The Good Old Days!
I look at tackle nowadays and I am still in awe of how far it has developed over the years. Especially within the last 20 years, there has been a massive increase in tackle companies as well as a massive drive for lighter and more purpose built rods, reels and lines.
I do actually remember my first floating line and it was a faded sandy-coloured hand me down from my grandfather and at that point, was older than me at over 15 years from he bought it to compliment his fibreglass setup in the mid-80s. Unfortunately by the time I received that line, it was cracked and split and my grandfather had continually repaired it to the point that he had clearly given up using it again, before packing it up and hiding it in the attic in anticipation of having any grandchildren who would share that passion for fishing.
In comparison to today’s models, his old line had much less of a plastic feel with more of a thin coating upon a thick braided core. Come to think of it, it resembled more of a WF #9 line and was the fly line equivalent of a running bomb into a calm stream on our local Six Mile Water river. Not ideal when trying to gently present a dry fly to a wily trout. It had a better memory than I do these days but it is worth noting that we caught fish!
Back then though, or to the best of my recollection, the emphasis was on a good rod, then a reel and the line was probably the cheapest part of the setup. We were the kids who dabbled with the Mill End fly lines from the bargain bucket at the local Sunday Market or the old Vaughan Harkness Shop near the Rough Lane outside Antrim.
Fast forward to today, I’d argue that the landscape has changed to the point where the fly line is almost the most important, if not THE most important of a setup. You could pay more for a very good fly line, than a decent rod and reel combo. Fly lines are more diverse now, a fly line for every method. Euro nymphing? Stillwater? Rivers? Saltwater? There are Weight Forwards, double tapers, sweeps, intermediates, sinkers, sink tips, lead cores, spey lines…. The options are endless.
The Airflo pitch – Welcome to the Superflo
As soon as the email came through, Airflo had set the hook.
“We are launching a new range of Airflo fly lines shortly, the SuperFlo. Some info attached. Unlike the Ridge lines, these are have a smooth coating and a very thin running line. They are soft and supple making them easy to use and are tangle and memory free.”
I was in! I have had some awful experiences with fly lines over the years. An unnamed brand who had a floating line which had inadvertently become an intermediate after one trip. I normally sat where I was comfortable and enjoyed the Airflo range for the variety. But one of the main lines that I entrusted was the Sharkskin line from Scientific Anglers which was godly. It did come from the premium market which was a one off as I tend to sit around the middle tier. The line carried a rough surface to trap air which aided its buoyancy, however if a fish took you, the line burn left you in a bad way. The key thing was, it had no memory and I still have it in the cupboard 7 years later, and in much better nick than my grandfather’s line.
Based on the experience above, I expected the Superflo line to be the same. No memory and maybe a bit less friction burn than before. I was genuinely interested to see if Airflo could offer up a premium option.
Airflo boldly claimed that this line would bring ‘zing’ to a rod and bring it to life. I thought it would be rude of me not to hold them to that.
The Unique Selling Points – What do these lines have that make them outstanding?
- Polyurethane extruded as a super tough coating
- Slimmer, low diameter lines
- CDC – Complete Density Control
- Soft and supple, making them tangle or memory free
- Welded loops at each end
- High visibility colour contrast
The Breakdown: FLO
technology and Complete Density Control
As always, I like to break down the jargon. Polyurethane is a polymer (or compound) often added to products to make them more durable and withstanding to weathering or abrasive actions. It makes perfect sense that it will be used as a coating for a fly line. Airflo claim to be the only company who extrude this as a coating and until now have made enough breakthrough to enable them to make a smooth and large ratio between both head and running line diameters. This has been marketed as their new FLO technology.
The FLO technology is rather unique in that the running lines are a lot slimmer in diameter than those of the competition but with added durability that is commonly associated with PVC lines.
A quick example of running line diameter is that of a standard #5 fly line which normally has a running line diameter of 0.95mm to 1.1mm. The FLO Technology allows Airflo to take this as low as 0.85mm on the same line, reducing weight, which gives the head of the line some extra oomph and allows the head to carry extra running line a greater distance on that final delivery. With the weight reduction and the smooth polyurethane coating, the line speed further increases, with less effort.
What is Complete Density Control? It is simply a system which Airflo have implemented to each line to change both the density and water repellent levels, dependent on where the line is used. To put it into context, a presentation line will have a higher buoyancy as it is expected to float high on flowing water whereas a long distance lake line will have a lower buoyancy by way of comparison. It’s crucial but not essential to pick the right one for your needs.
Taper Design (Courtesy of Airflo)
Initially available in two taper designs, a Presentation taper and a Stillwater taper.
The Presentation is available in WF3F to WF7F with a Lichen Green Head and Sunrise Yellow running line. The Stillwater is available in WF5-WF9 and two head colours, Hi-Vis Fluo. Chartreuse or Low-Vis Lichen green, both have an ivory coloured running line and are 35yds long.
The Presentation features an Elite taper design and is a true to weight AFTM fly line.
- TIP -0.5’
- FRONT TAPER – 7.5’
- BELLY – 25’
- REAR TAPER – 7’
- RUNNING LINE – 50’
The Stillwater features an updated version of the Delta taper, the slightly shorter front taper brings the weight of the belly into the cast sooner and loads quickly to help you cover rising fish fast.
- TIP -1’
- FRONT TAPER – 15’
- BELLY – 18’
- REAR TAPER – 12’
- RUNNING LINE – 59’
How did it fare?
I will admit that I was very sceptical as soon as I read that it was tangle and memory free. I read a great article from Fly and Lure guys (click to read) who pretty much summed it up in one comment, “The Superflo has a very limp and supple feel, it’s probably one of the limpest lines I’ve used”
I don’t think anybody could have summed up the line as well in one sentence. I want to clarify that it is limp in a positive sense. There’s very little trace of any memory. The only way you will tangle is if you physically try to tie a knot in it. Even if you are on the retrieve, the line still barely tangles in comparison to a normal line. I will firmly stand over that comment and it’s probably got something to do with the fact he line feels soft and as smooth as Morgan Freeman’s voice and every bit as captivating. The polyurethane coating, teaming up with the Complete Density Control feature, rapidly ensures that your line goes as far as it can, as fast as it can and as neat as it can.
I genuinely noticed a big difference in its rate of distribution. It loads the rod beautifully and distributes the line rapidly with minimal effort. Presenting from distance is always good as it increases your range. However, that comes with a risk and in testing, I managed to cover a good trout of 5lbs at Craigmore Fishery on a cdc shipman’s and with very little line to spare, it took off across the lake, leaving me well into my backing, before turning and running right towards me! Take comfort that this is the only negative point that I encountered.
Would I buy this? Yes, and I WILL get another. The line was free to review, but that doesn’t ever warrant a positive review. A lot of people ask me for recommendations when buying gear and I ALWAYS say. The biggest expense should be your line. That’s the key. A good line aids your casting and presentation and can/will bring a rod to life, if used correctly. A rod is a means of getting that good line out there.
I used 3 different rods at 3 different price brackets and admittedly, the Superflo line did give them a bit more oomph. Of course ability comes into question here but, the weight distribution within the line really did boost the loading and distribution of the rods. Therefore it did generate the zing that Airflo claimed would bring the rod to life! I also loved the fact the Superflo felt like how I’d expect a quality line to feel. I liked that limp feel which made it difficult to tangle. I’d be happy to let my old favourite Sharkskin line take a longer break in the cupboard, given that I know this line is giving the same level of performance.
I acknowledge that the line market is a hugely competitive one and people do develop a certain level of brand loyalty and tackle snobbery, and rightfully so. You want something that you can depend on in times of need. Because Airflo are not normally associated with the production of high end, premium lines, people will already have an opinion of the quality. There have been a few questions in angling circles, whether these would replace the popular Ridge lines. Airflo state that has been developed to sit above them within the premium market.
But while it’s retailing at £49.99, instead of £69.99 for the first few months of launch, you’d be better getting in there fast. The line i used was the Stillwater taper:
Buy by clicking here!
If you are still a bit sceptical, some very well made marketing videos exist as below: