Orvis Hydros HD Trout Fly Line Review

By Kevin Brown

best trout fly line

There comes a time in all of our journeys as fly fishermen when it’s time to replace that old fly line we’ve been fishing with for probably way too long, and that’s most likely starting to show signs of heavy wear. Or sometimes we just want to try something new. Whatever the reason for the switch, it always feels great to cast a brand new line, and the Orvis Hydros HD Trout WF fly line is no exception. I have been fishing with this line for about a month now, and so far it has been exceeding all of my expectations. In fact, I may have to call it the best fly fishing line for trout on the market today.

Anatomy of the Hydros HD Trout Fly Line

As far as anatomy goes, the two-tone Orvis Hydros HD Trout fly line is 90’ in total length, made up of four sections containing 42.5’ of running line, a 10’ rear taper, 31.5’ belly, and a 6’ Front Taper. All of these parts come together to deliver superior fly line performance that can make even a novice look like a pro with the ease of casting that it provides.

Hydros HD Trout Pros

At-a-Glance:

  • HD texturing improves casting and reduces arm fatigue
  • Excellent floatation characteristics
  • Reduces water surface friction for easier line pick up
  • A proprietary lubricant (IS) is added to the line for better casting distance and durability
  • Durable welded tip loop for easy change-outs of leader material
  • Made in the U.S.A

The first thing I noticed about this fly line that really sets it apart from lines I have fished in the past is the texturing. When you hold the Hydros HD between your fingers you can feel the texture, which is claimed to aid in reducing friction of the fly line against the guides of the rod. This enables greater shooting distances and all around easier casting performance for any angler.

I have found this claim to be true as the line seems to effortlessly glide through the guides of the rod, which ends up giving my casting arm a break. Twenty to thirty-foot casts feel too easy at times with this fly line. While texturing is not a brand new breakthrough in fly line technology, I personally still find it to be somewhat of a foreign feature, which I like a lot.

Another advantage of the texturing that Orvis boasts for their Hydros HD fly line is its increased floatation. While I have found this to be true initially, through repeated use, I have come to find this line to perform just the same as other floating fly lines I have used.

It’s honestly hard to say whether or not the floatability claim is actually true or not. I am guessing that math and physics would say that it is, and I am also sure that to some extent there is validity to this claim, but the difference I can perceive between the Hydros HD line’s floatability compared to other fly lines I have used is not exceptionally noteworthy. On the bright side though, I would say this line floats about just as good as any other high-end fly line on the market, which in my opinion comes in as a pro. 

Another welcome function of the HD texturing is that it makes line pick easier up as it reduces surface friction. This equates to easier mending which I have surely experienced using this fly line. My wrist is far less sore, if at all, at the end of an outing thanks to this feature.

On a more superficial note, I would have to say that I honestly enjoy the way this line feels between my fingers. There is a tactile quality to the Hydros HD fly line that I have not experienced before with any other fly line. Also, it sounds kind of cool when you make a cast and it is shooting through the guides, almost like a sandpaper sound.

In addition to performance enhancements provided from the texturing, Orvis boasts that each of their Hydros HD lines is coated with a layer of integrated slickness (IS) additive, which acts as a lubricant to enhance cast-ability as well as durability of the fly line. I found this to be true as the line slips through the guides with nearly the same fluidity as the rivers I am fishing in.

A welded loop on the tip of the Hydros HD fly line makes exchanging leaders a breeze without worrying about snipping down any of the taper on the line. I have found the loop to hold up well so far with only a small amount of gouging from the loop to loop connection (caused by applying heavy amounts of tension to the line when getting snagged in the bushes or hooking into one of those 10lb logs I thought was “the big one”. It’s hard to say at this point what the longevity of this loop will turn out to be, but I am happy with its performance up to this point.

Lastly, Orvis HD fly lines are made right here in America. I like this fact. Combined with Orvis’s decades of commitment to quality, that the  Hydros HD is manufactured here in the U.S.A gives me more confidence with regards to its long-term performance and durability.

Hydros HD Trout Cons

At-a-Glance:

  • Can be hard to pick up during overcast skies/low-light conditions
  • Comes with the expected premium fly line high cost

Now for the negative aspects. Which are few!

One thing I can say that is bad about this fly line is that I have found it to be hard to see in the water during certain lighting great scenarios, mainly dun-colored days when the sun is completely covered by low clouds. A decent pair of polarized sunglasses should help alleviate this issue, and the subdued appearance of the rear taper, belly, and front taper of this fly line may lead to more hookups due to the stealth factor. So you can really swing this both ways. But the theory on more hookups is still inconclusive.

Another downside to the Hydros HD fly line is the cost. At the price of a good mid-range fly rod, this fly line can break the bank depending on budgets. That being said, I find this to be one of the best fly fishing lines for the money.  High prices for top shelf fly fishing gear is what the industry has come to know, but if you can catch this fly line during a sale, then you have got it made.

Orvis Hydros HD Trout Review  Summary

I would highly recommend this fly line to any angler that has the money to spend. Not only is Orvis a tried and trusted manufacturer of fly fishing gear, but they also keep the wow factor going with the cutting edge technology they continue to integrate into their products, such as the texturing of this fly line. Easier casting performance, better than average floatability, more effortless pick-ups, and easier mending are all features that add up to one great fly line that I would highly recommend to any angler, novice or expert! 

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