I was halfway into the canyon and at the tail end of a full day on the water. The yellow maple leaves had lingered long into the warm fall season, and they fluttered gently in the abounding wind. The fading sun and leaves signaled parallel ends. It was the beginning of something different. And It was perfect.
With maybe an hour left before the walkout, I heard a branch snap behind me. So I turned toward the rustling but continued my tight line drift, leading the nymphs with a high rod hand just to stay in touch.
I found Sawyer standing above me on the tall bank, hands on his hips, smiling and satisfied behind his dark lenses.
“Well, how was it?” Sawyer asked without moving.
“Good!” I replied and pointed downstream. “I caught three off that far bank below, and a couple right next to this . . .”
“No. I mean the fluorocarbon,” he said.
“Oh,” I nodded. “Yeah, I’m sold! I’ll never nymph with nylon again.”
That was over a decade ago. Earlier in the day, Sawyer had given me his stack of fluorocarbon when I’d lost my own tippet holder, spooled with nylon. Before that day, my skepticism and thriftiness kept me from buying in — from dishing out the $50 – $100 it would take to convert to fluoro, and I thought I did just fine with nylon.
I did. And I’m still not so sure that flouro catches more trout under the surface. Guys use it because it’s less visible and sinks a little better, but I use it because I have the chance to make more casts and keep my line in the water longer with fluoro. Here’s what I mean . . .
I use fluorocarbon for underwater presentations because the material takes more abuse. It’s abrasion resistance and greater strength per diameter allows me to fish more aggressively against the structures where brown trout reside. Sure, I’ll always hang up, but I break off less. Flouro also has an uncanny way of releasing the inevitable twists and tangles of tippet that happen on a trout stream. Where I used to reach for the nippers with nylon, I now expect loose knots and loops to come out with marginal effort — and the few tricks of an amateur magician.
But let’s get back to me being cheap. I’m okay with that. I spend money where I must and cut corners where I can. And most long-term fishermen I know are the same. So the price tag of fly shop fluoro has always seemed a bit much to me, and I keep my ear to the ground for alternatives. For many years, my friends and I have used fluorocarbon that is marketed to gear fishers. We buy three to four times as much fluoro on a larger spool and then wind it onto small tippet spools. I settled on P-Line Halo, FC Sniper from Sunline, or Seaguar AbrazX. These were the best options among a host of other brands tried.
The trouble with these cheaper lines is threefold. Their breaking strength is inferior to the fly shop brands, they’re usually a bit stiffer, and the manufactured diameters only go down to about 4X — usually.
Then a couple of years ago I bought Seaguar Finesse. It was hard to track down when it first came out, because here was a line sold in smaller quantities, with a higher than expected price tag (for the gear guys). But to fly anglers, the 150 yard spool for about $20 was a steal. Easy decision. I bought it immediately, based on Seaguar’s own description and the specs.
Since then, Seaguar Finesse has become my go to fluoro tippet material from 2X to 5X, and a few of my Troutbitten friends do the same. It’s thinner, but stronger per diameter, and is indeed more flexible as described. (It has some finesse.) It’s as almost as good as some fly shop brands and better than many others. And because the type of tippet we use is not what catches trout, I don’t overspend on tippet.
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You won’t find “5X” printed on any of these spool. So look at the diameters. The thinnest Finesse lists at .065″, which is right in between the diameter of 4X and 5X. Use a micrometer, though, and you’ll often find a disparity between how all these manufacturers list lines and what’s actually on the spool. I’ve regularly measured 5.2 lb Finesse to be very close to some of my favorite fly shop brands’ 5X fluorocarbon tippet.
Remember, the strength of the line at these diameters is what makes Finesse different. It gets real close to the premium stuff. Look at the specs on any line that you intend to use for tippet. (And then break out your micrometer, if you want to be accurate.)
Bottom line: I treat the 5.2 lb Finesse as my 5X, and I go up from there to 2X.
No. There’s nothing smaller than 5X out there that I would buy outside of the fly shop brands. I had FC Super Sniper in its thinnest diameter, but I couldn’t trust it for my 6X.
So here’s the thing: I still buy 6X fluorocarbon in the fly shop brands — I like Rio and Cortland right now.
My standard nymphing rig ends at 5X (because I don’t like leaving flies on the bottom of the river). But when I nymph with #18’s and 20’s, I do better with 6X. So the name brand stuff is in my vest. But my primary nymph and streamer work happens with the Seaguar Finesse from 2X to 5X.
I’ll mention this too: I continue to use fly shop nylon for all my dry fly fishing, and I don’t see an alternative for that any time soon. The supple high-end lines with greater breaking strengths are worth the nominal extra cost of fly shop nylon.
Seaguar Finesse comes on a bigger spool, of course. And that kind of inconvenience isn’t for everyone. I transfer the Finesse over to empty tippet spools, right out of the box. It takes about fifteen minutes and three spools, but then I’m set for a good long time.
So if that sounds like something you don’t mind doing, try the Finesse.
Fish hard, friends.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N