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.

No Off Season

I’ve always had a hard time understanding what people mean when they use the term “off season”.  The last two nights have been well in to the negatives, and that has helped me understand a little better why people clean up their fly rods and put them away for the winter.  As I write this, it is currently -2 here in Rexburg, Idaho.  When it that cold, I usually will not go out and fly fish.  First and foremost, it can be very dangerous, especially if you are fishing alone.  If you take a spill in the river when it is that cold out, you can get yourself into a troublesome situation very quickly.  Secondly, exposing fish to subzero temperatures is not good for them.  I don’t usually keep wild trout that I catch while fly fishing, so I always do what I can to safely release them.  If the temp is -10 outside, that gets a whole lot harder to do.  Eastern Idaho has some of the harshest winters around, but I am still a firm believer that there is plenty of good fishing to be had.  The metabolism of a trout slows way down in the winter, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want or have to eat.  Temps in the teens can be enjoyable to get out and fish in if you dress the right way.  A couple days ago, Brent and I decided to head out and hit the Henry’s Fork.  The forecast called for warmer temps (32 above zero vs -20) but it also called for a big snowstorm.   You’ll rarely hear me complain about a good blizzard.  A good water year makes for some excellent fishing, as well as healthy fish.  When we arrived at the river, we quickly noticed it was littered with shelf ice.


Brent with a Beautiful ‘Bow

Brent was the first to hook in to a fish.  As he retrieved his wooly bugger along the shelf ice, a willing trout came out and struck.  Landing fish with the shelf ice can be a little tricky.  Brent’s net made things a little easier.  We continued fishing a while and eventually started working our way back down river.  I hooked in to my first fish of the day, a little 14″ ‘bow.  It wasn’t the big brown I was looking for but it sure felt nice to feel the tug on the fly rod again.  It had been a while.  The fishing was slow so we decided to head up to the Box.


Little ‘Bow…My First and Only Fish of the Day

The hike in encompassed so much of what I love about winter fishing.  You are able to enter a world that few people ever get to experience.  The solitude is refreshing.  The snow was deep, but not to the point that it was uncomfortable.  Brent brought snow shoes and that certainly helped the situation.  We made it down to the river and there was not another soul in sight.  We were both a little surprised considering how nice the weather was that day.


Hiking in

It didn’t take Brent long to hook into a fish.  Small streamers were the name of the game.  Over the next couple hours, the snow continued to fall, and Brent continued to catch a fish here and a fish there.  I missed one small ‘bow but was unable to hook or land any more fish that day.


Brent with a Beautiful Hybrid


Falling Snow (Photo Courtesy of Brent at Uprising Blog)

Despite the slow fishing, it felt great to get out and on the river again with my fly rod in hand.  There is something about standing in the middle of a river, casting a fly, and anxiously waiting for a fish to attack your offering.  Winter fishing is a great way to ward off the cabin fever during the “Off Season”.

Nymphin’ It Up and a Little Creek Fishing

This strangely hot summer is really starting to take a toll on how successful I am in my trout fishing.  Small streams that would usually be a great escape from the valley heat are beginning to run rather low.  There are still a few that are good fishing but nothing like usual.  I’m still managing to find a decent amount of fish but I am having to work a lot harder than usual.  I’d normally be fishing the South Fork of the Snake this time of year but the water is still running so high due to irrigation demand that it’s not even worth my time (I don’t have a boat).  Once it drops down to 8,500 CFS, its game on!  In the mean time I’ll keep nymphing it up and catching some beautiful wild bows.

Another Chunky B0w

One of the Better Fish of the Day

Crazy Looking Caterpillar

Chunky Whitey

Wild Idaho Cuttie

As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of great creeks to fish for some of the wildest trout you’ll ever find.  Most fish will readily rise to a well placed attractor pattern.  One of my favorite things about creek fishing is the beautiful colors on the trout.  Another thing I really enjoy is exploring all of the rarely touched water.  You never know what you might find around the next corner!