What is the Sunray Competition Float fly line?
The Competition Float 2020 is the latest version of Sunray's top-end floating fly line which is designed for all-round use. Claimed to be its current best-selling fly line, the Competition Float follows the usual format of having a thin running line and a thicker head, making it a shooting head style line that works well as medium to long distance.
What profile does this fly line have?
It's 100' in length, so 10' longer than your average line, with a head length of around 40-45' in the 7# version (and slightly less on the lower line weight lines). There's a front taper of 7-9' and a rear taper of 8-11'. It's available for rods from a #5 to a #9.
What's special about this fly line?
This is one of the newer Sunray lines and features what designer Tom Bell refers to as an "overhang marker." This is basically a carefully placed coloured portion of the line about 10' in length which is designed to let you know when to make the cast.
With shooting head style fly lines (these days that's most of the ones we see on the market) the trick to a successful cast is not to carry too much of the head outside the tip. The thin running line that follows the head doesn't have the support to hold up the head, so if you attempt to carry too much head, your line will collapse.
The overhang marker on these lines is positioned in the right spot for each line weight. The idea is that you aerialise the head with a couple of false casts, get the overhang marker at the tip and then "fire the shot." Some makers do this with two different line colours - such as an orange head and yellow running line - but this is a more specific section and is supposed to be more precisely placed.
Do they come with welded loops?
Yes. Older Sunray lines we've used have come with incredibly thin and neatly welded loops. However, we've found they've lacked resilience, and they've rarely lasted longer than a couple of months' of regular use.
We'd noticed Sunray mentioning its new loops recently and were expecting to find these on the Competition Float 2020. The new loops are made from the braided core of the line itself, without the coating, so they go through the rings a bit better and might prove more resilient. However, the new loop is actually only found on the rear end of the line, which isn't going to be seen by most people. The front loop is the usual Sunray affair - very small and neat, but not usually long-lasting, in our experience.
How does it feel in the hand?
The line has a dry feeling to the coating and is very limp. It reminds me of the feel of the Scierra lines (as does the new Sunray packaging). As is the norm for Sunray's lines, the running line is nice and thin. The head is pretty thick and there's a small amount of stretch in the core, which I like personally. The tip is very thin and is grey in colour, which is supposed to make it cast less of a shadow over the fish.
What's it like to use?
In my experience, Sunray's fly lines invariably cast really well. We've had several of them in various guises over the years and have always been impressed with how well they've cast. The downside is that we've found the welded loops often quickly fail and that some of the floating lines can require frequent treatment to keep them afloat. However, they cast so well that we can live with that. Therefore, it's little surprise that the Competition Float 2020 performs brilliantly. It's great for medium to long-range fishing and is quite effortless to cast.
In the air, the line feels similar to Airflo's Superflo or Wychwood's Distance Rocket fly lines. I've not weighed this, but the weight and head lengths feel like they're fairly similar to me, which is no bad thing as these are both lines I rather like. It's an enjoyable line to cast, it looks stable in the air and it goes a reasonable distance. Get the head outside the tip, line up the overhang market and release and it will fly out to around 90 feet with good tracking and a decent haul. Getting the full line out (on a #6) took more effort, but I'd imagine you'd be seeing the backing knot a lot on the #7, #8 and #9 sizes.
Like many similar lines, the six weight one we're using feels a bit heavier than a standard six weight typically does. It's not enough to feel over the top, but enough to put a decent bend in the rod, which is why it works so well, I guess. Some anglers do like overlining their rod, by using a line weight heavier than usual, but you definitely wouldn't need to do that with one of these, in my opinion.
It floats OK at the moment and lifts off smoothly but we suspect it may need regular treatment to maintain buoyancy if our experiences with other Sunray lines are anything to go by. However, as I said, we can live with that as it casts very well and is very limp. Overall, I was very impressed. It's easily on par with Airflo's highly rated Superflo. We'll keep you updated with how it performs over the coming months.
How much does the Competition Float 2020 cost?
The Sunray Competition Float 2020 sells for £74.99. That's more than I'd happily pay for a fly line. However, Sunray's "hi-lo" pricing model means that you can often pick them up for half that during its regular sales. I paid just £39.99 for mine on Black Friday, which isn't bad value at all.
More information: Sunray