Bonefish are widely-known as one of the spookiest fish on the flats. I've only been fortunate enough to specifically target bonefish a handful of times, but I can still attest to the fact that you need to be super quiet and super skilled in your presentations. While I rarely get to cast a line to those critters, I do have a ton of experience sight-fishing for snook on the beach. Although snook can occasionally be dumb as rocks, they are more often skittish—sometimes as much as those paranoid bonefish.
I've seen many anglers fishing the beach with something like a 7 or 8 weight, but I like to go as light as possible for the given conditions. Here in Southwest Florida where the water is very shallow and fish are mostly on the smaller side, that often means I'm out there with a 5 or 6 weight. Even with a lighter-than-average line, presentation and line choice are still crucial. That's where the new RIO DirectCore Bonefish fly line can really be an asset.
Tested Line Weight: WF6F
Color: Sand/Orange/Blue combo
Overall Length: 90 feet
Head Length: 48 feet
30-Foot Head Weight: 173 grains
Cores: DirectCore Monofilament
Core Strength: Approx 30 pounds
Welded Loops: Yes (2)
l've used some excellent fly lines for beach fishing and this one is undoubtedly one of the standouts. Several months ago, I reviewed RIO's DirectCore Flats Pro line in the same line weight here. That's another awesome new fly line that packs a fair amount of "punch" which makes it a solid do-all saltwater flats line for a variety of fly sizes. This Bonefish line, however, seems to be able to do things with slightly more delicacy if required.
The head of my WF6F test line measures 48 feet which is 11 feet longer than that of the FlatsPro. It weighs 173 grains in the first 30 feet, whereas the FlatsPro tips the scales at 185 grains within the same length. Per AFFTA standards, this makes the Bonefish line about 1/2 size heavier than a standard WF6F line, while the FlatsPro is a full size heavier. That different head design/weight and longer body section combined with a long rear taper is built to help smooth casting while allowing for presentations both near and far.
Picture Credit: RIO Products
Many of you might be familiar with RIO's ConnectCore which is a low-stretch braided core that you can feel by simply tugging on it. These bonefish lines sport a hard tropical coating on top of RIO's new mono DirectCore which is said to offer less stretch when pitted against comparable tropical lines with standard cores. However, that difference is said to be most noticeable as you near the line's full breaking strength. Hook up to something really substantial and you might feel a difference, but for my day in and day out fishing or simply just giving a modest pulling by hand, I don't notice a distinct difference in stretch. We also covered this detail previously in the DirectCore FlatsPro review linked above.
Equipped with two welded loops, each line comes with RIO's "Surefire" Sand/Orange/Blue color scheme. The first 20 feet of sand-colored line marks a good amount of line to have stripped off the reel when sight-fishing to quickly load the rod when a fish is spotted. Where the middle orange section turns to blue indicates the maximum stable portion of the line for the most efficient false casting. Finally, just under the welded loop that attaches to the leader butt, you'll also find the line specs printed directly on the line for quick reference. That line marking is a feature I wish EVERY line had!
In my experience, this was a great line for fishing the shallow, clear, calmer waters I frequent. If faced with a lot of wind and/or chop I'd probably reach for a bit heavier and/or more aggressive line if given a choice (like the FlatsPro), but when I'm sight-fishing the beaches here at home I don't go unless it's flat and sunny. For that, I love this stuff.
The line feels extremely stable and smooth while casting. It has just enough weight up front to load quite well in close without being clunky, and the longer overall head length makes it easy to aerialize or pickup long lengths of line. Equally as important, it lays a fly down with the perfect amount of grunt for my intended usage. The DirectCore Bonefish felt a tad smoother and lighter to me when casting as compared to the FlatsPro line, but it still helped to turn over my small baitfish streamers with power to spare. Casting any larger/heavier bonefish flies shouldn't be an issue whatsoever.
I fished this line in some warm weather last fall—air temps in the mid 80's, water temps in the high 70's—but that's a far cry from our mid-summer sauna-like weather when it's in the low 90's with water temps in the very upper 80s....not to mention the humidity that makes you feel like a human sponge. I had no line performance or memory problems to speak of and know it would be up to snuff when the heat really climbs—after all, it's a bonefish line! Also of note, the line can be stretched easily and stays that way, laying out nice and flat both on and off the water without a "wiry" overly-stiff feeling. I also really like the subtle but still-visible color scheme which is important when sight-fishing, but the FlatsPro still wins for the coolest looks.
I reckon this will be my new go-to line for beach snook whether used on a 6 weight or up-lined on a fast-action 5 weight rod. It performs smooth as heck, fishes great, and has an ideal blend of power and finesse. If you plan on fishing in extreme tropical environments or just plain HOT conditions for bass, carp, or whatever, I'd absolutely recommend this line from what I've experienced in my time with it. About the only negative point I can cite here is the $119.99 price tag!
Looking for a RIO DirectCore Bonefish Line?