As with all reviews on Lunker Hunt, the following review is my honest opinion, I received the RIO Smallmouth Bass fly line free of charge and agreed to provide a review in exchange. Lunker Hunt is not sponsored by or associated with RIO and is accepting no other compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.
Every product worth selling comes with a sales pitch and this line is no different, if you wish to read the official product introduction and press release you can do so here. Much of the pitch is also provided on the packaging and I've provided images below.
As far as sales pitches go, this one is pretty easy to follow. For the most part jargon is kept to a minimum, but they do throw around phrases like XS Technology and Powerful Taper. Words such as these sound fancy but really don't provide us lay men with much info at all. To fully understand what we've got here, lets take a look at the specs and see if some information can be gleaned.
The press pack and box include an image showing the line's profile, using the WF7F as an example. I can't find anything to show the profile of my WF8F model, so I have to assume it is the same. From the profile we can get specifics about the dimensions and taper for this line. Here is the official profile description and image:
A powerful medium-length front taper is ideal for casting smallmouth flies while the long back taper allows for a smooth casting loop while keeping the line stable on long casts. A unique handling section behind the head makes it very easy to control the fly at long range when fishing for smallmouth bass in rivers.The profile shows an overall line length of 100', which is split into five sections. The head is 65' long and includes the front taper, body, back taper and "handling section." The folks at Rio seem to be particularly proud of the unique "handling section" of this line. According to the release the handling section "...makes it very easy to control the fly at long range when fishing for smallmouth bass in rivers."
If you look closely at the profile image above, you will see loops at both ends. These are the "welded loops" to make changing leaders and line "a breeze." I've never before fished a line with integrated leader attachment features, but I always use a slip-on leader loop so I'm pleased to have the feature on this line.
A quick glance shows the "welded loop" is just a section where the line is folded back on itself and the loop is held by an over-coating of some sort, hardly what I envisioned for a "welded" loop. None-the-less, a loop is a loop and I'm happy to have it as long as it holds up.
Also in the taper profile, they've noted the two colors this line has. The body is colored "bronze" and the rest is colored "beige." This is what they call DualTone and the coloring adds visual clues to where you are in the line.
The Proving Grounds
I spent about fifteen minutes in the
I picked a standing spot and cast the length of my driveway. I was casting with a significant tail wind, but after a few casts I had a feel for what was my maximum casting distance given the conditions. I took a mental note of the distance and swapped out the baseline for RIO's Smallmouth line and stood in the same spot.
If I'm to believe the sales pitch, this new line should improve handling at range. I interpret that to mean either improved accuracy or increased distance...in the proving ground I experienced neither. I've never been disappointed with my casting so, while it did not improve much, this line still meets my needs.
While casting in the yard, I also paid attention to the line color. Watching the line color made it easy to tell when the line was ready to go. However I'm a creature of habit and I found myself going by feel anyway.
If you look at the picture, you'll see the line is all bunched up at my feet. The first few casts with the freshly unspooled line were pretty rough and it effected my back yard casting. At first I was really nervous about line's memory, but the field test proved I had nothing to worry about.
The Field Test
I braved the November air and took RIO's Smallmouth line out for a field test. Seeing as it is line marketed for smallie chasers, what better place to test it than a smallie river? Most bass around here have settled into winter mode and I set out planning on not catching fish. Luckily you don't have to catch fish to evaluate fly line so I spent about three hours
In the back yard, I was concerned about the line's memory but as the field test wore on the line straightened out. The pictures below both show the same line floating on the water, but the picture on the right was taken three hours later than the one on the left.
|First Cast||3 Hours Later|
As the line limbered up I began to feel more comfortable with it. The line is more than capable of turning over a weighted (and soggy) bunny streamer. The limber line also seemed to improve the "shootability" of this product and I felt a little more in control of the line and presentation. The result was fewer casts ending up as a tangled mess.
As much as I would have loved to share a smallie picture here, I am unable as I ended the test without a fish to show.
We'd be lying to ourselves if we said cost isn't a factor in everything we do. Not everyone is armed with Oprah's war chest so it is important to review the options and balance features against price. RIO's press release states the MSRP for their Smallmouth Bass fly line is $74.95 and a quick internet search shows it is typically offered at MSRP. My baseline fly line for this review retails for $25-35. I've taken the liberty of pulling prices (ignoring sales pricing as of Nov 24th, 2010) from Cabelas for various other WF 8wt floating lines. Those prices are shown in the chart below.
The Bottom Line
The benefits of RIO's Smallmouth line are subtle but appreciated. The upside is improved control and the only downside is cost. I recommend spending the extra dough on a nicer rod, but if you already have a good rod you may be interested in higher end line. RIO's Smallmouth Bass fly line fits the bill for me and is a welcome addition to the arsenal.
If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact me and I'll do my best.