What is the Orvis Hydros HD Bank Shot fly line?
The Hydros HD Bank Shot is a specialist fly line aimed at throwing big lures to trout when back casting space is limited. It can be used on both rivers and stillwaters and makes turning over large flies much easier than with a standard weight forward fly line.
The taper incorporated into the Bank Shot allows you to use fewer false casts, too. While most people will use it with a standard overhead cast or double haul, it's also well suited to roll casting and single-handed Spey casts on the river.
What profile does the Bank Shot fly line use?
The Bank Shot uses a very aggressive weight forward taper which puts most of the mass up-front, helping the line load the rod with only a short section outside the tip. This means you can load the rod faster than usual, allowing you to achieve distance with fewer false casts and less room behind you.
Orvis says the line has a 23' head, which is just over half the usual size seen on most regular fly lines. The belly is just six feet long and is preceded by a 14.5' front taper, a tiny two-foot rear taper and 20 feet of handling line to give you something to grip when hauling. The running line is 57.5' in length.
How slick is this fly line?
The Orvis Hydros HD fly line range are textured lines, so don't have the usual smooth and slick coating you'll see on most other fly lines. A number of other fly line makers have tried this; Airflo uses ridges on its 40 Plus floating lines, while Scientific Anglers uses a rough coating on its sharkskin lines. These lines are made by Scientific Anglers (which is owned by Orvis), so there will be similarities between them.
You'd think a textured coating would increase friction, but it's actually supposed to do the opposite. Orvis says "the micro-textured surface traps air to provide increases in both 'shootability' and flotation while decreasing friction."
They reckon that the "micro-replicated" pattern also increases the durability of the line and increases its surface area so it hits higher in the water and gives less drag and spray when mending or lifting off, too. The running line seems to have a slightly rougher feel to it than the head, which is relatively smooth in comparison. The textured coating does have a couple of drawbacks, though...
How does this line feel in the hand?
The Bank Shot is an exceptionally limp and supple fly line with virtually no memory. It's probably the limpest fly line I've ever used. It didn't even need any stretching when removed from the reel and it lies impressively straight on the water.
The textured coating takes a bit of getting used to. It makes the line grippy but can make your fingers feel a little sore at the end of a long day of fishing, especially when your skin is soft from heavy rain. After hours of pulling lures with this line, I eventually managed to break the skin... It's not the line for those with delicate skin!
As you would imagine from a line which has a huge amount of weight up-front, the Orvis Bank Shot is not the thinnest fly line in the world. The head section is pretty thick - a good 2mm, I reckon. The running line is fairly thin but still thicker than you'll find on the Wychwood Rocket Distance or Sunray Marsden Hi-Vis Shooting Head lines. It takes up a reasonable amount of space on the reel and may not fit some 5/6 sizes unless you use a minimal amount of backing.
What line densities and line weights are available?
The Bank Shot is available in two densities, including floating and sink tip, and six different line weights from #5 to #10, which covers most stillwater fly fishing for trout, pike and carp. The floating version has an orange running line and a dark olive-brown head section.
It's quite stealthy on the water, but also difficult to see in most light levels. Both have a welded loop at the front end only. It would be nice to have one either end, given the very high price, though it does attach to the backing quite easily, perhaps partly helped by the grippy coating.
What the Bank Shot like to cast?
As you'd expect, that heavy head section makes it feel very different to a regular weight forward line. It loads the rod with just a couple of rod lengths of line outside the tip, so you can easily do a single flick and chuck out a decent line and shoot a bit of running line, making it ideal for the intended purpose. It's great for close range work and standard small stillwater fishing, as well as for chucking big streamers on rivers.
It goes a good distance with a standard overhead cast without the need to haul. However, if you add in a gentle double haul it will go much further. It's fairly effortless to use and roll casts well, too. The heavy head does make it feel a bit overweight though, so you might not like it if you prefer something more subtle. It's a bit of a brute as floating lines go, really.
What sort of distances can it reach?
The Bank Shot is 100 feet in length, but I struggled to hit 90' with mine when casting along a tape measure on grass. If I attempted to apply too much power and my loops would tail and the line would collapse without turning over properly. You really do need to slow it down and let the line and rod to all the work. If you keep things gentle and slow, you can cast a good distance with decent turnover with hardly any effort at all.
The sweet spot for this line is around 60-75 feet. Getting these sorts of distances was pretty effortless. Just one or two slow and gentle backcasts with the head just outside the tip and you can shoot the rest. It does fly, but not as far as the long line length might suggest.
Slow, gentle casting will get you far better results from the Bank Shot than trying to push the line harder and casting with higher line speeds. There are definitely better lines for distance. If you're an average caster or a beginner, you might find this line an easy one to cast as it's very exaggerated and you can chuck a medium distance cast with ease.
Does the textured finish make it noisy?
Unfortunately, yes. The Bank Shot sounds like a record being scratched and screeches a bit as it flies through the guides. It's something of an annoying trait. It's worse when the line is dry, but less noticeable once wet.
What is turnover like?
Turnover was OK. It can handle bigger flies and lures well. As you would expect from a line with such a heavy head section, the presentation is affected and it doesn't always land that gently. However, it's not really designed for delicate presentation. This is the fly line equivalent of a sledgehammer.
If you fish small stillwaters and regularly chuck fly patterns with heavy bead-heads or bulky patterns like snakes or zonkers, this sort of fly line can help you cast the flies far better than a regular weight forward line allows.
How much does it cost?
The Orvis Hydros HD Bank Shot fly line costs £69.99. It's good quality and casts well and does what it's supposed to do quite well, but it's not cheap. The Barrio SLX is very similar in casting feel and performs just as well for half the price, but isn't as limp as the Bank Shot and doesn't lie as straight. However, it's a good choice if you want similar results for less money.