3 Fly Lines for Spring Fishing

3 Lines for Spring Fishing

Fly Lines for Spring Fishing

Fly Lines for Northern Michigan Fly Fishing

One of the most important parts of your fly fishing gear is the fly line. Having the correct fly line for spring fishing conditions is not only important to catching fish, but can relieve some of the hassle. We are blessed and cursed to have fly line manufactures developing so many speciality lines for anglers. This is great when you’re targeting a specific species at a certain time of year. The downside is a curse for the wallet and trying to organize your fly line closet. If you’re fishing this spring for either Trout, Steelhead, or Pike here are three of our favorite fly lines for Spring Fishing.

Trout Streamer Line

Spring Streamer fishing is one of the best times to target trout with a streamer. Two sinking fly lines that you should be aware of are the Sonar Cold 25 and Sonar Cold 30. Both are great for fishing in Michigan because of the braided multifilament core inside the fly line. This is the mot supple core used by Scientific Anglers. As a result it allows the line to remain tangle free under the coldest  conditions. Braided multifilament cores are also great in floating line applications as it has a hollow core which aids in flotation.

Sonar cold 25

The Sonar Cold 25 is a personal favorite for most angles and most of the rivers we fish. As the name implies it has a 25’ extra-fast sinking head with a handling line. We really like this line on the Upper Manistee, Pere Marquette, and Pine River. It can turn over any streamer that we throw for trout, but based on the “handling line” section it is an easier line to roll cast.  We also recommend this line for the wading angler as the rear running line will float.  Most importantly this line was made with the wading angler in mind.

Sonar Cold 30

The Sonar Cold 30 has a 30’ extra-fast sinking head with a handling line that is intermediate, slow sinking. It is designed  to fish out of a boat. This is our big river line and comes in the same grain weights as the Sonar 25. The biggest differences are that the sinking line portion is 30 feet in length and fused to an intermediate rear taper. Therefore this allows the sink tip to get deeper and stay at depth longer. It is a great line for fishing the Hodenpyle on the Manistee , Muskegon River, and Below Mio on the AuSable River. I would not recommend this line for the wading angler as the intermediate section will sink while you’re stripping your fly back. It could possibly hang up on the bottom of the river.

Indicator Line

During the Spring, steelhead get a lot of attention from anglers as pre and post spawn steelhead can be really aggressive. At this time of year you will find steelhead and trout feasting on the eggs and nymphs during periods of spawning activity. Fishing indicators during these periods is a preferred method and effective technique for us.  Our go to line for running a vertical indicator rig is the Scientific Anglers Amplitude Smooth Anadro/Nymph Line.

This line now features the ATS Plus slickness additive for superior shooting ability and increased durability. We prefer the smooth line technology that comes in this newer version of the line for a couple of small advantages.  The old school slick/textured line technology was made famous by the sharkskin lines which were really nice for long distance casting. Added distance was obtained by reducing the friction between the line and guides while casting/shooting line. We noticed that with the textured indicator lines rods would ice up faster. That makes it harder to work line out through the guides. These newer ultra smooth tapers  are better for our spring/cold weather steelhead conditions. The taper in this line will easily turn over any indicator rig that you’re going to run in Michigan.  This line is overweighted by 1.5 sizes to assist in turning over heavy rigs. We recommend you use your designated rod weight when purchasing this fly line.


Pike season doesn’t open until the last Saturday in April here in Michigan. That coincides with the regular Trout Season Opener. During most years around this time you will find Pike in post spawn behaviour and still holding very shallow. Along with Pike you may also find smallmouth bass moving up into the shallows.

Fly Lines for Spring Fishing

Northern Michigan Pike

They are searching for food and beginning their pre spawn activity in most Northern Michigan lakes. With clear lakes and fish utilizing shallow water, you will need a line that sinks slow and has a clear tip for stealthy presentation.  The SA Clear Tip Intermediate is a must have for chasing warm water species on the fly. The Clear lines by SA are built off of a Single-Strand Monofilament core. This makes them ideal for developing truly “clear” fly lines that sink quickly.

Wire Leaders

If you are chasing Pike make sure to match this line with a wire leader.  Toothy predators can steal your flies even with heavier pound test tippets. We have had Pike bite through 40 pound fluorocarbon!  We like the Esox Special leader by Scientific Anglers for use with this line. The smaller diameter wire will protect you from losing one of those costly pike flies. As a result your fly will actually react/swim better and sink deeper with the smaller diameter wire.

Support your Local Fly Shop

If your in the market for a new fly line for spring fishing make sure to support your local fly shop.  If you need help finding any of these lines please let us know as we can help point you to the correct fly shop in your area. Having the correct fly line can be the difference between a successful fishing trip and getting skunked.  Good luck during this spring fishing season.

Capt. Jon Ray