I am frequently asked for my recommendation for the best lines for our rods. For many years I have recommended Scientific Anglers lines because I believe they are best and still do. I know there are other line companies providing good lines but with Scientific Anglers long history of innovation, manufacturing expertise, design, and quality control I believe their lines are the best. My reasons for choosing particular types of lines described below are the same regardless of the brand.

A long time friend of mine, Bruce Richards, who for many years was Scientific Anglers head line designer and expert, retired a few years ago and moved to Bozeman. After the Orvis Company purchased Scientific Anglers Company from 3M Bruce started working for them on a part-time basis going to Midland, Michigan, for consulting to maintain and improve the production and quality of the lines. Bruce has reported they are very committed to maintaining and improving the lines and he couldnt be more pleased with the transition. The lines were already excellent but after getting from under the large corporate structure the employees attitudes have improved immeasurably and as a result the quality and consistency is even better.

For many years, both at Winston and now Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, I have been an evangelist for designing trout rods using standard weight double taper or weight forward lines that flex rods like they used to when I was learning to cast and fish in the 50s and 60s. Those rods, whether they were bamboo or fiberglass, had what now would probably be described as full flex designs. At normal fishing distances, and with a normal casting stroke, the rod would bend near half way down or a little more with the rod providing the Anglers with a good feel for the rod and how it was performing. The rod communicated to the Anglers what the line and fly were doing and presented a smooth and gentle delivery. Naturally, if you wanted to cast more distance or into a wind there was reserve power in the butt to do so.

Many of the designs today are very stiff, compared to the rods of past eras, where now just the very upper portion of the rod flexes when casting normal fishing distances because, in my opinion, they are designed more for distance casting than fishing. With stiff rods you lose the delicacy and finesse of the softer rods. Another distinct disadvantage with the stiffer rods is you are much more susceptible to breaking off fish on the strike or when you are playing them, particularly with the lighter leaders now commonly used by many Anglers.

My last observation is the purpose of the rod is being lost with the stiffer rods. The idea behind using a rod is when you are casting the rod should flex or bend which stores kinetic energy into the rod, and on your forward stroke when you stop the rod, the stored energy is released and the rod does most of the casting, as it should. With the stiffer designs the rod certainly will cast the line but the Anglers is doing most of the work because the rod isnt storing the energy. This puts a lot more tension and fatigue on the casters elbow and shoulder. I cannot tell you how many Anglers, particularly with heavier line size rods, have complained to me how their stiff rods are hard on their joints and shoulders. After purchasing softer rods they cannot believe the difference its made in their casting and fishing enjoyment.

After this discussion Im sure you will know my rod designs are based on those of past eras and the rods bend and flex as they used to providing rods with great casting action and excellent fishing characteristics for the most effective fishing. After hearing from hundreds, if not thousands, of Anglers over the years how effective my designs are and how pleasant they are to fish Im convinced they exactly what are needed.

Since Bruce is the real expert for the Scientific Anglers lines I asked him to write a description of the different models and how each is used and with what style of rod. His discussion is below with my comments in bold italics.

As many of you know I have been disabled for many years and unable to cast or, more importantly, to fish so I have to depend on other Anglers who I know are exceptional casters and fishermen about their observations and preferences for the new types of fishing lines.

Scientific Anglers Line Descriptions

By Bruce Richards

(There are other lines in each series, I‘ve just listed the ones I think would be of interest to your customers.)

An important tool in understanding line tapers and how they will work for you under a variety of conditions is to understand exactly how a line is tapered. By going to the URL below it will take you to the Scientific Anglers web site so you can see how many feet of the tip, tapered section, belly, and running line there is in each category for a particular line.

As Bruce mentioned there are several other categories of specialty lines in addition to the floating lines mentioned here such as full sinking and sink tip lines. The Scientific Anglers web site also describes them.

Tom Morgans Recommendations:

There are so many choices of Scientific Anglers lines making a choice can be confusing as the descriptions below will show. However, I think most customers will be very happy with the double taper Mastery lines in DT-2-F to DT-6-F for typical trout fishing. These are the lines I loved except as noted below. There is an exception to this in 5-weight and 6-weight lines. Choose a long belly weight forward line like Expert Distance or the Sharkwave Ultimate Trout which fishes like a double taper in close to medium distances but allows an additional 10 to 20 feet of distance when shooting a line because you can hang so much of the head out of the rod. I used the Expert Distance line myself and liked them very much. (Unlike some Anglers I have never liked the regular weight forward lines with their shorter heads. The reason for this is for a medium length cast you have to shoot line. With a double taper you can measure the line for a repeat cast and just cast the distance you want without shooting the line making for greater accuracy and a better presentation.)

For those wanting a long belly weight forward floating line for steelhead and Atlantic Salmon fishing then the Steelhead line is best since it is the best for mending.

I havent used the Sharkwave Series but have heard excellent reports about them so they should certainly be considered. The Ultimate Trout offers the best modern line technologies with a modified long belly taper providing great versatility. Actually I would enjoy hearing from Anglers how they like these lines.

Mastery Series

(These are not textured)


These are the ideal delicate trout lines. Medium length heads, delicate front tapers, very smooth casting. DT and WF available. The DTs are more delicate than the WFs and designed with a short, compound front taper that optimizes rod load at short distances while maintaining the ultimate in delicacy. WF lines a bit better with bigger flies and at longer distances, but the Mastery Trout lines are the standard in delicate dry fly lines. Welded loop front end only.

WF-3-F to WF-7-F

DT-2-F to DT-6-F

These are the double taper lines I have always recommended and I use for casting when I am developing new rod designs. They still are the lines Im confident Anglers will like on my rod designs. These were the lines I also preferred for my fishing in sizes DT-2-F DT-5-F. In later years with 5-weight through 7-weight lines I started preferring long belly weight forward lines because they provided good short to medium distance control and delicacy similar to double taper lines but allowed another 10-20 feet of distance over a double taper line when shooting the line.


Extra delicate dry fly line. Very long compound front taper and fine tip for the most delicate deliveries with small flies and light tippets. Medium length head. Since most of the weight of the line is in the back end the VPT roll casts very well. Welded loop front end only.

WF-2-F to WF-6-F

For those preferring a very delicate weight forward line for trout fishing Bruce says this is an excellent line. I dont have any experience with it.

Expert Distance

Extra long head and tapers. Designed for smooth long distance casting, preferred by many instructors and competitive casters. Compound belly design puts a bit more weight in the front of the belly to delay turnover for longer casts. But an excellent fishing line also. Very long head allows it to work like a DT to about 60 ft. Designed to work well medium sized flies and in windy conditions. Welded loop front end only.

WF-4-F to WF-9-F

This is the line I recommend if Anglers want a longer belly weight forward line than the Trout Series because its very similar to a double taper in the short to medium distances but allows extra distance when wanted.


Similar to the Expert Distance line but with longer level belly and shorter rear taper design for better long range line control, roll casting, mending Designed for bigger flies and long distance casting and control. WF only. Welded loop front end only.

WF-6-F to WF-10-F

For those fishing with the greased line method or skating dry flies for steelhead or Atlantic Salmon this is the best line providing maximum distance most easily yet providing the ability to mend the line.

Sharkwave Series:

Sharkwave is a combination of the best SA technologies; AST (Advanced Shooting Technology is a patented permanent addition to the lines to make them shoot better that doesnt wear off like a line coating would), tapers, and texturing. Each line has the aggressive Sharkskin texture on the tip and front taper for best flotation. The belly and rear taper have the less aggressive Mastery Texture, which is quieter and less abrasive on fingers but still provides superior friction reduction, suppleness, durability and tangle reduction. At the end of the rear taper there is a 30 inch section with no texture, which can be heard in the guides and felt by the fingers for visual and tactile location. The tip/front taper is one color, belly/rear taper another, and the running line another so the caster always knows visually what part of the line is in the rod or on the water. Here is some detail on the various Sharkwave tapers.

One major development has been the Sharkskin textured lines introduced by Scientific Anglers. Some Anglers love them while others dont, particularly because they are quite noisy when the line goes through the guides and some think they are too rough on their hands. The recent introduction of the Sharkwave series has been very well accepted, because it has a significantly less aggressive texture in the area going through the guides, and is preferred by many Anglers because of its blending of Sharkskin technology, longer belly weight forward design, superior line characteristics, and color innovations.

Ultimate Trout

These lines have relatively long heads so are very good at longer distances and when long range line control is needed. Although standard weight, they are also moderately powerful and deliver larger/heavier flies well and excel in the wind. Ultimate Trout lines are favored by those wanting an all-round trout line that works well in all conditions. Welded loops both ends.

WF-3-F to WF-8-F

I have always favored double taper lines for most of my fishing with floating lines in 2-5 weight and often even in 6 weight but knowledgeable Anglers have told me they like fishing these weight forward lines with their longer bellies than the old style weight forward ones and they are very effective. These lines are a combination of a long belly weight forward with a back taper gradually tapering to the running line letting them fish similarly to a double taper in the short to medium distances with the extra reach of a weight forward.

GPX The GPX taper is designed for the demanding conditions of wind and bigger flies. They are also made 1/2 size heavier than standard for those who like rods to bend more. A GPX line will turn a fast rod into a medium-fast rod, or a medium action rod into a medium-slow rod. These are general purpose (GP) lines, but designed for conditions commonly found on large western rivers. Standard length head. Welded loops both ends.

WF-3-F to WF-9-F

Generally these lines arent appropriate for my rods because I am careful to size them for the proper flex with standard weight lines as described above.


These lines have very short, heavy heads and are designed for quick short to medium length casts with large flies. Ideal for slapping the banks with streamers, hoppers, salmon flies. Single purpose lines, not suitable for other applications. Welded loops both ends.

WF-5-F to WF-8-F

These are special purpose lines that may be suitable if you are only streamer fishing but not appropriate for most situations.


Same as GPX lines described above, but no texture.

WF-3-F to WF-9-F

Generally these lines arent appropriate for my rods because I am careful to size them for the proper flex with standard weight lines as described above.

Frequency Series:

(Used to be Ultra and Supreme)

The coating chemistry on these lines is modern, has AST(Advanced Shooting Technology is a patented permanent addition to the lines to make them shoot better that doesnt wear off like a line coating would) and is as good as on any SA line, slick and durable. The big difference would be that the Frequency lines have tapers that have been around for quite a while (although still very good) and there isnt as much variety as with some of the other series. But with AST and a front loop, by far the best value in SA lines.


Same taper and weight as GPX above, not textured. WF only. Welded loop front end only.

WF-3-F to WF-9-F


Delicate trout line, standard weight, medium length head. Designed to excel with smaller dry flies and unweighted nymphs. This is a line many of your customers will really like. WF only. Welded loop front end only.

WF-3-F to WF-6-F

These lines are like the older Scientific Anglers lines many of us used for many years with great satisfaction. The line coating technology is the same as the other Scientific Anglers lines and the tapers are the same they have always been so they are still great lines with excellent value because they are considerably less expensive than the newer lines.

Mastery Textured Series:

(These lines have the less aggressive dimple texture that is quieter and less abrasive than Sharkskin)


Same taper as Sharkwave GPX but with only two colors and a single texture.

WF-3-F to WF-9-F


Extra long head and tapers (same as Mastery Expert Distance). Works like a DT at distances up to about 50 ft., thats about where the rear taper starts. Designed to turn over at distance so moderately powerful. Excellent all round line for western conditions and flies, especially for better casters. WF only. Welded loop front only.

WF-3-F to WF-7-F

Toms Design Philosophy
The Cork
  the Bozeman Reels
Forbes Life Magazine Article
Slow Poke Press
Morgan-Carlson view lot
Coastal Conservation Association
Bellinger Award