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.
JT replied on Permalink
God, there are so many fly lines these days.
Airflo has never let me down.
Don't get me wrong, there are lines I like from RIO, SA, Cortland, etc. But those guys also make lines I don't like. Some make lines I absolutely HATE.
But, so far, everything i've tried from Airflo has killed. Nice to hear this new line sounds like more of the same.
JP replied on Permalink
Good to know that advertised features "work." However, I think the review might be a little more informative if you provide a few more details:
1) What rod manufacturer/model/weight you're using
2) What weight of fly line you've been using
3) What kind of fishing you're mostly using it for (nymphing, streamers, dries, multi-fly rigs)
4) Typical casting ranges and/or type of most typical casts required by your local water(s)
5) And maybe most importantly, how it compares to other fly lines from other manufacturers you've used.
I've been serious about fly fishing for a couple of years now and I've only used 4 fly lines in my "career"...my current and favorite line of the bunch is the Rio Gold...and I'm using it w/ a 5 wt G. Loomis NRX LP.
More details would be appreciated! Thanks for the awesome site.
Chad Shmukler replied on Permalink
All good points. Here's some more info (ordered as responses to your list):
1) It's been over a year, so the line has seen duty on many rods, including but not limited to: Thomas & Thomas NS5, Redington Vapen Red, Sage Z-Axis, Albright NS5, Sage ONE, a custom-made rod on Allen Fly Fishing blanks and definitely a couple others that I'm forgetting.
2) 5 weight (and thus the rods in #1)
3) Mostly nymphing and dries, with some light-duty streamer fishing.
4) The gamut here, really. I fish streams that are 10-15 feet across to big tailwaters like the Delaware.
5) I haven't done any direct side-by-side comparisons, so I'd hesitate to say it "floats better than X" or it "shoots better than Y". That said, my overall impression of this line -- as a floating trout line -- is as strong, if not stronger, than any other line of its type that I've used.
I hope that helps.
JP replied on Permalink
Thanks Chad, I may give this line a shot in the near future.
Hal replied on Permalink
I bought this line and used it for two days. I tangled my 6x tippet on the line on a forward cast. My tippet was wrapped around the AirFlo SuperDri Elite DT 4 wt, and it had sliced completely threw the entire line to the braided core. Not a durable line at all.
JP replied on Permalink
I had my first outing w/ the Airflo line today. Performance was excellent. The line is very slick, quiet, shoots and floats very well and was easy to mend (maybe even easier than the Gold, but then my Gold has a bit more mileage on it). I compared the line profile w/ the Gold once more. The Elite's head length is fairly similar to the Gold's, but it is 7 ft shorter (mostly due to the Gold's rear taper). I found it easy to cast and had tight loops even in direct 15-20 mph winds today. I dare say it was easier to cast into the wind than the Gold. Anyway, I really like both lines, but I'll give some attention to the Elite for a while. Very odd the other fellow had 6X tippet cut his line--sounds like a defect or something that Airflo should warranty/replace!
Chad Shmukler replied on Permalink
JP - Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts after getting the line out in the wild. They'll no doubt be helpful to other folks that come looking.
And yes, I completely agree regarding Hal's issue with the line getting cut. Every product on the market has defects that come off the line. Airflo obviously didn't spend years developing and producing a fly line that gets sliced in two by a piece of 6x tippet. I'm confident that line would be replaced, and quickly.
Hal replied on Permalink
This isn't something new. I talked to the fly shop owner and they have nothing but problems with Airflo lines being returned. The line strips off to the braided core all the time. The lines non PVC coating is too soft and doesn't hold up to common use. This is in the heavier lines they usually sell as well. So you do what you want with this information. I'm just passing on my experience and others. I bought a RIO Trout LT that casts and mends as well. My last one is 7 years old and still going strong.
Mike Costello replied on Permalink
Normally, loved the Ridge lines. Just purchased Airflo Super Dri Distance line; 7 weight WF. However, disappointed in the overall Mass of the fly line. Line wouldn't fit on a Regular 7 Wt reel. Had to install it on a Reel normally used for a 9 Wt. Anybody else had a similar problem? Thanks.
Håkan Ståhl replied on Permalink
I bought a Airflo Distance Pro WF 7about a year ago. It wasn´t an improvment on the Rangefinder WF 7; quite the contrary it was inferior to the Rangefinder when casting with each of my three #7 rod. I am a good caster and felt disappointed about " not better in any way" . I sold it really cheap on a forum and later noticed that the buyer passed it on as well.