Airflo has long been the go-to fly line maker for countless spey and switch casters and there are many saltwater anglers that trust Airflo lines first and foremost. But despite their success in those arenas, Airflo hasn't had a strong reputation in the world of traditional, single-handed trout fishermen. With its latest generation of fly lines, which it has coined SuperDRI, Airflo is seeking to put that reputation squarely behind them, openly acknowledging the issues of old and making bold claims about their latest technologies.
Most of Airflo's issues with earlier generations of trout lines came down to those lines not floating high enough or long enough. Airflo's ridge technology has always performed well, helping to produce long-shooting casts; and Airflo's dedication to using polyurethane to construct their lines instead of PVC has always introduced its bevy of benefits (less cleaning/maintenance required, resistance to Deet, gasoline, sunblock and other chemicals that eat other fly lines, etc). But, despite those accolades, floating trout lines need to float and those that don't float well are going to let people down.
Even though I liked Airflo's last go-round in the trout world -- which included the Ridge Supple Tactical Trout line -- better than most, there were some occasions when I was frustrated by the head sinking during long drifts. So, when I heard from Airflo that they had a new line in the works that not only aimed to solve the floating issue but also featured technology that Airflo was unabashedly touting as "game changing", I was pretty stoked to get one on the water.
I've been fishing the Airflo SuperDRI Elite line off and on since late 2012 and can say with confidence that Airflo's past issues -- whether you consider them to be minor or major -- in the trout world are behind them. Airflo's advancements have put those prior issues to rest and introduced some considerably impressive new benefits that will be welcomed by trout anglers everywhere.
The driving technology introduced in Airflo's series of lines is a new polymer coating which Airflo designed as a solution to the aforementioned lack of high floating performance, eventually earning it the SuperDRI moniker. Put simply, it works. Whether tracking through a slow pool on a seemingly interminable drift or tumbling through brawling riffles, this line stays on top as well as any I've fished. And this high-floating characteristic has stood the test of time. Over a year later, the SuperDRI Elite is floating as well as it did on day one. It's worth noting that this includes zero maintenance on my part, given that I'm embarrassingly negligent when it comes to fly line care.
According to the guys over at Airflo, the new coating was intended to solve the floating issue and the floating issue alone. But, once the first protoypes started coming off the line, they started noticing several unexpected benefits. One of these new benefits is significantly increased slickness which Airflo refers to, tongue in cheek, as "super teflon". Jokes aside, however, this stuff really is slick. Noticeably slick not only when running through the guides, but even to the touch. This is saying something considering that Airflo's Ridge lines have always been slick and shot through the guides well. Unsurprisingly, this increased slickness results in some pretty long-shooting casts which are delivered with relatively minimal effort, even when compared previous generations of Airflo's trout lines that feature its Ridge technology.
Line pickup is one of those qualities that is incredibly subjective, one that I'm often hesitant to weigh in on because I'm never entirely sure whether or not I'm full of shit when I'm talking about it. For that matter, I'm never particularly sure whether other people are either. Airflo purports this line to be the easiest mending line on the market, and while I haven't fished enough lines to say whether or not this is true, I will proclaim it to be a very good mender. By saying that, I mean that it is easier to control your mend, to pick up big chunks of line off the water and do so gracefully without pulling your fly out of its drift. This almost certainly is a direct consequence of its high-floating character, so kudos are deserved here.
As mentioned previously, polyurethane lines have a reputation for being lower-maintenance than their PVC counterparts. That's legit, at least in my experience. Airflo says that the SuperDRI coated lines repel dirt and scum better than previous lines. I can't say whether that's true, but I can say that -- like Airflo lines I've owned in the past -- they stay clean despite my aforementioned penchant for treating my fly lines like crap. I've fished other Ridge lines alongside lines from other manufacturers in some pretty filthy bass water and the Ridge lines have stayed relatively clean while the PVC lines gunk and filth up.
Airflo is also pretty excited about it's Zone technology which is in play in the SuperDRI series. The idea is that while supple lines are great for trout fishing, they are a disadvantage when trying to double haul for a long cast due to the hinging that comes with the suppler line. This disadvantage is magnified in warmer temperatures. Airflo's Zone technology allows them to manufacture a line with different coating densities through different parts of the line. Given such, the SuperDRI lines employ this technology by offering a more supple coating in the front of the line and a stiffer coating in part of the line where the load will be placed during longer, double hauled casts.
My take? This sounds great. The idea of a line that offers the supple front of a trout line and the harder coating of a bonefish line (my interpretation) in the loading zone? What's not to like? But I've already noted that the line casts and shoots very well. Is it the Zone technology that allows my mediocre double haul to churn out more satisfying casts? I hope so, but pretending to be sure would be disingenuous and paint me as a better caster than I am.
For some odd reason, it is disappointing to get to the section where I'm supposed to talk about a product's shortcomings and have nothing to talk about. Though this is undoubtedly a result of choosing to review products I like, there's still usually something to gripe about. Much to Airflo's credit, however, in the case of the SuperDRI Elite fly line I've got nothing.
There are several other lines in the SuperDRI lineup. The SuperDRI Exceed is Airflo's slightly weight-heavier trout line designed for fast-action rods, the SuperDRI Mend which features a thicker tip and longer head for tossing and mending heavy nymph rigs, the SuperDRI Distance Pro which is specifically designed for -- you guessed it -- distance casting and the SuperDRI River and Stream which is for something, I'm just not sure what. I haven't fished any of those lines, but look forward to doing so and reporting back.
The SuperDRI Elite is your traditional trout line, an all around line for rods that don't need to be overlined (or fishermen that don't need to overline them). It is a line that has performed well and exceeded my expectations since it arrived over a year ago, is very often my first choice when heading to the water and one that should put Airflo squarely in the forefront of the minds of trout fishermen.