Cutthroat Chronicles: Gear Review – Scientific Anglers Heritage Ultra Presentation Series

Fly line is an oft-overlooked part of an angler’s arsenal. After all, most fly lines are made equal, right?

Well, that’s not true. Certain fly lines are just flat-out better than others, and certain rods demand a different type of line than others.

That case is illustrated when you look at a Sage and Winston fly rod side-by-side. The Sage MOD needs a line a half to full-size heavy in order to properly load it, in a 9ft 5wt configuration. The Winston Boron IIIx requires a true-to-weight weight-forward line at minimum, but performs best with a half-weight heavy line.

I’ve fished both rods (I own the Winston, and fished the MOD for a month with different lines) and I’ve found matching a line to a rod to be one of the most important things you can do to increase the performance of your rod.

Fly fisher standing in a river

Enter Scientific Anglers’ Heritage Ultra Presentation Series fly line.

The line was made to celebrate the 70th anniversary of SA, and it’s colored in a faded mint green to match the hues of lines from the old days. To quote directly from SA’s website, “Built off of designs made popular decades ago, the Heritage Ultra Presentation fly line hearkens back to the days before flat-brimmed baseball caps, before Robert Redford’s movie, and before some of us at Scientific Anglers were even born. Ideally suited for fiberglass, bamboo, and slow-action graphite rods, the Heritage Ultra is a true presentation trout fly line. Perfectly at home on small streams and spring creeks, it can be the difference between a fish and a refusal.”

After fishing the WF4F on my TMF WT Winston for more than a month, I can say that every aspect of that description from SA is true. For rods with a classic action, there’s not a better line on the market – and that includes RIO’s vaunted LightLine series (I own it in WF4F and DT5F).

So let’s dig into this line and see what makes it so special.

What I like


Taper is everything in fly rods and lines. If the taper is off on a 5wt, that can mean the difference between creating a great casting instrument or a broomstick. The same goes for fly line. If the taper is messed up, your presentations – especially of the dry fly variety – won’t be as supple as you’d like.

The taper on the SA Heritage Ultra Presentation line is pretty unique. It’s about 45 feet long (the line itself is only 85 feet, and available only in WF) and features two front tapers, a deep belly, and a gradual rear taper.

This design allows the line to travel through the air faster than you’d expect, generating decent line speed and doing alright in the wind.

Presentation abilities

I guess SA named this line the Ultra Presentation for a reason – because it puts dry flies exactly where they need to be, as softly as possible, as long as you’re doing your part and casting correctly.

This line got its first real test against the pickiest brown trout I know, on a small river in Oregon. I was able to punch 12ft leaders with size 24 flies on the end through a decent breeze and watch my loop unravel gracefully on the water, exactly in a given trout’s feeding lane.

If you’re a dry fly angler, and you have a classic rod that needs a new line, this is it.

Leader turnover

As mentioned above, this line turns leaders overs well – even long 14ft ones. If you fish big flats with small flies, this line is perfect for you and your rod. The line also has enough of a front taper to handle bigger flies, although you’ll notice a wider, sloppier loop when throwing huge foam hoppers and the like.

Fly fisher casting into river

What I don’t like


This line is cheap. At only $49.95, it’s far more affordable than a lot of RIO lines, and is certainly better than any RIO line I’ve used to date in that price range.

Due to its lower price, I’m not sure how long this line will last. The optimist in me thinks it’ll last a long time, but with as much as I use my 4wt, I could be mistaken. So far, I don’t have any complaints. But that could easily be subject to change in a few months.

Lack of a DT option

I’m one of those guys who loves double-taper fly lines. They mend incredibly well, perform reach casts better than a weight-forward line, and cast old bamboo much better than WF lines. I’m not sure why SA opted to only produce a WF option, but I’d like to see a DT option in the future.

Final Word

SA is the current king in the market of lines for rods with classic actions. If you’re any kind of dry fly enthusiast and fish rods akin to Winston’s IM6 or WT series, the Sage LL, Circa, or Scott’s slower rods, you’ll want to try this line out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.