Rio 2013 Fly Lines, Leaders & Tippet Review

Rio Products Update for 2013

Chris Daughters, Caddis Fly Shop


Each year, come fall, I meet with a flurry of Fly Industry Sales Reps, listen to their pitches, and make decisions about how many of thousands of fly fishing products to order for the Shop, and when to have them delivered. Times have changed. When I was a wee lad, we had but a half-dozen fly lines on the shelf. Not so today. After looking through the Rio Dealer workbook, I counted something over a hundred different varieties of lines, leaders, tippets, sink-tips and so on. That’s a lot of choices facing me, as a fly shop owner, and the customer, who is trying to figure out what to wind on his or her fly reel.

Confusion factor aside, I wanted to share my thoughts on a few of the RIO products that caught my attention, old and new, as both a Retailer and a fly angler. This is not full review of Rio Products, jus a few impressions I wanted to share. You may find some of these lines, leaders, or tippets of interest. Brace yourselves: Rio has introduced all NEW boxes and packaging for 2013. Expect to see some differences between 2012 and 2013 boxes and bags until the existing inventory is gone.

Overall, Rio has executed an amazing feat of combining across-the-board branding coupled with product evolution and new line and leader introductions.  Rio has made already great floating lines float higher and shoot slicker, added loops to both ends of many lines, introuduced specialty tapers that really ARE different, spiced up the Spey game with new lines and T-17 MOW tips, added some cool Saltwater Specialty fly lines and leaders, and offered the lake trout fishing specialist an all-you-can-eat menu of the slowest to the fastest sinking trout lines we have ever seen.

Downsides? Re-working our internet catalog has been – for the time –  dominated by Rio’s 2013 Dealer Work-book.  One complaint.  The naming of the AFS Spey Outound line is unfortunate, because this line is COMPLETELY different from the other Outbound lines, and if you read on, you will find out how so.  Common fellas, how about consulting with us more before you hang a confusing name on a great fly line?

Here are a few of the highlights I gleaned after a MONTH of sweating over the new Rio Line, Leader, and Tippet offerings.

iFlight Skagit Shooting Head: New Spey Line. The Skagit iFlight has an intermediate leading 8 ft of the Skagit Head, and this can accomplish two things, (1) achieving deeper swing when using heavy MOW Tips; and (2) achieving just-subsurface presentations when fished with Intermediate tips in complex currents.

Scandi Short Shooting Head Lines: New Product – designed to fish dry or damp flies on shorter Spey rods ,using tapered or Versileaders.

Switch Spey full Fly Line: Under recognized fly line. This is a full fly line that can be fished with Spey style or overhead style on sub-12 ft rods. Not the line of choice for heavy sink tips but great for tapered leaders, and modest Rio Versileaders. Capable of Indicator fishing in a pinch.

Spey Versitip Kits: Rio offers both the Skagit Flight and the Scandi Short Spey Heads in Versitip Kits, allowing an angler easy means to carry and fish the most effective range of floating and sink tip options in a Rio tip wallet at a cost savings.

T-17 MOW Tips: New size. This will make Spey anglers who want to fish faster, deeper waters happy.  MOW Tips in T-14 to T-20 have anywhere from 25 to 40 lb core strength, increasing with wt density.

T-20 Level T Tungsten: I think this is an under-recognized product. If you make your own sink tips and want the heaviest tips on the river,Level-T is as noted above for the MOW Tips.

Outbound Spey AFS: This is a little understood Spey Line. In my opinion Rio should have chosen a different name for this Spey line. Why? Because this Outbound has a taper that is COMPLETELY different from all the other Outbound fly lines. The “other” Outbound lines, both regular and short Outbound tapers, are front-loaded; that is to say, they are heaviest in the forward end of the Head, and this is a taper design to throw heavy or wind resistant flies, make long casts, and cut through wind.

The AFS Spey Outbound: This AFS Spey Outbound taper is a reverse of the formerly discussed lines, because the vast majority of this line’s mass in at the rear of the head. This AFS Spey Outbound line is a sleeper in the Spey game, and it excels when fishing in situations where you want very compressed D Loops and have restricted space behind the caster. This is also a really nice roll cast and overhead casting line for use on two hand rods.

Bonefish Fly Lines: Rio offers a couple of new Bonefish options for 2013, including a floating Hi-Vis orange line with a 50 ft head, and the Bonefish Quickshooter, a subtle blue floating head of 36 ft. The former line is an asset to help detect strikes and the Quickshooter line is an asset for anyone fishing short lines and making quick decisions about target direction.

Tarpon Fly Lines: Rio offers 5 Tarpon fly lines, depending on how you count them, and two of these are new lines for 2013: The Tarpon Technical and the Tarpon Short Floater. The Tarpon Technical has the longest head in the game, at 60 ft, this line is designed for expert presentations to spooky fish. The Tarpon Short floater has a 30 ft head, is intended to punch out big flies in calm or wind, and keep them fishing shallow.  The Core on all the Tarpon series fly lines is in the 50 lb class, reflecting the stress these fish put on your gear.

Redfish Tropical Line: Yes, even Redfish get their own line taper from RIO. This 35 ft head is a full floater targeting the shallow waters usually frequented by Sea Trout, and the greatest part of the head mass is in the rear half, allowing gentle fly presentation but retaining the ability to throw wind resistant Poppers to cruising Spot.

Leviathan Fly Line Series: I spent more time looking at some of the existing and new lines in the Leviathan series this year, especially intriguing because of their 70 lb core. These are tropical waters, high score strength big game lines. No welded loops on these lines, folks. The prospect of fishing for really giant fish is so personal that Rio chose to build these lines without loops, thus putting the burden of loop building on the shoulders of each angler. In my experience, and I have a lot of experience in this arena, this was a good call. I suggest the use of nail knots, and a whip finish over a fly line loop to secure both baking and leaders to these fly lines.  A correspondence with Simon Gawesworth at Rio indicated that Rio is working on achieving a weld for the Leviathan series of fly lines but at present, it is dicey to do so with the 70 lb mono core on these lines.  Best to you fellas.

Outbound Short Fly Lines: Pay attention here. Rio seems to offer 3 Outbound Short lines; however, there are really only two different lines, packaged in 3 different boxes. The boxes are labeled thus: Tropical Outbound Short, Coldwater Outbound Short, and Specialty Series Short Outbound. Only the Tropical Short Outbound is a different line than the other two, and it is built to perform in 75-100 degree (F) tropical waters. The Coldwater Short Outbound comes in a Blue box with what looks like a sea-run cutthroat pictured, and is offered in anywhere from full floating to Type 6 Sink rates.

This is EXACTLY the same line that Rio markets in a Greenish-Blue Box with a Brown trout on the cover in the Specialty Series of fly lines.  Both the Coldwater and Specialty Series Outbound short lines have the same 30 ft head taper designs, same range of floating and sink rate options. Why put the same line in two different boxes? Because Striper specialists in Cape Cod don’t want to buy a fly line if they think it might just be suitable for mountain stream fishing; and a Muddler-chucker in Missouri doesn’t want to buy a fly line in a blue box adorned with a may not want to buy a fly line with some anadromous fish on the cover. As a retailer, I completely understand Rio’s packaging choice. I’m going to stock all 3 Outbound Shorts.

Core strength on Rio Outbound lines: The Coldwater and specialty Outbound series lines have cores that range from 25 lb to 35 lb, increasing with line wt.  Makes sense.  The Outbound Tropical series have cores of 30 lb to 40 lb, again increasing from the lighter to the heavier line wt classes.

Trout Floating Fly Lines: New boxes for Rio’s already great line of dry fly trout lines, the RIO Gold, Grand, and LT. Somewhere in this family, anyone can find a great line for any trout fly rod in the world. From 000 to 9 wt, and a variety of FW and DT tapers, one of these will sing on your trout rod.

Lake Sub-Surface Fly Lines: this is a series of relatively slow sinking fly lines Rio has designed for the obsessed lake angler of the world. There are several line colors, and both full sinking and the little tiny 39 inch clear Midge Tip line in this series that also includes the Camolux, Aqualux, and Hover lines; I think these slow sinking fly lines offer a lot of promise in estuary fishing for sea runs too.

In-Touch Series Sinking Lines: An under appreciated full sinking line series has an especially stretch free core Rio calls the Connect Core Some lake anglers fish deep and slow, and these are specifically designed for depths of a few feet up to a whopping 30 ft. If you Dredge the lakes, give these a look.


Specialty Series Fly Lines: Carp, Pike, Smallmouth, Steelhead – Salmon, and a Power Fly option spice up Rio’s Specialty Series of mostly freshwater fly lines. There are some genuine differences in these lines, the taper designs and the needs they serve. The Steelhead Salmon line, for example, excels at mending and roll casting, fishing rivers where anadromous species are most commonly fishes. The Carp and Pike lines both have 40 ft head tapers, but the Pike head is more heavily front end loaded to turn over larger flies, while the Carp head is pretty much a level distribution of weight designed mostly to achieve good rod loading and non-splashy fly presentations to spooky fish.

Mainstream Trout Series: A vastly under-recognized series of entry-level fly lines with options for trout, Saltwater, and specialty bass anglers. The trout series includes full floating WF and DT lines, a clear intermediate tip line, a T-3 sink tip, and two full sinking lines of either T-3 or T-6. All of the Mainstream lines are 80 ft and priced at 39.95 for a made in USA Rio fly line.

Avid Fly Line Series: A mid-range performance fly line level, the Avid series offers an economical series of trout and general saltwater fly lines from Rio, just the option to get anyone interested in moving from beginner to more committed in this series of lines priced at $54.95.

Rio Slickshooter: New size – 44 lb, this oval mono should be popular with our many shooting-head fly fishing striper and salmon customers.

Suppleflex Tapered Leader: New product – this is a long supple and fine tapered leader designed for lakes, glassy spring creeks, and any waters where the finest, most supple leaders help reduce drag or detection by wary trout. Available in 7X to 3X and either 9 ft or 13.5 ft lengths.

Striped Bass Tapered Leaders: Rio really is dedicated to specialty niches. This leader is built at 7 ft, in tippets from 8 lb through 20 lb, and is designed to carry wind resistant and weighted flies commonly on the Striper Specialist’s menu.

Tarpon Tapered Shock Leaders: An underappreciated leader, these come in 3-Packs, are all in the 20 lb class, but offer shock tippets anywhere from 40 to 100 lb in either Hard Nylon or Fluorocarbon.

Suppleflex Tapered Trout Leaders and Tippet: the best stuff for delicate presentations to wary trout. Available in 7X to 4X only.

Steelhead – Salmon Tippet: New product for 2013. Rough and tough for our anadromous and lake run salmon and steelhead customers demand. Offered in 8 – 20 lb strengths.  This material has been developed to EXACTLY match the Steelhead Salmon tapered leader materials.

Fluoroflex Saltwater Tippet: New product for 2013: Moderately stiff and nearly invisible 100 % Fluorocarbon material will appeal to both fresh and saltwater clients fishing the wide range of tippets from 8 to 100 pound test. Wow.

3-Pack Tapered Leaders: Not new, just underappreciated; save you money and use less packaging. Available in Bonefish, Stelhead Salmon, Powerflex Trout, and Tarpon tapered leaders.

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One Response to Rio 2013 Fly Lines, Leaders & Tippet Review

  1. rick wilson says:

    Q. Going to Caney Fork River (Tenn) next week. Should I use PowerFlex or Flouracarbon for dry fly fishing with #20 flies. Cabelas told me one thing and my local fly shop told me different. I usually use at home in Ark RIO Powerflex 9ft 6x 3.4 leader and use 6x tippet. I tie on addl 4-5 ft of tippet most time 6x but I was told 7x would be better for Caney. In a kayak I would not have to cast out but I don’t want the fish to see my line and at the same token I want it to float. SO WHICH IS BETTER? What should I USE???

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