Rio Tropical Outbound Short Fly Line Review (Hands-on Tried & Tested)

Explore the Rio Tropical Outbound Short Fly Line in our review—a top choice for performance in tropical fly fishing.

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This Rio Tropical OutBound Short Fly Line review is an in-depth, real-world review after hours and hours, and days and days on the water.

As a professional fly guide for the past 15 years and a fly-only enthusiast for the past 35, I’ve seen plenty of lines come and go. I’ve seen a multitude of situations where some lines shine and some fail.

For this review, I’ve paired lines with different reels and multiple rods, I’ve cast just to cast, I’ve cast for presenting to fish and reeled a few in as well, and…for the Rio Tropical OutBound Short Fly Line, this is what I found…

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Why Trust My Rio Tropical Outbound Short Fly Line Review?

You won’t find anything in our reviews that we haven’t personally tried and tested. We’re not rinsing and reusing found information…we’re putting in the time and effort to get a real-world feel with this gear.

Photo of me walking on the shore

This particular line is fairly new to me and was purchased for a recent trip to the East Cape of Baja, Mexico. With a multitude of roosterfish, jacks, dorado, and triggerfish to pursue, the Rio Tropical OutBound Short seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Wading the surf and fishing near-shore depths from a panga were our main objectives so I chose the Intermediate Sink version in 8 and 11 weights to cover varied situations.

What’s In The Box?

The Rio Tropical OutBound Short comes, as most fly lines do, in your typical fly line box with the line wound around a plastic spool.

Photo of the Tropical OutBound Short

This line is a tropical-specific line for targeting feisty predators. The “short” alludes to the short, heavy front taper that helps cast big, heavy flies easily, especially on quick pick-ups when things get fast and furious.

The Box Itself…

The Rio Tropical OutBound Short 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 Tropical OutBound Short can be differentiated from the rest of the tropical lines with its green accent hues on the black box (vs blue accent).

The Line

For this review, I used the Intermediate sink option in 8 and 11 weights. This specific line is a full-sink style line with saltwater-camouflaging colors.

Photo of the Rio Tropical Fly Line

The running line is a medium, transparent blue. The body of the line is a light, transparent gray. The head is completely clear. All parts of the line are designed to sink somewhat uniformly.

The line out of the box looks as though it will blend into the surroundings quite well and therefore be a little friendlier when fishing to spooky fish.

The Spool

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 Tropical Outbound Short Fly Line Review Features & Specs

In my review of the Rio Tropical OutBound Short 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:

Build Quality

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.

Rio Tropical OutBound Short

Remember, I chose the intermediate sink version of this line, and there are a few other configurations to choose from. Clear sink lines are built a little differently than standard float lines.

Most high-end tropical clear lines are a mono-core base encased in a colorless polyvinyl. The mono core is stronger, clearer (vs nylon braid), and also stiffer to handle higher tropical temps better.

Clear sink lines tend to have a shorter lifespan than other coated sink and coated float lines. I have had a lot more clear or clear tip lines break in half after a few years of use vs standard float or color-coated sink lines.

I’ll let you know how long this particular clear line ends up lasting but we did have another (different brand) clear sink line break in half on this trip. That line was a couple of years old and therefore wasn’t a shock.

However, the look and feel of the line in hand, even before spooling it onto the fly reel, suggested that this line was going to last longer than other clear lines.

Weight

  • Rio Tropical OutBound Short lines are available in 8wt – 12 wt options
  • Rio does not list total line weights, only head weights. My 11wt line has a total head weight of 30 grams. The 8 weight comes in at 21 grams, and the 12 weight stands at 33 grams to help give you an idea.

Color/Sink Configurations

There are four different colors/configurations to choose from, from float to fast sink. All of the following are available in 8-12wts:

  • Dark Sand/Blue – Float
  • Clear/Dark Sand/Blue – Float/1ips/2ips (ips = inches per second)
  • Clear/Clear Gray/Transparent Blue – Intermediate Sink
  • Black/Transparent Blue – Intermediate/5ips/7ips

Texture

The texture of the line is a little different than you might expect to find on a trout line. For one, you’re dealing with warmer water. Therefore the line needs to be built a bit stiffer.

Rio Tropical Outbound Short

At room temp, you’ll feel like the line is a little too stiff in the hand and the coating a little hard. But just a few moments in the hot sun and casting into near bathtub temp surf, and things will relax perfectly.

Profile

All of the Rio Tropical OutBound Short Fly Lines are 100′ lines. They feature a 70′ running line section and a 30′ head.

The head itself consists of a 4′ back taper, 12′ back body, 7′ main body (widest/heaviest part), and a short and powerful 6′ front taper.

This shorter front taper is specifically where the “short” comes into play helping to deliver big flies quickly and at any distance.

Technology

Direct Core – Low stretch technology for fast, hard strip sets

Slick Cast – Slick Cast is Rio’s proprietary coating to reduce friction with fly rod guides and water.

Multi-density Control – (On clear/dark sand/blue and black/trans. blue only) – Different line section densities for an easier-to-manage line sink. The tip sinks fastest, the belly second, and the running line slowest.

Dual welded loops – easily connect to backing and leaders with loop-to-loop connections.

Easy ID – each line has a printed ID label near the tip so you know which line you’re dealing with. This is important when you switch lines and spools often.

Temp – Best for 75 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Castability/Accuracy

Rio’s Slick Cast coating is a definite winner here. A new line with a fresh Slick Cast coating easily shot through the line guides and made short, medium, and distance casts feel like a breeze.

Of course that short, powerful head really carried the cast well too. With a good double haul, it felt like you might be able to cast all the backing off the reel as well!

Accuracy seemed pretty decent with both weights. Flies carried and turned over easily. The only, slight setback was in stiff headwinds.

It was hard to tell if the powerful head was catching too much of the wind near the end of the cast or if any line would have made a difference at all. Whatever the reason, the drag seemed negligible.

Presentation

Knowing we would need to be able to present to different species at different depths, including at/near the surface, the Intermediate line was the one I went with.

Rio Tropical Outbound Short

Fly line boxes and website jargon will say a lot of things about specs like sink rate but, in real-world situations, I did find that the sink rate for this particular line was in fact the touted 2-ish inches per second.

Knowing this and gauging the depth of a fish we spotted, it was easy to know how little or long we needed to let the fly/fly line sit and sink.

For fish near the surface, immediate stripping was employed. For fish just outside the surf zone, typically 2 feet or so below the surface, a 6-12 count was carried out before presenting.

Sometimes fish were spotted at 6-8 feet deep and, for this line, a good 30 seconds was needed. In this situation, the Black/Transparent Blue – Intermediate/5IPS/7IPS would have been a better choice than our intermediate sink.

In all situations, deep or shallow, the line seemed to track well through the water and present all flies well. All flies used were streamers (i.e. Anchovy, mackerel, sardines, etc.). I did not get to try a slow crab or shrimp strip.

Warranty

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.

Rio Tropical Outbound Short Fly Line Review: My Personal Thoughts

Pros:

  • Great line feel, especially for a clear line
  • Short, powerful head really does load fast
  • Great distance castability

Cons:

  • Coils easily, even after use/stretch
  • Clear lines simply break down faster than traditional/float lines

More than other types of fly fishing, saltwater fishing always seems to need very specific gear. The fly line is no different.

For what I needed, the Rio Tropical OutBound Short fly line exceeded expectations. The quick-shooting castability of this line is second to none and any distance shot…short, medium, and long-range…is easily doable with this line.

In pursuing roosterfish, the main goal of this particular trip, a variety of depths from the surface to 4 ft seems to be the norm. This intermediate sink had the perfect sink rate and the clear color didn’t spook wary fish.

If you know that your running line is going to curve and coil a bit more than traditional lines, you’ll be okay. Time will tell how long this particular clear line will last before breaking in down.

FAQs About Rio Tropical Outbound Short Fly Line

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Rio and the Tropical Outbound Short fly lines:

How much does the Rio Tropical OutBound Short line cost?

The Tropical OutBound Short Fly Line is part of the Elite series of lines making the retail price $129.99.

What’s the difference between tropical lines and freshwater lines?

Tropical lines are made to withstand hot weather, warm to very warm water, and corrosive salt.

Trout lines are often made with a supple braided nylon core while tropical lines often use a stronger, stiffer mono core.

What applications are best for the Tropical OutBound Short lines?

These lines cover a wide variety of tropical fishing situations where big, heavy flies and quick shots are necessary.

With a float, slow sink, intermediate sink, and fast sink option, fishing shallow flats or deep troughs are easily doable. Choose the right line float/sink rate specific to the area/species you’re targeting.

For instance, I chose the intermediate sink (around 2ips), for roosterfish and jacks feeding in roughly 2-5 feet of water.

Is Rio made in the USA?

Yes, Rio is made in Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA.

What lines should I use for specific species

Bonefish/Permit/Triggers – shallow flats – float

Bonefish/Permit/Triggers/Tarpon/Jacks- medium flats – float/1ips/2ips

Roosters/Taropn/Jacks/Dorado – deep flats, cruising surf – intermediate

Roosters/Tarpon/Jacks/Dorado – at depth, troughs, near sunken structure – intermediate/5ips/7ips

How is a clear line made?

Clear lines are usually made with a clear mono core vs a braided nylon core.

The polyvinyl coating has no added pigment and the process of coating has to ensure it will dry clear.

How do manufacturers make fly line that sinks?

For slower sink lines, manufacturers will simply not add air bubbles to the coating. For faster-sinking lines, heavier materials like tungsten are employed.

Conclusion

All in all, my Rio Tropical OutBound Short Fly Line Review has reminded me why it’s earned a spot in my arsenal. Rio’s standards and their added proprietary technologies continue to perform and impress.

Shop The Rio Tropical Outbound Short

View the Rio Tropical Outbound Short and compare prices on AMAZON.

While this isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of line, it’s a tool that most fly fishermen and women can add to the lineup to make situational fishing a bit easier to manage.

It is handy, however, to be able to purchase a few different sink rates within this one lineup. Spooling different Tropical OutBound Short lines on different spools or separate reels will make your tropical adventure all the better.

This is a top-tier line from Rio that gives you all the tech, bells, and whistles even the most discerning fly fisher could ask for. It excels in hot tropical temps, loads well, and is a dream to cast. I highly recommend this line for your next tropical excursion.

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Born and raised in Billings, MT, Nic was blessed to be brought up in an outdoor-minded family. Fishing and hunting were a part of his familial culture. Blame it on my Aquarius birth or some divine design but, from as early as he can remember, he had to be near or in the water. Guiding since the early 2000s, Nic has thousands of hours of fly fishing and guiding experience and has helped hundreds of people get into the sport of fly fishing, or better their skills as anglers.

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