  The latest fad is to replace the running lines on Rio's Skagit Spey and WindCutter lines with Rio PowerFlex Core Shooting Line, because it is slicker and more tangle free than the original running line.  Also one reel can be loaded with backing and a shooting line, and many heads can be interchanged on to it.  This system creates less bulk than packing around several extra reel spools.

RIO SlickShooter

A super hard, slick finish oval-shaped nylon shooting line.  Has no memory after being stretched before fishing each day.  Has an extremely low coefficient of friction for long distance casts.

Length: 115 feet

Item Description Size Price To Top
20489 RIO SlickShooter, Blue 25 pound-test $15.95

20490 RIO SlickShooter, Orange 35 pound-test $15.95

20494 RIO SlickShooter, Red 44 pound-test $15.95

20491 RIO SlickShooter, Green 50 pound-test $15.95

RIO GripShooter

A super hard, slick finish oval-shaped nylon shooting line with a bright orange handling line coated onto it for a better grip while casting. The main line is SlickShooter which has an extremely low coefficient of friction for long distance casts. These lines are "looped" for easy changing of shooting heads.

Length: 100 feet

Item Description Size Price To Top
19040 RIO GripShooter, Blue 25 pound-test

19041 RIO GripShooter, Green 35 pound-test

19042 RIO GripShooter, Red

44 pound-test


19043 RIO GripShooter, Yellow 50 pound-test

RIO Powerflex® Core Shooting Lines
The Powerflex Core shooting lines have a strong monofilament core that results in thin diameters, great strength and durability and a very slick XS Technology coating for ultimate distance. These shooting lines are available with either a supple cold-water coating for tangle free performance or with a hard tropical coating that will not wilt in the heat. These lines feature a large welded loop at the front end to speedily attach a shooting head. Two densities available: Floating and Intermediate.
Each size is color coded for easy recognition.

 Rio Powerflex® Core are the ultimate shooting lines when distance and manageability are important, they combine the slickness and suppleness needed for the highest in performance and are virtually tangle free. These lines were developed for fishing with indicators for salmon and steelhead in the Great Lakes and West Coast fisheries, as well as being an excellent choice when used with any shooting heads. These lines are "looped" for easy changing of shooting heads.
Length: 100 ft (30.5 m)
Item Description Size/Color Price To Top
19030 RIO Powerflex® Core Shooting Line, Coldwater, Floating, Orange .024" $39.95

19033 RIO Powerflex® Core Shooting Line, Coldwater, Intermediate Sink, Orange Tint .024" $39.95

19031 RIO Powerflex® Core Shooting Line, Coldwater, Floating, Chartreuse .030 $39.95

19034 RIO Powerflex® Core Shooting Line, Coldwater, Intermediate Sink,   Chartreuse Tint .030 $39.95

19032 RIO Powerflex® Core Shooting Line, Coldwater, Blue .035 $39.95

19035 RIO Powerflex® Core Shooting Line, Coldwater, Intermediate Sink, Blue Tint .035 $39.95

19038 RIO Powerflex® Core Shooting Line, Coldwater, Yellow .040 $39.95

Rio ConnectCore Shooting Lines
Built on RIO's ultra low stretch ConnectCore, this shooting line is made to transmit more feel while casting and fishing. In corporated into the constuction is RIO's Extream Slickness coating, which allows less friction for longer, smoother casts. Each line comes with a thicker, highly visible, bright orange handling section which is seamlessly integrated for durability and ease of casting. These lines are "looped" for easy changing of shooting heads.
Length: 100 ft (30.5 m)

Item Description Size/Color Price To Top
19045 RIO ConnectCore Shooting Line, Light Gray/Hot Orange .026" $59.95

19046 RIO ConnectCore Shooting Line, Pale Green/Hot Orange .032" $59.95

19047 RIO ConnectCore Shooting Line, Pale Blue/Hot Orange .037" $59.95

19048 RIO ConnectCore Shooting Line, Straw/Hot Orange .042" $59.95

Scientific Anglers Shooting Lines

Mono SL               Braided PE
Scientific Anglers Mono SL Shooting Line
Remarkable technology produces monofilament nylon that is hollow, but which retains a round configuration under extreme stress. In cross-section Mono SL is hollow, but partitioned into six separate compartments. Mono SL is lighter in weight than water, and therefore it floats. This may be the most friction free shooting line available. Because of the lightweight Mono SL barely touches the rod guides, and coiled loops come off the water cleanly. We first saw this shooting line in the hands of Spey Casting Wizard, Steve Choate, who was able to reach parts of the Sandy River which had never been touched by a fly before. Slick and easy on your hands
Mono SL Specifications:
Color: Transparent Orange
Length: 150'/45.7m
Size: .021" - 36-pound test

Cross-Section of Mono SL
Item Description Size Price To Top
982765 Scientific Anglers Mono Shooting Line COLOR orange .021" $34.95

Scientific Anglers Braided PE
This is the finest grade of hollow braided polyethylene rope. It is smoother than any competitive brand of braided shooting line we've found. Braided PE has virtually no memory, even in the coldest conditions you will encounter while fly fishing. PE is comparatively easy on your hands. It floats and is a favorite with Spey and surf fishermen because it remains tangle free. It is easy to hang on to and shoots long distances.

Braided PE Specifications:
Color: Orange
Length: 150'/45.7m
Size: .032" - 29-pound test
Item Description Size Price To Top
113786 Scientific Anglers Braided PE, Yelow .030" $34.95

Varivas Airs Shooting Line
The VARIVAS® Shooting Line has become very popular with distance casters and steelhead/salmon anglers who want to reach our farther. Simply stated, AIRS reduces friction while running through your guides. You will instantly notice the difference between this and any other shooting line we are aware of. The secret is the eight air chambers that run lengthwise inside the line, which gives AIRS its floatation, and also gives it a slightly ridged cross-section on the outside for less contact with rod guide surfaces. Varivas AIRS remains supple even in winter cold water conditions for tangle-free performance. You will have to stretch it as it comes off the reel spool and then it remains straight for that casting period. Ideal for Scandinavian and Skagit style shooting heads. Hi-viz yellow for great visibility. Supplied in 100m spools (approximately 110 yards)

Item Description Size Price To Top
VSL-024 Varivas Airs Shooting Line 24-pound, .016 $39.95

VSL-030 Varivas Airs Shooting Line 30-pound, .019 $39.95

VSL-036 Varivas Airs Shooting Line 36-pound, .021 $39.95

VSL-047 Varivas Airs Shooting Line 47-pound, .027 $39.95

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