Cortland Precision Competition Nymph 140 & 160 grain fly line.
Some initial thoughts having immediately extricated said lines from the sturdy packaging are as follows:
Colour: Gecko Green ~ A temptation when constructing lines with the word ‘nymph’ in it would be to apply some sort of fixed high-viz section or worse still make the whole fishing line day-glo orange… I’m liking this more subdued colour.
A usual addition is Cortland’s fly line cleaner applicator pads. Also novel is that having attached the running line to your backing, just return the spool to the locator in the box and recover the fly line to your reel from within… totally twist free… I like!
The braided core line is smooth to the touch and very supple, the coating feels fine and as yet non sticky. It’s difficult initially to comment too much on coatings… in the main they’re supposed to improve longevity and slickness whilst in use. I know this line is primarily designed for nymphing and to a point eradicates the need to shoot and false cast as would be normal … but specialist line or not, it’ll be getting a good casting either way.
So let’s move on to some of the fly lines specification detail…
140 & 160 grain profiles (Lengths: the Tip, Front Taper, Body, Rear Taper & Running line are similar)
For those fly fishers like me that have no friends or a social life here’s some diameter specs for each foot of the first 45ft. Click the image below to view or click HERE for a PDF version.
With designs on producing an exquisite fine and supple tip, it’s a shame to then go and almost double its width so as to provide a welded type loop. I’ve yet to find a fly line with a decent one of these and probably never will… this was for the chop as with all those that have gone before it.
Rather than the usual needle knotted leader to the fly line, a 1.5mm ring looped to an exposed core is my preference on this occasion. With nymphing in mind this will make tippet application a synch. Here is a ‘How to’ on making this tip ring application.
Out on the water…
The test was conducted using generally recognised nymphing fly rods of 10 foot from 2 weight through to 4 weight. So as to be able to draw a comparison within the techniques to be reviewed I also used some standard and readily available weight forward fly lines comparable to the weight of each rod.
The test was not a fishing one, if I caught anything it would be pure mishap and an absolute darn miracle… I wasn’t being very stealthy for one. The aim of this exercise was to determine the fly lines use within a so called technique, these being: High Sticking, Czech, Spanish and French Nymphing.
Firstly I’m going to rule out the ability to use one of the aforementioned techniques:
Czech Nymphing – Without labouring on too much detail, these are techniques commonly administered in deep, fast and troubled type waters of which I have little or no access to today. This is a short tight line method with an intention to fish almost directly below the rod tip, I’m totally confident this fly line will perform admirably as will any other standard line for this technique where the impact of any specialised taper is almost minimal.
I say minimal however but what about the so called ‘line droop’? slack line slipping back between the rod rings as can be so common. (Detail of which is further within this review)
There are many variations as to how, where and when a particular technique should or shouldn’t be applied. In some cases and without altering the set up, a few have merged beyond how we would otherwise previously have defined them. For ease and without me having to do so I shall merely refer to them as short, medium or long style nymphing unless otherwise required.
Nymphing (Upstream) – short to long range…
Below is an overlay of both the Cortland Nymph and the standard WF fly line at medium range. With identical setups, single fly and my ability to track the tip consistently over a number of repeated casts, there was little or no distinguishable difference between the two fly lines capabilities.
Which line cast best in this situation? = Call the cast what you will, a lob cast, flick, roll or side arm cast… both types performed equally.
Did either line type suffer from a bow/belly at any point? = During the drift, if both rods were tracked back relative to the speed of the current and effectively leading the point fly then No.
If however I tracked back slightly slower than the current assuming no fly line touched the water then Yes… the Cortland Nymph line remained straighter for slightly longer, but only slightly, by the nature of the current moving faster than the tip, it’s actually pushing slack line to you, thus the bow/belly occurs as a result.
Nymphing (Across & Down) – short to long range…
Having moved into slightly shallower water with fast riffles ideal for light nymphs and spiders. This is where the Cortland came into its own. Again with similar setups and with but a single fly, casts were made slightly upstream and across, the object being to either track or swing the fly in the current.
What was evident during the drift was the Cortland lines ability to stay out further away from the rod tip. The long fine front taper and body lending itself to this technique in particular, light at length and with a tow on the water I remained in touch with the fly better, for longer. The nature and taper of the standard weight forward was heavier and noticeable that when pitching the rod high, a bow would form and subsequently draw the fly towards me.
The following is a drift pattern observed by Keith & myself in the particular riffle & current at the time. The pattern remained fairly constant in shape regardless of whether I tracked the rod with an extended reach, or allowed the fly to swing around, all that altered was for a shorter or longer drift.
What about line droop, does it fall back through the guides when the rods angle is appropriate for any given technique? = Due to it’s long and thin taper there is very little weight with which to do so, I struggled at any angle to get it to do anything other than remain straight. It was a freezing cold day so maybe that had an impact… maybe not, either way I was impressed.
Does the line stretch? = Yes, strike sensitivity for me isn’t likely through any feel in the line.
Does the line have any memory? = Not a jot, the two lines I had were bullet straight at all times.
How well does it float? = Low, but still in the surface, it’s not by any means a super high floater.
How does it compare to a French Nymphing Tapered Mono system?
I don’t think you can compare the two. What they both have in common is only but a taper. What sets the French Nymph Mono system apart from pretty much any fly line on the market is the lack of mass & weight by comparison.
You also have the ability to place a sight indicator anywhere along the French Nymph leaders set up beyond the rod tip, with a fly line it can generally only be at or beyond the tip of the line for the amount you have outside of the rod tip.
With very little mass/weight in a French Nymph system, a soft tip rod is preferable as it’s you who must apply both input and output without notable assistance from the leader to offer resistance and thereby help flex it.
A notice on the packaging states the following:
**NOTICE** THIS FLY LINE WAS DESIGNED FOR SPECIFIC NYMPHING TECHNIQUES AND DOES NOT COMPLY WITH AFFTA STANDARDS
Understandably then it hasn’t been designed for more traditional fly casting techniques. But… I just couldn’t resist a cast of both lines with 15 foot of dry fly tapered leader attached. The 140 grain on the #2/3 rod(s) and the 160 grain on the #4. I know these are designed for nymphing but with a 17 foot front taper down to 0.70 or 0.75mm point… it would be wrong not to.
Feel for the sweet spot and oh joy!… very smooth and stable loops… a good forward stop and the energy transition was faultless, here’s my new chalkstream line when I’m not nymphing with it.
So in conclusion where does this line sit in a market place full of fly lines? = Put simply, if you like nymphing using a variety of different techniques and prefer to do so whilst using a fly line, there is nothing on the market as far as I’m aware better than this line from Cortland.
If you are effective at, and like using the French Nymphing tapered leader set up and think this fly line will improve on it… It won’t.
Will I personally continue to use this line? = Absolutely… yes!
So other than me having not yet caught a fish with it, nor having tried to use it in a gale force wind, I can’t even tell you much yet about longevity either as I’ve only had it a week or so… other than that please feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to know something I’ve otherwise missed.
A mention of thanks to Keith Passant for observations and the taking of reference photos.