What is the Sunray Short Head fly line?
The Sunray Short Head, as the name suggests, has a shorter head than a conventional fly line. It's what's known as an integrated shooting head, which is designed for shooting, rather than carrying. This helps it load the rod with less line outside the tip so you can quickly fire off a cast with minimal room behind you and without the need for loads of backcasting. It's possible to get a good distance with very little effort.
What sizes are available?
Sunray makes the Short Head in #4, #5, #6, #7, #8 and #9 sizes, so there's likely to be one for your rod, whatever you fish for. The lines are fitted with a neat welded loop at the tip end and a knotted braided loop at the back. This doesn't really matter much, as most people aren't going to see the last 20 feet once it's spooled onto their reel.
What colour is this fly line?
The running line is white but the head section, like many Sunray fly lines, is slate grey. This, they say, makes the tip a bit harder for the fish to see on the water surface, but also makes it harder for you to spot it too.
It has a very useful bright orange overhang marker carefully positioned at the back of the head to let you judge when you have exactly the right amount of line outside the tip. This helps prevent you from slipping too much line, resulting in a collapsed loop and a cast that lands in a heap.
What does it feel like in the hand?
The #4 Short Head I have is exceptionally thin. In fact, I don't think I've seen a fly line so thin before. Some leader materials are thicker! It feels dry in the hand and has a slightly hard and rough texture and it hangs very limply in the hand, with little or no memory. That thin running line and hard surface mean that it shoots remarkably well!
I am guessing that Sunray makes these lines so thin by cutting down on the number of tiny plastic microspheres usually added to fly line plastics to help keep them afloat. The running line is so thin that it really seems to be just a plastic-coated braid and probably just stays afloat due to its thinness being enough for the water's surface tension to keep buoyant. As a result, Sunray lines can benefit from regular treatment to keep them floating high.
What's it like to cast?
I've been using the Sunray Short Head #4 line on my Loop Evotec #4 rod, with which I generally use the excellent Barrio Mallard line. The Short Head is much, much thinner than the Mallard and, obviously, loads a lot quicker being a shooting head style line. That makes it great for quickly flicking out a fly with very little effort and only a false cast or two. It's really good for close-in work and it feels delightful.
Sunray describes this as their fastest loading fly line and says you can hit huge distances with "zero backcasting space and one haul." While we think its own El Guapo fly line probably tops it for faster loading, it certainly casts extremely well and it definitely presents better than the somewhat brutal El Guapo, which really is a blunt instrument as fly lines go. (It goes fly though, check out our video of George chucking the entire thing in a single flick!)
The Short Head is easy to handle and the taper isn't too over-the-top, so it doesn't feel ridiculously overweight, like the El Guapo. It casts clean, tight loops and lands quite delicately in the #4 size. Fly turnover is pretty decent too.
It's a lovely line to use. Great close in, thanks to that short head, shoots like nothing else and goes a good distance if you want it to. It's really impressive and has become one of my favourite fly lines.
How much does it cost?
I actually bought mine new on eBay for under £20, but they sell at full price for £59.99. It's a very good line, but Sunray has regular sales so hang around for a little while and you may well pick one up for half this price.