A fly fishing instructor of mine once taught that one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment in a fisherman’s arsenal was his line. I still remember watching him spend at least 10 minutes of our 1 hour dry-land casting instruction cleaning and conditioning his line. The line doesn’t just give you a way to reel in your fish. In fly fishing, the line is part of the art. If your fly rod is the brush, and the river is your canvas, then the line is the paint. So let’s talk about some high quality “paint”.
RIO products provided me with a sample of their InTouch RIO Gold freshwater line to try out on some of the larger fisheries in the Pacific Northwest. InTouch RIO Gold is an all-around, multi-purpose fly line geared especially towards trout and freshwater game fish. I got the WF8F 8 weight line in hopes of pulling in a few elusive steelhead or some sea-run cutthroat trout.
The WF8F InTouch RIO Gold comes in a 100 foot spool. That gives you a 49 foot head with a 51 foot running line. The long head is designed to give extra control on your casts, extra loop stability at distance, and a better fly presentation.
The new technology for 2015 in the InTouch version of the RIO Gold line is the ConnectCore technology. RIO has a video about it here. The idea behind ConnectCore is that if your line stretches, you’re going to miss those soft, subtle underwater takes. ConnectCore removes the stretch from your weighted line so you can feel underwater takes easier, helping you to catch those elusive soft hits.
I’m a stickler for details, so I’ll finish up with two highlights as I was really pleased with the InTouch RIO Gold. First, RIO’s tri-color system. Most lines only give you a two color system to know when you’re out of the head and into the running line. That’s an important distinction, but only when you’re running a fish or getting really ambitious with your casting. Another important indicator is when the taper on your head has changed from increasing (from the tip to the middle of the head) to decreasing (middle of the head to the running line). InTouch RIO Gold is tri-colored. My line was moss green at the front, gray on the back half of the taper, and gold on the running line.
Why is that important? This is a weighted line. The version I received, WF8F, is all weight forward, so every bit of line you let out is adding extra weight to your cast. So while we all love to “shadow cast” for all of the onlookers, what we really want is to get our line to where the fish are. Being able to see that second line change can help you judge not only distance across the water, but force required to heft the line. As the line tapers back to running diameter, it won’t weigh as much per inch. If you know you’re in the back taper, you can ease up a little on your cast to avoid overshoot. That might not sound important if you’re fishing 4wt line, but at 8wt, the full head weighs as much as a 4wt head plus an additional 30 foot long 4wt head, so it’s a nice feature to have.
InTouch RIO Gold, like all RIO lines, features strong, seamless loops for quick leader changes while out on the water. I wanted to really compare this line, so I took some 200x magnification close ups with a microscope I have. Compare the InTouch RIO Gold (green) to my original, budget quality fly line (orange). I was especially surprised to see the welded seam on the orange line coming apart. The InTouch RIO Gold looks great, and you can see the different material texture of the line. The orange line looks plasticy, and does have some stretch, not so with the InTouch RIO Gold. The line is stiff and doesn’t stretch.
One more nice feature about the InTouch RIO Gold, is the line identification is printed right on the line itself. Now you don’t have to carry the big plastic spool the line came on so you remember which line is which. The ID is on the weighted head, so it’s easy to pull out and ID your line.
In conclusion, the InTouch RIO Gold freshwater fly line is a great, very high quality fly line that provides excellent casting accuracy and very little stretch. It has nicely welded loops, quick ID information on the line, and three colors for mid-taper and running-line identification. It’s a great line, and RIO has a great lineup for every type of fly fishing.