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Flytackle Manufacturers

I'm in the dubious position of being able to ask flytackle manufacturers all sorts of interesting questions - as well as some awkward ones. And so I will :-) and beginning with flylines. Over the next month/s I'll be interviewing Bruce Richards (from 3M) as well as Cortland, Airflo and Shakespeare. I am starting with Simon Gawesworth from Rio Products. If you have any questions feel free to post them on the Bulletin Board; they are always pretty quick to respond.

Rio Products

Simon, can you tell me your job at Rio please and are you a member of AAPGAI? (I have heard it rumoured that you keep sending your badge back!! :-))

My title here is Vice President of Public Relations and Educational Services. A bloody long title! I test and design lines here, as well as teach schools for RIO, write ads, catalogues and press releases, front RIO at shows around the US and a ton of other little bits and pieces. I am AAPGAI and have never sent my badge back!

I see that you have changed your website a bit. I don't think that it is very good! Any comments? :-)

I am sorry you don't like the web site. That is honestly the first time anyone has said that. The new web site has been widely acclaimed (over here, anyway) as one of the easiest to navigate round and the most informative in the fly line industry. Also, with the new on line magazine, the articles that have appeared (and will) are pretty well read, judging by the hits.

Is there anything different with regards your flylines compared to other manufacturers and how are they made? To my knowledge, since Cortland have bought Masterline there are only 4 flyline manufacturers (is this right?) and of the other three one (who's name we can't use on Sexyloops) uses Polyurethane as opposed to PVC. Can you tell me why you use PVC?


There is another fly line manufacturer in the US - they are called Monic. They also extrude, like the the manufacturer who we don't name. Don't forget Shakespeare make their own lines, as well as Masterline (though they are owned by Cortland) With regard to the difference between extrusion and PVC, there are a number. We have looked into extrusion as a possibility but there are problems with this method in getting a 'perfect' fly line. The taper control is very much harder with extrusion. You cannot get a short taper with extrusion and certainly cannot get compound tapers - a specialty of RIO. With our machinery we can make X changes in one inch, so it is so much more accurate as a system for making the right tapers - that is the main reason we have chosen not to extrude. For similar reasons, you cannot make an effective density change, or colour change with extrusion. To do this, you need to weld together the density changes, or the colour changes - which is not the strongest method (nor neatest!) One other factor that is a big influence is durability. A fly line that is extruded has a life of between 3,000 and 20,000 cycles (a durability test of abrasion of a fly line, through rod rings). A PVC line lasts a minimum of 40,000 and we are getting over 100,000 cycles on all our lines. With regard to differences between RIO PVC lines and the others is mostly the technology we have. The precision we can get with our taper control is unbelievable compared to Cortland or SA. This has resulted in our SlickShooter Process which has produced the smoothest fly lines yet. We also have the best adhesive in the business, which is why we have the best durability in fly lines in the business. Finally, here at RIO, we have four very, very good fly fishermen and casters as the design team and most of the workforce are fly fishers - this results in great feedback and great ideas for product design, which is not possible when you only have scientists as designers!

What a long diatribe, but you asked the question!

How best to treat Rio Lines? What do you personally use (silicone spray? Armorall?)

Never, ever use Armorall on a PVC fly line. It breaks down the bond and results in very poor durability. The line will dry out and harden with constant use of Armorall. We recommend a mild soapy water with a flannel to clean the line, then if you want to re-lubricate it, apply a 100% silicone, though very lightly. All PVC fly lines use silicone as a lubricant, so it is best to use the base ingredient to prolong the line's life.

What system do you recommend/use for leader-flyline connection?

The best way to join leader to fly line is to use a needle knot. This is fine on fly lines with a  braided core (either monofilament or multifilament), but on fly lines with a single strand core, like our powerflex core lines, you need to use a nail knot or an albright. Our single strand core fly lines have the toughest bond in the business and are the only lines where the bonding between core and coating is so strong that you can use a nail knot. On all other lines if you do that you will pull the coating off. Another option is to use the welded loops we are attaching to our lines. This has proven very popular, reliable and very fast. We do this on the Rio Grand line and the new LumaLux.

How long do you expect your lines to last? And what is an unacceptable length of time?

At Rio we have a very good durability test. We thread a fly line through rod rings and pull it back and forth on a motor with a 2 oz weight hanging from it for tension. It is checked every 5,000 cycles for three things: cracking, air bubbles and abrasion to determine it's durability - at the first sign of one of these three problems we consider the fly line buggered!  In our durability tests we don't accept any batch where the tests are under 100,000 cycles in our abrasion tester. We haven't found any competitor to get near that - with maybe 60,000 being the next best. The manufacturer who we don't name has the worst and this is why I am surprised by your comments. Their floating lines rarely last past 6,000.

Shortly Simon will be talking about the Windcutter before moving on to the other 632 questions I have asked him :-) Simon is one of the finest flycasters I know. Not every flyline manufacturer employs a flycaster, as you will find out.

Rio Products
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