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Fly Review

Getting Salty on a Budget: RIO Mainstream Saltwater WF8F Fly Line


Date: 10/16/14
Tackle type: Fly
Manufacturer: RIO
Reviewer: Wolbugger

Total Score: 7.58 - GOOD

Like everything else in life and fishing, fly line continues to get more and more expensive over time. Nowadays, a top-notch line can run you up around eighty bucks, and there are some specialized offerings that cost even more! With a price like that for such a relatively basic fishing necessity, it's no mystery why many people shy away from taking up fly fishing. Thankfully, there are some excellent products currently available that won't break the bank. RIO's value-driven Mainstream Saltwater fly line is one such item that's geared towards anglers wanting high performance, but at a modest cost.


RIO Mainstream WF8F Fly Line Specifications

Type Weight forward, floating
Core/Coating Supple core/hard exterior coating/impregnated with silicone
Color(s) Light blue
Weights 7-12
Overall Length 80 feet
Head Length 35 feet
Loop(s) No
Price $39.95

The attractive new packaging looks clean and fresh.

Quality: RIO is one of the most popular fly line choices in the world because of the excellent and consistent quality that their lines possess. Not surprisingly, the Mainstream Saltwater WF8F line has proven to be no different. I've been fishing the Mainstream Trout lines for several years now—even in saltwater—and have found them to be quite good for the price. In fact, in the last three years I don't think I have fished any other line on my five weight! The funny thing is, since I received the Mainstream Saltwater line for testing several months ago it hasn't left my eight weight reel! Previously, I was fishing a RIO General Purpose Tropical floating line which is a great line in its own right, but since I've started using this new Mainstream line I've felt no urgency to take it off.

A couple features of this new line are listed on the side of the box.

Performance: I put the RIO Mainstream Saltwater line through its paces on Southwest Florida beaches sight casting to snook for an entire summer. The line was paired up to the Cheeky Mojo 425 and Abel Super 7/8N reels and thrown on seven and eight weight rods from Sage, Redington, and G. Loomis.

Casting: This line casts very good with small to medium flies. Honestly, it didn't shock me one bit since I've used the Mainstream Trout lines for so long and always had great things to say about them. The saltwater version is no different, as it loads various rods well, casts smoothly, and is easy to manage. It's a modestly stiff line that is impregnated with silicone and features a hard coating to stay slick and firm in hot weather. The formula seems to work! I was impressed with its ability to stay clean and smooth after repeated usage. In fact, I never once had to lubricate the line during the test period!

The line is just stiff/firm enough for extreme heat, but it remains easy to manage.

At 80 feet, the length of the Mainstream Saltwater line is 20 feet shorter than a favorite of mine, the RIO General Purpose Tropical line. This is a bit on the short side for a saltwater line, and because of this you can expect several things: shorter head length, lighter head weight, and to see your backing sooner if hooked into a long-running fish like a bonefish or jack. To compare, the WF8F Mainstream Saltwater line features a head length of 35 feet and a head weight of 245 grains, whereas the General Purpose Tropical line carries a head length of 40 and a head weight of 305 grains. While this is a sizable difference, keep in mind that the General Purpose Tropical line is built heavier than average to conquer wind, big flies, and be more user-friendly on the ultra-fast rods of today. With all of this said, the WF8F Mainstream Saltwater line casts nicely during most instances, but it won't quite have the punch of a beefier line.

The light blue color of the line was an excellent choice on behalf of RIO.

Management: I used this line in water temps from about 73–89 degrees and had no major gripes. As opposed to some tropical lines on the market, it's a bit more on the supple side and doesn't coil up or need to be stretched before casting. Fortunately, it's just firm enough to not get overly sticky in extreme heat which can be a huge nuisance in terms of casting and line management.

Durability: Durability issues? None. Through heat, casting, and occasional dragging of the line over sand and small shells, I noticed no cuts, peeling, or other signs of the line breaking down.

The line blends in with the sky, yet is easily seen on the surface of the water.

Applications: Due to its shorter and lighter head length, this line is best suited to rods ranging from moderate to fast action unless you plan on up-lining. With the right rod it's a very satisfying line to use, but on one that's too stiff it just won't feel quite as good at shorter distances. Also, if you plan on throwing a lot of bulky flies, then up-lining or choosing another specialty line with a heavier head will be the best way to go. The WF8F Mainstream Saltwater line won't be the go-to choice for everything you do, but it will be useful for anglers targeting a variety of warm water species like bonefish, bass, snook, redfish, and baby tarpon with average flies. One thing to note here is that the hard outer coating might make the line a bit unmanageable in cool water temps. This is something I have experienced with other tropical lines in the past—even ones that weren't super stiff to begin with.

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

RIO Mainstream WF8F Fly Line Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality This is a nicely constructed line that is free of defects and holds up great. 8
Performance On the right rod, this line performs very well. It's not the best choice for the bulkiest flies or more demanding fishing situations, though. 8
Price RIO has an excellent value here considering top-notch lines cost eighty dollars or more these days. 9
Features The Mainstream Saltwater line lacks the features of higher priced RIO offerings, but that's to be expected at this price point. 6.5
Design (Ergonomics) The length is shorter overall than your average saltwater fly line. In the harsh Florida summer heat it remained easy to work with. 7
Application You'll find that this line excels at warm water fishing with small to medium flies. 7

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Excellent price - No welded loops
+ Performs well - Short length
+ Good in hot weather - Lighter head weight than other lines
+ Perfect color  
+ Low memory  

One of the many snook sight-fished using the WF8F Mainstream Saltwater line.

Conclusion: Presently, there are some very nice lines available at affordable prices, and the WF8F RIO Mainstream Saltwater is one of them. While paying a premium for a top-tier line will undoubtedly get you some additional extras, it may not be necessary for you to shell out that kind of dough. I continue to be very pleased with the performance of this line for the types of fishing I commonly do, and I think in many situations you will be as well. If you're a coastal angler on a budget, you need to check out the RIO Mainstream Saltwater fly line!









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