I'm not an expert caster. I don't give casting instruction to anyone but beginners. I'm not one of those casters that can chuck an 80 foot cast in 30 mile-per-hour winds. It has to be a good day, with the stars in perfect alignment, for my double-haul to really be a smooth operation. That said, I'm a competent caster. I don't have trouble turning over big stuff, distance casts aren't usually a problem and I've got pretty good accuracy. In my humble opinion, I'm a somewhat above-average caster that possesses the knowledge of what I should be doing, but doesn't always do it. By my best guess, that means I'm like the majority of avid fly fisherman out there. So, if you want an expert review on a fly line, on exactly why the tapers and core construction make one line different from the next, you probably don't want my review. If you want some first-hand experience on how a line performs in the field for a typical fly fisherman, you might want to keep reading.
I was eager to put Airflo's Ridge Redfish line to the trip on my recent trip to South Carolina. I had been out for redfish in May, with a line not suited to the conditions, and it had presented a number of challenges both in turning over larger redfish flies and, more importantly, when shooting line. I had also recently fished one of Airflo's ridge trout lines, and was impressed by how effortlessly the line glided through the guides on my 5 weight, so I was eager to see what the 8 weight tropical version could do.
If you're not familiar with Airflo's Ridge System, it is a different type of line construction/coating. Instead of a flat surfaced fly line, the line has ridges, thus reducing the amount of surface area coming in contact with the guides on your fly rod. The goal, of course, being less friction and increased line speed. The concept seems solid, and after casting several of Airflo's Ridge lines, we're sold.
Airflo's Ridge Bonefish line is one of the lowest-memory lines I've used in recent memory. Straight out of the package and onto the reel, the line avoided tangles when stripping big piles of line onto the deck of a skiff.
One of the first things I noticed was how quickly this line loaded the rod. Being a habitual false-caster, I'll look for any excuse to wave my rod back and forth repeatedly, simply for the joy of false casting. Of course, this is a recipe for failure when out on a flat targeting redfish (or bonefish). To be successful, you need to target a spot and hit it, quickly. With relatively little line off the tip of the rod, the Airflo Ridge Bonefish / Redfish line loaded the rod impressively, allowing for quick casts.
Can a line shoot too well? I'm not sure. If it can, consider this line guilty of doing so. As was my experience with Airflo's Ridge Trout line, this stuff simply flies through the guides. I actually ended up over-powering my casts for my entire first day of fishing, leading to a hinging backlash as the fly approached its intended destination. Not until I learned to take a considerable amount of power out of my casts and let the line do the work did I end up with smoother presentations. When I needed that extra distance, the ridge line made it easy to boom long casts. More importantly than distance, though, how well this line shoots allowed for relatively little false casting. With a decent water haul, only one back cast was necessary to shoot 40-50 feet of line on the forward cast. A better caster could probably improve on this significantly with almost no false casting. Even without a water haul, when combined with how well the head loads the rod, shooting adequately long casts without a bunch of false casting was easy.
The Airflo Ridge Bonefish / Redfish line didn't struggle to turn over any of the flies we fished. While this was also the case with the other redfish lines that were on the boat, anyone who's struggled with lines too limp to turn over larger flies need not worry.
Airflo coats its lines with Polyurethane instead of the PVC used by other manufacturers. According to Airflo, this gives the lines considerably greater durability. Since we've only had the line for a couple of weeks, we can't attest to whether this claim is accurate, but we've head lots of feedback indicating that these lines last and require less maintenance than PVC coated lines.
Airflo's lines all have welded loops at both ends. If you fancy line changes or stink at nail knots like I do, you'll welcome being able to rig this line up with a spider-hitch or bimini twist (I stink at those, too).
This line is built on Airflo's Power Core, which is a low-stretch core which reportedly gives added hooking power by creating a more responsive connection between the rod holder and the hook. While this sounds great, unfortunately I can't offer any feedback in this regard, since the redfish trip we tested this line on was a big lightning and thunderstorm-ruined disaster of a skunkfest.
Everyone who cast the Airflo Ridge Bonefish / Redfish line, which included myself and two South Carolina redfish guides, was impressed. As mentioned, the line loads quickly and rockets through the guides. It is likely that this is due to something to do with front taper, belly and rear taper ratios as well as line diameter and core construction, but boy would my face be red if I pretended to know anything about that.
Select this line with confidence if you're considering it. If you're not, perhaps you should be.