What is the Marsden Hi Viz Shooting Head designed for?
Sunray's Marsden Hi Viz Shooting Head is an exaggerated weight forward floating fly line aimed at letting you achieve medium to long distances by aerialising the head and shooting the running line.
Proper shooting heads consist of a separate head section which is attached to a very fine monofilament running line. However, like many others on the market, this Sunray line is an integrated shooting head and there's no lumpy join between the head and the running line, so it shoots through the rings nicely.
The line comes in four sizes: #5, #6, #7 and #8.
What colour is the line?
The Marsden Hi Viz Shooting Head is a two-coloured line. The head section is very bright yellow, while the rear running line is bright orange. This lets you clearly see where the load point of the head is (if you can't simply feel it) and lets you see the line clearly on the water and in the air.
As is often the case with brightly coloured lines, there's a little bit of mixing of the colours and part of the yellow head is orange on mine. Obviously, that does nothing to affect performance and I guess it's inevitable in lines of this design.
What is the taper like?
There are six tapers in this line, which are wrapped around a 0.45mm diameter central core. The line is 90 feet in length and 60 feet of this is made up by the head, and the back and rear tapers.
The thicker yellow head section is up to 1.45mm thick, and is followed by a 20 foot section of "thicker" 0.9mm orange running line which forms the back and rear taper. This bit is effectively handling line to help you haul more easily and mend the line if you're fishing a river.
The really thin bit, which measures 0.7mm in diameter, doesn't come until the 60 foot mark, and there's only 30 feet of it. As a result, you need a fair bit of line outside the tip to get your rod going, so it's really primarily a line for longer range casting. Obviously.
All in all, you have a 40' yellow head, a 20 thicker orange section of handling line in the rear taper and 30 feet of thin running line. The benefit of the really thin running line is therefore a bit limited under normal conditions.
Is this one of Sunray's micro thin lines?
No, this particular one isn't one of the micro thin fly lines Sunray has become synonymous with. The head itself is comparable to a typical WF #6 line, I reckon, a bit thicker, if anything - it is a shooting head, after all.
However, the running line is a bit thinner than most other fly lines at 0.7mm. It's thinner than 20lb monofilament, and almost as slick, so shoots quite well. However, that's so far towards the back of the line that the advantage seems relatively minimal in general use.
What leader should I use?
Sunray's marketing spiel says that you "shouldn't use shop bought tapered leaders" as "they're too thick, too shiny and too wiry". Instead, it says you should use their Hybrid Tippet which is a fluorocarbon-coated monofilament line.
Some tapered leaders are indeed quite thick for such a thin fly line, but pretty much any tippet or leader you fancy should suffice if you don't want to splash out on their Hybrid Tippet. I used 12' of 9lb Airflo G3 fluorocarbon straight through and turnover was good.
Does it come with welded loops?
Yes, there are very tiny welded loops on each end of the line. As the line itself is fairly thin, the loops are much smaller and neater than you'll probably have seen on other fly lines. Some fly fishers often chop off the welded loops provided on other fly lines, but I don't think too many people would do that to these neat little Sunray ones. I don't think I've seen better loops on any fly line. (After a year or so of use, mine has eventually snapped.)
What's it like to cast?
I tested my Marsden Hi Viz on a Loop Evotec 590F 9' #5 rod and it worked rather well. It casts very nicely and there aren't really any issues with it. It's easy to carry and aerialise the head section and, with the right technique, you can cast the full 90 feet line with relative ease.
The gradual taper means there's no hinging, you can throw nice tight loops and presentation is good, given the fairly thick head end. However, I'd be lying if I said I was blown away with the performance.
It's clearly a good line, but on my rod, and in my hands, I didn't find it an amazing line I'd want to use above all else. It also feels a bit overweight - heavier than a #5 should. This is, however, purely a personal preference, I guess. Floatability isn't amazing either. It needs regular treatment with line treatment to keep it on the surface and tends to sink in patches along its length.
How much does it cost?
Sunray's lines are priced in the middle to the top end of the fly line market and vary in price from about £45 to around £80. However, that's partly linked to their hi-lo pricing strategy and you'll often see their lines at full price, then half price shortly after...
The Marsden Hi Viz Shooting Head is nonetheless one of their cheaper lines, with a price tag of £45 at RRP. It's a decent line for the price. It's much better value now, as Sunray has reduced the price to £31.50 in the week since I bought it.