Cortland 444 Classic SYLK Flyline
by Larry Jurgens

As a confirmed "Old Fogy" I sometimes find change is unnecessary; e.g., change for change's sake is not really required, or, is it?

For those of you that have not had the pleasure of casting a "real" silk fly line you can now experience this without the pain of the high maintenance of a silk fly line. Cortland has now duplicated all of the "good" attributes of silk with their "new" 444 Classic SYLK fly line. I was able to field test this line in a Weight Forward (WF) 4 weight. In case y'all don't know I prefer Double Tapered fly lines in weights 2 through 4 and also like a 5 weight DT for dry flies.

This line was originally designed for Bamboo Fly Rods and Fiberglass Fly Rods. Traditionally, prior to the 1960s these rods had very small diameter snake guides. In using some of these older rods the newer fly lines did not "shoot" very well as the coefficient drag was so high due to the line size vs. guide size. Real silk lines had a very small diameter that worked extremely well, but they had a very high maintenance factor. You were supposed to remove your line every night after a day of fishing and you then dried it on a wooden line winder with a large diameter. When the line was dry you then dressed the line with Mucilin and let that dry, you then rewound your line onto your reel. You had to repeat this procedure at the end of each day of fishing. This was just so you could get the fly line to float for a whole day (hopefully) of fishing. This became a major chore and a lot of fishermen, myself included, decided this was too much and only did it at the end of the season which shortened the life of the fly line considerably.

I am not sure who was first, Cortland with their 333 fly line or Scientific Anglers with their Air Cell fly line, but they replaced silk lines in record time due to the fact of their low maintenance. The various fly line companies have been trying to make a better fly line ever since. I have tried many of the improved lines with varying results.

I field tested the SYLK line and have can only say GOOD things about it. This line has absolutely no memory, is extremely supple and shoots well. I fished dry flies, dry flies 'n' droppers, nymphs, and streamers. The line functioned the way a fly line should. It casted and fished well into the wind using varying types of casts including "roll" casts I want to report that its performance was absolutely above reproach. One other thing, the line floated all day without drying, treating with floatant or cleaning of any kind. My casting included, as always, hanging up the line in trees, weeds, dragging through the sand etc., with no ill effects. Even though the SYLK fly line was designed for Bamboo and Fiberglass Fly Rods it also worked great on my Sage 486 Light Line rod.

The line floats high even though it has a very small diameter. The 4 weight "head" is about the same size as a 2 weight head. The equipment that I used in filed testing was as follows:

Lamiglas 7 ½', 4 Weight Fiber Glass Rod.
Pflueger 1492 ½ Fly Reel
Cortland Classic SYLK WF 4 F Fly Line.
Monic Lite 25# Butt Section (Another good product, see below for details.)
Rio 7 ½' 5X Floating Tapered Leader
Various Flies, Size 6 Streamer, Sizes 10 ~ 20 Dry Flies, Size 10 ~ 18 nymphs including bead heads.

The only thing about the SYLK fly line I field tested I would have liked better would have been the Double Taper 4 weight fly line!

In case you haven't tried the Monic Lite material for butt sections I found it to be a real asset. This material has three hollow sections throughout and straightens out very easily and stays extremely straight when fishing, e.g., it has a very low memory once it has been straightened and it floats like a fly line rather than a monofilament butt material.

These two products when combined with the SYLK fly line made a very pleasurable fishing tool and a great fishing day.

The following information is from:
Cortland Fly Line Co. website
Flow Tek, Inc. (Monic) website
New from Cortland, the 444 Classic Sylk fly lineThe 444 Classic Sylk fly line is the first ever fully synthetic fly line to recreate the original appearance and unique performance of the finest natural silk lines from the past 100 years - without all the maintenance and high cost. Skillfully designed for the avid bamboo and fiberglass angler, the 444 Classic Sylk fly line is butter-soft and is smaller in diameter than traditional synthetic floating lines, making it the line of choice for traditional action rod anglers, including those earlier rod designs that have smaller guides. With the traditionalist in mind, Cortland's technicians have designed this line in a color that nearly matches the look of a traditional silk line coated with linseed oil and mucilin. Their suppleness makes them great cold weather lines with virtually any fly rod.The taper of the new 444 Classic Sylk is based on traditional silk line designs with long front tapers and longer level tips. Available in WF2F-WF6F and DT2F-DT6F. Suggested retail is $48.As part of the new 444 Classic Series, each Sylk line purchased comes free with an interactive CD-ROM titled Fly-Fishing with Cortland.

MONIC-LITE floating monofilament addresses a problem that has plagued dry fly fishermen from day one. Dry fly buoyancy is often affected by the sinking action manifested by the butt section of the leader with its 1.14 specific gravity. The new MONIC-LITE hollow leader with its .92 specific gravity maintains buoyancy.Minimizes the porpoising effect on dry flies during recast. Mending is simplified with a floating leader. Softer presentations become a reality with a low gravity leader. Controlled depth presentations with emergers, nymphs, crabs, and shrimp. Excellent Knot strength and abrasion resistance. Available in 10 lbs, 15 lbs, 20 lbs, 25 lbs.
Talk to you all next month,