Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly line review

The Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly line is a premium integrated shooting head style fly line with a short head and long thin running line. It's very well made, comes in three different densities and absolutely flies when double hauled.

Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly line review
© Fly and Lure
Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly line review
Picture copyright © Fly and Lure
Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly line review
Fly lines Estimated reading time 7 - 11 minutes

What are the Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly lines designed for?

As the name suggests, the Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly line range are primarily designed for distance casting. These high-quality premium fly lines are made in the integrated shooting head style and have a profile that is well suited to getting your flies out a long way from the bank or boat without the need to have a huge space behind you and without making loads of false casts.

The principle is much the same as that used on some other well-known fly lines like the Airflo 40+, though these are somewhat different to use and, in my opinion, much nicer in quality. The Snowbee XS lines are made from PVC and have a low stretch braided core, so they hang quite limp and bite detection is excellent.

They go miles when you give them a good haul.

What line weights and densities are available?

The Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly line range comes in various densities and line weights to suit pretty much all stillwater fly fishing situations. The lines are available from five weight through to eight weight, and come in floating, intermediate and fast sinking forms. I've been using the #6 intermediate one which sinks at 2 to 2.5 inches per second. The fast sinker goes down at a massive 5 to 5.5" per second.

Model Sink rate Length Head Length Colour Line weights
XS-tra Distance Floating Floating 120' 40' Chartreuse/Orange #5 to #8
XS-tra Distance Intermediate 2-2.5" ips 120' 35' Green/Orange #5 to #8
XS-tra Distance Fast Sink 5-5.5" ips 120' 30' Green/Orange #5 to #8

What are the XStra Distance tapers like?

The Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly lines are really long at 120-foot and all have a shooting head style profile, comprising a shorter than average head with a short back taper and a long thin running line.

The head length and amount of running line varies according to the line density. The floating version has a pale green 40 foot head and 80 feet of thin orange running line; the intermediate version has a mid-green 35 foot and 85 feet of running line, while the fast-sinking version has a 30-foot head and 90 feet of running line.

Picture copyright © Snowbee.

Do they have welded loops?

Yes. These lines have very tiny welded loops at both ends, so there's no need to do any fiddly nail knots when attaching them to your braided backing. On thicker, more old-fashioned fly lines, people sometimes cut off the loops as they can be a bit big and bulky. However, Snowbee's loops are very neat, tidy and small, so I can't see that many people snipping them off.

There are welded loops at both ends and they're small and neat.

What's in the box?

Unlike fly lines from some other manufacturers, Snowbee really goes to town with the packaging. It's got a premium feel. The box also includes a small bottle of Snowbee's excellent line treatments. The floating version comes with a bottle of Snowbee Line Slick, which is a silicone-based treatment to clean floating lines and help them shoot better, while the intermediate and sinking versions come with Snowbee Line Degreaser.

This is basically a solvent-based silicone remover designed to help the line sink better. You add some to a soft cloth and pull the line through it, which I think is to take away the residues that often remain from the line manufacturing process. Whatever it does, it makes a big difference, as lots of new sinking lines can take a while before they actually sink.

The sinking and intermediate lines include Snowbee Degreaser.

How do they feel in the hand?

The lines are nice and supple in the hand and fairly thin. They don't feel slippery like some intermediate lines, with an almost dry feeling even when they're wet. The head of the intermediate version I've been using is of comparable thickness to my Barrio Mallard fly line, which is fairly slim as lines go. The running line is much thinner - pretty much identical in diameter to the very thin running line diameter on the Sunray lines. That really aids shooting and seems to add a bit of distance. 

The lines are thin, supple and feel dry in the hand.

What are they like to cast?

With integrated shooting head style fly lines like the XStra Distance, the trick is to aerialise the head of the fly line, use a double haul on the false casts to get your line speed up, and then shoot the running line. When you get the hang of it you can cast a long way with relatively little effort. It's a really fun line to cast and it really flies.

The shooting head style taper also means you can make fairly long casts with less backcasting space than you'd need on a longer headed line that wasn't focused on shooting line, and you can keep false casts to a minimum which is easier on your casting shoulder and less likely to spook fish. The sinking line, with its shorter head, will load up much faster than any of the others, while the floater's 40 foot head means you'll need a bit more outside the tip.

What are they like for fishing?

The Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance comes with far more running line than the average fly fisher needs. Even the best competition fly casters might struggle to chuck the full 120 foot line and it's unlikely you'd need so much in a fishing situation, but it's there if you can cast it.

The XStra Distance intermediate I've been using has a claimed sink rate of 2-2.5 inches per second, so it helps get your flies down to the right depth in reasonable time, without dropping so fast that your fly is below the fish and out of sight.

Like most new intermediate fly lines, it didn't sink first time when fresh out of the box. However, a wipe with the supplied degreaser to remove any plastic or silicone residues, and a pull through a baby wipe, and it soon starts to sink more uniformly. This trait tends to clear up after a few outings, so it's nothing to be concerned about, and it is pretty common with intermediates.

The XS Plus XStra Distance is a great intermediate from the boat or bank.

How much do these fly lines cost?

At £55 each, the Snowbee XS Plus XStra Distance fly lines are not cheap, but these high-quality lines and well made, perform brilliantly and are competitively priced alongside other premium brands.

Available from: Snowbee

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