Gear Review: RIO Indicator Line (WF5F)

When it comes to winter fly fishing, slowly bouncing the river bottom with nymphs is most often my go to method.  Over the past couple of months I have had the opportunity to use the RIO Indicator Line.  Nymping has always been one of my favorite methods of fishing, but I’ll be the first to admit, I never knew that a specialty line could make such a positive difference in the way I fish nymphs.


The RIO Indicator Line

Line Specs and Features:

One of the unique features of the RIO Indicator Line is that the head section of the line is significantly longer and heavier than your typical WF5F line.  The longer head enables you to control your line with ease and makes mending and maintaining a drag free drift a much simpler task.  The heavier head is able to turn over a two-fly indicator rig with very little effort in comparison to your standard fly line.

RIO Products pride themselves for always offering their customers the newest advances in fly line technology.  The Indicator Line features RIO’s Agent X Technology, as well as their XS Technology.  Agent X Technology combines castability with durability, and the end result is a superior fly line.  XS Technology stands for Extreme Slickness, and who doesn’t want a slicker fly line?  Along with increased slickness, RIO’s XS Technology helps repel dirt and in turn keeps your line in great shape even longer.  RIO’s DualTone color system is another very useful feature.  Not only does the noticable change in line color help you know how much line you have out, it also helps you know the ideal loading zone of the fly line, and in turn helps your casts land where you want them to.  Last but not least, Welded Loops on both ends of the line make rigging up and changing your leaders a breeze.   All of these features put the RIO Indicator Line a step above the status quo.


Field Testing:

One of the first things I noticed about the RIO Indicator Line is how easily it slid through the guides of my fly rod. The castability of your line is key to a successful day on the river.  Although most nymphing situations don’t call for extremely far casts, it is good to know that I can hit that stellar looking run on the far side of the river when the situation arises.  Floatability is also key to a good day on the water and once again RIO delivers.  The fluorescent orange tip is always easy to locate as it rides high, allowing you to keep your presentation at just the right level in the water column.


Henry’s Fork Brown Trout

When it comes to winter nymphing, maintaining a drag free drift is very important.  Fish do not want to move very far to get a meal, and the longer your fly is in the zone, the better your chances are of hooking up.  Being able to mend line with ease, even with a lot of line out, enables you to maintain a drag free drift with very little effort.  I have never used a line that mends so easily.  Fishing the run on the far side of a boulder is no longer out of the question when you can mend over it and keep a perfect drift.  The heavier diameter of the head, combined with the longer than normal head section of the line makes this possible.


Catch and Release

One of the most important attributes of a fly line is it’s durability.  I fish at least three times a week, and whatever gear I am using is going to take a beating over time.  I want a line that I know three months down the road, will cast as good as it did the first day I fished it.  Once again, the RIO Indicator Line has left me very impressed.  On top of the normal wear and tear that any line goes through, winter fishing presents other obstacles and is a perfect testing ground for a fly line.  Ice build up in the guides can scrape up line and easily damage it.  With the exception of a couple small nicks near the welded loop, the line is still in nearly perfect condition.  With that said, I believe ice in the top guide of my fly rod is to blame for that and it wouldn’t have happened under normal conditions.


A Streamer Eating Henry’s Fork Rainbow

If versatility is an important part the way you fish, don’t be fooled into thinking that the RIO Indicator Line can only be used for nymphing.  If nymphs aren’t working, I will often throw on a streamer to switch things up and see if that will entice a strike.  Changing spools is time consuming, so knowing that the only change I have to make to my setup is tying on a heavier leader is a great feeling.


Overall, I have been very happy with the RIO Indicator Line and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys nymph fishing.  By testing the line in some of the most extreme conditions, I can say with confidence it is the ideal line choice for most nymphing scenarios.  The one and only issue that I found with the line was that in extremely cold conditions, let’s say low teens or colder, the line would freeze up a little quicker than your typical fly line.  But let’s be honest, how many people really go fly fishing in the single digits?  This is not an issue that very many anglers will ever run into.  Once again, RIO has delivered a superior product and I look forward to using more of their specialty fly lines in the future.

The RIO Indicator line has an MSRP value of $74.95.  Want to get your hands on some of your own or any of their other great products? Head on over to their website at  There you can find the closest line retailer in your neck of the woods.

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