The formative years of my fly-fishing experience were spent fishing the small rivers and spring creeks of the Driftless Region of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Having to cast more than 30 feet on one of those waters is practically unheard of. Much of one’s casting is much less. So, I was able to get away with spending little on fly line, and I never felt like I was missing anything. I probably had to fight against crummy line more than I realized, but it was still a pretty painless fight.
Even as I moved on to other species and bigger waters, I was able to get by with less-than-awesome lines. Again, I was probably fighting a casting battle that could have been more easily won by just using a better line, but I didn’t hit enough figurative snags to push me towards a higher-quality, higher-priced line.
Musky fishing changed it all
My view of fly lines changed as soon as I started musky fishing. I purchased two different lines to go with my 10-weight rod, one floating, and one sinking. I think both were Cabela’s brand that I found on sale or clearance. Though I was able to cast the large musky flies at least relatively well with the floating line, I struggled mightily with the sinking line.It took a few trips of fighting against my gear, and a trip seeing my fishing buddy Josh struggle with the same line, and I realized I needed to up the ante.
The guides recommended Rio
Josh partook in the “Musky Madness” weekend we had posted about a while ago (maybe at some point I’ll get him to actually post a recap of the event) and he kindly shared with me some of the wisdom he took from the event. One such nugget was “Rio intermediate-sink line is awesome.” And if you’re sick of reading my rambling, here’s a SPOILER ALERT: It is awesome.
I used the Pike/Musky taper intermediate sink line on my latest musky-fishing outing. Here’s a bit more about it:
Big taper for big flies
Even as I spooled the line, it was apparent how different the taper of the front of this line was from the other lines I had purchased. When I got out on the lake and was able to cast it, I was instantly impressed by how easily even my largest flies turned over on this line.
In addition to the tapered head of the line which helped to propel the fly, the line has a really slick coating that allows it to shoot very nicely. I was routinely casting the line with ease compared to how much I had to work to cast my crappy line about 1/2 as far. I also added some “Whizz Lube” to the line (review to come on that stuff), and the line flew through the guides with ease.
Easier casting = less fatigue
One of the toughest things about musky fishing is the physical effort it takes to cast over and over. Chucking a “half a chicken” with a heavy 10-weight rod can get really tiring. Compared to my previous outings, though, I found that because the line shot and turned over so well, I was doing fewer false casts to get the same (or more) distance from my casts. So, obviously, easier casting meant I had less fatigue. Less fatigue meant that I was taking fewer breaks (and I didn’t feel sore as hell the next day).
A couple little “extras” that you might appreciate if you’re a fly line connoisseur. 1.) The coloration of the head of the line looks cool, but also apparently serves a camouflage function so it’s not as apparent to the fish. 2.) Both ends of the line have welded loops to make it easier to attach the line to backing and to the leader.
The bottom line
Oh, I’m so punny, aren’t I?
My eyes have been opened to the value of a quality line. Rio Pike/Musky taper retails for around $75, which ain’t cheap, but it’s still not at high as some pricier lines out there. Especially for casting big pike/musky flies, the cost of the line is more than made up for in saved physical effort and frustration. If you’re using a sub-par line and struggling with casting your big flies, I highly recommend this line.