Choosing The Right Running Line For Shooting Heads...
If you choose to fish a Skagit or Scandinavian shooting head, you will need a running line. The running line attaches to the rear end of the shooting head, and allows the caster to shoot the head a long distance. To be clear, this is not backing. Running lines are made out of numerous different materials. Like all fly line, each material has itís strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing your running line.
Extruded Plastic or Polyurethane Running Lines
Extruded running lines are the easiest running lines to handle and the best all around choice for beginners. They typically have a core strength of 20 to 30 pounds with translates to diameters of .024' to .039". The disadvantage to extruded running lines is the coating of the line is formulated to perform within a certain temperature window. To elaborate, the line may cast beautifully in spring conditions when the water temps. are 55 degrees Fahrenheit and the air temps. are 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the line may become sticky in mid summer conditions when both water and air temps. can be considerably warmer. On the flip side, the same line could feel stiff and retain memory in extreme cold fishing conditions. Bottom line, expect these lines to change properties as the weather changes.
Braided Running Lines
Unlike extruded running lines, braided running lines do not change properties with air and water temperature. Braids shoot faster than extruded lines and tend to tangle less. More so, the material floats well requiring the caster to hold less loops for shooting. The downside is the texture is a little rougher on the hand (mostly those of trout fisherman), and due to itís slickness, it is more difficult to hang on to during the cast. Some folks have concerns about the braid damaging the snake guides on their rods. In our experience, we have never found this claim true.
Mono Running Lines
Mono is the least popular running line material of the group. Primarily because it tangles the easiest and is the most difficult to hang on to during the cast. With that said, if you take the time to stretch it out, it shoots faster and farther than any of the other materials. Itís biggest attribute becomes apparent in cold weather fishing. Both Braids and extruded lines carry a lot of water as you strip them in to make your next cast. The water collects as ice in the guides and can freeze your running line right to the rod. Winter steelheaders will find this line to work the best in below freezing temperatures.