Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gear Review: RIO StreamerTip Fly Line (WF5/I 1.5ips)

Have you ever tried hammering in a nail with a tool that wasn't a hammer?  It can be done.  Trust me.  Sometimes all you have is a wrench, but the whole time you are wishing for a hammer.  Fishing gear is the same.  A determined angler can make just about any gear work.  Fish will be caught, but more effort will go into the catching, and there's a constant reminder you are fishing with a wrench.  At least you can improve your dodgeball skills.

When I arrived home and saw the package sitting on the counter, an inkling of Christmas giddiness came out of nowhere. I quickly grabbed the package, sat down, and let Will help me open the box.  It was a little bit of RIO goodness just itching to get wet.  I felt a bit like Thor (minus the muscles, good looks, and superhero status) picking up his hammer. All that was missing was a nail.

"Nailed It"
RIO is a little company in Idaho doing big things for the world of fly fishing.  Started in 1990 by Jim and Kitty Vincent, RIO was created by people looking to create "hammers" for the different "nails" of fly fishing.  Jim originally took sections of different fly lines and would splice them together with epoxy to get a line with the characteristics he desired.  It was from this drive that some of the best "hammers" in the fly fishing industry have been created. 

RIO is all about connecting fish to anglers, and they carry everything required to make that happen (fly lines, leaders, and tippets). This review is for their RIO StreamerTip Fly Line (WF5F/I 1.5ips).

The Specs: The line (as seen in the photo) has a pale green body, yellow midsection, and a clear tip.  It has an aggressive taper meant to roll over heavier flies, and a 1.5 inches per second sink rate for the tip (roughly 10 ft). Welded loops on both ends are included for easy connections, and a slick cold water coating is added to reduce tangling and make for smoother casts.

The Rundown:  Some lines require stretching when freshly spooled on the reel.  With this in mind, I was surprised with the very first casts.  I peeled line off the reel and launched the conehead streamer out into the river.  Instant grin. The slick line casted like a dream.  No stretch necessary.  Even my sloppy casts ended well and turned over.  It is easy to roll cast and mend.  In short, the line is a breeze to manage in the field, and is very responsive. The StreamerTip Line was intended for fishing from a boat and the short head and fast taper was meant for quick shooting.  This design makes for easy casting in most situations, even in the wind.

It seems to fish best in 1-2ft of water in fast current, 1-5ft of water with moderate current, and 1-10ft of water with no current.  Its not hard to get this line to do what you want under these given situations. Lengthening the leader/tippet and using a heavier fly helps compensate when deeper fishing is necessary, but can make things more awkward when casting.

Overall does the line fish well?  Why yes, yes it does.

The Thoughts:  Winter streamer fishing in the cold of Idaho is generally a different ball game than the other three seasons.  Fish tend to hold deeper and are less likely to move a long distance for a fly.  With these circumstances I was not sure how the line would function only having a 1.5 ips sink rate.  It did well in the three circumstances previously mentioned, each places where the fly could get to the necessary depth.  In deeper water with fast current I had to compensate for the sink rate with a longer leader/tippet.

On particularly cold days (the kind where the river is on the verge of slush) the line had a tendency to ice over, though I'm not sure any line would be immune to those circumstances.  And on those days who knows what I'm doing on the river anyway.

The colored mid section is quite nice when tracking your line, especially when swinging streamers.  The clear tip is a nice touch because it lets you fish a shorter leader if desired.  This is particularly nice in smaller waters.

The StreamerTip aspect of the line, where only the tip is sinking, is great when fishing from the bank.  It helps prevent unnecessary snagging on the retrieve and makes it possible to fish around obstructions (rocks) in the river.

The StreamerTip line is a well made "hammer" and is only one of many that RIO has to offer.  I would mention again that it has a specific set of circumstances it tailors to.  If they fit where and what you normally target, this is a killer line to go with.  

There have been times where I wanted to throw larger streamers, that have a bit more weight to them, and a 5wt setup made it a bit difficult.  If big heavy bugs are your drug then the suggestion would be to go with this same line in a 7 or 8wt setup.  And for the winter, the 6 ips sink rate would be better, unless you know you will be fishing smaller streamers and shallower runs.  The 1.5 ips would still be a great choice for spring, summer, and fall where fish are more aggressive. 
This line is so sweet it has me eyeing the 8wt 1.5ips for carping.  The clear tip would make for less spooking and the intermediate sink rate would allow me to use less weight on the flies.  The combo would be deadly for chasing golden scales in our Idaho waters.  

It is awesome to see that RIO is putting out top quality products and catering to any and every circumstantial need an angler may have.  If you are looking for a good line, don't hesitate to give RIO a look.

RIO StreamerTip Fly Line retails for $74.95.  Looking for something else interesting to read? Check out this brief history of RIO.