Rich Strolis, Streamer Jedi, Explains Grain Weights and The Exocett SS Series

It's no secret that T&T Advisor Rich Strolis is a streamer junkie. He spends most of his time chasing big fish with big streamers and experimenting with new rod, line, and rig setups. Rich worked closely with T&T rod designer Joe Goodspeed during the development of the Exocett SS series. One thing Rich knows is that grain weights and rod weights can be confusing, especially for the streamer angler who's trying to find a set up that will suit their needs. Check out the write up by Rich below as he talks about the Exocett SS, demystifies grain weights, and provides some recommendations based on his experience. 

Description:  The SS rod series is tailored to the hardcore streamer fisherman who needs a specific tool to cast large, wind resistant or often heavy flies with a variety of specific sinking or floating lines to a variety of species.  The SS leads most to believe this is primarily a sink tip streamer stick meant for freshwater fishing only, but it, in fact, does so much more.  Floating lines with weighted streamers, intermediate lines with weighted or unweighted streamers; and a solid saltwater rod for lighter species; schoolie striped bass, harbor blues, small snook, and reds, to speckled trout and smaller bonefish.  If you need a rod that has enough beef and backbone to not only throw large flies and a wide spectrum of fly lines but can also perform in extreme conditions, this rod series will get the job done. 

Unlike many other “streamer specific” fly rods, the SS isn’t the proverbial pool cue with great lifting power, pulling heavy sinking heads and bulky flies out of the water.  Although the SS has the backbone to do so with ease, there is a perfect balance of sensitivity and just the right amount of fishability for fighting and landing larger fish.  I recently took my SS 250 to Chile and was met with rather challenging conditions; wind every day up to 30mph, heavy currents, and large migratory brown trout.  One memorable brown was just shy of the 3-foot mark and closer to 20 pounds.  The SS made short work of a most memorable catch that easily could’ve been lost shortly after the hook set.


Grain Windows:  From my experience, Grain ratings or windows tend to confuse many anglers, heck even I get confused quite a bit when it comes to grain weights.  Why do you ask?  Because there are two specific grain weight ratings, you have to decipher.  There are the AFFTA specifications for standard line grain weights, and then there are the specifications for the Head Grain Weights.  Confused yet?  I’m sure you are, but to simplify things I will get the grain weight mystery hopefully simplified here quickly in two quick paragraphs. 

AFFTA specifications are those that relate to the grain window for each weight fly line.  The grain weight for each is based off of weight for the first 30 feet of the fly line, and although the rating is a finite number, there is room for error give or take in either direction per each line weight.  What one has to take into consideration is not all heads on many lines fall into that 30-foot parameter, some are longer, and many are shorter so the grain number or line weight might be different.  The other thing you will notice is rods these days lean more towards faster action than medium to slower, and many line companies have had to alter their line weights slightly as a result.

Confused more? Let’s take the line weights and break them down a little further.  A 1 weight, for example, is a 60-grain line weight +/- 6.  So in theory, a line with a grain weight of 54-66 should theoretically work well with that rod?  This margin of error gives fly line manufacturers some leeway in a sense, but it also provides the consumer with the line that potentially can match their casting style.  In short, some like a lighter line while others may prefer one slightly heavier, with the baseline being what loads the rod more efficiently for the caster.  Make some sort of sense?  If not see the attached chart below.

Now, I know you’re more confused now than ever, but I will do my best to make sense of this for you here.  Look I realize the line weights on that chart do not seem to coincide with the line designations for the rod we are talking about.  According to the AFFTA chart, a 250-grain window is not applicable to a seven weight line, but more like a 9/10 weight.  (I know you’re all like what’s this guy trying to do here, make himself feel important? Bear with me here it will all come together in the next few sentences).  Grain head weights are based on both two handed and single handed rods in regards to the head section of the line.  The head lengths, in short, may be shorter for each line weight designation, but they are determined in theory for a line of 90 overall feet.  So a seven weight, for example, may have a head grain weight of 266 for a head of 22.7 feet, with the remainder of the line making up the running line.  Confusing I know, but these numbers are much more important to the streamer fisherman than the AFFTA standards. 

The head is what will load the rod and shoot the head and running line plus leader and fly to the target.   Most rods, in theory, can cast a much wider range of grain weights than they are stamped with, but the manufacturer makes the line weight or grain weight rating based off of what they feel is the best line representation for how the rod casts.  What I am getting at here is that some fly rods can cast a much larger window of grain weights than they are listed.  The Exocett SS series falls into this category as I have personally fished lines from 200-325 grains on this rod, and with relative ease, I might add.  Personally, my casting stroke really gels with a line that falls somewhere slightly above the 250-grain window; one line that comes to mind is the Cortland Compact series of fly lines.  The 7/8 weight lines are somewhere around 275 grains and load the rod exactly how I like without that dreaded collapse or clunky presentation.  Some of you may like a line weight closer to the prescribed 250-grain weight; others may like it slightly heavier or lighter based on the size of the flies you employ or your casting style.   

Below is a list of fly lines that I have not only cast, but also fished on the Exocett SS 250.  The list is rather comprehensive, but it should give a vast majority of you out there the insight on what lines you may want to consider purchasing once you’ve committed to any one of these models.  Some that I prefer will be highlighted in bold.  Because of the generous grain window, personally, I believe the angler can typically cast lines falling into 2 line weights for each model.  The 250 for example allows me to utilize a 7 or an 8 weight line when casting anything other than a grain weight specific line.  Use the list as a loose guide to hopefully find the line that might fit your fishing style and target species the best.  

The list is as follows:

Floating Lines:

7 weight Orvis Bankshot: decent but clunky presentation, loads the rod fine.

Airflo Super Dri Streamer Float WF7

Cortland Omni-verse 8 weight.  Long belly floating line, very nice line for weighted flies.

Cortland Big Fly 7-8 Weight.  Either size works depending on the size of the flies your throwing.

Rio Intouch Outbound short float.  7 or 8 weight not super short with a 30 foot head.

Rio Outbound Float 7 or 8 weight.  (longer head at 37.5 feet)

Rio Intouch Big Nasty 7 or 8 weight line.  Nice line with low stretch for streamers, but tends to coil.

Rio Indicator Nymph 7 or 8 weight, 

Intermediate Lines:

Cortland Compact Intermediate 7/8 weight.

Airflo Beach Intermediate 7 weight.  Fewer tangles than most lines and is ultra durable.

Rio Intouch Outbound short Intermediate 7 or 8 weight, not super short with a 30-foot head.

Rio Outbound Intermediate (longer head at 37.5 feet)

Integrated Sinking Lines:

Airflo Streamer Maxx.  Loads the rod easily, but the presentation is like the Orvis Bankshot.

Cortland compact sink type 3-9

Airflo Streamer Maxx short 240 grain/WF-7

Airflo Shovelhead 7/8. The best sinking line for the wade angler by Airflo in my opinion.

Rio Intouch 24 foot sink 250 (7) or the 300(8)

Rio Intouch 15 sink tip 7 weight type 3 or type 6

Waiting To try these soon…

SA mastery Titan SA Master Titan long, SA Sonar Cold Sink 25 and 30 250 grain, SA Sonar Sink Clear 30, Rio DC 24. Airflow Sniper 8 weight floating or intermediate, Rio Intouch Streamer tip.  (Comes with 2 tips multipack),

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