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Fly Line Reviews

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Barrio GT90 ll Fly Lines

By Magnus Angus ( February issue 2022 )

Long and short of it

Barrio GT90 II WF7F fly line

The current generation Barrio GT90, now made in the USA.

A 90ft line, greyish olive coloured PVC coating over a braided nylon multi-filament core. A 7-weight line should weigh between 11.5g and 12.5g, without cutting the line it's hard to weigh a line precisely but I make this about 12.3g give or take, so it's certainly a true #7.

GT90 head lengths vary slightly by line weight, 45 to 50ft according to the blurb, longer than the head of a typical WF line. Tapers are also tailored to line weights, so the front taper of a GT90 is 7-9ft, belly 14-16ft, rear taper 24-26ft.

Fitting this to a reel there are no dramas, nail knot the running line to backing, for the review I attached the Minicon to the tip of the line and looped on a leader. (For more extended fishing use my preference is to nail-knot a tapered leader to the tip of a fly line, whether or not they come with braided or welded loops.)

The reel was then hitched to a stiff 10ft #7 rod, the type of rod I'd fish on a large stillwater or from a boat. It was December when this was being cast...cold. The GT90 falls in open coils, with very little sign of reel memory even when cold. I can stretch it to pull out any curliness, but frankly there was no need. Pull the first few yards out of the rod tip and the line lies straight. A supple line with a smooth, firm coating - which bodes well for casting.

I guess the key feature of the GT90 is that unusually long rear taper. The overall head of this #7 line is about 50ft, but that rear taper has a couple of noticeable effects. As I start false casting the rod loads nicely (bear in mind that before I'm casting 30ft of fly-line the rear taper has reached the rod tip.)

First trick, this has a long head, but a short belly. Extend more line, now I'm double hauling, I can feel the line tension, I know it will shoot if I let go. The loop shape is good, a straight fly leg and fairly narrow - my casting seems ok today. While patting myself on the back for casting style, I began false casting longer, and then longer still.

Next trick, false casting virtually the full head, about 50ft, this is noticeably lighter than a conventional long belly WF line (or 50ft of a double-taper), so the casting is smoother, and I can move the rod, accelerate and decelerate, more freely.

Then, next trick, I carry a still longer false cast, the head doesn't seem to hinge, no sense of the line bogging me down, and my loop shape is still good.

I can't say false-casting longer got my fly any farther out, well not much anyway. False casting just the head and I can shoot to lay out the full line. Maybe I get a little longer distance when carrying more than the head. Turnover is positive, if anything the tip tends to kick over a little, ideal for longer leaders, bites into wind rather nicely.

This is a #7 line on a pokey rod, an outfit for casting long, which it achieves with the minimum of fuss, the line playing its part well. That head profile also means my rod loads quickly, I have good feel and accuracy with a reasonably short line - maybe not that relevant with a #7 but handy on a small water, which has me wanting a #4 or #5.

The toned down olive finish is just light enough for dim December afternoons, visible in the air and just enough for some contrast to be seen on water. The GT90 coating and core make a supple, easy handling line.

A very competent, polished floating fly line, smooth distance, easy close casting.

Barrio Fly Reels

By Magnus Angus

Two sizes here, LA34 and LA56, the codes suggest the line sizes for each. These weigh 182g and 199g which is substantial for their line classes, however the line capacity on both these reels is fairly generous.

In my hand these feel solid, nothing wiggles or rattles. The spool moves freely and silently spinning 'line-inwards' and silently and smoothly 'line-outwards'. Both are set up for left handed winding. Adjusted to a fishing resistance the drag is very smooth indeed, no hesitation against the drag, just buttery smooth.

Barrio reels are made in Germany. Mike Barrio and Ralf Vosseler work together on the specification, the reels are made in Germany by Vosseler - to a very high standard indeed.

Looking at the spool porting and the design of the back of this reel there are obvious hints of Vosseler reels, and internally, the small sealed drag-unit is well proven and feels highly refined.

Easy enough to account for the weight, these both have full-caged bodies - unusual on reels of this size. The frame and spool are machined from bar-stock, both feels solid, rigid - I can think of reel makers who would cut away significantly more metal, making a lighter but less rigid reel. The machining and finish is excellent, very precise, then the metal was properly smoothed and prepared for hard anodising - so these feel and look very smooth. Oh, and I can use these reels in saltwater! ( Still working on why I want a #3/4 saltwater reel - and I do! )

To remove the spool, push through the open back and the spool pops out. I've seen reels with this mechanism for a few years now and still find it a little odd - but it works well and replaces maybe a dozen parts with a groove and a ring.

The drag adjusts in clicks, the range ( throw ) from fully off to as tight as I can go is exceptionally long, I really can tune this drag to just the resistance I want. The tight end of the drag range is far more than matches the fish that I would expect these reels to meet. Switching drag is a matter of removing the drag cover and reverse a bearing - needs a screwdriver and a clean table.

Visually, these are modest reels, but don't let that fool you, simple looks belie their quality.

Photo captions:
"Modest looks - quality reels"
"Full frame body - heavier and more expensive - more rigid, makes the reel far more durable. Very unusual in a reel at this price."

Barrio Troutcast Copolymer Tippet

By Magnus Angus

Made in Europe, 50-metre tippet spools. Troutcast is clear monofilament, the finish seems more satin than glittering gloss.

The list diameters seem right - according to my clumsy digital caliper. I have two samples here, 0.18mm (6.24lb or 2.83kg BS) and 0.14 (4.31lb or 1.96kg BS), diameters and strengths match the co-polymer tippet I normally use.

Troutcast feels stiffer than some of my odd collection of tippets, not as bristling as fluorocarbon. Tying two lengths together this seems like a 'dry' mono, knots need to be lubricated before being tightened - pulled dry this does not snug down well. Knot strength seems good and consistent.

Nice stuff - good price. Troutcast is available in 8 diameters, from 0.28mm to 0.12mm (roughly 3lb to 14lb BS).

Barrio Line Care

By Magnus Angus

Silicon based line treatment. This stuff helps a fly line float, the silicon in the compound should also preserve the PVC on a fly line.

When this came in I went through the recommended cleaning regime for Barrio floating fly lines with Mike Barrio. Drag the line through a wet cloth or tissue. If the line is very grimy add a few drops of soap ( not detergent ) to the wet cloth. Rub the applicator on the block of line care, fold the pad over the line and drag the line through. Let the line dry for half an hour or more. Pull the line through a clean cloth or tissue.

Barrio Line Care leaves a fly line slick and slippery, improves float and shoot.

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