Overlining (and Underlining) a Fly Rod

It's important to know that overlining or underlining a fly rod will not change it’s intrinsic properties. It will, all things being equal, make it bend more or less for a given amount of line out the tip top. Here's the lowdown...
best 5wt fly rod for trout

Overlining (and Underlining) a Fly Rod

“Overlining” a fly rod refers to the practice of using a fly line that is rated higher than the designation on your fly rod. Eg using a 6wt fly line on a fly rod designated as a ‘5wt’.

Underlining a fly rod is the reverse I.e using a 5wt fly line on a fly rod designated by the manufacturer as a ‘6wt’ fly rod.

This all gets a little sketchy these days because:

  1. There is no standard to label the intrinsic power of a fly rod. And many fly rod manufacturers produce fly rods that would normally be stiffer than would be a fair designation in their pursuit to sell “fast fly rods”. For some reason the perception is that faster is better and consumers go for this as being some sort of benefit.
  2. Many fly lines are over - and in some cases way over - the weight designation for fly line specifications. There is a standard specification for fly lines - not so for fly rods as outlined in our earlier article here: https://swiftflyfishing.com/blogs/news/fly-fishing-fly-rod-ratings-fly-line-weights-and-the-arms-race

It's important to know that overlining or underlining a fly rod will not change it’s intrinsic properties. It will, all things being equal, make it bend more or less for a given amount of line out the rod tip.

5 wt fly rod

Overlining a fly rod:

Why you might wish to overline your fly rod.

  • Casting short distances in windy conditions
  • Picking up and turning over very large flies
  • Lots of roll casting in confined spaces / no backcast room
  • Loading (Bending) the rod with a short amount of line out the tip
  • You have a stupidly stiff fly rod that the manufacture has underrated in order to make it feel “fast”

Keep in mind that many fly lines are now over the AFFTA recommended weight for the specification - so in many cases you are already casting an “over-lined” fly rod by default

Underlining a fly rod:

All things being equal - a lighter line will deflect / bend the rod less for a given amount of line out.

This can:

  • Result in tighter loops
  • Allow a longer carry
  • Give a more delicate presentation than a heavier line.

 Overlining fly rods

Over-lining a fly rod

If you look at the actual weight stated on fly line specifications above, you’ll see that many fly lines are  heavier than the highest limit of the specification.

The problem then is that unless you’re aware of that when you buy the fly line, you might be overlining a fly rod that is already effectively overlined.

The AFFTA system, is not perfect, but if line manufacturers kept their products in line with the standard specifications there would at least be a “standard” and all our lives would be made much easier. Then, you could adjust up or down for your rod type without having to double-check that the specifications of the line matched the standard.

Our Glassline fly lines  - produced for us by Scientific Anglers USA match the sweet spot for a given weight exactly. Epic Glassine  fly lines - True to weight fly lines 

Our fly rods are rated against the AFFTA standard for each line - and are, to the fullest extent possible - true to weigh. Epic Studio Built Fly Rods - True to Weight Fly Rods

More on this topic:

Fly Fishing: Fly Rod Ratings, Fly Line Weights and the Arms Race

How to choose the right fly line for your fly rod

CUSTOMER FAVOURITES

GUIDES CHOICE

Epic Gift Card - Gifts For Fly Anglers
Epic Gift Card - Gifts For Fly Anglers from $50.00
Give the Gift of Choice No Delays, No Shipping. The Perfect Fly Fishing Gift On Time Every Time - Instant Delivery! Looking for the perfect gift for the Fly Angler in your life? Give them the gift of choice with a gift card. Gift cards are delivered by email from you directly from our website and contain instructions to redeem them at checkout. Gift cards are charged and redeemed on our stores base currency - $US For customers outside of the USA you can still shop and check-out in your native currency, our store does the conversion for you. Shopping for someone else (or yourself) but not sure exactly what to choose?Not sure what to get? Length, color or size?  It's very easy with an Epic Gift Card. You give - they choose! Schedule a Time to Send!You can even prescheduled  time / day / date that you would like your Gift Card delivered What is this?Gift Cards are delivered to you the purchaser by email and contain simple instructions to redeem them at checkout for products in our store. Each gift card features a unique code. Your gift card can also be printed out and gifted to the recipient, or it can be emailed to them immediately. Need Help? - drop us a line and we'll help you or your gift card recipient choose. How does it Work? Simple, you purchase the gift card you would like to give and check out just like you would for any online purchase. Our system will send you an email the recipient your gift card with your custom message. (That gift card has a unique voucher code on it) The recipient uses the voucher code to redeem against the purchase of their choice. Questions: Gift Cards work just like cash Any unspent balance can be used later Purchases can be topped up with cash, credit card or Paypal for larger purchases Customers can check their balance by visiting the unique gift card link sent via email Gift Cards have no additional processing fees. Purchase in your native currency to be redeemed at any time.Any questions or problems, just email us
Double Fly Rod & Reel Vault Bag Epic Backcountry Double Fly Rod & Reel Vault Bag
Backcountry Double Fly Rod & Reel Vault $119.95
Backcountry Double Fly Rod & Reel Vault Fish faster and smarter with the Backcountry Double Fly Rod Vault! This powerhouse of a storage solution is designed to carry two 9ft fly rods and reels, rigged up and ready to roll. Durably crafted from tough, water-resistant 600D Cordura material and reinforced by 210D Ripstop Polyester inner, you can rest assured your valuable fly rods and reels will be safe in all conditions. Waterproof YKK zippers keep moisture and dust out while the thickly padded interior protects your precious fly reels from being scratched. A hardshell outer helps look after your fly rods no matter what terrain awaits you. This is an unbeatable way to transport two complete setups. Save time and be ready to fish at a moment's notice!
Best fly reel for fly fishing as voted by field and stream best of the best Best fly reel waterproof fly reel
Backcountry Fly Reel $399.95
Large Arbor Backcountry Fly Reel II The best looking fly reel on the river. Our Backcountry fly reel features a smooth, sealed ceramic drag mechanism that boasts 3kg of drag and is easily swapped from left to right-hand wind. Super smooth sealed drag, lightweight large arbor, stealthy satin finish. Suitable for both fresh and saltwater use. CNC machined from cold-forged tempered 6061-T6 aluminum, High capacity large arbor spool Waterproof sealed stacked ceramic drag Type III military spec hard anodised finish Suitable for both fresh & saltwater use Large Arbor Spool The large arbor spool features a curved U shaped design that adds strength and assists in line levelling upon retrieval. The exposed reel edge makes for easy palming. A no-nonsense, tough, waterproof and lightweight fly reel. Epic in every way. Finished in a stealthy low sheen type III hard anodised satin finish available in any color as long as it's black.  Backcountry 3/4 Backcountry 5/6 Backcountry 7/8 Weight: 115g (4oz) Weight: 131g (4.6oz) Weight: 139g (4.9oz) Capacity: line + 50m  Capacity: line + 100m  Capacity: line + 150m  Dia:  84mm Dia: 94mm Dia: 104mm Got questions? - Drop us a line, we'd love to hear from you.
Fly Tying Tool Kit by Epic Fly Tying Tool Kit by Epic
Backcountry Fly Tying Kit $199.00
Backcountry Fly Tying Kit Equally at home on a trip or on your fly tying bench, our Backcountry Fly Tying kit features the very best Italian made tools by Stonfo and a pair of remarkable hand crafted fly tying scissors by Renomed of Poland. There are no finer fly tying tools made. We've taken the best of the best and presented them in a thoughtful waxed cotton canvas tool roll featuring genuine leather trim and straps fastened with classic brass catches. The hand stitched waterproof tool roll houses & protects these high quality tools and features two additional pouches to tuck away fly tying materials and hooks. The Renomed "Fly Tier" scissors feature a 'super cut' finely serrated blade that makes cutting deer hair and fur a breeze, and the larger scissor handles afford comfort and extraordinary durability and functionality. Tool Collection  Renomed Fly Tier Super Cut scissors (retail US$45) Stonfo Dubbing Twister Stonfo Hackle pliers Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Dubbing Brush Stonfo Bobtec1  Adjustable Bobbin With Ceramic Insert (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless steel) Stonfo Elite Whip Finisher (Stainless Steel)
Streamer wallet fly wallet Streamer wallet fly wallet
Backcountry Streamer Wallet $69.95
Back Country Streamer Wallet Carry and show off your streamers in style in our cotton canvas fly wallet Handcrafted and waterproof in waxed cotton Canvas, genuine sheepskin and hand tooled leather. Each wallet is hand cut and stitched from waxed cotton canvas and lined with lambswool. Measuring  12cm wide by 17 cm closed (4.5" x 7") Big enough to house and protect even the biggest lures and streamers. Streamer wallets have a few advantages over dropping your expensive streamers in a fly box. The open ended design and fine lambswool liner drys flies and lets them breath Flies are kept separated - No more tangled flies and hooks Easy to see and easy to grab - particularly if you have stinger hooks on your streamers They look sensational and big fish love them! Measuring 11cm wide by 17 cm long closed (4.5" x 7") Waterproof, small enough to fit in a wader pocket but capable of holding a large collection of flies
Fly Tying Vice Travel Fly Tying Vice
Backcountry Travel Vise $69.95
Backcountry Travel Vice Equally at home on a trip or on your fly tying bench, our Backcountry vice is a robust, beautifully built, no-nonsense fly tying vice. Featuring hard steel jaws, quick lock cam and all packed away in a stylin' protective felt case made from recycled plastic bottles! Holds hooks from size 2 to 22 Hard steel jaws Quick-lock cam' operation Rotary head Fully adjustable Allen key Recycled PET felt carry pouch

The Epic Fly Rod Chooser

Find your perfect fly rod with our 10 second quiz

TAKE THE TEST
Lifetime Warranty
Lifetime Warranty

Love It or Return It

100% total satisfaction guarantee

5 Star Support

Industry leading support and service

Easy Returns

Hassle free returns

World Wide Shipping

Shipping worldwide daily
Experience the Epic® difference.