Fly Line Shootout

 

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This post is part of our Fly Line Shootout, so if you haven't read our main post, you probably want to check it out.

About RIO Fly Lines

 

RIO is a relative newcomer to the fly line game. They made their first fly line in 1997. Since then, they've become a market leader due to great products and clever marketing. RIO divides its lines into 4 "series", which are differentiated by technology and price points: Mainstream, Avid, "Premier", & InTouch. Mainstream & Avid are Rio's entry-level lines and they have aggressive front tapers, while the Premier and InTouch series feature a wider array of lines to fit the needs of any angler. Read on to learn more.

 

The Reviews:

 

RIO Avid Trout WF

 

Price: $54.95

 

The Hype: The lines are designed for easy casting performance, with slightly heavier and shorter head lengths.

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

RIO Avid Trout represents the ‘middle’ of Rio’s trout portfolio. In terms of taper, it’s almost identical to RIO Grand. So much so, that it would have been interesting to test the non-InTouch version of RIO Grand side-by-side with the Avid to see if there was anything that was accounting for the $20 price difference. Here's a taper comparison between Grand, Avid, & Mainstream:

 

 

You'll notice that the only difference is that Grand is a little larger in diameter (and therefore a little heavier). Overall, RIO Avid Trout is a solid performer across the board, but its shorter head made it a bit more difficult to roll cast or get extreme distance.

 

As this is the first RIO line we’re reviewing, it’s worth mentioning that many of Rio’s offerings seemed to be geared toward the intermediate angler. Which is to say they are front-loaded to make rods load quicker, and have shorter heads to facilitate shooting line. This also means that they excel at nymphing and streamers, but aren’t the best dry fly lines.

 

Pros:

  • An above average line, at a below average price
  • Like many RIO lines, the Avid felt like it was geared toward the intermediate angler

 

Cons:

  • A full line size heavy
  • Comes with all of the shortcomings of a shorter head.

 

Bottom line: Is this RIO Grand for (almost) half the price?

 

RIO Gold

Price: $74.95

 

The Hype: The RIO Gold has a revolutionary taper design that gives incredible loop stability at distance, a unique profile that allows a rod to load at close range and a front taper that delivers perfect presentation of flies between sizes #22 and #2.

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

RIO Gold might be one of the best-selling fly lines of all time. It’s a modern classic - the standard against which all [trout] fly lines are measured. In this test, RIO Gold came in two varieties: standard and InTouch.

 

Before we talk about how it casts, I wanted to touch on its taper in more detail. RIO Gold has a continuously sloping belly which transitions into a long rear taper. It’s kind of like the opposite of Triangle Taper, and a lot like Airflo’s new Bruce Chard saltwater taper. It’s designed to load quick, carry a lot of line and turn flies over quickly. As we’ve discussed earlier in this shootout, a long rear taper also makes a fly line feel lighter than it actually is.

 

While the theory behind this line is sound, it performed much better on the Circa than on the NRX. In fact, it might be our favorite line overall on the Circa (which isn’t surprising, given Sage and RIO are part of the same entity). It just left us wanting more on the NRX and didn’t load the rod enough, or shoot line particularly well. On softer rods, RIO Gold does everything really well, save throw streamers, where its performance was just ok (but this may have as much to do with the rod as the line).

 

Pros:

  • A great all around line for softer rods
  • Shorter front taper makes a great nymphing line (on softer rods)

 

Cons:

  • Feels too light for faster rods

 

Bottom line: A popular line that works great on softer rods.

 

RIO InTouch Gold

Price: $89.95

 

The Hype: The ultimate, all-round fly line, with ultra-low stretch performance.

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

RIO InTouch Gold is pretty similar to 'regular' RIO Gold. There were two noticeable differences between the two lines: First, while InTouch Gold is 6 grains lighter, it actually feels a little heavier. I think this would be more pronounced if the two lines we tested were actually the same weight. For that reason, we preferred the standard RIO Gold on the Circa, but thought the InTouch was a little better on the NRX. Second, as we noted with all InTouch lines, this one had a little more memory in the running line. It greatly benefits from being stretched out before use. Want to know more? Scroll up and read our review of RIO Gold.

 

Pros:

  • A great all around line for softer rods
  • Shorter front taper makes a great nymphing line (on softer rods)
  • Low-stretch core benefits

 

Cons:

  • Feels too light for faster rods
  • A little more memory than we'd like

 

Bottom line: A popular line that works great on softer rods - with a low stretch core.

 

RIO InTouch Grand

Price: $89.95

 

The Hype: The InTouch RIO Grand is a full line size heavier than the industry standard, and features more weight distributed towards the front of the line to easily load faster action fly rods.

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

RIO InTouch Grand is the same taper as RIO Avid and Mainstream. It’s a strong weight forward line designed to help load faster rods. The actual grain weight on the RIO Grand line we tested was a full 6 grains heavier than Avid. Combine that with Rio’s new InTouch core, and this line feels way heavier than Avid or Mainstream. It’s more of a 6.5-weight line, than a 5-weight.

 

It should come as no surprise that this line didn’t perform well on the Circa – it’s just too heavy! On the NRX, however, RIO Grand works much better, but it’s obviously a line geared toward the intermediate and beginning angler throwing easy medium sized loops well at short to medium distances. It’s also a great choice for nymphing and streamers.

 

Pros:

  • Lives up to its promise of an easy to load line
  • Great for nymphing and streamers

 

Cons:

  • Is this really a 5-weight?
  • Running line has too much memory

 

Bottom line: A great choice for beginners and intermediates with faster rods.

 

RIO InTouch Outbound Short

 

Price: $89.95

 

The Hype: Exceptionally powerful, easy casting, line built for maximum distance, with ultra-low stretch performance.

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

It’s important to note that this is probably the first time RIO InTouch Outbound Short has ever been tested as a trout line. It’s really not designed for it. It’s designed for pike, or stripers, or roosterfish. But, they make it in a 5-weight and RIO was gracious enough to send us one to test.

 

First, let’s look at the taper. It’s a front loaded compound taper, that’s basically a shorter (and therefore more weight forward) version of Rio’s popular Avid/Mainstream/Grand taper. OB Short is also a VERY heavy line. According to AFFTA, it’s about a 7.5-weight, unquestionably 2 line sizes heavier than a standard 5-weight. This isn’t a mistake, it’s exactly what RIO intended.

 

OB Short loaded deep and produced wide loops. Those characteristics are great for streamer fishing, nymphing, and to some extent, beginners. They are however, not what we look for in a dry fly line. It shoots well, but distance suffered because it was just too heavy for the NRX, and way too heavy for the Circa. So, we cast it on the Sage Method, and it really started to shine. It's the perfect line for really, really, fast rods, particularly if you're throwing nymphs and streamers.

 

Pros:

  • Shoots well on really fast rods
  • Possibly a good choice for some 6-weights

 

Cons:

  • Needs to be stretched before use.
  • Really needs a fast-to-very fast rod to perform well.

 

Bottom line: Not a trout line per se, but a line that will work well when combined with the right (really fast) rod.

 

RIO InTouch Perception

 

Price: $89.95

 

The Hype: Our revolutionary RIO InTouch Perception floating trout line helps anglers connect with more fish than ever before.

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

RIO doesn’t tell you a lot about this line. Part of that is likely due to the fact that RIO InTouch Perception was Rio’s first low-stretch core line, and they are totally stoked about that. The other reason they aren’t talking too much about it is that it’s got an incredibly unique and complex taper. By the numbers, it’s relatively average, with a 7’ front taper, 21’ belly and 6’ rear taper, but the front taper is actually extended an extra two feet before the main section of the belly begins. The rear taper is also a bit different as it feeds into a thick handling section that extends for roughly 10’. Weight-wise, it’s nearly identical to SA GPX.

 

I’m not going to even attempt to figure out what each of these design features is supposed to do, but I can tell you that it’s one of Rio’s best all-around trout lines. While many of Rio’s offerings are geared towards making it easier for beginners, Perception is a much higher performing line that offers truly blended performance.

 

Pros:

  • An above average line in virtually every category.
  • Roll casts well

 

Cons:

  • Needs to be stretched before use due to the added memory of the InTouch core

 

Bottom line: Perception is a bit of a sleeper in Rio’s lineup. For most rods and applications, Perception is Rio’s best all-around line for better casters on fast rods.

 

RIO InTouch Single Hand Spey

 

Price: $84.95

 

The Hype: The rear weight distribution loads a rod deeply in the tightest of quarters, allowing anglers to make long, effortless casts with obstacles close behind. Though primarily designed for roll casting, this line also performs exceptionally easy overhead casts with incredibly smooth loop control.

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

RIO Single hand Spey has a very long front taper, a short, fat, belly, and a short back taper. I’d actually describe it as a really, really, aggressive Triangle Taper. The first 10’ are quite light, giving the line quite a bit of presentation, but after that it’s quite a heavy and thick to allow the line to water load well. Overall, it’s actually a full 7-weight line.

 

Like SA’s SBT, Rio’s new InTouch Single Hand Spey Line is a new breed of line that is aimed at the light Spey, roll-casting, and single-hand Spey market (duh). Like SBT, Single Hand Spey unsurprisingly is excellent at both roll casting and single hand Spey casting. They are definitely NOT the same line, however. SBT reminds me of a Skagit line – a blunt instrument that works really well for chucking a lot of weight. SHS on the other hand, is more of a Scandi line – much more subtle and versatile.

 

Unfortunately for Rio, the marketing doesn’t really showcase how great of an overhead casting line this. It casts really well. It shoots really well. It even has fairly decent presentation. But it will take some getting used to. It’s definitely non-traditional and it’s very evident while casting.

 

Pros:

  • A fabulous roll-casting and single hand spey line
  • Great performance across the board
  • More versatile than SBT

 

Cons:

  • Non-traditional feel

 

Bottom line: If you spend time in tight quarters and want a line that you can fish the rest of the day as well, this is it.

 

RIO InTouch Trout LT

 

Price: $84.95

 

The Hype: The ultimate line for delicate presentation, with ultra-low stretch performance.

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

RIO Trout LT has been around for a while. In its latest incarnation, RIO has added its low-stretch InTouch core to this popular line, which makes it feel a bit heavier. It’s a lot like Wulff’s Triangle taper in its basic shape, but features a longer head and about twice the front taper. It’s also a very light-weight line and it won’t work very well on faster rods. As the marketing states, though, RIO InTouch Trout LT is the ultimate line for delicate presentations. Unfortunately, you do sacrifice a lot in terms of usability (vs Triangle Taper) to get marginally better presentation. It’s up to you to decide if that’s worth it.

 

Pros:

  • The ultimate presentation dry fly line

 

Cons:

  • Needs to be stretched before use.
  • Too light for faster modern rods

 

Bottom line: If casting size 22 midges to super spooky trout is your game, there’s no better choice than this.

 

RIO Lightline

 

Price: $74.95

 

The Hype: Designed for slower action rods; especially bamboo, glass and “classic” action graphite rods

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

RIO Lightline is new for the 2016 season. Looking at the taper, it’s pretty similar to one of our favorites, the Wulff Triangle Taper, and is nearly identical in weight.

 

This line impressed us right off that bat. While it might be designed for bamboo and glass rods, it did a really nice job on both the NRX and the Circa. It loaded well on both rods, and had excellent presentation. Amongst RIO lines, it’s similar to Trout LT, but just seems to cast a little better overall.

 

Pros:

  • Great presentation
  • Excellent loop stability.

 

Cons:

  • Not a great line for beginners.

 

Bottom line: One of the top choices, particularly if you’re fishing a lot of dries.

 

RIO Mainstream Trout

 

Price: $39.95

 

The Hype: RIO's Mainstream series of fly lines have been developed to meet the overall needs of the average and novice fly fisher, and are designed to optimize rod performance with slightly heavier and shorter head lengths.

 

Taper Diagram:

 

 

Casting Notes:

 

With a taper that’s nearly identical to RIO Avid Trout, I would have expected virtually identical performance. Unfortunately, RIO Mainstream Trout felt quite different. I don’t know if it’s AgentX or XS Technology the simply the slightly smaller diameter or a different core, but the Mainstream trout didn’t cast very well on either rod. Part of this was due to the fact that it had a significant amount of memory and it definitely needs to be stretched before use. After stretching it, performance increased substantially, but it still didn’t cast as well as Avid. Another curiosity was that this line floated noticeably poorer than all of the other lines in the test.

 

Pros:

  • Price

 

Cons:

  • Doesn’t float well

 

Bottom line: Spend the extra $20 on Avid. It’s worth it.