Double Taper vs. Weight Forward Lines
by Bill Leuchten

Double taper fly lines used to be the preferred choice for accuracy and delicacy. In recent years, however, they have all but disappeared from the preference of fly fisherman. Let's revisit the advantages and disadvantages of double tapers when compared to weight forward tapers.


Since both ends of a double taper are exactly the same, it basically is two lines in one. This allows the angler to reverse the line after one side becomes worn. This is a definite economical advantage. Besides their significant economy by being able to switch them around and get more use, they are a good choice for casting short distances. As a general rule anything 50 feet or less is a good range for a DT. After fifty feet the DT line will be a disadvantage since the belly of the double taper line is large in diameter and heavy, and will not shoot through the guides as easily.

Double taper lines were once thought to make more delicate presentations. But the truth is most DT and WF lines have the same front taper and tip diameter so they present flies the same. Furthermore, a double taper line won't make the less-than-average caster much more accurate, but a WF line will be more accurate in windy conditions because of the smaller diameter running line slipping through the guides more easily adding to increased line speed.

Roll casting, (the type of cast used when back casting space is not available) is only possible when the belly of the line is in the rod tip. Trying to roll cast or mend the line is extremely difficult if not impossible if you're trying to throw just the running line. I always explain this by trying to imagine mending or casting monofilament line. There's no weight to throw, right? You can throw a baseball much farther than a pumpkin seed. Since double taper lines have a continuous belly they will make roll casting easier because they don't have any running line. This is true, but most anglers don't roll cast more than 50ft. anyway so there is not much lost with going with a weight forward line.

A real line development came from Rio this year and that is a double taper, weight forward line. Confused? It's not that complicated. They made a WF taper on both ends of the line. It has all the benefits of a WF line just doubled.

Want to talk lines? Talk to me, it's my favorite subject apart from babysitting and black powdered musketry.