Keen eyesight, sound technique, and the ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions are just a few skills that sets apart the best flats fly anglers. Speaking of conditions, the tackle had better be up to the task. While some anglers blow big bucks on the very best saltwater fly rods and reels, they don't mean squat without the right line. In the past, I've been stuck in a couple saltwater sight-fishing situations with lines that were downright duds, and it was painfully frustrating. On the flats, being able to deliver a fly both accurately and quickly is often necessary, and the fly line is super critical in helping you achieve that.
I've already reviewed RIO's Bonefish Quickshooter WF6F fly line here and have kept fishing it ever since. It's truly one of my favorite and most-used lines and wonder how much better a fly line can truly be? RIO's answer to that are their new DirectCore Flats Pro saltwater lines. Available in both floating and sink-tip versions, these premium lines now hold the top spot as the latest flagship saltwater offerings. Winning “Best New Fly Line for 2018” at EFTTEX as well as “Best New Saltwater Fly Line for 2018” at IFTD, these decorated lines seem to already have some solid support. Would I be won over as well?
Tested Line Weight: WF6F
Colors: Aqua/Orange/Sand (tested) and Gray/Sand/Kelp
Overall Length: 100 feet
Head Length: 37 feet
Head Weight: 185 grains
Core: Mono DirectCore
Welded Loops: Yes (2)
As the name implies, all lines in this series are built using RIO's new DirectCore. This special core is a proprietary monofilament that's touted as being able to retain stiffness yet reduce memory. On top of this, there's supposed to be up to 30% less stress which means more hook-setting and fish-turning power for you, the angler.
Our test line was the aqua/orange/sand color but there's also a gray/sand/kelp color scheme for stealthier presentations. Why all the colors? RIO calls this their SureFire technology, and it's designed to help anglers better gauge accuracy and distance—critical when taking a precise shot when sight-fishing.
Picture Credit: RIO Products
The taper design sports a mid-length head (ours was 37 feet) with an elongated rear taper and 12-foot "handling section" for better control and stability. Fresh out of the box, the line was butter smooth and the color scheme was vibrant. There's a welded loop at each end for easy rigging, and a line identification printed by the head loop to alleviate any confusion. No manufacturing defects were noted.
I was expecting no less than a great casting line, and I got it. It casts smoothly, has plenty of power to carry and turn over weighted patterns, and makes quick work of presentations both near and very far. My trusty Bonefish Quickshooter (QC) has not only a slightly shorter overall head design, but the overall head profile is quite different, including a much shorter rear taper design. The QC does seem to load faster for those quick short to mid-range shots, however the DirectCore Flats Pro feels smoother and more easygoing when carrying a lot of line in the air and presents a fly with better delicacy if needed.
Memory is definitely at a minimum, and the line floats high and lays nice and straight on the water's surface. The triple colors of the SureFire technology sure look cool, but for me the cosmetics are the only benefit. Some folks may find it handy for bettering their accuracy and gauging distances, but I am personally more comfortable judging distances by myself.
When testing the monofilament DirectCore, I was expecting it to be along the lines of RIO's low-stretch braided ConnectCore. I tested that core here, and found that it made a VERY noticeable difference when just doing a simple hand-pull test using a small scale. Comparing that InTouch ConnectCore line with a "standard" line, stretch was far less.
My test with DirectCore had different results. When conducting the same simple pull test, I saw no less stretch in the DirectCore line with even a fairly strong pull. Confused, I reached out to my RIO contact for answers. I was informed that the core does indeed offer less stretch when pitted against comparable tropical lines with standard cores, but that difference is most noticeable as you near the line's breaking strength and would be hard to replicate with my hand pull test. This makes sense to me as this is a mono-core line and mono always has considerable stretch to it up to a certain point. At any rate, the core's benefits were not immediately noticeable to me when battling bass and snook, but hook up to a tarpon or something pretty major and you may then feel the difference.
I really enjoy my floating DirectCore Flats Pro line for both fresh and saltwater fishing. Do I like it better than my good ole' Bonefish Quickshooter? I would say it depends. As an overall line that does everything well, I'd have to say yes, but I still like my Quickshooter quite a bit for things like peacock bass fishing where I'm throwing a lot of streamers at very close targets. Either one won't disappoint, but the floating Flats Pro will probably be more user-friendly as a single do-all line.
DirectCore Flats Pro lines come in the colors listed in the specs at the top of the page in weights 6–12, while the StealthTip lines with clear 6-foot Intermediate tips are available in 8–12 weight sizes in aqua/orange/sand color schemes. Regardless if a floating or sink-tip version is chosen, expect to pay a hefty price of $119.99 across the board.
Interested in a RIO DirectCore Flats Pro fly line?
Try Trouts Fly Fishing