November is striper time in New Jersey. Schools of striped bass that have remained in waters farther north finally return to the waters of coastal New Jersey, to be greeted by many a waiting angler. Once November rolls around, I try to get down to the beach as often as I can. Given that the steelhead rivers of the Great Lakes are at least four to five times a farther drive for me, these returning stripers are the best show in town. For the last couple of years, I've been making due with a mutli-tip line system that ventures to be, and accomplishes doing so fairly well, a line system that can fit any purpose. Even though this multi-purpose line hasn't been a thorn in my side, it also isn't ideal and I've known for some time that I wanted to start fishing lines specifically tailored for the task at hand. The reasons are obvious, so I won't go into them here.
Most often, when fishing for stripers, I'll fish an intermediate line. Something that sinks at around 1-3 inches per second. However, in New Jersey and elsewhere, a good deal of my fishing is done from jetties. When fishing from the jetty or in particularly rough surf, I'll often prefer to use a full sink line. On a few recent, premature trips to the beach in search of stripers that hadn't yet shown up, I had the chance to test out Airflo's Sniper Sink 7. This is one of Airflo's fastest sinking cold saltwater lines. Unlike the Ridged Striper series of lines in Airflo's cold saltwater lineup, this line is un-ridged. If you're unfamiliar with Airflo's ridge system, it is a unique style of fly line coating that allows for tremendous shootability.
My main concerns with a line like this are: casting/shooting, memory and tangles.
Casting / Shooting
As I've mentioned in a previous fly line review, I'm far from an expert caster. The wind at the beach pisses me off, and I'm often finding myself trying to aerialize too much line in preparation for a big booming forward cast. I was particularly curious as to how well I'd cast this line given the fact that I knew I wasn't going to be able to hold up too much of a back cast due to the full sink head and the fact that this line didn't have the ridge coating I've enjoyed so much on other Airflo lines. Regardless, this line made me look good. Really good. A lot of that has to do with the heavy head, but I've cast full sink lines before without this much success. Much to my surprise, with the help of a very light wind at my back, I was able to cast all but a few feet of this 100' line. Seriously. The line loads up quick and shoots a mile.
Memory and Tangles
Although I haven't been using the line for long, I haven't noticed any memory issues. The line didn't require any stretching and laid out straight right out of the box. I was more concerned about tangles, anyway. I hate dealing with tangles when fishing in the salt. Stripping baskets annoy me, though I've realized I can't live without one, and it often seems that no matter how diligent you are when stripping line into your basket -- you still get tangles. I've cast some lines that tangle constantly, and others that perform better. I've yet to experience the zero-tangle line, and I'm convinced that it doesn't exist.
The Airflo Sniper Sink 7 performs as well or better than any line of its type that I've cast in terms of tangles. Did it tangle up on me? You bet. I can't imagine any line of the diameter and construction a full sink line demands not tangling up now and then. Did it tangle up every third or fourth cast? Nope. Tangles were infrequent, and perhaps more importantly, when present were relatively limited in nature easy to untangle.
Overall, the line performed as well as any full sink line I've used in the past and I'm looking forward to heading to the beach and looking like I can boom big casts with the best of them. Unfortunately, when I put my multi-tip line on to fish an intermediate sink, I'll be casting like myself again. Time for that dedicated intermediate line as well, eh?