Gear Review: Scientific Anglers SONAR Musky 500 Fly Fishing Line

In my opinion, it was about time somebody designed a fly line specifically for the musky angler, ESPECIALLY one that comes in a 500gr. Boy was I happy to see that Scientific Anglers was coming out with a line for this year, especially since my previous “musky” line was near the end of its life.

Back in August I picked up the new Scientific Anglers Sonar Musky 500gr, excited at the prospect that there was actually a fly line built for muskies. Not only this, but one I trusted to be durable enough to hold up to the abuse of fishing out of a boat and one that came in an actual 500gr, what it takes to properly load a 12WT. I’ve had a lot of challenges in the past finding gear fit for the type of fishing situation that exists here in Minnesota, nothing ever seems to be quite right. Rods aren’t long or beefy enough, lines are too light, fall apart too quick, won’t turn over the flies, many issues similar to that. Though, with this line, I feel like we’re getting closer to what products need to look like. Here are the pros and cons if it that I gathered over the past four months since I started fishing it back in September.

Firstly, I’ll say that they did put a lot of thought into the design. The key features of this line are a thicker and intermediate running line, a 30’ head with a beefy taper and a sink 5 sink rate, a braided mono filament core, and a temperate outer coating for colder-medial temperatures.

The first benefit that comes to mind for me is how easy it is to cast. It was much different from any musky line I’d thrown before, but once I got into the rhythm of it it didn’t take a lot of effort. Even on calm days, hitting the 80’ mark was achievable which is important when fishing lakes where covering water is important. Not to say that it was effortless, as casting a 15” fly never will be, but it was pretty easy.

Secondly, it got down really well. The intermediate running line really allows the head and in turn the fly to drop quick, lessening the worry that you’re not getting down into the zone far enough.

Thirdly, I really like the thicker running line for a couple reasons. Firstly, it decreases the number of tangles you’ll get casting, which is HUGE, especially when you have every inch of that line laying in the bottom of the boat after every cast. An eight plus hour fishing day feels a lot longer if you have to unsnarl your fly line every other cast. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s not fun.

Another point about the thicker running line is that it’s easy to grip, especially in colder weather. I really appreciated this once it got colder in the October and November months.

Finally, I’ll say it held up really well for the season. I fished it quite a bit this fall, upon inspection there were very few cracks in the coating, and the line was still pretty slick and supple. This is extremely important, as it seems many lines will fall apart after a relatively short time in this situation setting it apart from most other lines I’ve used before.

Though with the pros, there are a few cons as well. One of the first things that I was disappointed about was the fact that this line seemed shorter than others I’ve used in the past, and I was right. This line is only 90’ rather than the 100’ or 110’ that I’m used to for bigger sink tips, which I didn’t like. When fishing lakes like I do all season, covering water is extremely important. And though it can’t be done all the time, with the right wind at my back a musky fly can be cast 100+’, which I missed being able to do when using this line.

Secondly, the line can get a little tacky in warmer weather. I am happy that it’s rated for temperate conditions, or cold-medium temperatures as SA puts it. However, I did notice that it performs better in cooler temperatures, probably 50 degrees and lower. Too much warmer than this and the coating can get a little bit tacky, which makes it a little more difficult to shoot. This isn’t a huge issue as as it mostly only happens earlier in the season while it’s warmer out, but it’s still important to note.

Next, related to the previous issue, the higher diameter running line causes it to have a bit more kinetic energy while moving. Because of this, the line at your feet can be a little jumpy as you’re shooting it. This doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue when it’s colder, however when it is warmer out it can cause problems. When the line is more tacky it has a bit of a tendency to jump up and wrap around the rod near the first and second stripping guides after you release it on the cast, which can be a bit of a headache if it happens a lot. The frequency of this happening seemed to vary, however it was noticeably worse on warm days.

Finally, the line was a little bit stretchy for my taste, which was surprising. For a line with the purpose of musky fishing, it’s essential to have as direct of a connection to the fly as possible in order to get a good hookset. I will say it wasn’t as bad as some I’ve used, but it wasn’t ideal either.

Overall, this was definitely the best musky line I’ve ever owned. Easy casting, durability and having the ability to get the fly down where it needs to be efficiently are a couple factors that are definitely at the top of my list, and this line excelled in delivering that. I would buy this product again without question, as I would many other of SA’s lines.

Personally I feel that fly fishing for muskies plainly sucks in most aspects, and very few pieces of gear out there right now are perfect for the purpose. And if I’m being honest, I’m not sure if some pieces of it ever will be perfect, but it’s always nice to find things that make it easier. That’s all that some products can do at a certain point is to make things easier, and I feel that this line does a good job of that.