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Stener Skogmo Interview: Micro-Diameter Fly Lines and Innovation
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author:
ASI Team

Intervju
Stener Skogmo
Team leader


In October 2015 ArcticSilver (ASI) launched their new Micro-Diameter (MD) fly lines. What is unique about this line concept? An MD fly line takes up about 30-40% less space on a fly reel, and it has been optimized to build as little volume as possible.
 

What have you and the rest of the ArcticSilver team wanted to achieve with the MD fly lines? I was introduced to the innovative Free-Flex fly rods about 1,5 years ago, and after about 10 minutes of casting them, I knew I had to get on board for the journey onwards. With the Free-Flex concept, ArcticSilver has really broken the mould, and with great attention to functionality and user experience they have succeeded in creating a unique product that defines what fly fishing is all about; «feeling».

As a part of the business for the past 20 years, I have fished with tons of different fly lines. I saw potential in making a new micro-diameter fly line, which would heighten the user experience by generating less air resistance during casting, improve energy transferral and optimize line speed. Together with the ASI development team we began developing a series of all-round fly lines for generic casting purposes. However, it was also our intention to develop fly lies that would make up the perfect fly line and rod setup in combination with the Free-Flex rods. In general, this is our commitment to all the fly fishers out there – and we’re super-excited to have succeeded!

What advantages do the MD fly lines offer?  Low diameter is important because wind- and air resistance are potentially capable of ruining your fly cast. When casting our MD fly lines, you’ll need less use of power, and you’ll be able to tackle heavy winds better than with conventional fly lines. The MD lines also take up less space on your fly reel, which allows you to have more backing on your fly reel – or maybe even use a smaller and thus lighter fly reel. The high-density material that we’ve used responds extremely well to being loaded with energy, and it gives you a more intuitive and direct contact with your leader and fly during practical fishing.

How did the idea of making Micro-Diameter fly lines come about? I’ve always enjoyed casting with intermediate fly lines. Compared to floating lines, the increased density in intermediate lines make them great for distance casting in windy conditions. The idea was to make floating lines that would cast just like intermediate lines. And even though this had never been done before, I knew that the technology existed.

The R&D process was a joint venture. What were the intentions in teaming up with another company?

ArcticSilver would never have succeeded in coming up with these MD fly lines if it weren’t for the efforts of business partners. First of all you need a factory that is willing to think outside the box, you need new material technology, and you need expertise and know-how when it comes to taper designs and material composition in relation to flight stabilization and floating abilities.

We initiated cooperation with Tom Bell in England. He had similar ideas, and he had already started experimenting with fly lines built on mono cores. We signed a written agreement that made us equal partners, and the goal was to develop fly lines that were thinner than other lines in the market.

The factory placed great faith in us and agreed to let us proceed on a trial and error basis. Tom and I were resolute in our search for materials that would solve all the challenges in terms of durability, suppleness, smoothness and floatability. I designed the tapers to achieve the specific casting abilities we were looking for, and after our venture with Tom Bell came to its conclusion, I – and the ASI team – continued working on improving taper design, coating and durability.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the process and technology behind the MD lines?

Making thinner fly lines involves a series of challenges. Increased density is required to achieve the same weight in a thinner fly line… and higher density impacts floatability. Lower diameter requires a thin core, and thin cores must be very resilient in terms of wear and tear. The same goes for a thin coating. These were the main issues we had to tackle with Tom and the factory.

New materials, that have only been available in the market for a short period of time, and that we’ve thoroughly tested over the coarse of the last year, have been used to succeed in making fly lines with thin diameters, great floatability and abrasion resistance.

 

What were the main challenges in making the new MD fly lines? Great challenges needed to be overcome when it came to the core material, UV coating and primer. They were tackled through hard work and a process of trial and error. In this respect, Tom Bell and the factory have done an incredible job!

For quite some time we experimented with mono cores, but due to poor durability and severe delamination-problems, we eventually decided against mono cores.

The first test versions built on braided core, didn’t float well enough. This problem was solved with Nano technology and a floating material consisting of such small particles that they’re allowed to settle among other coating particles without adding volume. Additionally, we used materials that improve our lines’ buoyancy qualities and make them easier to pull of the water.

The MD lines are thin, and the layers of coating are concordantly thinner. Had we used whatever coating other companies use today, our lines would have been more short-lived in comparison. We’ve managed to overcome this problem, however, by using new technology that has resulted in a coating with less memory, a super-sleek surface, and extreme durability.

We wanted to make a Micro-Diameter fly line with great all-round casting abilities that most people would easily accustom to. There will be specialized versions along the way, but this first range of fly lines are great for both overhead and anchored casts. I have made many lines and taper designs before, but when it comes to all-round fly lines, I’ve never succeeded in the same way that I have with the MD lines.


How have the MD lines been received since their introduction in late 2015? Well, it’s a lot of fun being Stener Skogmo when I’m constantly bombarded with positive feedback.

Most people comment on the lines being extremely easy to cast; that they cast far, are stable in the air, and that they aren’t very affected by the wind. Most people, however, are most impressed by how well the lines stretch, and that they can be fished in even the harshest of conditions – and it’s because of the Micro-Diameter concept. With that said, it obviously also has a lot to do with the taper designs being spot-on.

How has the fly fishing market and industry responded? I haven’t had a lot of direct enquiries from competitors, but I assume they’re really curious about what’s going on with our new lines. Maybe there’s room for further developments?

In reviews, our fly lines have been deemed «game changers» and that we’re «setting new standards for the business» so I’m assuming that other brands will try to follow our lead – and introduce similar products.
 


 

What I know is that another Norwegian company is on the verge of introducing something they call “micro diameter”. But I also happen to know that they’re using a traditional coating with all the challenges this entails when it comes to durability and ‘life expectancy’. Others will undoubtedly solve these problems along the way and make good, thin fly lines. In the mean time I’m comfortable knowing that our technology is protected and that it works!

 

What other news and innovations can we expect from ArcticSilver? ArcticSilver is a company that I greatly respect – with all my heart! Innovation is a part of our DNA, and we are always striving at uniqueness. We’ll keep thinking outside the box and spawn new ideas and concepts. We’re a team of fly fishermen developing functional products for likeminded fly fishermen.

Our core products are developed with an unwavering focus on functionality and enhanced user experience. This is our strategic goal. We have several new things on the drawing board: double handed fly rods that will dramatically enhance the Free-Flex effect and some radical looking fly reels. We’re contemplating a new emission during spring in order to initiate full-scale production. It’s should be a great opportunity for fly fishing enthusiasts to come on board as owners – and be part of the journey.

When it comes to fly lines we have many exciting new projects on the way. And for those of you, who are very preoccupied with fly lines, exciting times are ahead. In addition to several new taper designs, sinking rates and shooting head profiles on our MD lines, there is a special RD fly line project coming up.

I’m not going to reveal what «RD» stands for just yet, but we’re talking about WF fly lines with special qualities that make fishing for salmon with sinking lines super easy and enjoyable. With these lines everyone will be able to fish with really heavy sinking lines on single handed rods… Stay tuned!