Fly Line Reviews
Barrio GT90 Fly Line
By Magnus Angus
Some time back we featured the Barrio Outcast. After a name change, that fly line became the GT140. I described that 140ft line as ambitious - I doubt many of us need lines that long. However, there is a niche, and GT140s have gained a following amongst keen and competitive casters.
The GT90 is more or less a shorter version of the 140. The front taper is a few feet shorter, the short belly is shorter and the running line is tapered. Put it another way, the GT90 is a different line using the same basic idea of a short belly and exaggerated rear taper.
On a 'normal' WF line, the rear taper smoothes a change from thicker, heavier line to lighter, thinner running line. Lines which suddenly jump from thick to thin line, i.e. shooting heads, have great shooting characteristics but they don't make it easy to false cast with more than a few yards of running line beyond the rod tip. Too much, and the line gets out of shape and out of control; too little and the head bumps the tip ring when we haul. A 'standard' WF line, with a head of around 40ft, makes it easier to carry a few yards of running line and smoothes that jump. However, I can still go beyond what that WF line will let me carry. I can still get things out of shape because the running line is too thin.
The slow rear taper on the Barrio GT lines allows me to carry more line, but for the same long carry used with a long- belly line the total weight I'm casting is less. The long rear taper means when space is limited and I need to false cast shorter and shoot more; this shoots better than a long belly, pretty much as well as that imaginary standard WF line.
It's my long-winded way of saying this is a nice line to cast. As with the GT140 this handles nicely: very smooth surface; almost limp so little or no coil-memory and it feels supple when I retrieve. Mike Barrio decided to call this shade of pale olive 'Mushy Pea' ... visible enough in the air for me to see well but, hopefully, not so loud it'll scare those shy fly fishers who get spooked by anything but olive fly lines.
If the GT140 was designed as a distance line which fishes well, the GT90 was intended to be a fishing line which we can throw for distance. In my opinion, it hits the mark, casting short, the GT90 loads my rod well. As I lengthen it, the loading increases slowly and predictably making it easy to stay in control. Shoot is good once the belly is outside the tip and gets better as I carry more line; the limit there seems to be the length of my rod and my skill as a caster. Turnover is 'punchy' so my leader straightens consistently and, this being a floating line, the GT90 floats predictably. This is not an ultra-high floating line and after some time - as with just about all floating fly-lines - the tip seems to get soaked and floats slightly less well.
An excellent 'all-around' floating fly line at a very reasonable price!
Barrio SLX WF5F
By Magnus Angus
Interesting profile, the SLX diagram shows a 24.5ft front taper to a 4ft belly, followed by a short (4.5ft) rear taper with an 'additional' 12.5ft taper behind the head. The blurb lists the head length as 33ft which I think is right because that 'additional' taper acts more like the handling line I might put between a shooting head and thin shooting line.
So, I have a fly line with a fairly short head by contemporary WF standards. That long front taper means this is set so more of the weight is near the rod tip. The general head shape reminds me of Wulff Triangle Tapers and is almost the mirror opposite of Barrio's GT lines.
At 33ft this line weighs 12grams, so at the AFTM standard 30ft this 5-weight weighs approximately 10.9grams; therefore, technically, this is a #6 line. I can almost hear one or two purists grinding their teeth at this point, however, the simple fact is that 10.9g and 12g are well within the range of mass I normally cast with DT or long-belly #5 lines. In fact, with a DT5 if I false-cast 60ft of fly line, which I often do, the line in the air weighs more than 18grams. So, while this #5 line is overweight, actually a #6, it suits the rods I normally match with DT5 or long belly WF5 lines.
Put the SLX on a rod and it takes a short time to get used to how this behaves. The head section is pale-ish olive to cream running line, the contrast there is too slight for me, in dim light I can't see the colour change coming. I can have the same line with an orange head, visible but loud, maybe I'll just get out a marker pen. This head length feels tidy, with a 9ft rod this feels handy and responsive. Casting overhead if I don't look and find the head, I automatically want to carry a little more, it'll take some discipline to break that bad habit. My maximum carry has the handling line just outside the tip, that yielded my maximum distances. Pull back a few yards so the rear taper is at the tip and the SLX is a lovely exact line. This turns over positively, loops tend to be tight and/or tighten as they travel. Then try a few roll casts and, arguably, the SLX comes into its own.
This rear weighted form of head is common among so-called Spey lines for good reason. With the leader and tip of the fly-line on water, I have most of the weight close to the rod tip, when I make my casting stroke my rod moves the heaviest portion of the head, which then drags the lighter part behind it. No surprises the SLX is an excellent line for roll and Spey-casting.
As I became used to the SLX, the head length and how the taper loads the rod, the simple usefulness of this line really began to shine. As this line disciplines me I false-cast less extravagant lengths, for a change I actually want to know where the rear of the head is. With a flick I can roll the head, co-ordinate that with a haul and I can shoot line. Lift the head and it shoots freely. The tip turns a decent length of a muscular tapered-leader very neatly, in fact turnover seems to take care of itself. Hmm, off the top of my head I can think of only two characteristics where a long-belly line (DT or WF) may have an edge - pick-up and brute distance.
I'm tempted to say the SLX makes casting easier, but that's maybe a slight exaggeration. However, turnover is so consistent it might just be. It's certainly an excellent, versatile, fishing line which I'd happily fish on rivers and stillwaters for trout, and in heavier sizes for sea trout.
Barrio Mallard Fly Line
By Magnus Angus
Design by committee is not always a good idea but when it works it yields products that ordinary consumers want. Fishery owner Mike Barrio brought together a small group of local anglers and a leading UK line maker. The idea was to produce a reasonably priced fly-line in a style reasonably normal anglers will want.
The Mallard is smooth and supple, with no significant coil memory. I'm told the colour is vanilla - pale cream/yellow - which works well; visible in low light but not so bright it'll frighten the horses.
Measurements for head length and tapers are not given but the head seems to me to be 'normal' - around 11 yards (33ft). Fine running-line follows the taper from the belly which is relatively short. That makes it easy to tell when the head is fully up there but does slightly restrict the amount of line one can carry. At the front the taper seems about 6ft and the tip is slender.
The Mallard loads a rod very predictably and when one finds the head length it's a very easy line. Without shooting, turnover and presentation are excellent. Shooting for distance? Let go and it flies. Although this is a WF line - which some folk wrongly take to mean a distance line - I think it's fair to say the Mallard was not designed primarily with distance in mind. The head and rear taper configuration means this is easily capable of presenting flies at 90ft. Had I felt more comfortable carrying a longer line it would've thrown farther.
Presentation was a primary design concern. Many of the people involved in this project are fans of furled leaders so I tried level leader, tapered nylon and a leader made of furled butt and tippet section. Obviously, it casts with all three leader types, however, having been a tapered nylon user for many years I'm taking another looked at furled leaders - much smoother than tapered nylon. IMHO level leaders suck!
Thanks to the fine tip the Mallard is capable of very controlled delivery. With a really heavy (thick-butt) tapered-leader I found myself wanting more oomph - cutting back the relatively long fine tip sorted that.
On water the Mallard lives up to its name, the belly is positively buoyant. The line tip floats well enough, that bit of any line is always the least buoyant part of any line so it's as expected.
Excellent line - super value!
By Magnus Angus
Weight forward lines dominate the fly line sales. That said, I know a fair number of regular fly fishers who have switched to DT lines and love 'em. We probably all know the differences - DT is one long belly with a taper at each end - WF is a shorter belly with thin running line at the back and front taper at the pointy end. We're told that DT lines offer better presentation while WF lines are 'for distance'.
Mike Barrio's lines are smooth and supple. The cream coating sits nicely on water and is visible without being lurid. Compared to a WF line I really can't say presentation was any different at short range. Then comes the end of the WF head.
From the moment that head reached the tip ring, I seem to have more control with the DT. With the WF I need to shoot line, with the DT I simply aerialise more. As the loop reaches the end of the WF line, if I've judged it right the whole lot straightens and falls. With the DT it does seem easier to make more consistent turnover - I'd guess because I'm shooting little or nothing most of the time. Start roll casting and again, when the WF head is all out I need to switch cast, the DT keeps on going. Where mends and curves are part of the game, at longer distances the DT has distinct advantage.
These are inexpensive lines but feel great, float well and fish very well indeed.
By Magnus Angus
Magnus Angus awarded the Barrio GT90i fly line "Best Slow Line" in his comparison test called "The Inbetweeners".
Barrio GT90i Comments: Supple line, little or no coil memory, cuts through wind, turnover is punchy. Technically the GT90 has a 90ft head, all the running line tapers — in use this feels like a long belly line. The design allows me to carry a very long line for distance or carry less and shoot well. Actually, carrying 50ft of line I found shoot is slightly less efficient than a conventional WF with a thin running line and more average belly length.
Nonetheless, on my rod, the GT90 is the longest casting line in this group. To achieve that maximum distance I need huge clearance behind me and simply can’t do it sitting down in a boat. Fishes shallow.
Test conclusion: I am now more convinced of the value of intermediate lines. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy fishing a slow intermediate just below the surface and how necessary a fast intermediate can be for taking flies to fishing depth and, from a boat, matching fishing depth to speed of drift and retrieve.
I have favourites from this group, but all the lines tested cast and fished well or well enough. For slow intermediate or neutral density lines, my choices are between the Barrio GT90 for distance and price, and the Snowbee XS ND as an easy casting all-rounder. Among the fast intermediates the choice is wider and more difficult, in the end I narrowed it down to the Hardy Mach or Rio Aqualux with the Vision Attack as solid budget-priced performer.
You can read the full comparison test on the Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Magazine website by clicking here.
Le Code della Barrio
By Massimo Magliocco
Mike Barrio e un nome forse sconosciuto alla maggior parte dei pescatori a mosca italiani, ma e uno dei piu importanti produttori di code ti topo europei.
Azienda scozzese, la Barrio produce code ormai da diversi anni con dei risultati eccellenti e, vista la situazione economica che stiamo vivendo, con dei costi assolutamente bassi in relazione all'alta qualita delle code che produce.
Mike, oltre ad essere un amico e un eccellente lanciatore specialmente con attrezzature classiche del nord della Gran Bretagna dove regna la pesca al salmone, ma e anche un eccellente disegnatore di code, elemento questo che lo rende uno dei piu preparati produttori di quest'ultime.
I profili delle code di topo Barrio nascono non tanto da chissa quali innovativi software, ma dall'arguzia e dal saper leggere le esigenze dei pescatori. Infatti Mike, ascoltando le richieste dei pescatori, assembla pezzo dopo pezzo, delle pseudo code che, a parer suo, possono avere un profilo valido per quel tipo di esigenza, dopo di che, quando ritiene che questo primo passaggio ha una base valida, trasferisce il prototipo elaborato anche con l'aiuto del computer. A sua volta Mike fa provare questo prototipo ai Barrio Pro Fly Fishing Team di cui mi onoro di far parte, che essendo grandi tecnici del lancio della coda di topo, danno il loro primo giudizio sulla coda, giudizio che verra poi rielaborato e dal quale nascerea il secondo prototipe e cosi via, fino al raggiungimento di un prodotto finale gia testato da una serie di "Masters" aventi tutti uno stile di lancio e una cultura della pesca a mosca del tutto diversa tra di loro, in quanto proventienti dall'UK piuttosto che dalla Francia, dall'Australia o dalla Germania, dalla Serbia o dall'Italia, insomma, non un giudizio che segue un tipo di stile e mentalita di un solo paese ma una sequenza di opinioni provenienti da tutte le latitudini.
Questo fa delle code Barrio qualcosa di veramente unico.
Guardando tra il suo catalogo, non troveremo una infinita di modelli di code, ma una serie di code estremamente performanti.
Una serie in particoloare va assolutamente segnalata, la GT. Se guardate, ha il un profilo simile ad una WF ma e piu simile ad una long belly anche se ha un profilo conico insomma e veramente performante. Ho provato la 4 e vi garantisco che ti "scappa dalle mani". Inoltre ha una scorrevolezza straordinaria e quindi uno shooting eccelente!
Qualcuno stara, giustamente, pensando che sto scrivendo queste cose per pubblicizzare questo prodotto, no, non e cosi, lo faccio perche in un mercato come quello della pesca a mosca dove i consti sono, a mio avviso, troppo elevati, avere un'azienda che vende delle ottime code ed altre eccezionali a prezzi bassi, credetemi, e una cosa da sottolineare e propagandare.
Inoltre Mike e una persona squisita, sempre pronto a dare consigli, ma la sua dote maggiore e che non se la tira e che e commercialmente onesto!!
Di solito i redazionali sono un tantino "spinti" commercialmente, fa parte del gioco, anche se poi il piu delle colte rispecchiano la qualita del prodotto. Questo redazionale invece e estremamente veritiero, non perche lo sto scrivendo io ma perche e veramente l'espressione scritta di cio che veramente penso, cioe un'azienda capace di fare cose importanti senza troppe fanfare.
Chi volesse visitare il sito puo farlo qui: http://www.flylineshop.com. Oppure se si vuole avere delle info maggiori puo anche contattarmi email@example.com
You can read the original copy of this review on the FFM website at FFM Scuola di pesca a mosca in their online FFMagazine number 18 on pages 88-89.
I am lucky in that I know Mike and several of the folk that have worked and are working with Mike on the design of fly lines.
What this has meant is that I get the chance to have a cast with some of the prototypes and get a feel for the amount of genuine work that goes into designing these lines, and also see that feedback from those who have had a cast is taken into consideration.
The best example of this is the new SLX. Mike produced the line in orange and cream, but a few of us asked for a more subtle colour. A little while later he produced the olive green version.
Mike is like that. He goes the extra mile for his customers, and he listens.
The other thing I like is that Mike knows how to design a fishing line. Sounds strange to say that, but many lines on the market have been designed to cast long distances by world class casters. What about those of us that don't have the perfect cast, those who want a line that is easy to cast, turns over a leader well, and does not cost a fortune. Mike has filled that gap perfectly!
That's not to say he cannot produce a line that casts a looooong way, because he does! But they still make great fishing lines.
I love the SLX and I now find myself fishing bits of river that normally I would not have considered due to high banks or trees behind me. The SLX gives lovely roll and SH spey casts as well as being able to deliver a fast overhead delivery to a distant fish. I have also used it on lochs when the wind has been howling and a roll cast was the only safe option. I found myself shooting line far beyond my normal ability.
Get on the SLX, you won't regret it!
I've a passion for Bamboo rods and have been happily fishing with the 4wt GT90 and Mallard DT4F for a few seasons on my 7ft6" 4wt Eden cane rod. However I recently purchased a 3pc 8ft 5wt Eden cane rod to fulfil my Day to day Trout fishing. So I immediatley opted to try out the GT90 and DT in a 5 and they were very nice indeed.
Now I have a 4wt SLX which I got to try a while ago, so out of idle curiosity and in the throws of having a grand old time trying lines on my new rod, I selected the line. WOW is the only comment. I was completely blown away, the line might be rated a size lower than I expected but it matched the rod so well I stopped thinking and started shaping the line into every cast I'm capable of. The extra weight in the head seems to suit the Cane rod so well it just feels Awesome. I will now have to get a 3wt SLX to try on my 4wt, and another 4wt SLX in Olive for dryfly.
Thanks for an amazing flyline!
Hi Mike! Just wanted to write you a short note to tell you how much I love the GT125. The GT140 and the GT90 were my favourite lines until I tried the GT125.
I really didn't think you could make a better fishing line than the 140, but you did. It's so complete. It really does everything perfectly. Overheads, rolls, speys , mends , short casts , long casts you name it . Best line ever. Loved it so much that I just ordered the cream one as well in 5-weight and also a 6-weight.
I am recommending your lines to all my fishing mates, more orders from Sweden will be coming.
Best regards, Kai Silvennoinen
The next generation fly line, without a doubt the best all round fly line I've ever used.
This is possibly the best line I have used, it casts easily overhead but is particularly effective when roll & spey casting. I have used it on #4,5,6 & 8/9 rods fishing for trout, salmon & grayling and it has proved excellent in all weights.
Must see about a 7 weight to make up the set!
At last count, I've got about 6 or 7 Barrio lines (Mallard DTs & WFs, GT125s & 90s and SLXs) spooled up and on reels, and probably a few more older lines boxed away too. Repeat custom tells you that Barrio fly lines are doing something right.
Part of the appeal is the feel of being in on the ground of something new and exciting - being based near to Barrio HQ means I'm close to the news and views and there always seems to be a new line or variation on the horizon- but that itself wouldn't be enough. Quite simply, the lines work well, and let you get on with your fishing and your casting.
Others will describe the technical qualities - I just like the simple usability of the lines, and know and trust that the technical merits of the lines have been tried, tested & prototyped by experienced anglers and casters alike. Looking forward to trying out the new Switch lines soon too!
I use the Barrio Mallard exclusively for my fishing and casting practice. The suppleness, taper and overall profile is perfect for the high speed casting necessary for the Italian Style of casting.
The Mallard DT 3 line outcasts most other brands. Highly recommended for general fly fishing or for the Italian style.
Philip BaileyFly Fishing Masters UK Head Instructor
Purchased a #5 GT90 early last season and it instantly became my go to line for light line wild trout fishing. Turn over is excellent, very easy to work with on the water and very forgiving. Supple and responsive, good long range, excellent mid to very short range, presentation on the water also top notch.
On lochs it also proved as responsive as i'd hoped, dries and short lining a delight.
The olive colour helps it blend in seamlessly with wild surroundings helping make the line amongst the best i've used, most certainly will ensure i've one on my reel for the 2013 season.
Really nice line for a combination of casting with ease but also finesse when required due to a decent front taper. As someone who often has to aerialize a bit of line (due to bad hauling technique!), the long rear taper gives an almost DT 'controlled' feel that I prefer over standard WF lines, so for me a great feature - best of both worlds? Great for short lining tactics too and 'off the tip' casts, especially close combat dries and spider fishing. Quality line for the money, good colour and robust in use too!
Will absolutely be my 'go to' river line for the Don in 2013 with guest appearances from it's stable mate the SLX. Please don't stop making the GT90 line Mike!
Most of my fishing is done with a floating line. Needing a new one I did some research, ending in selecting a 6wt GT90. Before I used it I was impressed with the pea green colour, it just looked stealthy. On the water it is very visible. How can that be?
On Loch Lundaidh I cast it for the first time. It was just "right". I'm no casting expert, but sometimes I can get a fair line out. The GT90 flew. Loading the rod quickly and shooting nicely. I don't know how Mike has done it but I think the line hates the reel! Well it tries to get as far away from it as it can!
The casting performance wasn't the only thing that impressed me. From the beginning it lay straight on the water. The tip floated and it has continued to perform just like I want a floating line to perform.
Now I'm in the process of replacing all my lines with Barrio Lines. It fits my definition of what a floating line should be in every way. Brilliant. Thanks Mike you have added to my angling enjoyment.
I got my WF5F GT125 through the post on Friday, as usual great delivery time and a nice wee note from Mike which gives the service a nice personnal touch, Cheers Mike.
I rigged up my line on my Sage TCR and went for a test drive on the River Don. I already have the GT140 and the SLX and so was excited to see what I could do with the 125. I fished czech nymph style for a while and found the line loaded at short range ... perfect. I fished dries for a while upstream and could land and turnover size 14 dries delicately ... perfect. I fished wets down and across and could cast real long distance and upstream mend the line easily without moving the tippet ... perfect.
I could snake roll, single spey and snap T the line just as easy as my SLX. Is there anything this line can't do? ... it is just as I said before, PERFECT.
I use the GT90, GT125 and SLX lines. I am no casting expert just an average fly fisherman.
I do however know what I like and can say I have always been impressed by the service that Mike provides when ordering these lines and these lines stand comparison with any fly lines currently on the market.
Had a few of these lines over the years now, very pleased with them all. I am not an expert caster but these lines have made it a lot easier for me with both distance and presentation.
Good lines at a good price, Thanks.
The vast majority of my fly fishing is on rivers for Brown Trout with both dry fly & nymph. The Barrio Mallard in WF3, 4 & 5 has been my fly line of choice for a number of seasons now and never let me down.
It floats well, has a nice front profile, lies straight, has a slick surface and a price that would no doubt be double if marketed from another stable.
An excellent line for both beginner & veteran.
What can I say, casts like a dream & fishes very much like a Cortland Rocket Taper Intermediate line, it feels smoother to the touch than the Cortland.
Over the years I have tried various Intermediate lines but always without fail return to the Cortland as I felt it gave me better depth control as it sinks level. I don't think I will be going back this time as the Barrio GT90i does exactly that, it sinks very slowly & level meaning that if the fish are at a certain level you can keep your fly in the target zone for the whole length of your retrieve & as a bonus it cast easier & still gives a fantastic turnover at distance.
Two outings 22 fish, casting 15-20ft further than before & with a lot more accuracy, oh & half the price to boot.
Being a small stream angler, be they in the valleys, glens or mountains, I was always on the search for a fly line that rose to my needs. After going through a lot of lines & a hole in my wallet, I was never happy with the lines I fished, more in putting up with their stiffness & bumpy travel up through the rings on cold mountain streams & endless Memory, that is now long in the past.
I have been using mike's lines for 2 seasons now & would not replace them for any other make. They do what mike says they do, with no big fancy sales hype that we are all seeing now with lines 3 times the price & more.
They cast very well, I'm using the mallard every time I'm out, this would add up to a lot of days stream side. Pull from the reel & hang with almost no memory, shoot nicely & float highly, I make short casts that need to be right first time, the mallard gives me this, every time.
I can spend more time enjoying fishing & not worrying about stiff lines & the problems they intail, just lift the rod & shoot the line where it's needed. I have fished these lines long & hard, with plenty of life still in the lines and no cracks showing.
I would recommend these lines to any one to try and as a new season is soon opening, these are still my lines for 2013.
I bought a GT90 from Barrios some weeks ago, spooled it up ready to go and waited for the snow to disappear. Managed to get out for a few hours Trouting last Saturday and to give the new line a go. After a few casts to rid the line of the small amount of memory it had the GT90 performed admirably, easy to cast, good shooting capability and dead straight on the water. I had to grease the tip a little but, in my experience this is normal with any floating line.
What I really liked was, with the tapered running line, I could airealise more line if required, without the line "hinging", as is the case with so many WF lines. To sum up, I am so pleased with the line I just ordered two more, a GT90 aftm8 intermediate and a GT90 aftm6 floater.
Thoroughly recommended, this makes such a nice change from the usual, "pay £50.00 and get ripped off" attitude of so many manufacturers, the GT90 is only half the price and, in my humble opinion, a far better line.
Tight lines, Ken Trueman.
I ordered the GT125 5wt from Mike. The shipping was very fast and communication with Mike was great. Thank you!
The line is my new favorite. I have tried this line on my rod and my wife's rod.
With my TFO Signature (med/fast action), I have a tremendous amount of control and can really reach out there with my cast. I can reach distances I never thought were possible for me. With that to say, I really have to be creative when casting a short distance (closer than 30').
However, with my wife's rod, a Redington Classic Trout (med action), I have great control and accuracy from closer than 30' out to 50' or so. I have to work a bit (double hauling) to get the CT rod to go the distance but that is not a problem.
I highly recommend this line and will probably be buying this for my wife's rod on smaller streams.
After spending many hours online reviewing top end market fly lines and speaking with experienced anglers I came across the Barrio lines website and decided to buy the GT125 and to say this line has out performed any expectations I had is a big understatement.
They say that you only get what you pay for in this world but at the price paid this line is incredible value and does exactly what its says on the tin! I ordered at 1pm and the delivery was made the very next morning having traveled more than 100 miles and postage was free!
I wanted a line that would allow me to fish along margins at distance, keeping my flies in the swim for longer and when fishing in competitions -I find that with many lines spooking fish they tend to move farther out and this line has allowed me to reach further than most fishing at long range without affecting presentation and definitely is an advantage.
Having praised the cost I do however fear that this line will end up costing me a fortune, as I now can't wait to get out more often to throw this line out and watch it fly! When asked how I was getting on with the new line the best thing I could think of was to say that "this line casts itself"
Well done Barrio fly lines..... Great product, Great service and Great price!