When browsing through a fishing tackle website or catalog you may well have come across ‘Mill End’ fly lines being sold at very low prices. Originally, these would have been short bits of fly lines left over at the end of a manufacturing run and sold off cheap as they would not be the normal 30 yards in length and might have minor defects. These mill end fly lines were often a great bargain as you could get a slightly shorter version of an expensive fly line at a fraction of the full lines cost.
Nowadays, the term ‘mill end’ is often used as a generic name for very low cost, unbranded fly lines that are only tested to a fairly basic quality level. There is usually no manufacturers name given and they’re normally supplied loose in tied coils with no boxes or packaging.
The good thing about these mill end fly lines is that they turn out to be exactly what many people who are new to fly fishing or have a tight budget are looking for. Low cost fly lines that have been made under tight cost control with no money spent on expensive branding and packaging. Modern manufacturing means they’re usually well made with few, if any, defects and they can be surprisingly good to use and cast.
Mill end fly lines do tend to be slightly shorter than full length fly lines, typically only 27 yards instead of the usual 30 yards and won’t be made from the latest durable and slick materials that are used on the best fly lines. They also tend to come in a variety of colours so won’t be a good choice if you’re after a certain colour of high visibility fly line for example.
Mill end fly lines are an excellent choice though if you fit any of the following descriptions:
– An angler wanting a low cost fly line for casting practice in a field or park.
– A newcomer to fly fishing who just starting out.
– An angler on a budget who would like to add a low cost intermediate or sinking fly line to their tackle bag.
I’ve been fly fishing for over 30 years and much of the advice I’ve seen on mill end fly lines is along the lines of ‘they’re cheap, not much good and won’t last long’. Well I have to say I disagree with this. I still use a sinking mill end fly line that I bought over 20 years ago. It casts well and I’ve caught many of my best fish on it. My son has recently started fly fishing too and his setup includes a floating mill end fly line that has surprised me at how good it is. I have to say that in my experience, as long as your expectations are not too high, then mill end fly lines are truly the bargain of the fly fishing world.