Where longer casting is required, or the water is very deep or fast moving, the forward taper line is preferable. This has the casting weight at the forward end—hence the name—while the rest of the length is made up of fine ‘running line”. Forward taper lines vary in length, ranging from the 30 yard standard up to 40 yards or more.
The shooting head is simply a variation upon the forward taper theme, whereby the actual fly line is restricted in length to that needed to give the rod the correct action —usually between 7-12 yards. This short section is spliced to the backing line, generally of nylon monofila-ment, which can have a circular or oval cross-section. The latter section is far more resistant to tangling, which is possibly the only disadvan-tage of monofilament as a backing material. This particular set-up of shooting head and monofilament backing is ideally suited to such long-distance casting techniques as the ‘double haul, enabling experienced practitioners to cast 50 yards or more with accuracy and comparative ease.
A further benefit is conferred upon the angler hooking a fish at long range, or in very deep water, namely that the fly line is, by its very nature, relatively thick, offering considerable resistance to the water. Thus, there is a risk when using a full line and playing a fish at long range that the pressure exerted by the water against the line can pull the hook clean out or even cause the leader to break. This risk is greatly minimized by the use of a short line and fine backing. ‘Torpedo’ and ‘long belly’
Just as the shooting head is merely a variation upon the forward taper profile, so are there other variations, such as the ‘torpedo’ taper and the ‘long belly”, although the principle remains virtually the same in every case. That section of the line which carries the weight necessary to action the rod correctly and enable efficient casting is found towards one end of the line, so that the line is no longer reversible, which is the case with the double taper.
Manufacturers have developed their own specific descriptions for the line densities now produced, and in order not to confuse the issue for newcomers to fly fishing, it is probably as well to discuss individually the densities in common- use, offering brief comments on the function of each in turn.