"Grain" scale?

Dave Hartman

Strip'n Flywear
Hey guys,
I know a bunch of you are experienced with building your own lines. Just a quick question here: where did you find a scale that measures in "grains"?
Okay, two questions. Anybody know the history of why we measure in grains? as opposed to grams?


Active Member
The grain are simply a much smaller unit of weight than a gram (and not a part of the metric system). Bullet weights and powder loads are commonly expressed in grains. The most readily available scales that measure in grains are those used by shooters who reload their own ammunition.

Dave Hartman

Strip'n Flywear
Well that makes sense. Wow, congrats on a 1000 posts Preston!
I'll check with the gun shop down the street. Maybe I should go now, before the Super Bowl, cuz if my Patriots lose tomorrow, I'll be wanting to buy a gun . . .
OK, I have a grain scale that I use for measuring the gold rings I find metal detecting, bought it at the gun shop in Alger. How does one use it to measure the heads of fly lines?

I bought mine on the auction site. It will weigh up to about 600grams, and convert to oz, grains and a couple others. I think it set me back about $15 with shipping.


AKA Joe Willauer
i think he's talking about spey heads, where they are detached from the running line, actually i should say thats why i want one!

Red Shed

"junkyard spey"
While a grain scale used by reloaders works very well for weighing lines they cost to much unless you are also a reloader.

I think any fly shop that is heavily into spey tackle will sell grain scales that work well for weighing lines. I know Aaron (Speybum) has them as does the Red Shed and Bachmann in Welches.

One can also make do with a postal scale and I have even used a food scale a few times.

While there is now in place a "spey line standard" I believe most people weighing spey lines are more interested in the weight of the total head (tip, front taper, belly, rear taper).

If one is a line mechanic, a grain scale is an important tool. It should also be noted if one wants to mess around weighing and chopping lines that a line winder, and a micrometer/caliper are also valuable tools.

The easiest way I have found to weigh the head of a spey line is to use an empty fly line box set on the scale on edge. Tare the scale with the box in place. Coil the portion of the line to be weighed in about 5" or 6" coils secure it with a fly line pipe cleaner/twisty, place it in the box and you have your weight for the given line section. If one wants to weigh a short piece (under 20') just coil around your hand and lay it on the scale tray.

It should be noted if one is weighing the heads of spey lines it is possible to find +/- variations different from the published weight of said line. This is common with ALL line manufacturers and in my opinion is not something to be worried about. I use the number on the box as a starting reference point only.

There are 7000grns in a pound, 437.5grns in an ounce, and 15.432grns in a gram.


Active Member
iagreeDitto on what Poppy said.
The old balance type powder scales are too expensive. Do not have the range. (500gr limit) Not near as accurate. Or versitle.
Digital grain scale: about $30
Calipers, dial or otherwise are marginal for measuring soft items like flylines.
Micrometers are much better because they have a pair of flat "anvils" about 1/4 inch diameter. But michromerters are rather expensive, and unless digital, take some training to learn to read.
A snap gage with a range of .125 will have anvils like a michrometer, and an easy to read dial. And cost less $$$
Try Harbor Freight. Or some discount tool supply shop.

The method I use for weighing flylines is as follows.
Place the grain scale on a narrow platform (3" wide) overhanging the work top.
Place the lid, which doubles as a tray, and comes with the scale, on top of the scale, turned side ways.
Tare the lid/tray.
Hang the line, in large coils, over the tray.

Anything you don't want weighed, like the running line for example, let hang down and lay on the floor. Only the line that is off the floor is being weighed.
Grain scale, caliper, and winder are required - even if you are a 'newbie' line mechanic as am I. I got a scale through a catalog - I believe it was Fly Fish USA and around 30 bucks for the scale. Great way to spend an afternoon - weighing lines, weighing and measuring your sink tips, cutting and splicing, etc. It is remarkable how you can match a line to your current rod and casting stroke. Makes for a totally custom set up that can really work for the situations you normally fish. Most of the advice I got came from this site!!
Good Luck-