I have certainly used many other fly lines, but I always seem to go back to the good old Cortland 444. It is supple, floats well, is pretty durable (it needs to be with me, for I rarely bother with regular cleaning and maintenance!) and if you shop around you can get it at a reasonable price.
I have tied the Laser lines – but found them a bit "stiff" and not as enduring as the standard 444. I used the "Spring Creek" in New Zealand, though I believe that is merely the 444 in a different colour – it certainly handles as well as the usual peach version.
Now comes the new 555. In May I was sent a 555 in my favourite line weight of 6, with a licence to test it and give some feedback.
The line has a good feel to it. I guess most new lines do, but this one seemed to have everything just right. I loaded it on one of my old reels and set about preparing my usual loop to the business end. I met with my first "problem". I hadn’t read the manufacturer’s blurb about the line’s make-up. The 555 has a nylon core – but unlike all other nylon cores, this one has a hollow core that ensures high floating. I have no problem with this, except that my favoured method of attaching my leader is via a whipped loop on the end of the fly line. I really don’t like a braided loop, and I have used and passed on from needle knotted buts. So how was I to loop this line, with a hollow nylon core?
What I ended up doing was partially stripping the plastic outer core and doubling the line back on itself, then whipping it down. A few coats of varnish over the whipping completed the loop. I am not entirely happy with this arrangement as it is slightly bulkier than my usual loop, but so far it seems to have worked well.
On my first trip with this line, I was fortunate enough to have had a lovely evening to test it as the fish were certainly up and feeding. To say it handled well would be an understatement. I had a trout on about the fifth or sixth cast, and proceeded to catch another five, all on dries cast to moving fish.
One trip, however, doesn’t prove the worth of a line! I have now used this line on about thirty or more trips, including all four of my fishing days on my recent trip to Loughs Carra and Mask. It is still as good a line as any I have ever used – probably better to be honest. It picks up from the water beautifully, lands as quietly as I want it to and best of all it goes out straight. I do have a while on each trip when it shows some memory from being coiled up on the spool, but once it has been stretched and especially if a decent fish has put some strain on it, it is as straight as any line I have seen.
The outer appearance of my 555 is of a rather dirty yellow now. It started as a pretty bright colour – which I must say wouldn’t encourage me to buy that particular model. I am sure that some anglers would feel that its "dirty" appearance now would be detrimental. I prefer it and I am deliberately making no effort to clean it.
The one question that cannot be answered yet is whether the line will stand the test of time. I can assure you that at the moment I am more than delighted with my 555, and I will carry on using this as my number one line.
The 555 retails at just under £60.00, but I have seen it advertised for as low as £50. There is an alternative colour available, and I believe a clear version is also on the market. To get me away from my 444 lines and the price they can be obtained at, this line really must keep on performing like it is for the rest of this season. I have a funny feeling that it will. I will update you at the end of this season!