What is the Snowbee XS fly line?
The Snowbee XS fly line is a traditional style floating fly line from Snowbee and uses the usual weight forward profile, rather than anything really aggressive or fast-loading. First developed 25 years ago, the Snowbee XS has undergone many design tweaks over the years and won several awards. It's a line with a strong reputation and is favoured by many competition anglers and fly casting instructors.
What colours are available?
The Snowbee XS comes in two colours: an off white ivory version and a bright hi-viz orange one. I like the hi-viz one myself and don't think the bright colour really makes any difference to catch rate, as the fish see its silhouette from below not the vibrant colour. However, Snowbee says the XS in ivory has been its best-selling fly line for several years.
What line weights are in the range?
The Snowbee XS WF fly lines are available in line weights from 3 to 9. The ivory version comes in 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 weights, but the hi-viz only comes in 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. I've had several five and six weight lines over the past few years, always in the hi-viz colour scheme.
Do they come with welded loops?
Yes, Snowbee XS fly lines have welded loops at the front and rear. They're neatly formed and feel quite strong, but like any welded loops, I wouldn't really expect them to last forever. All of mine have eventually broken, but they never last forever and are good while they remain intact.
What does this fly line feel like in the hand?
The Snowbee XS is quite a supple line and feels soft in the hand. It is based on a low stretch braided core so doesn't have lots of stretch, but does allow a bit of cushioning and lets you stretch it enough to remove any memory. It feels fairly dry in the hand and doesn't have the hard slickness of some other lines on the market.
Is there much memory?
There's minimal memory on the Snowbee XS. There's a little bit of coil memory when it comes off the reel but a quick stretch quickly cures this and the line lays fairly straight on the water surface. It's one of the more supple lines on the market. Not in the same league as the really soft Scierra Aerial, but certainly very good. The fact that there is a little bit of stretch to it means you can pull any memory free to straighten it out, which you can't do with those lines which lack stretch.
What's it like to use?
The Snowbee XS is a very enjoyable line to cast, so you can see why instructors like them. It doesn't use an aggressive integrated shooting head style taper, so it feels more gentle and relaxing to cast than some other lines on the market. It's one of the best matches I've found for either my Loop Evotec or Loop Cross SX rods. It's just a great line.
Presentation is good, especially on shorter casts. It forms nice neat loops (in the right hands, obviously) and casts and shoots fairly well, especially once the 42-foot head is just outside the tip. It's 90 feet long so decent casters could chuck the whole thing in the right conditions, though it's not really designed for distance work.
When fresh from the box I thought it felt a bit less slick than some of the other lines I use until it had been used and lubricated. It does come with a bottle of Snowbee Line Slick though and this works really well and improves performance quite a bit, reducing the effort you need to get the line zipping through the guides with less friction. Mine felt better after a trip or two than when box fresh. Lifespan is OK but obviously depends on how often it's used and how well you look after it. A couple of seasons with regular use should be easy.
How much does this line cost?
The Snowbee XS isn't the cheapest line on the market, but it's very good quality and well worth the money if you're after a supple floating line with minimal memory. It retails for around £53, but I picked up mine for around £43 from Fishtec. They're guaranteed for a year and Snowbee has a good reputation for looking after customers, so it's a pretty safe buy.