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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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September 01, 2014

RIO: Selecting Weight Forward Freshwater Floating Fly Lines, Leaders & Tippet Material

by Bob Banfelder

Think Rio, and the recent World Cup matches of 2014 may pop into your mind. Think ahead to 2016, and the Summer Olympics may conjure up the second largest city in Brazil, where the events are to be held in Rio de Janeiro. Ponder its name, and history buffs will be quick to tell you that Rio de Janeiro's English translation is "River of January," when Portuguese explorer Gasper de Lemos navigated into what he thought was the mouth of a rio (word for river), on January 1st, 1502, which actually turned out to be the entrance to Guanabara Bay. I guess because I'm not a spectator sport's enthusiast, RIO has a whole other meaning for me. Perhaps it was the same for Jim Vincent, founder of RIO, who had guided for anglers fishing the Rio Colorado in Costa Rica after noting similarities to a river in his home state of Idaho. Hence, the name RIO, which was planted firmly in Jim's mind as it is in mine.

RIO's Freshwater Fly Lines:

Far Bank Enterprises is the parent company of Sage, Redington, and RIO fly-fishing products. RIO Products International is a manufacturer and distributor of high quality fly-fishing lines, leaders, and tippet material for over 20 years. We'll begin with my fist selection of a RIO Gold WF8F (Weight Forward #8 Floating line). It is one of 7 different lines sizes to choose from in the RIO Gold Freshwater Trout Series; that is, WF3F through WF9F. The combination color in that range is Melon/Gray Dun. Other colors offered are Moss/Gold, Orange, and Lumalux, a glow in the dark color that can be charged with a bright light source. Consult RIO Products' website,, for not all colors are offered for the above-stated line sizes.

All fly lines are not created equal. All weight forward floating lines are not created equal. Therefore it is important to have a basic understanding of these fly lines. Keeping what can be a complicated subject simple is the key to understanding. Let's examine the nomenclature of my RIO Gold Weight Forward #8 Floating line. It is 100 feet long, consisting of two basic sections. The rear section of the line that attaches to your backing is called the running line. The length of my running line is 50.5 feet. That leaves a 49.5 foot length of front section, which is called the head. There's your 100 feet. It's the 49.5 feet with which I want you to concern yourself. The question is can you keep it, or most of it, in the air on your first or second false cast? If you are a beginner, this 49.5 foot head (weighing 315 grains) will be too much for you to handle. You need to select a line that you can handle comfortably.

RIO Fly Lines, Leaders & Tippet Material

For Donna, whom most of you know by now through my writings, she selected a RIO Grand (not RIO Gold) Trout Series WF7F (Weight Forward #7 Floating) line. Let's examine the basic difference between our two fly lines. Her line is also 100 feet long; however, its total head length is only 43.2 feet, a difference of 6.3 feet from mine, which translates into 21 grains less than mine as its total head weight is 294 grains. The point is that Donna can comfortably handle this fly line whereas my heavier line would be too much for her.

If you are a beginner, I strongly urge you to select a fly line, be it for freshwater or the suds, with a total head length [be it a weight forward, shooting taper, floating/sinking mini tip, et cetera] in the mid-thirty-foot range. Casting distance (which concerns many an angler) is not to be measured, initially, by the size of the line, but rather by continued practice. Again, it's what you can comfortably handle before going up to a heavier head. Timing and technique is what it's all about.

The RIO Grand Trout Series fly lines are designed for modern, fast-action fly rods. Too, these weight-forward lines are designed with more weight distributed toward the front of the line in order to easily load the rod. The line incorporates their new MaxCast and MaxFloat Tip Technology. RIO's ultra-sophisticated line coating, and I'll quote, "actively repels water for higher floatation, longer casts and greater durability."

The RIO Gold Trout Series fly lines boasts, and I'll paraphrase, "a revolutionary taper design that offers incredible loop stability, a unique profile that allows a rod to load quickly and crisply, and a front taper design that delivers perfect presentation of flies ranging from sizes #22 to #2. The RIO Gold is the ultimate all round, floating line for the trout angler." I can cast that long 43.2 foot head-length, along with a fair amount of running line, like a breeze.

The author fly-fishing the Cayuga Inlet in Ithaca

What I also like about our new fly lines are that both ends have welded loops. No need to whip-finish and worry if your connections are secure or knot (yes, pun intended). $74.95 each for these and other top-quality sweetwater trout series fly lines is, well, sweet. There are 31 different fly lines in the RIO Gold and RIO Grand series to choose from: that is 19 and 12 selections, respectively. Therefore, all that glitters may indeed be both Grand and Gold. Reach for RIO and see for yourself. Additionally, there are many other fly lines to choose from to serve several different applications.

RIO's Fluroflex Tapered Leaders:

RIO's fly-fishing leaders had its beginnings when Jim Vincent and his wife Kitty toured North America in their Airstream trailer. Today, RIO's Fluorflex tapered leaders are 100% fluorocarbon and boast tough abrasion resistance along with knot and tensile strength. These leaders have long butt sections which turn flies over facilely for that perfect presentation.

When a virtually invisible presentation is desired and required for spooky trout in crystal-clear water, my RIO 9 foot, 5X, 4-pound test fluorocarbon freshwater tapered leader is the ticket to success. For a bit more finesse, Donna's RIO 9 foot, 6X, 3-pound test fluorocarbon freshwater tapered leader is perfection personified.

From 0X (12-pound test) down to 7X (2-pound test), you have your choice of 8 nine foot, deadly, freshwater fluorocarbon tapered leaders to fool the wariest of fish. Don't even think of fishing for finicky freshwater species, especially trout, with general purpose monofilament/copolymer (nylon) leaders. Why? Because you want to give yourself the added edge. Nylon leaders are generally fine for the suds, but you want to lead with a leader that surpasses all others. Yes? So why settle for less? RIO tapered leaders, with their hand-tied perfection loops at the butt end for quick rigging, are the very best of the best. Period.

Now, let's be candid. These nine-foot fluorocarbon leaders are not cheap. They will run you $12.95 each as opposed to $4.95 a pop for RIO's nylon saltwater selections. However, you will be giving yourself the added edge with fluorocarbon over nylon material. You want a tapered leader material that is practically indiscernible in the water column. Think about your outlay for a quality fly rod and reel. Why would you shortchange yourself when it comes to the terminal end of your outfit? Why indeed?

RIO's Fluoroflex Freshwater Tippet Material:

To top off Donna's 9 foot, 6X, 3-pound test fluorocarbon freshwater tapered leader as well as my 9 foot, 5X, 4-pound test leader, we selected, of course, corresponding 30 yard spools of RIO's Fluoroflex freshwater tippet material; $12.95 each. Approximately 2 feet up from the end of my 9 foot, 5X leader is the discernable point where the tapered diameter changes. Therefore, when I lose a couple of feet of leader material due to changing flies, et cetera, I add about 2 feet of tippet material. Good to go.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

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