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Snowbee XS Plus Thistle Down WF2 to 5

By Magnus Angus

Super presentation, the tip is also finished with a tiny whipped loop, ready for a leader.
Super presentation, the tip is also finished with a tiny whipped loop, ready for a leader.

An unusual and innovative fly-line. I had this marked down as a fly-line for anglers who like the idea of modern leader-to-hand fishing styles but want to use a fly line. Well, not really, this really is a fly line, but then again, for a fly line this presents a fly exceptionally delicately.

Conventional fly lines have a braided nylon core, coated with PVC which is 'filled' to adjust the density of the finished line. Fillers can be weighty, dense tungsten powder, or for floating lines, tiny glass mirco-spheres.

This line has a monofilament core, the fillers are 'nano-particles' meaning they are significantly smaller than traditional filler powders: resulting in a thinner line with a smoother surface – which still floats well.

This is a WF line, the head is 34.5ft long with a 4ft rear taper to very thin running line. The head is pale olive followed by ivory running line. The front of the head has a very fine tip and a compound front taper to the level belly portion. Snowbee is slightly guarded about the front-taper dimensions, the effect seems to me to mean this taper presents like it's a long taper to a fine tip, but it loads my rod like its short to a fine tip, or at least shorter; I get the best of both worlds – clever effect.

Loaded on a reel and threaded up a rod. I tried this one line, I have only one line (rated #2-5), with 3-, 4-, and 5-weight, 9 and 10ft rods (I don't have a 2-weight rod).

First off, this is well named: presentation is excellent, that fine tip delivers enough energy to turn my leader then just licks onto the water – very neat – like thistle down. I could cast the Thistle Down with all the rods I tried – I have clear favourites. With a powerful #5 rod the relatively short, light head barely loaded the rod – I could still form loops and the line presented well. That effect was more pronounced with shorter, stiffer rods. Go for a longer rod and this fly line really comes into its own. Go longer with lower line class and I found a 10ft #3 or #4 rod seem to suit me - and this line - best.

In the hand, the Thistle Down running line feels thin, smooth and fairly hard – it shoots well. At 34.5ft this is about 6ft shorter than a typical weight-forward line, casting for distance meant false casting with a good length of running line outside the rod tip - not ideal, but the stiff thin line holds up pretty well. I would buy this for presentation not as a distance line, but shooting to decent range was easy enough. Fly lines with mono cores are typically stiffer than conventional lines and can have more coil memory. This is not a dead limp line, I can't say I noticed any coil memory, certainly none on the water, as mentioned this feels 'hard' – in my opinion that is due to the stiffness of mono, and mono is why the running line is so thin.

The Tolkienesque idea of one fly line to fit four rod classes may irritate my fellow pedants, however, it works. I think this calls on the same physics which lets me cast a 'leader-to-hand' set-up perfectly well despite the casting books saying that should not work. A challenging, innovative fly-line – well worth trying.


Price: £49.00.
From: Snowbee stockists.

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