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In this Rio Elite Flats Pro review, we’ll take a deep dive into what works , what doesn’t and how it might fit into your saltwater arsenal.
Table of Contents
With 35 years of fly fishing experience, 15 years of professional guiding, and a decade of destination fishing travel, I’ve seen, used, and abused quite a few different lines.
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Why Trust My Rio Elite Flats Pro Fly line Review?
There’s no fluff here. This review of Rio Elite Flats Pro Fly line is a real-life, tried and tested review that spans three years and multiple fishing excursions.
As a guide and destination fishing coordinator, I get to see a vast array of lines in use in many varied scenarios. I get to cast them myself, I get to witness others cast them, and I get to see how these lines stand up over time.
What’s In The Box?
The Rio Elite Flats Pro comes, as most fly lines do, in your typical fly line box with the line wound around a plastic spool.
This line is a tropical-specific line for every situation you might encounter on the flats, from shallow bonefish-filled mud flats to 3 or 4 foot, turtle grass filled permit pancakes, and even 6 or 8 foot ledges where snook or tarpon may be cruising.
The Box Itself…
The Rio Elite Flats Pro is part of the “Elite” lineup from Rio. The Elite lineup is differentiated from the rest with a mostly black box and a gold foil “Elite” badge in the top right corner.
The box also denotes that it’s part of the “tropical series.” The latest version of the Elite level boxes are mainly black and most, including the Flats Pro, incorporates a blue fade element just above the main photo.
Most of the Elite Tropical lines from Rio are tailored to specific species…Elite Bonefish, Elite Tarpon, Elite Permit, etc, and their box’s main image is of that particular species.
The Elite Flats Pro, however, is more of a general use line which is referenced with the photo of a panga, the guide on a poling platform, and a fisherperson casting on the bow.
For this review of Rio Elite Flats Pro Fly line, I used the 8, 9, and 11 weight lines in a full-float configuration. These lines were used in on multiple different rod models from both Redington and Sage.
The Elite Flats Pro has the supple look and low-to-mid sheen of a high end line. This particular line is the gray tipped line with a sand colored head and kelp running line.
Across the board, fly line spools are all quite similar. Rio’s label is easy to read and comes with a small sticker/label stating the fly line name and weight.
This sticker is very handy as it can be placed on your reel, spool, reel case, etc. to remind you of which line you’re dealing with. As someone who has an arsenal of lines, reels, and different spools for those reels, this sticker can be very useful.
Rio’s spools do come apart if you wish to take your line off but keep it wound or prefer to have it off the spool to line your reel.
There is a pinhole in the center, of course, to slide the spool on a spooler machine or to use a pen/pencil at home to allow the spool to spin as you line your reel.
*Tip – when lining your reel at home, after you’ve tied the backing onto the rear fly line loop, toss the spool into a bowl or bucket of water. The spool will spin catch-free and easily as you reel, no pen/pencil is needed!
Rio Elite Flats Pro Fly line Review Features & Specs
In my review of the Rio Elite Flats Pro Fly Line, the main objectives were build quality, weight, texture, profile, technology, castability/accuracy, presentation, and warranty.
There are also a few different configurations to choose from.
Here’s what I found:
Rio is known for making high-quality fly fishing lines and has been for decades. With newcomers coming and going, Rio continues its reign as one of the top contenders in the category.
Even for someone who doesn’t know much about lines, when handling a quality line like the Rio Elite Flats Pro, one can feel the quality of line line. It’s especially evident if you have a less-expensive line on hand to compare it to.
Things like suppleness of feel, sheen/finish, and texture are quite different between a cheap line and a high-end line.
- Available weights: 32 confgurations from 6wt to 12 wt
Rio gives two line weights for each line…the 30ft front head weight and the total head weight (including the back taper).
- 6wt – 185g (30ft front head) – 256g (total head)
- 7wt – 210g – 305g
- 8wt – 240g – 335g
- 9wt – 280g – 400g
- 10wt – 330g – 475g
- 11wt – 380g – 545g
- 12wt – 430g – 590g
The Rio Elite Flats Pro lineup is available in 32 different configurations in total. Each weight has two different float line color options, and a float/6ft intermediate sink option.
7wt and up adds a float/15ft intermediate sink option. 8wt and up adds yet another full intermediate sink option.
All float versions are available in a (tip-to-back) gray/sand/kelp option and an aqua/orange/sand option. Both employ a stealthier tip color and a brighter color on the back half of the head.
If you’re looking for the utmost stealth, think of the area you’re fishing and what the fish may see looking up to the surface.
In some circumstances, the gray may be the stealthier option. In others, it may look like a dark streak across a bright sky…a situation where the aqua tip may be the more “camouflaged” option.
The float/6ft intermediate sink (6wt and up) and the float/15ft intermediate sink (7wt and up) both come with a clear tip followed by a short aqua run, orange on the back half of the head, and a light sand colored running line.
The full intermediate sink (8wt and up) uses a clear tip, transparent orange head, and transparent aqua running line.
The texture of the Rio Elite Flats Pro is, personally speaking, one of its best attributes.
The Rio Elite Flats Pro is a smooth, non-textured line. While textured lines seem to help with shooting friction and buoyancy, a smooth line like this one won’t pick up nearly as much sand or sharp shell/coral fragments.
Rio’s tropical saltwater lines employ a stiffer mono core (vs braided nylon). This is evident when holding both a Rio tropical line and another brand simultaneously.
Rio’s reasoning, and I tend to agree, is that the tropical weather/water require a stiffer line core that will feel perfectly pliable in warmer tropical situations.
The line may feel a bit stiff sitting in Idaho in March while packing your bags to head to Belize but, while fishing in Belize, will feel perfectly pliable and keep its low-stretch, quick-setting properties.
Rio’s line coating, in general, seems to feel a touch softer than say a Scientific Anglers line. Personal preference will play a part here and I do like a different hardness, pliability, slickness, or even tackiness for different situations.
In my many years fishing the Elite Flats Pro, however, I have never felt that the coating felt too soft, even in the tropical heat. The perfect balance of slickness and low-stretch seems to remain constant.
All Rio Elite Flats Pro weights and configurations are 100 foot total lines. The rear running line measures 50 feet in length. The back taper is 24 feet followed by a 14 foot body, 6 foot first taper, and 6 foot front taper.
This remains constant no matter the line weight or line configuration (float, float/sink, sink).
- Slick Cast – Rio’s proprietary line coating for ultimate slickness (low friction for casting) and protection from dirt/debris
- Direct Core – low stretch core for fast, strong strip sets
- High Float running line – won’t sink and impede quick casts
- Low Memory Core – lies straight on the water for reduced slack (better casts, presentations, hookups)
- Dual welded loops – easily connect to backing and leaders with loop-to-loop connections.
- Temp – Best for 75 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
I have to admit, I was pretty impressed when casting the Rio Elite Flats Pro, right from the box. As with most lines, you’ll want to give it a stretch after spooling and the morning of or night before your day on the water.
This will greatly help the line cast true and lay perfectly on the water with little to no curl, wave, or slack. Your cast and your presentation will both thank you.
I have been fishing this line for about 3 years now in 8, 9 and 11 weights mostly on different models of Redington and Sage rods. This line seems to pair nicely with any rod I end up choosing.
With a 50 foot head, you’re dealing with quite a length of weighted line. This makes distance shots seem pretty easy. This coupled with a double-body profile and a short (6ft) front taper meant quick, short shots weren’t too difficult either.
Having a medium length weighted head and long back taper might make one think splashy presentations. However, the above mentioned front belly and front taper seem to allow for much gentler set-downs than one might imagine.
All-in-all, long shots, fly turnover, and presentation all receive high marks on my score sheet. All the above attributes meant pretty deadly accuracy too.
Rio has a 1-year warranty on their fly lines across the board. Beyond that, taking care to clean and properly store will add lifespan to your line.
That being said, I have seen Rio accept returns after 1 year due to line defects (not things like abuse, stepping on line, wrapping coral, etc.).
Rio Elite Flats Pro Fly Line Review: My Personal Thoughts
Pros: There were many but these are my favorite…
- Stiff-feeling core feels perfect in hot tropical situations
- Taper/head design feels able to carry casts long distances but without too splashy of a presentation.
- The coating on a new line feels slick enough for shooting but also easy to handle
Cons: Although nearly perfect, all lines aren’t without shortcomings…
- The coating seems softer than other brands and needs regular care. Mine has lasted a while but I rinse daily and clean regularly.
- Turnover is great overall except in stiff wind/distance casting situations. This is to be expected with a “soft presentation” tip. The head does carry well so I found that “stopping” the cast with your line hand right before you set down on the water helped to turn the tip.
Overall, this is a fantastic, do-everything line for any tropical flats situation. Casting in almost all scenarios is a dream.
For flats fishing from foot or from a skiff or panga, one could easily use a few lines from just this lineup for effective coverage of most situations you’ll encounter fishing bones, permit, snook, and tarpon.
FAQs About Rio Elite Flats Line
Here are some of the most common questions regarding the Rio Elite Flats Pro lines:
Any tropical fish on the flats. This is a great line for bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook, triggerfish, and more.
In the saltwater game, stealth is necessary. The sink lines have clear tips which is quite stealthy.
As for the float options, think about the area you’ll be fishing and the view from below the water’s surface looking up. If it’s wide open blue sky, the aqua option may be best. If it’s cloudy or shrouded in mangroves or trees, the gray tip may be best.
The Float line excels in flats from 6 inches to 3 or 4 ft.
The float/6ft sink is great for 3-5ft and the float/15ft sink can handle 5-8ft or more. Their clear tips add stealth.
The full sink works great for 5ft plus if you’re employing faster presentations (tarpon/snook) and also excels fishing the drops at the edge of flats where schools of fish often travel.
Yes. Rio is an industry leader and has been for decades. They do a lot of R&D and offer many different lines for different situations.
Yes, especially if you’re an intermediate to advanced angler. High-end lines have more technology built in and generally perform better and last longer.
Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA
Far Bank Enterprises, a parent company that also owns Redington and Sage.
The Rio Elite Flats Pro lineup is definitely one of the best options out there for high-performance tropical flats fishing. I’ve used it on bones, permit, tarpon, and snook, and I can attest to the user-friendly feel of this line.
As a professional guide, I do get discounts on lines but I am not affiliated with any one line company. I fish lines from Rio to Scientific Anglers, from Airflo to OP Skagit all the time.
I have the choice to fish what I want, where I want and I do find different companies excel in different areas. For tropical lines, however, I have become a fan and believer in a few Rio offerings, especially the Elite Flats Pro.
The easy loading, castability, and turnover will make a fan of any flats fisherperson…novice, intermediate, or advanced!
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